Thursday, 25 September 2008

Albert on the summit- Old man of Hoy Part 2

We are in a bit of a rush to complete this blog as another adventure is calling us away from this computer terminal! However, before I go here are a couple more pictures of Albert with his friends on the Old Man! Unfortunately Stripey Mouse and Bushy Bob could not get back from the Alps in time to join Albert for this adventure!!
The lower picture shows Kathy (in yellow) climbing with Albert on the first pitch and the second shows Andy and Sandy nursing Albert on the summit. Albert sustained some scratches to is nose while squeezing through the chimney on the crux pitch but is none the worse for wear and really enjoyed the adventure!

Albert climbs the Old Man of Hoy - Part 1

Kathy met Albert in the Red Cross charity shop in Stromness and could see that he was longing to break free for an adventure! So, purchasing him for 0.50p she continued with her other climbing pals to the island of Hoy. After spending a wonderul night in a comfortable bothy at Rackwick we set off at around 8.30 am yesterday and walked the several miles to the foot of the rock pillar. From there 5 pitched of amazing climbing, graded at E1, took them to the summit.

Monday, 15 September 2008

We are not taking vitamin D supplements yet!

After our great Alpine season in Chamonix we are now preparing for our Scottish winter. Based from our new location in Newtonmore we are well placed to Cclimb in teh local national park, or head north or west. Here are some photos from last season of or Scottish winter and if thsi inspires you then do have a look at our up dated web site.
Click on "coures" and then "Scottish winter".
We hope to see you soon ! Although ist worth saying that winter is a long time away yet, we hope! Although it's good to be prepared! Meanwhile we are kept busy with rock climbing, walking, navigation refresher courses and some mountain biking trails. The Cullins of Skye and well, the Highlans of Scotland can be fantastic this time of the year. Many people tend to think that summer is over, but in the Cairngorm National Park we often enjoy dry rock on the hill crags and the pesty midges are less intense! So, it truly is a mellow and enjoyable time for us...

Web site updated for La Grave and Chamonix ice climbing

While Christophe was leading our last Mont Blanc Ascent Sandy has been updating the web site so please check it out Apologies for typos, we are active mountain guides rather than office people, but we try our best to multi task!!!!!
Here are some pictures from Cogne and Arolla taken last year!
Come join us for this winter, courses start on 14 December 2008 in La Grave. Cheap flights are available right now with Easy Jet, BMI,Ryanair and even BA have some good deals going from the UK. We can meet you at the airport of your choice, Geneva for Chamonix, Lyon or Grenoble or Geneva for La Grave!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Misty day on the Aiguilles

Here is Lisa on a wonderful climb. Normally we get fantastic views but on this occasion the clouds were down and the wind cold. The weather is changing, crevasses opening even wider and the snow melted back on the glaciers to reveal traces of old ski tracks from the previous season. The Alpine summer conditions are coming to a close.Most seasons we guide in the high mountains of the Alps until the middle to the end of September. But the smaller (less busy) cable car station close for maintenance and many of the mountain huts shutter their windows and lock their doors. All is not lost thought, the Alpine valley's hold fantstic rock climbing venues and then if the weather clears with azure blue skies you can bolt to the higher mountains . The late season brings fresh snow and the ice routes also begin to form. Routes such as the north faces and couloirs come back into condition. You can enjoy later starts and still enjoy the afternoon sun on the granite rock cimbs. It takes a while for the bregschrunds to fill in again after summers warming , so they remain a major hurdle at the foot of many of the climbs. It's also a lot more mellow. Guides, climbers and friends gather in the cafes and climb toghether again, old friends catching up after the busy summer season. The crowds thin out in the streets of Chamonix, the locals have time to chat! It's an ace time to be there and still there are lots of great days out to be had!

Thursday, 4 September 2008


L'Index is a classic climb above the French village of Chamonix. Lisa climbing the crux moves is the last photo on this post. The other photo was taken higher up the climb as we near the summit and you can see that the views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Aguilles is quite stupendous!

