Wednesday, May 15, 2013
The candidates were well prepared and made my job relatively easy, clearly the best sort of assessment. Straight after this I met up with Adam for a few days of rock climbing coaching, developing lead climbing as well as general climbing skills.
The weather in the Peak District was fairly changeable with isolated showers, hail storms and persistent rain at times. This did make things tricky, but with a flexible approach we managed to visit Froggatt, Stanage and Stoney Middleton over the period of two days climbing plenty of routes from Moderate - E2. Adam, keen as ever led the vast majority of these.
For our third day we had set some time aside to do some multi-pitch climbing in North Wales. Keen to make the most of the weather we left the Peak District early heading out to Holyhead and the sea cliffs of Gogarth. After a brief stop for a coffee, we rigged the abseil and dropped into Castell Helen with a big swell running.
Here we made pretty light work of Lighthouse Arete, Rap and Pel, three classic VS's. On a day with heavy rain in the Peak District and possibly in North Wales it was great to make the most of the day at Gogarth.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
The most famous of these mountain areas is the Lyngen Alps, but the reality is that this peninsula is just one of many areas within an hours drive of Tromsø (Troms).
Arriving with good weather, I joined Dougal, Susie, Alison, Ben and Tim in Oldervik after a short drive. Here we made plans to explore the area - what follows is a brief rundown...
Day 1: With a good forecast for the area west of Tromsø we headed to the island of Kvaløya making an ascent of Skitinden (1042m), with the summit just in cloud. We enjoyed a good ski down with a light dusting of fresh, followed by spring snow giving way to a gloop.
Day 2: The awesome view of the main Lyngen peninsula disappeared into the cloud and snow squalls soon followed. Luckily we were well placed to grab an ascent of Svarthamart - Ullstinden (1078m) just behind the village. Again we had a good ski on some "chalky windblown powder" (as we would call it in Scotland).
Day 3: With the weather due to clear we were quick out of the blocks on the third day to attempt the Mont Blanc of the Arctic - Jiekkevarri (1834m). This long day gave a punishing ascent of 2300m from sea level through some interesting narrow ridge terrain. Finally we pulled onto the large glacial dome which forms the summit. Stripping off the skins we punched some turns through some impressive sastrugi before skiing powder down the Sydvestbreen Glacier. Eventually the powder became a bit heavy and gave way to some of the best spring snow that I have skied all season.
Day 4: After a big day on Jiekkevarri, we went for a slightly sluggish start checking out some lines close to Oldervik. The result was the West Couloir of Urtinden, a fantastic 40 degree couloir skied on spring snow.
Day 5: Warm conditions and some equipment packing failure, resulted in an enforced rest day. I shouldn't really name those who forgot their skins...!
Day 6: Another brilliant day skiing Store Lakselvtinden's (1377m) summit couloir. After a lengthy ascent of the Tomasrenna chute we skied this well known line of 40-45 degrees, which felt properly steep for those of us new to that sort of thing. Opposite, and un-named summit gave an excellent ski in cold champagne powder, just the thin for early May.
Day 7: Changeable weather again, but driving north on the Lyngen peninsula got us ahead of the weather and Russelvfjellet delivered the goods with a fantastic descent down the steep summit chute all the way to the sea.
Day 8: Sadly, we didn't quite make it to the summit of Fastdalstinden (1275) on the final day as high winds and rain/snow swept in from the west. We still managed a few good turns though before beating a retreat to Magic Mountain Lodge for a well earned brew.
Skiing in Troms and The Lyngen Alps is a special experience and I look forward to coming back to the area to experience the magical combination of sea, snow and steep mountain sides...
For some addition photos check out my Facebook page here.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
After a brief visit to Burbage South I managed an evening soloing at Burbage North enjoying some of the gritstone classics in the surprisingly windy and cold conditions.
On Sunday, I joined Simon King for a visit to Stoney Middleton. Sheltered from the high winds Stoney was an obvious choice, and it was consequently quite busy (rare indeed).
