Cogne 2016

The Cogne area has a lot going for it. Great hotels. Friendly service. All grades of ice climbing and plenty of alternative activities, apart from the lack of ski uplift. However the Nordic ski facilities are world class I believe. Also snow shoe tracks. Fly Turin or Geneva with EasyJet on the ‘Red Eye’ and be out climbing or ski-ing in the afternoon.

A good weekend and loads to go for, although it’s thawing a lot since we arrived. The first pitch of Lillaz Cascade is much wetter now than in this video. Thanks to John Slater for taking the footage. One of West Coast Mountain Guides longest serving friends/clients. I was helping the new owner Bruce Poll, run the weekend. Staying at Hotel la Barme as normal. A great place and the website has stacks of information on ice and temperature conditions. If you are considering any of the east or south facing routes, please be careful after heavy snow or in a thaw. For example Valmiana II 3 (S.E. facing) was rotting in the afternoon sun when we were on it. The large snow bowl above, had been stable for quite a while though, so the avalanche risk was moderate for us. It’s worth talking to other climbers when you arrive and the bar at the hotel is a prime spot for information:)

Another top day

ben nevis

CMD from Aonach Mor/Beag

Another top day in Fort William with almost zero wind and blue skies. Victoria went for a little ski tour with Spike Sellers and Adele Pennington. Skinned up the ski area and over to the col before Aonach Beag. The various faces of Aonach Beag are forming up well, but few climbers were seen, if any. Certainly good for winter walking and some of the safer ridges. Check out SAIS before going into any gullies or loaded slopes

Cycle Lochan Lundavra

Lochan Lundavra Is about as hard as it gets for a short ride locally. There and back, loads of up and down and steep grades. Very quiet though and some good countryside on the south side of the Mamores.

Cycle Corrour

A very good day out with Sue, David Wilson and Coire. We caught a morning train out to Corrour and cycled on the very new and good estate tracks to Rannoch Station, where we caught an afternoon train home. Not very long, but a fair bit of uphill to start with and the track became very bumpy for the final third. Glorious late summer weather enhanced the trip, with views west from Ben Nevis to Glen Coe. A final Cherry on the top is the tea shop at Rannoch Station, not to be missed. The ladies are collecting for Nepal and David was able to hand over a fairly sizable donation.

 

 

Ben Nevis ice

Just when you were thinking of dry rock and sea stacs. Thanks to Paddy Cave who continues to drive north to enjoy quiet ice on Nevis. Alpine training. Bivvy beneath your chosen climb and climb by torch-light into the dawn.

From Paddy:…..Good to catch up with you and a few shots for your blog/fb etc attached from today and yesterday. See the narrows on Point 5, looks complete but the photo doesn’t show the water pouring!? A good freeze ‘might’ have it OK but who knows, would need a closer look. Other routes look better anyway, Hadrian’s/Smiths/Scoop/Indicator as you mentioned..

Cheers, Paddy

A Ben post

I got hooked this morning by a Facebook post on incidents on the Ben Nevis Mountain Track, especially over an early Easter with tons of snow and possible bad visibility. Not being able to resist, here it is again:

 

Enhance the height and location of cairns. Since the debate on poles in ’96 a lot has been improved, even against the wishes of a small minority, who are mostly members of agencies like JMT and MCoS. Ben Nevis is a special case and will always be so. No amount of advertising of dangerous conditions will stop ill-prepared folk trying to climb the highest lump in the UK. The majority of those trying this weekend, will not even have heard or seen the media blast from well-meaning people trying to avoid more deaths. Short of putting the Gendarmes at the foot of the mountain on all sides to STOP ANYONE CLIMBING the peak, there is diddly-squat we can do about it. This debate and deaths have been going on for far too long, so just get the job done properly. Frankly I believe the JMT took on the wrong chunk of mountain and should hand it over to another owner/agency who have safety in mind over conservation philosophy. JMT do a good job, but need to leave their morals behind in the glen on Ben Nevis please. I was a member of the Nevis Partnership for many years and left disheartened when they went against their original idea of joining up the ‘path to nowhere’. It took many years of wrangling between them and the Lochaber MRT and myself and others, to even consider putting the current set of half-buried cairns 50metres apart. Once again many are well-meaning individuals, but unfortunately their mountain morals fall apart in the face of deaths on the UK’s highest peak. I still have a note from a prominent MCoS member saying…”If they cannot navigate they deserve to die and a few deaths are a small price to pay for a pristine mountain”…This person is still a big pal of mine and respected throughout the outdoor and educational world. We had been having a ‘dram’ at the time and I doubt if he truly meant the comment with any real malice or forethought. However, I do believe this attitude does still exist and we all need to stamp it out ASAP. We still have time this weekend to pay local guides and instructors to PATROL the hill in order to try and avoid incidents.

Aphrodite-Diana-Green Gully

Painting by Dave WilsonDavid Wilson

Also at this video. Now with music

 

 

Mt Blanc – Torino Hut

Another hut closure on Mt Blanc for this summer. Hopefully the Midi cable car will run an overnight service (?).

Mt Blanc-Gouter Refuge

Anyone thinking of Mt Blanc via the Gouter Refuge this summer should follow this link:

Various online translation packages available.

The safety commission , who was studying Tuesday morning the case of Goƻter in the Mont -Blanc , gave an opinion that the opening of the summer structure. Reportedly, the French Federation of Alpine Clubs and mountain ( FFCAM ) , refuge manager has not been able to prove that it is capable of organizing security in the building. Prefectural provisions include the presence of 10% of guides on site, which means that some of them are mobilized in a relatively short time. FFCAM now has one month to submit a new security plan to the authorities , if it is to open the refuge for the summer season.

More information in our Haute-Savoie editions of Wednesday.

Be Avalanche Aware

Be avalanche aware folks. Lots of snow and strong winds about at the moment. If it calms down towards Easter a lot of slides might be triggered by the unwary. Ice climbing on Ben Nevis is very good at the minute, BUT, approaches and exits from routes are seriuosly effected by avalanche hazard.

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