Saturday, 28 March 2009

Wet weather here in Chamonix

A south west air stream has hit Chamonix and all the humid air has brought rain to the valley and it's just not pleasant out of doors, but still not as bad as Fortwilliam! We went to ski this morning but turned back, collected our climbing gear and headed for the local climbing wall. It was really OK there and we enjoyed a quiet hour until others began to arrive and crowd the place out. "Mont Blanc Escalade", is the climbing wall and is situated next to the Simond factory in Les Houches, a five minute drive from Chamonix and is a cool place to get muscles pumped and while away a wet day! Snow wise, the freezing level is around 1600 meters perhaps dropping to 800 meters overnight, so there will be plenty snow once this air stream passes through!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Verbier today

We have had an amazing day in Switzerland with some superb snow! Bad weather commencing tonight as there is a large front passing through, they are saying snow coming down to 800 m here inChamonix... Wow!!!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Great snow in Chamonix

Skiing at Grand Montets today, you do not have to go far to find the most amazing snow! Cara is really getting to grips with the steep and the deep. Visabilty stayed reasonable and well, it has been perfect!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Chamonix haze and lots of ace snow

Snowing like crazy here just above Chamonix and we enjoyed some great snow, visibility was not so good really high up but at mid levels it was OK. Howevere it's a great excuse to sample the fantastic lunches. But we skied our legs off anyways! Meanwhile in Rogers Pass, BC. my friends Alan, Alex and aspirant avalanche serach and rescue hound, Chester had a great time on Youngs peak......

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Fresh snow

We woke up to several inches of fresh snow this morning. From our window we could hear the avalanche guns so Cara and I decided to go and find some fresh tracks elsewhere. About an hours drive from here there is little gem of a place which is best accessed from Notre Dame de Bellcombe. The ski area is known as Espace Diamant and it has expanded vaslty over the past years and boasts some amazing skiing with few people and one hardly ever has to que. Many of the forests are home to rare birds so are protected and skiing some of trees is therefor prohibited, but the skiing was truly superb today with good light and visibility. Even with the new snow the avalanche risk was lowish. We have had an outstanding day!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Vallorcine and Col de Balme

Cara is totally motivated and loves skiing though the trees! There were lenticulars on Mont Blanc all day and the forecast is for 10 -20 cms snow down to around 800 meters tonight! We will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Arrived in Chamonix, cannot wait to get out there!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

An outsanding day at work!

I have had the most fantastic day climbing with two nice people who discovered how exhilarating it is to climb and be free in Scotland's wonderful mountains. Here are Mark and Helen climbing the Runnel (Grade 11**) Coire An T Snechda. They were recording for BBC Radio Scotland and well, we had an ace time! How wonderful life is, we must remember not to miss or waste even a second of it! The Runnel was first climbed around Easter 1946. The first route recorded in this corrie was Pygmy Ridge climbed in 1904 by Harold Raeburn, with W Gordon, G Almond and A Roth... there have been many wonderful climbing days in the coire ever since! The first route ever recorded in this area was Pinnacle Ridge in Gleann Einich in the summer of 1902 by H Lawson and H Raeburn. In those days it was easier to get to Gleann Einich rather than Cairngorm... how the ski road has changed things around!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Weeds and mountains

Its an amazing life being a Mounatin Guide... Weeds are growing and needed removed. That was part of my day off!Meanwhile on Cairngorm we had quite a mild day this morning, but still lots of snow in the gullies and we can expect colder weather and perhaps snow soon!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Goodbye Canada, hello Cairngorm!

Top Photo: Wet Glove, slush in the snow pack at around 13 cms. down from the surface. Joy records all in her little book!

Transformation! It was -36 degrees at the Bow Hut the other day where I was ski - mountaineering with Alan and Chic! As you can see there is slush in the snow pack here on Cairngorm, but it did snow as we were digging our pit this morning high on Cairngorm. If it continues to freeze then this will turn to ice and continue to be a "non adhesive" layer in the snow pack. If it continues warm, the water will gradually sink to the rock below which can cause another form of instability and often results in full depth snow slides. It's always fun in the mountains.. and as you can see, there is still plenty snow at higher altitudes!

Kathy takes the temperature and wind speed as Sandy digs!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Wapta Ski touring

Chic Scott and Alan Dennis on the summit of Mount Gordon 3203m . The temperature was  -35 Centigrade when we left the Bow Hut.
Chic Scott skiing below St. Nicholas Peak.
Here we are on the summit of St. Nicholas Peak 2970 m. Left to right Sandy Allan, Chic Scott and Alan Dennis.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Spring Moon

It's been a quick road trip to Vancouver, Coal harbour, two nights in a comfortable berth on board on Becca's wonderful Spring Moon. An outstandingl sail and probably the very best way ever to see around Vancouver. Alan's sisters "21 st" birthday party and a tasty meal with exceedingly nice company. I am back in Revelstoke now and heading to Banff later this evening. A ski tour is planned for a few days with some Canadian master skiers, it's going to be a blast and I can hardly contain myself!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Revelstoke Ice

Have had an interesting morning, went to climb some local ice but it was a bit hollow and eventually we had to ab. off... fun though!

Glacier National park. British Columbia

Well, we got out of the truck which we parked in Rogers pass and were straight into Narnia land! Skinned up through the forrest of the Illecillewaet valley, up on to Glacier Crest to Lookout Col. This gave us fantastic views of Sir Donald 3277 and to the Asulkan Valley. The descent was on good powder snow, Alex released a small slide and then a good ski back to the road. Drove back to the house in Revelstoke where Alan had invited some local friends for a potluck meal and an ace night was had by all!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

With Alan in Canada

Just arrived late last night and here is my friend Alan leading the first pitch of an ice climb on Mount Dennis. Me, I had to get lowered off the first pitch which I wanted to lead! Man, just-basic- me could not get into the zone at all and I could not balme it on the fantastic single malt I drank with Chic Scott the night before! However after Alan led the first pitch I eventually got my act together and led the second pitch. So after jet lag and Kathy stepping out, maybe things are coming together again!!!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Cairngorm climbing

There were some fresh showers of snow last night and during today but the temperature increased during the day and by 3.00 pm the snow was turning to slush on the plateau. Still climbing in the gullies is Ok with some nice ice pitches forming. The buttresses are begining to look a bit whiter again. Here are Peter and James climbing on a grade 2.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Spiral Gully - COIRE An T - SNEACHDA

With Ken and John, I climbed Spiral Gully today 1st March. The approach pitch was very thin and then it was in good condition with excellent neve. The exit gully is very bare and loose stones have the potential to cause a lot of damge to those below, so climb carefully. Some snow showers in the coire today and hopefully more snow to come!

Ama Dablam reunion team

We ( some of us who were climbing Ama dablam in the past years) had an outstanding meal at "Blasta" in Newtonmore last night and then we all went up the hill today and climbed a route or two. Kathy, Chris and Kambiz could not make it as they had other engagements and were greatly missed... but still, the fine vino tinto, Laphroaig and excellent Port and selection of Scottish cheeses went further without them! Its said that climbing with such exqusite nectars in ones system is similar to climbing at high altitude!

Saturday 28th Feb - Cairngorms

With Ken and John we climbed "Crotched Gully" and then "the Runnel". Reasonable conditions on the lower grade gullies. The butresses are still very bare although a few teams were climbing (well, scratching their way up them) and releasing boulders on to any innocent passer by below) !