Winter 2012-13

Andermatt ski-touring exploration – 3rd April 2013

Three days spent touring and simple mountaineering up behind the Central Switzerland ski town of Andermatt. Thanks Mark for sending in the photos!

Back in the Bernese Oberland – 30th March 2013

A very mixed bag of weather this week… Always cloudy, plenty of snow showers, yet the potential for sunshine at moments were also forcast. We made the most of the morning sunshine with an early start, leaving from the Finsteraarhorn Hut for the Weisknollen.

Our reward were some amazing views of the Oberland Massif as well as the first run down that day in great snow.

By the end of the week the cloud and the snow fall did roll in with a vengence, and the conditions added to the ambiance of a fantastic descent back down into the Lötschental from near the Petersgrat.

Col d’Encrenaz, found at last! – 11th March 2013

A cloudy day following snowfall, with a fair bit of pea-soup navigation, finally proved fruitful as the view cleared on arrival at the Col d’Encrenaz in the Aiguille Rouges.

Amazing skiing down the other side into the Bérard Valley, in the sunshine and freshtracks… so cool we didn’t stop to take photos! Yet as we reached the valley bottom we realised we were the first team skiing into the Bérard that day… One other guided party arrived an hour after us, but for those amazing minutes skiing down from the Col, we had the place to ourselves.

The next day we headed over to the Croix de Prélayes, a great touring peak/adventure across the border into Switzerland. Here we could look back at our col attained the day before.

Ötztal and Obergurgl – 19th March 2013

Ski-touring in Austria; a mixture of day tours, off-piste skiing followed by a mini expedition spending 2 nights in a mountain hut to get in closer to some great cols and peaks to climb and ski.

A ski tour on the Periardes Glacier, above the Valley Blanche – 4th March 2013

As well as a ski descent in its own right the Valley Blanche allows access to a range of ski tours, either towards the Italian border or, in this case, up the side of the Periades Glacier. Its great to add extra skiing to the day and to explore further in to this wild, glaciated landscape.

Donning skins at the far side of the Salle à Manger, the touring section takes 1-2 hours, up amongst some impressive scenery.

Ski-touring on a split board around the Chamonix Valley – 23rd Feb 2013

Young boarder Jack and his dad Brian combined tactics of dad’s previous ski-touring experience with the son’s good skills on a board off-piste. How to go touring with a board? Either take snow shoes and carry the board, or try out a split board. These seem to be improving each year, being quick to assemble from downhill to uphill modes, and back, and by all account are fun on the descent as well.

Heading up to the Col d’Argentiere

After a few days of trying various shorter tours, with the weather being perfect and the snow still cold and powdery we thought we’d have a go at one of the glacier tours above the main Argentiere Glacier.

The fine setting at the col

Finally at the col you can look down into Switzerland, and across at Mont Blanc which appears above the chain of peaks above the main glacier. Plenty of time to enjoy the situation and look forward to the descent you’ve earned.

The whole week was about discovering how well the split board (and the boarder) coped in situations that were often taken for granted by skiers and ski-tourers. On the slopes, up and down, there is never really a problem, once you get used to kick-turns… Its only on the flat sections and crucial traverses that boarders have to work harder and it was at the end of this day on the flat of the glacier that a small amount of help from dad was much appreciated!

Good team work!

Couloir Vuibé, near to Arolla – 25th Jan 2013

Having a pleasant ascent to gain a different line of descent makes for an aesthically pleasing day, though with a bit of commitment thrown in too. Today Graham and I headed up a glacier above Arolla to check out a stunning line that is possible to ski through the cliffs on the left.

Heading up the glacier towards the Vignettes Hut

A slightly fore-shortened view of the 900 metre couloir…

After an interesting beginning to the couloir (a short abseil), Graham starts off down the rest of the line…

…though after many steepish turns there’s still loads of skiing left to do!

Hannah finding a good rhythm after numerous turn in the slightly variable snow

The gully widens out near the bottom, although we’re still aware of the final obstacle to negotiate…

We missed out the icefall direct finish on this occasion…

A spectacular Vallée Blanche – 23rd Jan 2013

Sean cruising down through the Grand Envers finish…

Le Tour – 17th Jan 2013

Despite the sun, it was bitterly cold in the wind today

Looking down the valley at Mont Blanc, with the Aiguilles Rouges on the right

Finishing in the Val de Trient, en Suisse…

Mont Buet – 8th Jan 2013

A fair old hike up this great peak that ‘hides’ behind the Aiguilles Rouges. Yet in fact it is bigger than them all to the north of the Mont Blanc Massif and you can see the Matterhorn and the Meije from the top!

a different way back down, to find good snow out of the sun

Courmayuer – 3rd Jan 2013

Arriving in the Petit Dolonne

not bad snow…and miles of terrain

Exploring the back-country at Les Marecottes – 26th Dec 2012

  In the back bowl of Les Marecottes…

…under the Luisin

Ski-touring in the Swiss Valais alps – 23rd and 24th December 2012

3 days of an intro to ski-touring with dad and daughter team, Chris and Rebecca

Rebecca gets to break trail for a while…

The un-tracked wilderness lies ahead – Rebecca with her dad, Chris

Skinning up to the Pic d’Arstinol

Some great snow back down a different flank of the peak

some good turns…

A fun gully to ski at the Grandes Montets – 19th December 2012

The view appears after many days of blizzard – 19th December 2012

From Vallorcine looking towards the Grandes Montets