Limestone Ridges and the Dom

I was out this week on behalf of Frost Guiding with Chris. We had a successful week completing the following;

  • Rock climbing at the Vallorcine Slabs.
  • The traverse of Pointe Percee via the Arête du Doigt and Cheminee Sallanches.
  • Arete Marion.
  • The Dom (4545m).
  • Skills day near Arolla.

Valais and Mont Blanc Massif

I have just spent 6 days with Sam, Richard, Fred and Frost Guiding. Here are the details of what we did;

  • Day one. Ecole de Glacé on Moiry Glacier. Overnight at Moiry Hut.
  • Day two. Pointe de Mourti in good conditions.
  • Day three. Crevasse rescue on the way to the Vignettes Hut.
  • Day four. Traverse of Pigne d’Arolla. There is a 60 metre section of ice that requires ice screw belays on the ascent to the summit.
  • Day five. Ecole d’ escalade near the Orny Hut. Overnight at Trient Hut.
  • Day six. Aiguille du Tour in good conditions.

There are more photos on the Facebook page.


Crevasse Rescue and La Face

Today the weather has been challenging in the Alps with persistent snowfall and poor visibility which started yesterday afternoon. We did however have a productive day at Le Grand Montets.

We spent the first part of the day skinning out of the ski area in the direction of the Glacier d’Argentiere. Once away from any hazard presented by skiers we covered roping up for glacier travel and crevasse rescue skills.

On return to the resort we spent time skiing the fresh snow. The highlight of the day was a descent of the classic glaciated off piste run, La Face.

A low body position which greatly aids hoisting.

A low body position which greatly aids hoisting.


Ski Touring in Arolla

Steve and John on the summit of La Luette.

Steve and John on the summit of La Luette.

Last week I was ski touring in the Arolla area with Gordon, Steve and John on behalf of We found lots of good snow for skiing with fresh tracks on spring snow on both the Tete Blanche and La Luette. Below is the details of where we went;

  • 9th April. The Arolla ski area and Pas de Chevre (2855m).
  • 10th April. Transceiver searches and crevasse rescue training near and around the Glacier de Tsijiore Neuve.
  • 11th April. The Cabane de Bertol (3268m). This is a long ascent and therefore it is worth leaving early in the morning before the day gets hot..
  • 12th April. The Tete Blanche (3724m).
  • 13th April. The Cabane des Dix (2928m).
  • 14th April. La Luette (3548m).
Skinning roped together on a glacier.

Skinning roped together on a glacier.

There are many more photos on the facebook page.

Monte Rosa with Karen and John

For the last three days of our trip, Karen, John and I have made the ascent of the Duforspitze (4634m) from the Monte Rosa Hut.

The glacier above the hut was in excellent condition, the easiest I have seen it in. The ridge was in good condition although it has a lot of snow on it meaning many of the normal spikes are not there.

Currently one of the fixed ropes on the descent is broken and the Guardian at the hut is advising groups to descend the ridge which is what we did.

Lots of photos on the facebook page.

A brilliant ridge in brilliant surroundings.

A brilliant ridge in brilliant surroundings.

Mont Gioberney and the Mer de Glace

Danny and I are currently in the Alps climbing together. The weather is very changeable at the moment and lots of studying of weather forecasts is required.

On Monday we travelled to Les Ecrins before walking to the Refuge de la Pilatte. The weather on Tuesday morning was not perfect but we persevered towards Mont Gioberney. We were rewarded with clearing skies on reaching the Col du Gioberney and amazing views from the summit (3352m).

Today we visited the Mer de Glace above Chamonix and spent time ice climbing and practising crevasse rescue skills.

Currently there is large volumes of snow remaining from the winter in the Alps making routes more time consuming.


Danny on the summit of Mont Gioberney.

Mont Blanc Massif and Arolla

Andrew and I have just had a great five days mountaineering in the Mont Blanc Massif and Arolla Valley despite some challenging weather.

On Monday we travelled through the Mont Blanc Tunnel and used the new telepherique to the Punta Helbronner before climbing the Aiguille Marbrees (3535m) and the Aiguille de Toule (3534m). The parking for the new telepherique is in a new location and it is worth allowing a couple of minutes to find it.

With a poor forecast for Tuesday we made the best of the day by visiting the Mer de Glace and practising the key crevasse rescue skills we would need for our planned expedition over the next three days.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday  were spent in the Arolla Valley were we climbed firstly to the Cabane des Vignettes before an ascent of the Pigne d’Arolla (3790m) on Thursday morning.

After our ascent of the Pigne we made the long approach to the Bivouac de l’Aiguillette. This is a brilliant remote hut and provides some great mountains with no other climbers around.

The weather deteriorated on Thursday evening into Friday but we still managed an ascent of the Becque Labie (3463m) before returning to Arolla

There is large quantities of new snow around which made the return to Arolla on Friday hard work. During our expediton period we did not see any other climbers other than at the Vignettes Hut. Therefore, there are no tracks at the moment so good navigation skills are essential.

There are lots more photos on the facebook page.

On the approach to the Bivouac.

On the approach to the Bivouac.

Approaching the Aiguille Marbrees.

Approaching the Aiguille Marbrees.


Arcteryx Alpine Academy

I arrived in the Alps yesterday evening to start my summer season and today I have been teaching on the Arcteryx Alpine Academy. This very successful training event is held each year in the Chamonix valley.

Today I was out on the Vallee Blanche near the Aiguille du Midi looking at skills such as crevasse rescue. There is a lot of deep snow around. This should be taken into account when planning objectives.


Skiing at Saint Gervais

As I reported earlier in the week, I am out in the Alps at the moment with Paul, Chris and Colin. One of the reasons for this is to allow us to prepare for our upcoming Greenland trip. We spent today at the Saint Gervais ski area looking at essential skills for safe travel in glacial terrain on skis. These included; ski belays, crevasse rescue skills and avalanche search techniques.

Colin off piste at Saint Gervais ski area

Colin off piste at the Saint Gervais ski area

The Saint Gervais ski area is massive and has a vast amount of terrain for all abilities of skier. More photos from the last few days of ski touring near Saint Gervais can be seen on the ClimbNow facebook page.

Tomorrow, I am returning to Scotland and will be writing a report on Saturday from the Glencoe area.