La Frasse and Saas Fee

Paul, Hector and I are climbing together this week. On Monday we climbed at the excellent slab of La Frasse which is 30 minutes from Saint Gervais. The rock here is perfect, well bolted and the routes up to three pitches in length.

Yesterday, we climbed the Allalinhorn (4027m) from Saas Fee before overnighting at the Britannia Hutte.. The mountain was in good condition.

Today we traversed from the hut to Mattmark reservoir via the Holaub and Allalin Glaciers. Since I last did this route a number of years ago the route has become much more popular, well marked with paint and cairns and very easy to follow.

The view from the ascent of the Allalinhorn.

Another Great Week in the Alps

The weather continues to be excellent in the Alps allowing plenty more opportunities to climb great mountains. This week on behalf of www.frostguiding.co.uk I have been out with Gordon, Ben, Emma, John and Andy Teasdale.

We began the week by going to Cabane de Moiry and on the way completed an ecole de glace session. The next day we traversed the Pointe de Mourti (3563m) and the Dent de Rosses (3613m). This lovely AD route was in good condition.

On Tuesday we walked into the Britannia Hut from the Platjjen lift station in Saas Fee arriving just before the very heavy rain that was correctly forecast for the afternoon. The next morning we completed the Hohlaubgrat on the Allalinhorn (4027m). This is a beautiful snow and ice ridge with one rock step near the summit. At the moment the ridge is fairly icy and good sharp crampons are advised.

The next day following another early start we traversed the Grand Perron (2674m). This is another excellent AD ridge that involves sustained rock scrambling, some rock climbing and five abseils. The rock on the route is mostly excellent.

Yesterday we went multi pitch rock climbing on the Dent de Follieches near Arolla before revisiting our prusiking skills to finish off the week.

There are many more photos from the last two weeks on the climbnow facebook page.

The summit of the Allalinhorn.

The summit of the Allalinhorn.

Arolla, Saas Fee and Saas Grund

Again this week I have been based out of Evolene with Martin Moran Mountaineering (www.moran-mountain.co.uk).

Following an Ecole de Glace session on the Glacier Ferpecle on Sunday, Mark, Monica and I had a hut trip from Monday to Tuesday.

On the way to the Cabane des DIx above Arolla on Monday we climbed  the Pointe du Pas de Chevres (2991m) before returning to the Pas de Chevres and traversing the Col de Riedmatten. The ladders on the Pas de Chevres remain closed and the Col de Riedmatten is the only option.

The weather on Tuesday was very poor. In full Scottish winter conditions we did however manage to climb La Luette (3548m) before returning to the valley. We climbed the ridge route rather than the glacial route as this was a safer option in the conditions we had.

Monica joined another team for the rest of the week while Mark and I headed to the Saas Valley. On Wednesday we made the ascent to the Mischabel Hutte before climbing the Ulrischhorn (3925m) on Thursday morning during a break in the weather. The Ulrischhorn was in excellent condition. After returning to the valley we completed the approach to the Weissmieshutte to overnight.

Today we completed the Sudkante on the Jegihorn (3206m). Despite all the recent bad weather the rock was perfectly dry.

Another great week in the Alps completed. A short video on the climbnow facebook page shows the current conditions on the Lenspitze and the Nadelhorn.

Mark enjoying brilliant rock on the Jegihorn.

Mark enjoying brilliant rock on the Jegihorn.

Descending the Pointe de Pas de Chevres with the Glacier se Chevres below.

Descending the Pointe de Pas de Chevres with the Glacier de Chevres below.

Mark approaching Ulrischhorn with Lenspitze and Nadelhorn above.

Mark approaching Ulrischhorn with Lenspitze and Nadelhorn above.

The Saas Fee peaks; Taschhorn, Dom, Lenspitze, Nadelhorn and Ulrischhorn.

The Saas Fee peaks; Taschhorn, Dom, Lenspitze, Nadelhorn and Ulrischhorn.

Saas Fee and Saas Grund

Ascending towards the Lagginjoch, 3499 metres.

Ascending towards the Lagginjoch, 3499 metres.

For the past three days I have been off piste skiing and ski touring in the Saas Fee and Saas Grund areas of Switzerland. On Saturday, 50 cm of snow fell which allowed us some brilliant tree skiing at the Plattjen area. Yesterday, we toured to the Brittania Hut for lunch before enjoying the snow in the Saas Fee ski area. Today, we had brilliant conditions for the tour of the Lagginjoch (3499 metres).

There is a short video on the facebook page showing the excellent snow cover and conditions we have experienced over the last three days.

Alpine Summer Report 2013

A team on the ascent of Roche Faurio with the Barre des Ecrins beyond.

A team on the ascent of Roche Faurio with the Barre des Ecrins beyond.

It has been an excellent summer in the Alps. In many areas this past winter and spring ten metres of snow fell. This has led to some fantastic conditions on the glaciers and the ridges of many regions.

It has been a busy summer for the ClimbNow team. Paul has been busy throughout North Wales teaching rock climbing and summer mountaineering skills. Martin has been doing similar work in many parts of Scotland and has spent some time climbing with me in the Alps. I have spent the summer guiding throughout the Alps during the months of June, July, August and September.

Tina and Scott on the summit ridge of Les Agneaux in Les Ecrins.

Tina and Scott on the summit ridge of Les Agneaux in Les Ecrins.

My summer began with a holiday in Les Aravis and the Chaine du Bargy with Rosie. From here, I drove to Les Ecrins and spent two brilliant weeks climbing in the best conditions I have seen in the massif for many years. Routes such as the Voie Originale on the Pic Coolidge were in good condition. Normally this route would be unsafe by late June.

