Spring snow in the Bernese Oberland 15th April 2011
Mont Blanc de Cheilon 6th April 2011
Back to the Dix Hut with Rob and Ali, using the hut as a base for a 3 day tour, skiing over Mont Blanc de Cheilon and the Pigne d’Arolla, starting and finishing from Arolla.
Mont Blanc de Cheilon is the very striking craggy peak that dominates the view from the Dix Hut, and from this view you could well wonder how one might reach the top with a pair of skis… But round to the right, the west flank opens out as a glacier, permitting access to the winter/ski-tourers summit.
In the shade all morning and with nobody else about, it was a pleasant climb amidst spectacular surroundings, always with the massive wall of La Ruinette as a backdrop; a truely wild place to be.
Traversing the final glacier to the summit, again is straightforward enough but the sense of exposure and knowledge of the serac cliff that lies somewhere below us…make for an exciting time all round.
Time to enjoy a sandwich and the view looking west, and to prepare for the ski back down. The snow was still good despite the heat of the day that surrounded the mountain; the slopes stayed long enough in the shade to keep a hint of the powder that had fallen 2 days before.
Sunshine and showers on the Haute Route 2nd April 2011
A week of a mixed forecasted weather set the scene for the start of this Haute Route week, but with as much sunshine as there were to be showers on the horizon, reaching Zermatt by the end of the week still seemed a definate possibility!
Having decided against hiking the many hours in a whiteout to the Trient Refuge on the first day, it was a bit of an anticlimax to spend the afternoon taking the train through the rain to the Verbier ski area. However the next day all was clear again, as we set out from the Cabane du Mont Fort for the touring peak of the Rosablanche.
Enjoying the cool of the morning sun, it was a welcome a mellow start to our tour,journeying over 2 cols, with amazing views, no crowds and the promise of powder for the descent from the peak to the Prafleuri Hut.
The Rosablanche is mostly a glacier with small rocky peak as its summit. It was nice to take time to scramble to the top and see all the fine mountains of the western Alps all around. The ski down to the hut was lovely, lots of whoops from the team! The fresh snow was still light and powdery, and it was fun to get a long ski down to the hut.
An early start the next day took us through the descending gloom to reach the Cabane des Dix, more snow overnight with this time a clear start the following morning.
The Pigne d’Arolla is the highest point on the tour and its great to climb another peak after all the cols which make up the journey. The tour now felt a little busier as we were amongst the several other teams all doing the Haute Route. Understandable when the journey is so well-known and popular, but yet there is still loads of space for everyone to share these mountains.
Another early start for the final day to Zermatt, 3 cols to cross, one of which involves some booted climbing. A day where everything learnt on the tour so far is brought together, hopefully with enough energy to enjoy the final long ski descent back to Zermatt and at an hour not too late in the day…
Cheers go to Luke, John, Espen, Richard and Ric for making it a great week!
Andermatt 24th March 2011
Another week of off-piste skiing and touring which began at last with a blizzard! Based out of the small town of Andermatt in central Switzerland, a venue that has become a free-rider’s paradise; 1500m of uplift to the summit of the Gemsstock, with 10 times more in potential off-piste descents.
The weather pattern of winter 2011 continued for us this week however. Having had our quota of fresh snow for day 1, each subsequent day was spent exploring further slopes on touring skins to reach untracked snow. Day after day of clear, fine weather gave us great views all around. For once Mont Blanc is no-where to be seen…but the eastern Bernese Oberland, and further a field Monte Rosa and the Mischabel helped us find our whereabouts in the Alps.