Col Sup. du Tour and the Aiguilles Marbrees

On Wednesday Danny and I walked into the Refuge Albert Premier. There is unusually large amounts of snow for this time of year and an ice axe is essential.

Thursdays weather forecast was for sunny spells from 7am onwards following 30 centimetres of snow the night before. Therefore despite the poor visibility and snowfall we left the hut at 7am and climbed to the Col Sup. du Tour (3289m). We had hoped to continue to the Aiguille du Tour but on reaching Switzerland the weather worsened with high winds as well as snowfall and poor visibility. Therefore we returned from to the hut having had an adventure but not pushing things too far!. The weather did eventually improve at 12.30pm.

Today we left Saint Gervais early and drove through the Mont Blanc Tunnel and after using the lift system climbed the Aiguilles Marbrees (3535m) before the weather once more closed in.

There are more photos on the facebook page.

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The Dent du Geant and Aiguilles Marbrees this morning.

Danny returning from the Aiguilles Marbrees.

Danny returning from the Aiguilles Marbrees.

Chasing the Sun with George and Paul

The weather was a little mixed last week in the Alps. However, by being flexible in our plans, George, Paul and I had a brilliant week climbing amazing mountains away from the crowds.

We began our week by visting the Vanoise. This is one of my favourite alpine regions as it is far from the crowds and very unspoilt once away from the ski lifts on the edge of the region. From thr Refuge Col de la Vanoise we completed the brilliant traverse of Mont Pelve (3261m). Details of this AD- route can be found on the website camptocamp.

As we completed the route late season, ice screws were required to climb over the bergshrund and a 60 metre rope was required for the abseils (unlike the 50 metres suggested by camptocamp).

The next day after returning to Saint Gervais les Bains we completed Aiguille de Toule (3538m) from the Punta Helbronner which is located on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif. The conditions were very Scottish e.g. whiteout and deep fresh snow. Needless to say, we did not see any other climbers!

For the last three days of our trip we travelled to Les Ecrins. This is another of my favourite areas in the Alps and it was great to return here to finish the last part of my alpine season.

Following walking in to the Refuge du Soreiller on Wednesday, we had a late start on Thursday to allow the weather to clear before completing Le Voie du Nain and Aiguille Centrale du Soreiller (3338m). This is an excellent rock peak situated behind the iconic Aiguille Dibona which is rarely visited.

On Saturday to finish off our trip we climed the Voie Boell with the Stoffer variation to the summit of the Aiguille DIbona (3130m). This was a great route on a great summit to end another excellent summer in the Alps.

Many more photos can be seen on the climbnow facebook page.

George and Paul near the summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

George and Paul near the summit of the Aiguille Dibona.

Val Ferret

Monts Rouges de Triolet from the Val Ferret.

Monts Rouges de Triolet from the Val Ferret.

Martin climbing on Placche Pre de Bard.

Martin climbing on Placche Pre de Bard.

Martin and I drove through the Tunnel du Mont Blanc today to visit the crags of the Val Ferret. First, we visited Placche Pre de Bard. The harder routes we had hoped to climb were all wet but we still had a nice couple of hours climbing one of the easier eight pitch routes.

After this we visted Mochet. This crag gave nice single and two pitch routes on perfect granite.

 

Tour Ronde and the Dent du Geant

Yesterday, John, Harvey, Paul and I travelled through the Tunnel du Mont Blanc to Italy and used the Helbronner lift to access the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif. From the lift we climbed the Tour Ronde (3792m) via the South East Arete and descended the Voie Normale.

The route was in snowy but good condition. Please note for those intending to climb the South East Arete, that the route is given AD in the French guidebooks not PD as in the British guidebook. It is best using the French versions.

Today, John, Harvey and Paul had a great day climbing the Dent du Geant (4013m).

There is a short video and a number of photos of yesterday and this morning on the climbnow facebook page.

