Alps Mont Blanc

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 Goûter 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.

Best wishes for 2014

At Calluna and Alan Kimber Mountaineering Sue and I wish you all best wishes from 2014. If any of you reading this, have photos of days out in the coming year, from anywhere in the world, please send us a report for posting.


Run for your money

Whether you guide in the mountains for love or money, it takes effort and commitment and not a little skill from the whole team. On this occasion, my daughter, Victoria and I were on holiday together, looking to achieve a dream of being side by side on Mont Blanc, summit. We succeeded on a perfect weather day and more of how that was achieved will follow in days to come. In the meantime, Victoria proved very able to follow the slow plod of her Dad!

Acclimatisation is a most important element for success on high alpine peaks and we chose a favourite hut above Saas Grund. At just shy of 3000m, the SAC Almageller Hut offers a medium length approach (3/4 hours) through mature forest and high alpine pasture, good rock climbing at all grades and varied terrain on the local 4000m Weissmies. The weather was mixed and early starts led to success, followed by afternoon cloud, snow on the tops and rain in the valley. It’s never relaxing to be chased by approaching poor weather, but always satisfying to succeed.
One photo above shows ominous lenticular clouds massing above the Tasch/Dom traverse as we left to follow the Dri Hornli Ridge, which is a most enjoyable route and highly recommended.
Images above give a flavour of what to expect on the Dri Hornli traverse.
The photos below show our next objective, the rocky south side of the Weissmies. This mountain is a great training peak, offering a glaciated north face ordinary route from the Hohsaas lift system, a technical north ridge and our chosen line from the south side on a generally good and simple rock crest. We descended the north side and took the lift at 3000m back to the valley for a nights rest.

After the warm, rocky delights of the south side, comes a snowy descent with some potential danger from seracs and crevasses. The lower section of the route is not a place to linger, especially as safety, ice cream and Rosti awaits the successful alpiniste! Unfortunately the afternoon cloud had arrived to put a blot over the sky.
So, three days training, fun and acclimatisation completed as planned, needed a clean up, soft bed and and a few beers. Victoria has a thing about “active relaxation”‘ which is not a concept I’m aware of! We booked into a Guest House  Had a nice meal at the ever popularHotel Roby and booked a night at the Britannia Hut for the next day. The Saastal tourist board are offering a good deal on all transport in the valley, except the Metro. For every night you stay, free uplift and Swiss Postbus is given by your campsite, guest house or hotel. A great deal I think.
An early start to gain the Britannia Hut, allows for some glacier training, essential experience for anyone intent on alpine travel. The hut is easily approached by the Felskin lift system out of Saas Fee, all of which is currently free, using the travel discount ticket mentioned above. An hour (at most) is all that is needed to gain the hut.

Initially we had hoped to ascend the Holaubgrat, but an overnight dump of snow led to a change of plan. A trek back to the metro station and an easier route from the top station, before the weather caved in again, later in the day. Three shots below on the ordinary route on the Allalinhorn


Two 4000m peaks and a great rock climb in the bag, we headed back to Chamonix to stay with good friends and fellow guide Mark Seaton and his family.
‘Active Relaxation’ involved a not insignificant lump of rock in the Aiguille Rouge. Fortunately we met up with another good friend and mountain guide, Chris Ensoll, who took the lead on the finger of rock known as the Aiguilette du Argentiere. Some photos below give a flavour of the climb. Thanks to Chris Ensoll for taking the photos.



Time to tackle the main objective. Our training had been good and the weather was set fair. We had pre-booked the Tete Rousse refuge in ascent, plus the Gouter Hut in descent, in order to avoid crossing the Grand Couloir in the heat of the day.
An 0200 breakfast start from the lower hut with crampons from the outset and we made slow but steady progress, with a brief rest at the Gouter Hut to stash some kit and food for use later on. A long but satisfying day, and we finally made the summit in perfect weather. We arrived wearily back at the Gouter Hut just before 1600, in time for a good meal and ten solid hours of sleep. Even the noise and chaos of groups leaving the next morning, did not interrupt our slumber. The following morning a relaxed 0700 breakfast and we made a midday train from Nid D’aigle, back to the valley. Body and happy memories intact. A great trip.














Also check outTravelling Lassie

Grand Couloir

Reports suggest the route accessing the Goûter Refuge, via the Grand Couloir on the Mt Blanc approach is currently very dry and dangerous. This video shows what can happen. Anyone fancy a holiday in Scotland!?


Mont Blanc du Tacul North Face Triangle


Did two routes on this left hand side (don’t know the name) and Cheri couloir on the right. Both in perfect condition but with temperatures rising they won’t be for much longer.Regards

Mike Anderson

(two days ago)

"mont blanc du tacul"

Mont Blanc du Tacul - North Face Triangle

Cosmiques and Mont Blanc du Tacul

Finally catching up with a host of photos from 9th and 10th September. After being reduced by poor weather on Monte Rosa, we moved over to Chamonix at the start of a good spell of weather. The previous week had given us good acclimatisation, which is always a bonus when catching a cable car straight to 3,800m and spending a night in the Cosmiques Hut. A leisurely afternoon start on the Cosmiques Arete after dropping our kit at the hut was supposed to avoid any crowds! Unfortunately we were in a bit of a ‘confusion’ of ropes, especially at the wall pitch close to the finish.

Various techniques were on display from prussiking up a fixed rope to cleanly by-passing the whole ‘guddle’ on the left or right. Interestingly the teams who showed a clean pair of heels were all British and fast. Leaving crampons on for this section (see photos), can provide added purchase on the smooth granite, as a number of conveniently slotted drill holes are placed just perfect for front points. Strange that! A night back at the hut plus an 0500 start placed us on the summit of Mt Blanc du Tacul all by ourselves on a very fine morning, with views all around. At the time of our ascent the approach face and seracs were all silent and well frozen. This area is notorious for serac fall and avalanche, so be warned in poor weather. Seracs are a law unto themselves and it’s wise to be swift when climbing below them in case gravity takes over!

At the time of our visit the conditions were very good and quite a number of teams were out on the Chere Couloir and adjacent routes. Since arriving home in Scotland another dump of snow has arrived in Chamonix, so my alpine blog is now out of date and climbers are asked to find more recent reports. One noticeable concern that will remain, was the amount of loose rock and glacial melt-back on the lower rock apron of the Aiguille du Midi, south face. So much so, that a fence has been erected below obvious loose ares to encourage climbers to stay clear!

Heading to Switzerland



Good weather continues today. I’ll be off to Switzerland tomorrow for a prolonged ‘hut-fest’ over eight nights. Starting at the Hohsaas Hut, then moving on to the Almageller Hut for five nights, before descending and moving quickly over to Zermatt and the new Monte Rosa hut. So, for well over a week the blog will be barren.

Another fine day

More settled weather today with a hint of high cloud over Mt Blanc. Check out the update on the rockfall on the Grand Couloir approach to Refuge Gouter and Mt Blanc

Another day out in the Aiguille Rouges. This time on the ridge uphill of the Index, itself a good accessible rock climb.  For anyone happy on the Skye Ridge, this outing above the Index offers good training up to 2800m. Plenty of loose rock and route finding issues. Descent by the same route is possible, as are many other non-obvious possibilities. Take a rope and some abseil ‘tat’ in case of problems.



New snow in Chamonix

After weeks of very warm weather in the Alps, last night a colder set of fronts moved through and dumped snow down to much lower levels. This latest snow has certainly burned off as today has progressed but it is still nice and cool. Check the weather