Mushrooms and Mont Blanc

It's well known that mountaineering is a consuming passion and symptoms such as severe vomiting, cold sweats, delirium and even convulsions can be associated with high altitude mountaineering and is often referred to in this mountain guiding blog of mine! However one of my friends who I had the good fortune to stand alongside on the summit of Mont Blanc just a few years back has been experiencing such terrible symptoms. Nicholas and his wonderful wife Charlotte have been in Dr Greys in Elgin and now Aberdeen's Royal Infirmary as a result of tasting the wrong type of mushroom! Apparently the Deadly Webcap is remarkably similar to the innocent Chanterrelle, a common edible mushroom.
I am led to understand that they are recovering but I suppose it may take a while to see how their body's do recover from such a debilitating illness. I have my fingers crossed for them all. It's a simple enough mistake to make and then once you commit to eating them, its literally a life and death decision. So, if you do go down to our local woods today, remember our mushrooms are rather difficult to distinguish. The Chanterelle, Horse Mushroom, Giant Puffball, Chicken of the Woods and the Morel are the most common edible ones! One is well advised to stick to our local malts instead, identifying them is also difficult but at least the are all reasonably tasty. Interestingly enough, one soon realises that too much altitude, the wrong whisky or inedible mushrooms do provide similar devastating effects! So, Nicholas and his family have done us all a great service by highlighting this seasonal issue. Just today Kathy had come back from the woods with several ponds of Chanterelles... I do hope she knows what she is doing.
Anyway I wish all Nicholas and Charlotte's family a very quick and healthy recovery!

Summit ridge to Mont Blanc

Sorry. I ommitted to add this photo.. the words in the previous post may work out!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

On the summit of Mont Blanc

A two thirty in the morning wake up at the Goutier refuge, so by three we were ready to go and James, Alex and I made good progress walking up towards the summit. These photos show the events of the day.. and one of the young men had to rest and remain at rest at the Vallot emergency refuge with some slight altitude sicknes .After seeing him safely ensconced and wrapped up warm I guided his brother on to the summit. Altitude, give you a sore head, a huge feeling of sickness and simply drains all one's energy away. So, it was obvious that the normally effervesent chap who was now weak and pale faced had reached his limit for that particular day and just could not go any further. Sleepless nights at the crowded hut, snoring, sweaty fellow mountaineers and the change of diet, plus the altitude had taken its toll! Still he was cool and relaxed and was polite and willing to let his younger brother go onward. Sheltering in the Vallot refuge out of the wind is Ok if you are feeling weak and tired. There were some blankets to keep one reasonably cosy, ( not so clean really and certainly not a five star Hiltonesque venue) .It was an ace day outside and we arrived on the summit around 6.45am. On our descent I turned around and got this nice photo of looking back up towards the summit. As you can see it is quite a steep ridge, not just an easy rounded lump as it appears from the streets of Chamonix.
On the way down we went by the Vallot Refuge picked up our friend and he was fine but lacking in energy. He made good progress and as we descended into the thicker air he became stronger and stronger. We had a quick drink at the Goutier refuge and then descended the rocky ridge and got across the infamous boulder alleyway of the couloir before the stone fall commenced and got the 13 30 rack railway train from Nid d'Aigle back to Bellevue and then the cable car down to Les Houches. The lads were back at the hotel by 2.30 pm or so. A fantastic effort!

Up to the Goutier hut

Sorry I have been travelling and could not get to a computer, but here are Alex and James on their way up to the Goutier. It was good day and the weather was really nice for us. Its an old hut but is ace when you consider its located at over 3000 meters on the side of Mont Blanc and gets over booked every day of the season and there are invariably others who do not book a place and then end up sleeping on the floor and tables. Also some people get ill at tha t altitude and simply have to hang out there... which all helps to make it an interesting place!