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:)

Thoule – Cogne

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We had a great day with Bruce Poll on Thoule. We met Frank and ‘Scouse’. overcoming hangovers by all accounts! Two great guys.


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Silvana is just one of the superb staff that help to run the Hotel Barme. Quite seriously the best hotel I have found in the Italian Alps. Climbing at Cogne, today we all ascended ‘Parti’ and abseiled off before the hard pitches. A very good day, but much busier tomorrow, with good weather. Working for West Coast Mountain Guides. Still the best guiding company, developed in Fort William in recent times!

Real roadside

Before heading off to catch our flight we tackled a little roadside gem, which had been mentioned to us in the hotel bar. Just down the road from Cogne, near Epinal. The belay at the top is a long way back on ice screws. It is also possible to walk in from above and lower down this pitch for top-roping. The walk in is down the road from the tunnel in the road, where parking is available. At the moment, if you drive down to the yellow crane you have gone too far. Next week the crane might have been removed!


Lovely Lillaz



Compared to yesterday when we arrived in Cogne, today the sunshine Gods were leading the pack! An early start on the classic Cascade Lillaz .enabled us to stay ahead of the arriving coach loads . There were probably around two hundred people in the gorge today and all were having fun, working for the ‘Boss’ of West Coast Mountain Guides Bruce Poll.
We finished the main climb and descended by simple snowy tracks to the foot of the middle pitches and enjoyed more good ice.. Plenty of teams out working on the side walls and no avalanche issues at all in this area. A number of harder routes above the gorge were being climbed. We descended for well earned beers at around 1600 and it started snowing again.