Returning to the Torino Hut with the Dent du Geant visible beyond.

Returning to the Torino Hut with the Dent du Geant visible beyond.

Skiing between Val d’Isere and Aosta

On Saturday 13th April Rosie and I made the short drive from Saint Gervais Les Bains to Val d’Isere. It had snowed the previous evening and we had a great day skiing both on and off piste on excellent snow. The ski area  was very quiet and therefore it was not hard to find fresh snow for skiing. We stayed in the village on the Saturday evening before meeting up with Scott and Tina on the Sunday for more great skiing.

Rosie skiing at Val d'Isere with the Haute Maurienne beyond.

Rosie skiing at Val d’Isere with the Haute Maurienne beyond.

 

Rosie travelled back to Saint Gervais on the Monday morning leaving Tina, Scott and I to begin our five day ski touring trip. We began the trip by using the lift system to allow us to access the Col Pers (3009m). From here we descended to the Refuge Prariond (2324m) and following a short break we ascended the Col de la Lose (2957m). The avalanche forecast for the Monday and the whole week was ‘Considerable’ early in the morning rising to ‘High’ by midday due to the heat and this route gave us a ridge to follow to the col making for a safe itinerary.

After our ski tour we had a relaxing evening and night at the Refuge Prariond.This is a very friendly, small hut which is highly recommended.

We were up early on the Tuesday morning to increase safety and ensure good snow on our ascent and descent of the Grande Aiguille Rousse (3482m). The descent was at first on powder followed by beautiful spring snow in the mid section.

Scott and Tina on the ascent of the Grande Aiguille Rousse.

Scott and Tina on the ascent of the Grande Aiguille Rousse.

 

On Wednesday we linked France and Italy with the ascent of the Pointe de la Galise (3343m). It was important to complete the ascent of this mountain early in the morning as it passes through a narrow passage which is exposed to avalanches when the snow warms later in the day. This meant we arrived at the summit early and therefore had a nice relaxing break to allow the surface of the snow on the descent to improve before a brilliant ski descent to the Refuge du Fond (2324m).

Tina and Scott relaxing in the sun before another brilliant descent.

Tina and Scott relaxing in the sun before another brilliant descent.

The Refuge du Fond is a small hut located near the Refuge Benevolo. It is run by the owners of a local restaurant and serves brilliant homemade Italian food. It has showers, small rooms and provides a comfortable base for a number of excellent ski tours.

Refuge du Fond on the morning of the 18th April 2013.

Refuge du Fond on the morning of the 18th April 2013.

 

On Thursday we made the ascent of Punta Calabre (3445m). This mountain provides an excellent viewpoint from where it is possible to see the Barre des Ecrins, Gran Paradiso, Matterhorn, Grand Combin and Mont Blanc.

Scott and Tina on the summit of the Punta Calabre with the Grande Casse behind.

Scott and Tina on the summit of the Punta Calabre with the Grande Casse behind.

 

Following our descent we visited the Refuge Benevolo before refreshing crevasse rescue techniques and returning to the Refuge du Fond.

The forecast for Friday was for a deterioration in the weather mid morning. Therefore, we made an early ascent of the the Col du Fond (3081m) before our descent to the village of Rhemes Notre Dame (1723m).

The Roc Basagne with the Col du Fond on its right.

The Roc Basagne with the Col du Fond on its right.

 

Rosie picked us up at the village and we returned to France and Saint Gervais via the Mont Blanc Tunnel for some lunch and rest.

Ski resorts such as Val d’Isere and Chamonix (near Saint Gervais) can be accessed via the transfer company Alps2Alps. They can be contacted through their website www.alps2alps.com. They also have a blog and facebook page with interesting informatiuon for skiers.

The deterioration of the weather did arrive on Friday. This morning, in Saint Gervais at 850 metres, we have woken up to a large dump of fresh snow! Up high in the mountains I would expect large quantities which will need a few days to settle.