Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A climb in Switzerland

Here we are in Switzerland. As usual Sandy slept in at the wonderful Trient mountain hut.. It's easy to do, as the duvets in the guides room are a total luxury... and like a himalayan yak Sandy seems to perform best at altitude! Anyway, after a bolt upright awakening by Jim, Sandy rushed his breakfast and we were all harnessed up and readay to depart the hut not much later than the groups who awoke at 4.00 am.We roped up on the galcier and headed over to the Tete Blanche and climbed this wonderful arete shown in the photographs. During our descent back to the village of Le Tour ( France) we met an curious Marmot. The little chap came extremely close to Jim's camera and was probably attracted by Jims open and friendlypersonality and interesting hair style which the Marmot would probably appreciate as good insulation for his burrow for the forth coming long and chilly winter hibernation!

Acclimatising for Mont Blanc

Just back in Chamonix from a three day trip in the mountains. With Jon and Jim we did some rock climbing around the cargs in Chamonix and then headed up to spend a night at the Albert 1er refuge. That night it stormed a lot but we made the best of it and enjoyed some fine red wine and Genipie provided by the guardam Claude Charlet. There were several other British guides in the hut with their clients so we had wonderful time. Our plan was to wake at five in the morning, but the thunder and lightning was very dramatic and I woke the guys up at 4.00 am to tell the they could sleep until seven. At seven the storm had more or less cleared and after enjoyable breakfast we headed on up the glacier. Although Jon and Jim are not really climbers I suggested to them that rather than just tackling the normal route on the Aig du Tour we do something a bit more technical. Initially they were really keen but they were not so sure when I pointed out the Table Du Roc, but once we climbd it they really enjoyed the experience! The photos show us on the climb which starts with a climb up the snow and ice gully and then a rtaher fine rock arete which finishes bang on the summit. As you can see its huge smiles all around and the guys made the climbing lok very easy. From there we descended the normal route and traveresed the Palteau du Trient, to spend the night with Terry at the Cabane du Trient ( Switzerland)

Monday, 28 July 2008

Busy times in Chamonix, France

Here we are in Chamonix again, the weather is sunny and very warm in the mornings, with clouds building in the afternoons and eventually, a storm comes and clears the air. Above 3000 meters the galciers retain a virginal whiteness with the fresh snow. Cragging this morning we found the grass and crags wet with the morning due, however the sun soon burnt off any moisture leaving the rock pristine and dry.
Here we are up on the Vallee Blanche, Jon and Jim are climbing with me and we are doing some technical climbing but also it's their ambition to attempt Mont Blanc by the end of the week.The middle photo here shows the south face of the Aig du Midi. As you can see there are several teams climbing it. It's the main holiday season now and Chamonix is incredibly busy. Dream do come true here!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Changable and sultry

Oh, the weather in Chamonix is not so great in the higher mountains, but if you are into rock clibing in the vallee it would be superb! Although it is too hot to climb in the middle of the day. This afternoon we had an impressive storm with loud thunderclaps and drenching rain. This should clear the air and hopefully next week will be reasonable enough. Having said that the Meteo is forecasting clouds building uo during the day and eventually the large thunder heads will form and more storms will follow.
These photos show the veiws from The Tourist office this afternoon. The Dru is almost out of the cloud, but Mont Blanc is truly socked in!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Bikes and bothys

Although the weather recently has been a little unsettled you can still enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Scottish hills. On bikes we visited a very well kept bothy (Dalnashallag) in Glen Banchor. The wide open space of the Glen makes you feel quite remote. Bog cotton, and many different flowers carpeted the glen, even a golden eagle flew over our heads. Our circuit took us on a round trip from Newtonmore to Cluny Castle then back through the Glen, a nice little workout!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Team Ascent Charity slide show

Last night Team Ascent presented an Ama Dablam slide show to the people of Coniston. The event was to raise money for Coniston Primary School. £200 was raised in total so thanks to all who turned up to support the event including the fabbi ladies who brought along the delicious scones cheese and wine!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Richard and Table du roc couloir

Here are some photos of Richard after climbing the Table du Roc couloir. It's an ace climb and we had a bad weather forecast but rather than skulking around in the the fine cafes of Chamonix we walked up to the refuge Albert 1er in the rain. At 4.00 am the following day we awoke to poor visibility, however we left the hut anyway and by the time we reached the base of the couloir ( the general photo was taken later as we descended from the Col du Tour) the mist had lifted and it looked as though it would be good weather day afterall. There had been some fresh snow deposited, but only very slight. Kathy, Richard and I climbed the couloir in good time, moving together all the way up the snow/ice section.We then scrambled our way along the exciting and exposed ridge to the summit, where we met my good friend Reme who was guiding Tim and Sarah from Australia...Reme was just a few days home from an expedition in Peru where he and a friend had climbed an unclimbed rock ridge and then skied down an extreme snow face..... he does that sort of thing rather often! A colourful character and calculated risk taker and excellent mountain guide! Like many guides and people who work in harsh environments, it can be done in a safe way if you assess the situation and play by all the rules. It's often tempting to take some short cuts, but when the margins are thin, you have to remain firm, precise and sharp and not be tempted by excess ego, peer pressure or materialistic opportunity... and be ready to turn back or review your plan at short notice. Such discipline is not easy when your clients are paying lots of money and only have a short holiday with you.... However, one can still succeed, get the climbs and ski descents completed safely and enjoy a wonderful life....

The North Face of the Tour Ronde

Here are some more photos of Richard and Kathy on the North Face!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

In Chamonix

The summer guiding season has started for Team Ascent in Chamonix and here we are,(Richard, Kathy and Sandy) on a traverse of the Aig. D'Entreve, which borders Italy and France. We did this interesting rock ridge last Monday as an acclimtaisation route before guiding Richard on the N. face of the Tour Ronde. The Tour Ronde is featured in the last photo of this post and takes a line which climbs up the right hand side of the lower triangular ice field and then climbs through "the narrows", which is about three and half ice pitches (rope lengths) at an angle of around 55-60 degrees. This leads on to the upper inverted triangular shaped ice field ice, where the angle kicks back a bit and leads to easier ground and some interesting rock climbing which lead to the summit. The lower sections are climbed in the dark and we left the Torino mountain hut at around 3.00 am and approched the face and climbed by head torch light thus ensuring (one hopes) that the ice and snow slopes remain frozen. This helps to keep the face safe(ish) and any potential rock fall is reduced as everything should be frozen and secured into the ice. As the sun dawns, and strikes the upper part of the face, the warmth thaws the snow and ice fields and falling stones invariably tumble.