Winter 2018-19

Vallée Blanche from Pt Helbronner – 1st January 2019

A great way to start the New Year! The team headed through the Mont Blanc tunnel to ascend by the Skyway lift system to reach Pt Helbronner, the Italian start to the Vallée Blanche.

Perched on the high crest of the Italian-French border there are great views all around from here from Mont Blanc to all the way east to the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa.

It was our aim for the day to combine the descent of the Vallée Blanche with some ski-touring, and this helped us travel around the bowl of the glacier to be more in the sunshine. It was fantastic being out in this environment, it wasn’t too busy and the views were amazing.

After cruising round the slopes of the Grand Rognon for many turns we eventually travelling through the the more complex section of the Salle à Manger, with the impressive Géant Icefall in the background.

Heading down the final section, here with the Grandes Jorasses and the Dent du Géant in view, we were going to find the snow conditions a little thinner… But despite the rocks and the moraine the team arrived in good style to reach the end of the descent.

 

First ski down the Vallée Blanche – 29th December 2018

The recent snowy weather has by now done a good job for this time of year at filling in the glaciers high up. Yet below a certain height the rain of a few days previous had done a bit of damage to the potential ski conditions. Even the Midi arete at the start of the Vallée Blanche was looking a bit thin..!

We went to have a look, finding the arete was not completely equipped, nor straight-forward, being more similar to its summer mountaineering condition. Yet once the skis were on the snow cover and quality were pretty good.

    

We decided to ski the Petit Envers descent of the Vallée Blanche, the snow was fairly compacted but still soft and the cover was good. We were able to head to the left of the Petit Rognon before heading down past the Requin Hut and the Salle à Manger.

     

Needless to say, the final section was a little icy and rocky but we were able to keep our skis on until just before the steps up to the Montenvers train..!

 

The Grands Montets by the ski-touring approach – 26th December 2018

Following a period of poor weather, snow in the mountains and rain in the valley the sun finally came out for everyone to enjoying the new snow on Christmas Day. The following day we headed up to explore the Grands Montets, which this winter season will be without both its telepherique lifts.

Skinning up from the top of the Herse or Bochard lifts still gives access to the upper slopes of the Grands Montets, now as a backcountry outing. It is different to having the ease of the lift but still within around 1-2 hours you can reach a point where you can ski.

Heading down the after all our efforts, with the Aiguille d’Argentiere in the background.

 

Winter Climbing in Coire an t-Sneachda – November 2018

The winter has arrived early at the end of 2018, affording three separate excursions into the Northern Corries on Cairngorm to go climbing and mountaineering. Conditions have been really quite snowy, with the buttresses being well covered.

A group of teenagers heading in towards the back of Coire an t-Sneachda.

To the left of the corrie is the crag known as the Mess of Potage where on one day we went in to climb route named Pot of Gold.

Pot of Gold takes a line directly above the climbers

Stepping out round the buttress to start the pitch.

On a second day we returned to climb Hidden Chimney Direct which first takes a corner on the right of the crag, before crossing easier ground to find the chimney itself.

Very snowy conditions made the chimney good fun to climb!

… and a great view looking back out of the corrie towards Loch Morlich and Aviemore.