Winter 2018

Telemarking powder at the Grands Montets – 16th March 2018

 

An Intro to Ski-touring at the Bonatti Hut – 12th March 2018

A wintery and wild weekend of weather kept us off the glaciers as we made for the Bonatti Hut. Located above the Italian Val Ferret and across from the Grandes Jorasses, it was potentially a stunning place, once the cloud finally cleared.

 

Touring up through the deep snow was great for consolidating the newly found skills, and with the promise of a great ski decent in the powder for the way back down.

 

The 3 Cols Tour to the Combe de l’A – 23rd February 2018

A journey out the back of the Grand St Bernard hospice that travels north over 3 short climbs to cols. The route is parallel to to the main valley down to our right but often this wasn’t visible as the inversion cloud welled up.

Fortunately we were treated to enough glimpses of the sun and the surrounding peaks to enjoy this atmospheric journey with nobody else around.

At the final col we prepared for the long descent back to the village of Liddes. It was going to be cloudy and incredibly cold, we were glad to be able to keep skiing for most the journey down the valley known as the ‘Combe de l’A’.

 

Mont Fourchon ski-tour above Grand St Bernard – 22nd February 2018

A morning of sunshine in the midst of a mixed bag of weather, it was fantastic to finally see the view from our mountain base at the Grand St Bernard Hospice. Our tour took us down the snow plastered road into Italy. Our main objective, Mont Fourchon is a ski peak just behind the pointy summit of the Pain de Sucre in the photo below.

One section of the first descent has you skiing though a road tunnel!

Touring above  the cloud inversion.

Skinning takes you almost to the very summit, the last 20 metres or so are done on foot. This short section of winter walking takes you to quite a small summit and we got a last few of the surrounding mountains before the cloud finally folded in, for the rest of the day!

 

 

Descent back down to Kandersteg – 21st February 2018

On the last day of our ski tour we knew we had mostly skiing to look forward to, but it was such a stunning day that with 2 short ascents we were able to travel across a series of ridges in this splendid place and take it all in.

 

Looking back at where we’d come from, the snowy col in the middle distance.

Almost at our high point, with the distinctive shapes of the Balmhorn, Altels and the Rinderhorn in the background.

Finally we start skiing! Great snow and lots of fresh tracks

The upper section in the sunshine was fantastic…

… knowing we would have to eventually descend into the valley cloud at some point. But with snow cover all the way to Kandersteg the adventure continued..!

 

Lötschental to the Wildstrubel – 18th-20th February 2018

An introduction to multi-day ski tours, with a plan to travel from the Lötschental Valley in the south of the Bernese Oberland and cross over the mountains, via the summit of the Wildstrubel, to finish in Kandersteg to the north. A reasonable journey for this time of year in mid-February. One of the ‘huts’ was really a mountain hotel, with a shower, which helped! But with good snow conditions, and keen skiers, the adventure of the 4-day journey on skis was particularly appealing.

A warm-up day skiing and touring around the Lauchernalp ski area, before heading to the Lötschepass Hut for the evening.

Skinning up beyond the hut on the second morning to the Gizzifurgu Pass, we were the first and only team!

From the pass we were rewarded with this fantastic ski descent all the way down to Leukerbad. Powder for the first half, which suddenly changed into firm crust by the time we reached the trees. The descent worked completely as we reached the piste down to the town and the welcome ski lift that took us to our next accommodation.

Heading high up on the Wildstrubel on an atmospheric day. Supposed to be completely cloudy, except for those exploring some of the higher peaks…

Great skiing on the way down with a stunning ambiance of the surrounding peaks and light. Very cold now though, good to keep moving…! And reach our next hut, the Lämmeren.

The sunset viewed from the Lämmeren Hut, looking across at the Balmhorn and the Bietschhorn.

 

Creag Dubh traverse – 13th February 2018

As the weather had closed in on the bigger mountains around the smaller but shapely peak of Creag Dubh above Newtonmore was a good objective today. With short scrambly section to get started on to then pull up onto the main summit ridge.

 

Fiacaill of Coire an t Sneachda – 12th February 2018

A popular winter mountaineering ridge in the Cairngorms. It was great to be back in Scotland when the snow conditions were so good. A bit windy at times but this mountaineering ridge still worked well for the team of 3. Some snowed-up rocky scrambling and exposed sections to traverse along this made for a good adventure with one axe.

 

 

Powder skiing in a white-out – 8th February 2018

Murky conditions through a very pleasant forest…

Still not much of a view at the top of la Carraye

 

Great snow on the descent!

 

Skiing and boarding the Vallée Blanche – 6th February 2018

 

La Luisin – 30th January 2018

La Luisin is a peak that over looks the Marécottes ski area and its East couloir is quite visible from the pistes. Getting to the summit can be a bit more of a challenge, but the adds to the adventure of skiing this line.

The approach to the top of the couloir is a little exposed…!

The couloir had a number of crevasses within it, fortunately none that blocked the route entirely.

Looking back up the line

 

Over la Golettaz at les Marécottes – 28th January 2018

Once again we journeyed over the col de la Golettaz, behind the ski area of les Marécottes, a combination that accesses good snow and a great ambiance amongst these fine limestone mountains.

Heading up to the Col d’Emaney

At the Col d’Emaney, beneath the Tour Salière. Shall we go left, or right…?

Down to the right, looking on to the Dents du Midi

…and great snow down to the frozen reservoir

 

On the Bel Oiseau – 24th January 2018

The Bel Oiseau is a fine ski touring peak above the village of Finhaut, which also has some cool gullies to ski once you reach the main summit. Also has some very fine views!

From the true summit looking west to the Perrons, the Aiguilles Rouges and eventually Mont Blanc

Looking down the South Couloir…

 

A quiet Col du Passon – 25th January 2018

The col du Passon presents a varied ski-mountaineering journey with potential for a great ski decent of the le Tour Glacier. Relatively accessible from the top Grands Montets ski lift, this wasn’t an option today as this lift has been closed for repair the past few weeks. So touring to the top instead then skiing over to the start of the climb for the col.

Heading down to the Argentiere Glacier

Looking back at the previous ski descent, now starting the climb up to the col du Passon

Heading up right underneath the Aiguille du Chardonnet

Always there is a booting-up section, good softer snow today, fantastic conditions and ambiance

At last over the col…

 

Skiing success at St Gervais – 19th January 2018

The slopes of the St Gervais ski area proved to have the best off-piste skiing, and open ski lifts. At the end of the week even the sun came out for a moment too.

 

A wild and wintery week – 16th January 2018

Much snow and high winds in the mountains curtailed our plans to tour much beyond the forest. Avalanche hazard at category 4 and with many ski lifts being closed, it was good to use the imagination of what could make a fun ski-touring journey.

Following trails through the forest above le Buet

Only a bit windy at our high point!

 

A grand hike up Mont Buet – 12th January 2018

Starting from the road and finishing on the summit of Mont Buet at 3096 metres, its the highest mountain around without involving a glacier, and you can sure of a decent hike and height gain. But this also is a fantastic journey, without the help of uplift, starting in the woods around the village of le Buet and then travelling up though the Vallon du Berade amongst the rocky peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges. As you take on the upper flanks of Mont Buet itself you soon climb higher than all other surrounding peaks and although your legs can feel the 1600 metres of height gain, they are also looking forward to the descent.

Looking back at the Vallon du Berade

The view looking over the Aiguilles Rouges and beyond to the Chamonix Aiguilles

Looking west and south across the French Alps

Great to be on the summit!

 

A ray of sunshine at the Grands Montets – 5th January 2018

Great skiing on the Friday afternoon after a very snowy, and sometimes impressively wet, week…!