Steve, Duncan and Steve climbing Pic Coolidge.

Steve, Duncan and Tim climbing Pic Coolidge.

After Les Ecrins, I had three weeks climbing in the Mont Blanc Massif, around Saas Fee and in the Val d’Herens. I had the opportunity to climb many interesting and beautiful mountains such as Alphubel, Mont Blanc and the Lagginhorn.

A team descending from the summit of Mont Blanc.

A team descending from the summit of Mont Blanc.

At this point in the season, I often find it useful to have a few days off. This year I returned to the UK for a few days and to attend a wedding before returning to the the peaks around Saas Grund and the three areas mentioned above.

Sunrise on the ascent of Weissmies from the Almageller Hut.

Sunrise on the ascent of Weissmies from the Almageller Hut.

Highlights from this period include; the South Ridge of the Lagginhorn, the traverse of Pigne d’Arolla and Mont Blanc de Cheilon, the traverse of Weissmies and Allalinhorn’s Holaubgrat.

John, Harvey and Andy on the summit of the Lagginhorn having completed the South Ridge of the Lagginhorn.

John, Harvey and Andy on the summit of the Lagginhorn having completed the South Ridge of the Lagginhorn.

The season continued with many fine summits in the Mont Blanc Massif and Gran Paradiso National Park before I returned to Les Ecrins for two more brilliant weeks of rock climbing and peak bagging.

Pam on the summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

Pam on the summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

The final week of my season was spent in the mountains above Saas Fee and Zermatt. Conditions were challenging but as always the mountains and the team I climbed with provided some amazing memories.

This season I have spent fifty seven days climbing and mountaineering, twenty four nights in sixteen different huts, have climbed thirty four alpine summits and eleven multi pitch climbs as well as many single pitch climbs and completed five Ecole de Glace sessions.

I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who has joined me on the many adventures this summer has provided and made it such a memorable season.

Outside the Refuge de Soreiller with Martin and Ivor.

Outside the Refuge de Soreiller with Martin and Ivor.

 

Zermatt and Saas Fee

For the last five days I have been guiding for Northern Mountain Sport in the Zermatt and Saas Fee valleys where the weather and mountain conditions have been challenging.

Andy and Rob scrambling on Pollu(4092m) in less than perfect weather.

Andy and Rob scrambling on Pollux(4092m) in less than perfect weather.

 

Andy, Rob and I met on Saturday with a variable mountain forecast. We immediately used the Klein Matterhorn lift to gain height before using map, compass and GPS to locate the South West Ridge of Pollux (4092m). We climbed this in deteriorating weather before more map work safely deposited us in the Refuge Guide Val d’Ayas.

The weather the next morning was even worse than the day before with fresh snow covering all tracks. Mountain Guide Bruno from Fiesch did a great job in putiing a new track over the Grande Glacier di Verra which all teams used to return to the Klein Matterhorn station and Zermatt.

The forecast for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was variable. We headed to the Britannia Hutte above Saas Fee via the Plattjen lift. After some lunch we had a great afternoon on the Holaub Gletscher looking at crevasse rescue, the construction of ice anchors and ice climbing skills.

Andy waiting to be rescued from a deep crevasse.

Andy waiting to be rescued from a deep crevasse.

Yesterday, we climbed to the Adlerpass (3789m) putting in a new track all the way across the Allalin Gletscher in deep snow. From here we attempted to climb the Strahlhorn but had to retreat in poor weather and dangerous snow conditions (lots of fresh snow covering deep crevasses on the ridge).

Rob and Andy on the Allalin Gletscher during a spell of good weather.

Rob and Andy on the Allalin Gletscher during a spell of good weather.

Today was the final day of our trip. We had a great day traversing from the Britannia Hutte over the Holaub and Allalin Gletscher’s (again utilising Scottish winter navigational skills) and the Schwarxbergchopf (2868m) before descending to Mattmark from where the excellent Post bus service returned us to Saas Fee. On the way we also spent time relooking at crevasse rescue and also practising prusiking skills.

 

It has been a tough but rewarding week to finish the season on. Tomorrow I return to Scotland to begin the Autumn season.

 

Photo from Allalinhorn

The summit ridge of the Allalinhorn.

The summit ridge of the Allalinhorn.

Thanks to Juho Lukkari for this excellent shot of Danny and I on the summit ridge of the Allalinhorn (4027m) on the 15/08/13. The photo is taken on the summit ridge following our ascent of the Hohlubgrat.

Allalinhorn’s Hohlaubgrat

Yesterday, Danny and I walked from the Plattjen lift above Saas Fee to the Britannia Hut. Although this appraoch is longer than the approach from the Felskinn lift station it is highly recommended as it is much more beautiful.

Today we climbed the Hohlaubgrat on the Allalinhorn (4027m). This stunning ridge is accessed from the Hohlaub Glacier.

Approaching the Hohlaubgrat early in the morning.

Approaching the Hohlaubgrat early in the morning.

The route begins with a broad ridge that narrows near the top before culminating in a rock band which must be climbed. It is PD+ and I would highly recommend it to those who climb at this standard. Unfortunately, the cold got to my battery and I do not have any photos of the route currently.

The Allalinhorn earlier today. The Hohlaubgrat is the left hand skyline.

The Allalinhorn earlier today. The Hohlaubgrat is the left hand skyline.

The route was in perfect condition. We descended via the very popular West-North-West Ridge.