Keen to try and climb some new ground we tried a few recently bolted lines which proved to be quite interesting. Scouting around in the bays we decided to climb the recently cleaned 'Bay of Pigs' E1 5b, followed by a finish up the classic Golden Gate HVS (pictured). As well as completing the classic test piece 'Pollyanna' E1 5b - worth a go if you want to do an unpolished classic...
Monday, April 22, 2013
A quick trip through to Italy resulted in an ascent of the excellent 'Diretta el Banano' at Machaby in the Valle de'Aosta. This popular south west facing crag gets any sun going and is often very hot, so it was nice to enjoy the route in warm temperatures of 29 degrees.
No less that 36 hours later Chamonix was experiencing a good dump of snow with 40cm on the car in Les Houches. I joined Fiona, John and Sarah a day later for some runs at Les Grands Montets skiing some pretty good powder off the top bin. The front face and Glacier de la Pendant giving the best runs.
I'm now looking forward to a few days back in the UK before heading to Lyngen (near Tromsø) in northern Norway. This 'dream' location really should be on the list of any keen ski tourer or backcountry skier, with descents in some of the finest coastal mountains in Norway...
Monday, April 15, 2013
Along with taking the opportunity to go cragging, I will again be offering three days of Continuing Professional Development Workshops (CPD) for the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI).
Full details of these workshops can be found at http://www.jamesthacker-mountaineering.co.uk/guiding-what-where/uk-mountain/training-for-instructors/
Following a great deal of interest last year and after attempts by AMI to make CPD accessible regionally I have set three days aside on the 24, 25 and 26 May. For further details please feel free to get in touch...
Following our crossing of the Haute Route last year (video) the team were keen for a long weekend's tour. After some discussion together, we hatched a plan to explore some of the largest glaciers in Europe and their surrounding summits - The Bernese Oberland.
Meeting in Grindelwald we were greeted with some pretty bad weather and talk of other guided parties bailing from the mountains. Luckily the weather forecast hinted at an improving situation and with a slightly sluggish start we made our way into the Konkordia Hütte as Jungfraujoch cleared. This gave a good descent on the Jungfraufirn Glacier in some amazing scenery.
It snowed continually on Friday night giving approximately 40cm of fresh snow. Keen to capitalise on this we climbed to the Grünhornlücke before descending down to the Fieschergletscher. Here we donned skins and made the ascent to the summit of the 'Wyssnollen' skiing some of the best powder this season. A warm ascent (Rob G pictured) took us back to the col and a descent down to Konkordia for another night.
Unfortunately, a broken binding resulted in a rehash of our plan the following day meaning a return to Jungfraujoch rather than a descent via the Lötschental. After a short train ride down to Kleine Scheidegg we skied under the North Face of the Eiger and back to Grindlewald...
Saturday, April 06, 2013
This week I have been doing a second lap on the classic Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route itinerary, again guiding for Alpine Guides.
Meeting up on Saturday evening in Les Praz with Phil, Dave, Tom, Patrick, Kirsten and Jon, we sorted kit and made plans to visit Les Grands Montets for a shakedown day on Sunday. As mentioned in my previous post the main aim being to check our equipment, as well as practicing kick turns, the use of crampons and stashing skis on sacs etc. All of these skills are relatively simple in isolation but are important to refresh (or indeed master) prior to heading out on a bigger tour.
We enjoyed a good day skiing on the 'Montets' in some great snow after the unsettled weather at the end of the previous week. Eventually the sun broke through the cloud giving some good visibility.
Monday saw us get the bus to Les Grands Montets to be met with unmitigated carnage. Despite an early start we joined an epic line to access the lift to the top station. Eventually we dashed down the stairs at about 11am to enjoy fresh tracks all the way down onto the Argentiere Glacier. From here it was up to the Col du Passon (climbing in crampons with skis on our backs) before heading over to the Col Superior du Tour and onto the Trient Hut.
