Friday, 31 October 2008

Scottish winter starts early!

Yesterday Erick and I ventured North to the Cairngorms to sample some of the early winter conditions. 3 inches of snow greeted us in the Cairngorm car park and we eagerly made our way up into Coire an t'Sneachda. After a brief interlude involving Ericks left foot and a lochain we ventured up Fluted Buttress Direct, a fairly mellow route at IV,5 for my first Scottish route for 3 years. While the south of Scotland was bathed in sunshine it was definitely winter up here.

Erick on the first hard pitch:

With increasing winds and some heavy snow flurries we topped out, headed back into the Coire for our bags, and wandered off through the deepening snow back to the car, Erick evening things out by finding a lochain with his right leg this time for a 2 footed squelch back down the hill...

Near the car park:

The slopes around the car park were busy with folks out sledging and snowman building, and with snow continuing to fall right down into Aviemore town centre it looks like the wintry conditions could last a bit longer...

Monday, 27 October 2008

2009 Off Piste courses

With a wintry chill now in the air and the first snows starting to fall in Scotland now is a good time to check out the Offpiste skiing website for details of our courses for this coming winter.

New for 2009 is our 'Steep Vanoise' week running from 21 - 28 Feb, based in Bourg St Maurice. This week is aimed at strong off-piste skiers and conditions permitting we will head for classic descents such as the North Face of Bellecote, and the North face of the Foglietta. Contact Simon here for more information.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Autumn is here!

Here it comes! With snow down to 1000m across the Alps over the weekend winter is definitely starting to approach. On Friday morning there was 5cm of snow on the road as we left Hintertux, with snow lying down to below 1000m. Saturday morning saw a good dusting down to 1000m here in the Vanoise, and this morning there was a good hard frost on the ground!
The view up the Mont Jovet from Bozel:

So get those skis serviced, and warm the legs up for the coming action... here's hoping its a good winter!

Last of the summer climbs

With the evenings drawing in and the prospect of a few weeks in the UK looming it was time for a last bit of sunshine rock, with the Calanques area near Marseille top of the list. The area has a huge variety of limestone climbing, from single pitch cragging to multi-pitch adventures on trad gear.

Entering the 'Lost World' of the Calanque D'En Vau:

The fine Pilier Sans Soucis. 4 pitches of great mid-grade climbing:

Ginny pulling round the corner on pitch 3. The rock is ALOT cleaner than it looks here (and more polished):

View from the top of the peninsula West towards La Candelle:

Great place for a swim:

The north side of the Calanque is home to some low-grade classics. Perfect in theory for an easy escape back on to the plateau for the start of the walk home, until you find out how polished they are, with 4b pitches proving harder than the 5c climbing on other routes... Looking across at a party on the classic 'Saphir'

Looking down onto the stunning beach of En Vau. These views are what make climbing in the Calanques so special:

Finally, Evan sent through a couple of nice photos from last months foray on the Frendo Spur, cheers Ev. The incredible snow ridge below the Rognon:

Yours truly on the final pitch of the left hand finish to the Frendo: