Thursday, 5 April 2018

Alpine part 2 (and 3 - 6)...when will the season end?

This winter, what a season!  April has started and here in the Alps, it doesn't look like it's slowing down...or warming up as we would expect or hope for.  Even back at home it is looking to be a superb season and with no signs of slowing down either.

Since my last post there has been quite a lot going on.  In February I jetted off to Aurland in Norway working for Moran Mountain.  I had some of my regular clients along and working alongside some great friends made for a brilliant trip.  Ice climbing is always good fun.

Skiing in the Alps has been close to non stop.  Im just back from two hut to hut tours where we found some great snow but some rotten weather sometimes.  Before that, I was observing guides with their clients, helping out and trying to learn as much as possible from them.
Rock climbing season doesn't seem that far away so I have managed to squeeze in a couple of cragging sessions in after skiing...to hopefully remind myself of how to do it!

The winter season is very close to the end for me.  My final winter challenge is to pass my ski test.  This is a 6 day assessment based in the Alps.  Hopefully, the next time I post, I will be back in the UK with a big smile on my face.  Results on the 20th April.

After that I will be back in the UK working my socks off before I go into the final stage of becoming a fully certified IFMGA Mountain Guide.

Here are a few pictures...but in no particular order!
Tom topping out on a brilliant WI4

Day off with Donald.  Always an adventure.  Unfortunately we DNF this route.
Katya making her way up to join me on the first ascent of this route
Natcho bring some colour to yet another first ascent
A super WI5 with the strong Irish youth Neil
The WI5, mega route
A spot of leading for Neil (the youth)

Natcho and Neil organising themselves whilst leading Dambusters WI3
Natcho on the sharp end


Dream team from Alpine Guides.  Just before we set of on the Silvretta tour
The hut is this way....honest
More like it...
Good snow, good skiers, good times
Lori contemplating where to go next
Deserted ski resort in Val Stura in Italy

Neil pausing to take it all in
The team join me ready for the freshies on descent
Another day, another blank canvass
Great snow
Freshies, an overused but relevant word this season.
We found a hidden bunker...took some digging to get in
Filling the gaps
They were arguing about who gets to go next...there was plenty for everyone
a snowpack evaluation session
When the bed bugs hit!
Powder in Italy
More powder in the 'magic woods'
Vallee Blanche team
Skiing down to Italy with my mentor Andy Nelson
The client get to lead


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Alpine season part one

This is by far the longest I have been away from Scottish winter and despite there being very good conditions back home we are equally having great conditions here.  Yes, we have had Category 5 (very high) twice this season and the 'worst' conditions (in regards to avalanches) since 1991, and we have had fluctuating temperatures but there have still been countless days where we have had great snow and ice.

This season is (hopefully) the last winter season before I become a full IFMGA Mountain Guide.  So the aim is to observe as many guides as possible as well as build a great deal of experience and knowledge before I am let loose on my own.  So I have spent some brilliant days, skiing, ice climbing, observing guides and getting to know new areas.  Bring on a good season.


Skiing the ENSA couloir with Lou while she was out on holiday
Here I'm abseiling into the top of the ENSA.
Christmas day skiing with Lou and familiy
We thought we would try a day of snowboarding.  It has been 6 years since I last snowboarded, still great fun.
First bit of observation work, navigation for skiers
Some great ice in Cogne.  This was our 2nd trip to the Valley in Italy.
Another day skiing with some local friends.  Great to get their knowledge and enthusiasm on a blue sky day
Jack, Fat boy and I shared Rachel Kerr for the afternoon for some ski instruction to brush up our technique.  A well worth afternoon.

A great day on the Vallee Blanche.  We did two laps today with a good team of guides and friends.  A great way of absorbing their knowledge and having a great laugh.

A great week observing Graham Frost from Frost Guiding.  We went on some tours...

My home got buried...

...the group go instruction...

...we skied powder in the trees...

...with blue skies...

...

...
So, a great start to the season, Im looking forward to the next part.  I have just returned from an avalanche course ran by the legend Alain Duclos.  This week, I will be on a course run by the BMG on 'Off-piste guiding' so looking forward to learning all about it.



Thursday, 30 November 2017

Back on Ben Nevis

Does it get much better for mixed?

A quick hit on Ben Nevis this morning with Andy.  The main aim was to get down for 1300 for a coffee.  So with these time restrictions we opted for a quick route on or near the Douglas Boulder.
On arrival, we decided to pick a line which wasn't in the guide book.  Turns out it was called 'Watery Foul's' (V,7) which had an intense first pitch then cruisy for the following two pitches.
Andy of the first pitch

Mint
The mountain was looking stunning but reports of very slow/exhausting walking rendered the rest of the mountain unclimbed.  Teams climbed Gutless/Rutless and Cutlas on the Boulder.
Winter is getting off to a good start...Now a wee thaw to keep us on our toes.

Spot all the lines

Andy on the third pitch