Ski-tour and mountaineering on the Eiskögele – 29th March 2017
As part of a ski-touring week based in the Ötztal valley of the Austrian Tirol we spent 3 days around the Langtaleck Hut at the end of the valley beyond Obergurgl. From this mountain hut base a number of day-tours are accessible that take in a variety of mountain terrain, good skiing opportunities and the odd peak to summit. For Andrea and James this was their first time staying in an alpine hut, which had been a really friendly environment with plenty of good food. The skiing was going to be interesting as there hadn’t been any new snow for over a week, yet with good timing for judging the spring snow and the discovery of powder still in existence high up the potential for fun skiing was always there.
Aiguilles des Entrèves south face – 16th March 2017
This slope is a steeper way in to the Toule glacier along from Pt Helbronner. With a short ski tour around to the Col des Entrèves there is then a short section of mountaineering along the ridge to the point where access is gained to this big slope. Slightly steeper at the top with a few rocks to negotiate, but soon after the slope opens up with loads of space for turns and plenty of exposure!
Vallée Blanche variant, the Combe de la Noire – 11th March 2017
Big snow in the trees and gullies at the Grands Montets – 8th March 2017
For 3 days this week a fantastic amount of snow arrived in the Mont Blanc Massif, plenty falling at lower altitudes. This did result in some huge avalanches around the area in the higher mountains, so it was great to make the most of the snow in between the trees and in the gullies leading down the lower flanks of the Grands Montets.
Grand St Bernard ski-tours – 27th February 2017
The hospice that nestles in the Grand St Bernard pass on the Swiss/Italian border operates as a welcome mountain hut accessible only by foot through the snow during the winter months. Ski-touring to and from this accommodation lends itself to some great winter mountain adventures, with numerous cols and the odd summit as possible objectives with hopefully some good skiing for the descent.
After a warm-up day skiing around Bruson (near Verbier) in a white-out and with the promise of new snow, our team set off for the Grand St Bernard pass for a 3-day ski-touring trip. Thanks to Chris Bedford for 2 of the photos.
Half-term holidays on Cairngorm! – 14th February 2017
An introduction to ski-touring was on the cards for a family of 5, using the Cairngorm mountains near Aviemore as a base. We were fortunate to have enough snow for our adventures and much sunshine but also unfortunately this was accompanied with high winds. Each day we were able to focus on touring skills and enjoy some off-piste skiing (with the help of the Cairngorm Mountain ski lifts). Highlights were reaching the summit of Cairngorm (twice so everyone could try it) with some incredible views and particularly high winds on the second visit, and also a fine off-piste ski descent of the Ciste Gully!
Good timing with new snow on the Croix des Prélayes – 3rd February 2017
More snow arrived just in time for our final touring day of the week, which helped to make the approach slopes of this little peak much more enjoyable. A couple of hours of skinning lead to a ridge we needed to boot up and before long we were all at the summit. It was exciting to be the first to drop in to the slope on the other side, but the snow was good and this made an adventurous end to our ski-touring week around Vallorcine. Thanks to Cathy O’Dowd for the photographs.
Col d’Annibal, beneath Mont Vélan – 1st February 2017
Peculiar winter conditions during the previous days meant that there was no snow to walk and ski on below a certain altitude, so it was helpful to be able to drive as high as possible to start our ski tours. With a recent snow fall followed by a sunny day we decided to head round to the road end at Bourg St Bernard in Switzerland with the goal being the Col d’Annibal. This was a good climb up to beneath the west face of Mont Vélan, with a promise of a good ski on the return.
Awesome snow and ambiance at the Col d’Emaney – 20th January 2017
Our team headed over the back of the Marécottes ski area to explore the Lac de Salanfe basin. Here lie the peaks of the Dents du Midi and the Tour Saliere, and further left again is the Col d’Emaney, our high point. Despite the strong winds of recent days the snow on these slopes seemed unaffected by the wind, indeed it was an amazing soft cushion for the skis after a week of variable snow.
Ski-touring above the refuge Loriaz – 16th January 2017
Good new snow and freezing cold temperatures had us seeking out the sun today. This was the first day of our touring week, so we headed up to the Refuge de Loriaz and then on up to the peak known as le Charmo.
Beyond the barrage d’Emosson – 29th December 2016
Not much new snow this week, so we made the most of the sun and the stable weather to explore on touring skis and escape the Christmas crowds. Fortunately the road up towards the Emosson dam was still mostly clear so we could drive up a fair way. The ski tour took us across the sweep of the dam and up behind the formidable Perrons ridge in search of good snow.
Early season skiing at Courmayeur – 15th December 2016