Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grands Montets...

With another few centimeters of fresh last night Tamsin Gay and I were pretty keen to get out to the Grands Montets.

With limited visibility in the morning we decided to stick to the trees, skiing some great pitches away from the chair lifts in the Magic Forest (Tamsin pictured).

In the afternoon the visibility improved a bit allowing a descent of the Lavancher Bowl and a descent right down to the village of Lavancher itself...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Haglöfs new ski jacket wins international award...


Haglöfs has been given the ISPO Award for its new ski jacket Vassi. The award will be presented to Haglöfs at a ceremony at ISPO Munich – the leading international sports business trade show taking place 29 January to 2 February 2012.

Haglöfs’ Autumn/Winter 2012 ski jacket Vassi has been developed in close collaboration with professional freeskiers and Haglöfs Friends Per Jonsson and Asbjørn Eggebø Næss.  The aim behind Vassi was to create a ski jacket capable of meeting the requirements of even the most passionate skiers. Now Vassi claims its first success even before it hits the shelves.

Haglöfs will be presented with the ISPO Award in the category Action Apparel for the Vassi Jacket at the ISPO Munich sports business trade show. The jury, comprising international sport journalists as well as experts from trade and design, chose Haglöfs’ jacket based on criteria such as innovation, design and performance.

“The Vassi Jacket is a combination of many good details that a jacket must have in order to be especially user-friendly,” says Kuno Prey, Professor of Product Design and jury member.

“We have been working to extend the collaboration with our Haglöfs Friends for some time, aiming to incorporate their experience, thoughts and ideas into our product development process. The award is conformation that this strategy has been successful,” explains Nicholas Warchalowski, CEO of Haglöfs.

Wow - and it's bright!...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Off Piste in Courmayeur and Pila...

With snow falling and poor visibility yesterday it was an ideal opportunity to check out the Italian resort if Pila near Aosta with Stuart MacDonald.

Not a bad choice at all with plenty of trees and varied terrain for off piste skiing within the ski area.  Today, we visited Courmayeur again for some more tree skiing following a bit of a top up to the powder levels last night (at least another 3-4").  There is some more light snow forecast this week before temperatures are due to plummet to approx -30 degrees by the end of the week!...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Off Piste in Courmayeur...

As planned I joined Stuart MacDonald this morning for a long weekend of skiing with his group of regular clients.

Heading through the Mont Blanc Tunnel this morning the weather was much finer on the other side of the Mont Blanc Massif and we enjoyed some great runs within the Courmayeur lift system and off the 'Arp' via the Col d'Arp.

The snow conditions were good for the most part with some powder and soft snow making for great skiing.  Stuart is pictured above on a previous visit to the same area as I didn't take any photos today...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Col de Fenestral and Vallon d'Emaney....

I have swapped the Scottish Winter season for some Chamonix skiing this week - joining British Mountain Guide Stuart MacDonald for some Aspirancy work in Italy.

With a day to spare, Neil Johnson and I decided to head out for a quick mini tour.  The village of Finhaut was our destination, just over the col in Switzerland, where we were keen to check out the area.

From Finhaut we made a fairly hefty ascent to the Col de Fenestral, before skiing the north facing slopes of the Dent d'Emaney (pictured) down into the Vallon d'Emaney.  From here a good run down to La Creta and Le Tretien followed...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Curved Ridge, Buachaille Etive Mor...

Scott, Iain, John and Chris along with Matt Stygall and I made an ascent of Curved Ridge II/III,3 today.

Keen to add to many of the skills that we had practiced in previous days we were keen to do a longer route that required us to 'keep the foot down' a little.

Over night a fair bit of fresh snow had fallen, making the initial start to the ridge tricky with delicate climbing in crampons and gloved hands.  High up it was blowing hard, moving snow which will contribute to some slab deposits in the odd location.

We shared the route with Keith Ball and Tim Neill from Plas Y Brenin, working with a team from Cotswold....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ice Factor...

With gales forecast this morning John, Chris, Scott, Iain and I decided after some deliberation to visit the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven.

Matt Stygall had also joined us which allowed a better coaching ratio.  Putting this to good use we spent a bit of time looking at some basic ropework before honing our skills on the vertical ice.

With tired arms we also visited 'Pinnacle Buttress' in Glen Nevis to experiment with gear placement and some belays despite the high winds...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stob Coire nan Lochan...

I joined Scott, Iain, John and Chris today for three days of mountaineering and an introduction to winter climbing.

Having had the pleasure of working with the team before, we decided to pretty much get straight into the thick of it.  Heading into Stob Coire nan Lochan we spent a fair bit of time doing some basic ropework and snow belays - essential skills for the days ahead.

The weather was forecast to deteriorate but just after mid-day the winds were still light.  Looking up it was clear that the crowds had cleared from Dorsal Arete (II) so we fired up this in good time.  Scott is pictured leading up to the top.

The corrie was busy today with a team's on 'Unicorn' VIII,8, 'Central Grooves' VII,7, and 'East Face Direct Direct' VII,7...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

White Shark, Aonach Mor...

With a brief day off today I joined Emma Warren (pictured) and Matt Stygall on Aonach Mor for some ice climbing.

Despite a rising freezing level there is plenty of ice in the main drainage lines with many of the major routes in condition.  Accessing Coire an Lochain via 'Easy Gully' we traversed under the crag to the bottom of 'Aquafesh/White Shark' IV,4.  This proved to have some good quality ice although reaching the central peg belay is a little thin (although it often is here from what I understand).

'White Shark' is also famous for having a large cornice and today was no exception, although somebody had been kind enough to tunnel through it previously.  The belays are well equipped with pegs, allowing a relatively straight forward abseil descent with the addition of some abseil tat.

Here is a brief video clip of Matt Stygall squeezing his 6ft frame though the hole onto the plateau:


[...] Matt Stygall cramming his large frame into a tunneled cornice in the name of the 'traditional scottish mountaineering experience' Route: White Shark IV,4, Aonach Mor. Scotland [...]

Monday, January 16, 2012

Edelrid Sponsorship...

It's great to announce that I will be joining the Edelrid team for 2012.  I am looking forward to using Edelrid products on the hill over the course of the year...

As a brand Edelrid have been around for a long time and have a great pedigree.  I certainly have fond memories of the brand as my first half rope was an Edelrid product - which saved me from a number of "whippers" on the Derbyshire Gritstone!

More recently Edelrid have developed an exciting range of ice tools, crampons and harnesses along side their extensive range of ropes.  I will also be joining Di Gilbert and Adam Hughes (both Mountain Instructors) who already use these products.

Here is a brief promotional video or take the time to check out the Edelrid site using one of the links above:

Curved Ridge, Buachaille Etive Mor...

Apologies for the lack of updates.  I have been staying in Lagangarbh under Buachaille Etive Mor for the last couple of days.

Si had managed a flying trip from the Peak District which had luckily coincided with fine settled conditions and excellent visibility.  Following the thaws of previous days, the remaining snow cover is solid neve.

We decided to do 'Curved Ridge', setting off early negotiating frozen streams and verglass low down.  Fairly soon we needed crampons and were able to climb the lower section in gloves. Finally, the top section was covered with great neve making for swift progress and a very atmospheric ascent.

High up on Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor there are plenty of ice routes in condition, too numerous to mention here.  'Indicator Wall' is quite icy so I would be surprised if Aonach Beag wasn't in good condition - particularly the reliable line of 'Stand and Deliver'....

Emmerdale...

I have been away for a few days working in Yorkshire doing some safety rigging work for ITV's 'Emmerdale' with Paul Moores and Rory Gregory.

No spoilers here I am afraid, but watch the show in about 5-6 weeks. Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team are pictured about to conduct a crag rescue...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Scottish Mixed Video...

A brief video following a few days climbing with Joel and Tobias earlier in the week.  Thanks to Dan Goodwin.


[...] Early in January 2012 Joel Nordström and Tobias Allansson joined me for some Scottish winter climbing in Fort William. With no ice in evidence we spent a great few days getting to grips with the mixed stuff. Routes: Ordinary Route IV,5, The Message IV,6 and Jacknife V,6...Big Thanks to Jeol Nordström for the camera work that appears here.[...]

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Curved Ridge, Buachaille Etive Mor...

It was very warm this morning on the west coast with rain showers quickly developing after dawn.  Dave and I were keen for a longer mountaineering route so decided to head to 'Curved Ridge' II,3 on Buachaille Etive Mor.