Tuesday was another great day and after a short climb to the Col de Écandies we enjoyed an epic run down the Val d'Arpette (Dave pictured) to join our taxi transfer to La Châble. Again we enjoyed light fluffy powder and fresh tracks as the first group over the col, making for some of the best skiing I have ever experienced on a Haute Route.
After a hasty snack in Verbier we continued through the lift system and skinned up to the Col de la Chaux and over to the Rosablanche before descending the Glacier de Prafleuri and onto the Prafleuri Hut.
On wednesday we had another good day for our route around the Lac des Dix, arriving at the Dix Hut with time to spare in the afternoon do enjoy a beer or two along with some Rösti.
With a deteriorating forecast on Thursday (again) we managed to traverse the Pigne d'Arolla skiing from the summit in poor visibility again, navigating by GPS with approximately thirty people behind us. Safely ensconced in the Vignettes Hut once again we got stuck into some obligatory rösti while the storm raged outside once again. With 'whiteroom' visibility on the final day we joined other groups who opted to ski out to Arolla rather than starting the committing final day to Zermatt while other teams attempted to reach the Bertol or simply stay for another night in the Vinettes.
For us it was another great powder descent into Arolla with over 1000m of descent down the Glacier de Pièce again.
Thanks to Phil, Dave, Tim, Patrick, Kirsten and Jon for such a good week...
Meanwhile the Brits have been doing pretty well in Ski Mountaineering Racing (Skimo). At the British Ski Mountaineering Championships down near Grenoble Jon Morgan and Gaby Lees have been crowned British Champions. A particularly good effort in a race that the organisers did well to get a race off the ground in such poor visibility. The race course was changed, and then cancelled after around 1500m of ascent (it was meant to be 1900m).
On Tuesday night Ben Bardsley, Jon Morgan, Ben Tibbets and Misha Gopaul started a Haute Route with a difference - a non-stop traditional Haute Route from Chamonix church to Zermatt Church. They completed the 8400m of ascent and 114.3km in 31 hours. Truly inspirational stuff!
Saturday, March 30, 2013
The weather wasn't only bad here in the alps and my meeting with Mark, Pete, John and Dave in Chamonix was delayed due to problems with their flight from the UK and subsequent transfer from Geneva. Our aim being to ski the classic Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route - with me guiding for Alpine Guides.
Meeting up on Sunday morning in Chamonix, we sorted kit, rented additional equipment etc before heading out onto Les Grands Montets for a shakedown day. Here we checked our equipment, as well as practicing kick turns, the use of crampons and stashing skis on sacs etc. All of these skills are relatively simple in isolation but are important to refresh (or indeed master) prior to heading out on a bigger tour.
Monday saw us get the bus to Les Grands Montets again skiing from the top station down onto the Argentiere Glacier and up to the Col du Passon (climbing in crampons with skis on our backs). Following this we experienced some full on white out conditions navigating over to the Col Superior du Tour and onto the Trient Hut.
Tuesday dawned with improved visibility allowing us to ski down the Val d'Arpette to join our taxi transfer to La Châble. After a hasty snack in Verbier we continued through the lift system and skinned up to the Col de la Chaux. More whiteout navigation followed over the Rosablanche before descending the Glacier de Prafleuri and onto the Prafleuri Hut.
On wednesday we were rewarded with some sun for our route around the Lac des Dix, arriving at the Dix Hut with time to spare in the afternoon do enjoy a beer or two with the impressive back drop of Mont Blanc de Cheilon.
With a deteriorating forecast on Thursday we managed to traverse the Pigne d'Arolla making good progress despite the need for some intense and testing navigation. Safely ensconced in the Vignettes Hut we got stuck into some well earned rösti while the storm raged outside. Although the weather improved a little on Friday morning we were pleased to have made it to the Vignettes and opted to ski out to Arolla rather than starting the committing final day to Zermatt. Our consolation prize was over 1000m of untracked powder descent down the Glacier de Pièce (Dave pictured)....!
Thanks again to the "Yorkshire Team" of Mark, Pete, John and Dave who coped with some testing weather.