We were quick out of the blocks again this morning, but there was already a team making their way up to North Buttress by headtorch.  We had Curved Ridge to ourselves, enjoying a very alpine ascent alternating between bare rock and snow slopes.  Despite the lack of snow in the photograph above, plenty remains in the north facing corries and a refreeze will turn everything to neve.

Joel and Tobias climbed Ledge Route independently yesterday and had a great day despite the burly conditions.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Ledge Route...

Dave, Steph and I had an early start in Fort William this morning with the intention of picking a suitable mountaineering objective on Ben Nevis.

The weather was fairly unsettled his morning with rain/snow showers and a freezing level much higher than forecast.  As a result the snowpack was still very wet from the previous day making progress harder than anticipated.  Despite this we made good progress up Ledge Route, II before reversing the route in descent (we were quite sheltered on the route).

The mountain appeared fairly busy in general, and I noticed parties making their way to the base of the South West Ridge of the Douglas Boulder, Fat Boy Slim, No.3 Gully Buttress and Thompson's Route.  I imagine that the higher mixed routes on No.3 Gully Buttress will be in good condition.  A selection of routes have been logged in the CIC Hut Route book - Jack Loftus recently having made an ascent of Gargoyle Wall.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Zig Zags, Gearr Aonach...

The temperature shot up today resulting in a damp day on the west coast of Scotland.

Today was the first of a few days with Dave and Steph who are keen to do some mountaineering style routes.  Sadly, a delayed flight into Glasgow last night meant that we opted for a slightly shorter day today.

The Zig Zags I, on Gearr Aonach fitted the bill for a shortish day but giving a good opportunity for a bit of a ropework and winter skills 'shakedown'.  We carried on up the ridge into Coire nan Lochan before descending to the car.  The snowpack was wet in the corrie but with a freeze overnight should bed down nicely for the long term.

Ben Nevis is pictured from yesterday (05/01/2012) to show conditions before the thaw.  The ice lines of Hadrian's Wall Direct and the entry to the basin on Orion Direct are visible.  However, I suspect that this is very much superficial at the moment.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Jacknife, Douglas Boulder...

It's been tricky interpreting the forecast this week and today was no exception.  With a high, but lowering freezing level over night and a high avalanche risk, it was going to be a tricky choice.

Joel and Tobias were keen for some more 'punchy' mixed climbing, so after some deliberation we decided to head to the Douglas Boulder on Ben Nevis.  I hoped that the north westerly wind had stripped some of the snow off freezing the turf exposed to the wind.

Luckily, this was exactly the case and we enjoyed some steep technical mixed climbing on frozen turf following the line of 'Jacknife' V,7.  This line had a first winter ascent by Nevis devotees Jonny Baird and Andy Turner.  Following this we continued up the SW Ridge of the Douglas Boulder, along with Rocio Siemens (Westcoast Mountain Guides) and Mike Pescod (Abacus Mountaineering).  Another team also backed off the classic line of 'Gutlass' IV,5.

Finally, if anybody finds a single black Hestra glove on the approach to the CIC Hut it would be great to reunite it with the other one....

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Message, Coire an t-Sneachda...

Joel, Tobias and I were quick out of the blocks today, leaving Fort William at around 6am.

We were keen to get ahead of the atlantic frontal system that was on its way, and it's associated precipitation and storm force winds!  Coire an t-Sneachda was the obvious choice and we opted for 'The Message' IV,6, thanks to the generosity of another team.  The crag was well plastered giving some good early season mixed climbing with out the digging of the west coast.  Luckily, we managed to top out before the wind became too strong and descended by the Fiacaill a' Choire Chais.  Dave Evans was also at large and checked out the 'hero hooks' on 'Droidless' VI,6.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Coire nan Lochan, Ordinary Route...

Joel and Tobias joined me yesterday from Sweden, keen to get stuck into some Scottish winter climbing.

With a fairly burly forecast for the west coast of Scotland, the choice of venue was a difficult one today.  Most areas were forecast heavy snow with strong winds today although these dissipated relatively quickly.

We decided to head into Coire nan Lochan, plugging a time consuming track into the corrie.  Arriving at the lochans it was clear that any new windslab would be covered by fresh snow making route choice difficult.  After turning around trying to approach 'Twisting Grooves' IV,5 we opted for 'Ordinary Route' at IV,5, which gave some good mixed climbing followed by an abseil descent.