Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Good conditions continue in the Alps.

With continuing unsettled weather the great snow conditions are continuing out here...last week in Courchevel & Meribel we skied some fantastic snow on piste, and some good powder off-piste with Tom, Matt & Emma; and the last 3 days over in Tignes have been awesome, with loads of fresh snow to go at, reasonable weather, and relatively few people around...long may it continue!!

Fresh tracks anyone? - Clare & Kathy on the Tour du Charvet:

Awesome conditions in the Tour de Balme:

Tim dropping in to Mickeys Ears:

Matt skiing good cold chalky snow in Mickeys Ears:

George lower down the same couloir:

John in the top of Couloir 7:

And negotiating a slightly scrapy passage before the couloir widens:

Friday, 27 March 2009

Coming up trumps..

In the middle of a busy week in Courchevel, with some wild & windy weather, I escaped on Thursday to Beaufort for a 'Introduction to Ski Touring' day with Matt. Despite a dodgy forecast I had hopes we would get some good weather, and driving up the valley the clouds seemed to be gradually parting. On arrival in a near empty car park it was clear that blue skies were the order of the day so up we went for some fresh tracks:

More powder anyone?

Oh go on then...

Having left our mark on the lift-served off-piste we then put skins on for an ascent of the Grand Mont D'Areches, an easy hour and a half - made easier by the lone French 'randonneuse' who very kindly put in a skin track..!

With unstable conditions due to recent winds & snowfall we opted out of the very tempting looking Combe NE and headed back down the East face, which gave perfect powder back down to the lifts again:

So once again Beaufort came up trumps with great conditions and barely a soul to be seen!!!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Hectic times!

Finally back in Bozel again after 2 weeks on the road, and with my body complaining too much I resisted an invitation to go touring with Will & Erika in favour of putting my feet up & drinking coffee...

So firstly, congratulations to Tom, Tim, Erika, Ross, Matt, Paul, Jamie and Ed on passing the BASI level 2 course I was running the last 2 weeks in Zermatt. Despite challenging conditions on week 1 the guys put in strong performances, with a memorable highlight being Tom's lesson run using only the lyrics from songs..!

We did finally see the sun on week 2, and as always the Matterhorn never fails to impress...although the East face doesn't look particularly skiable at the moment!

With 2 days off last weekend I decided to head to Chamonix for a social/play.
On Saturday we headed for an easy day out on the Glacier du Mort, finding soft wind-blown powder:

Hiking the access couloir:

Looking back to the Col Crochues, Grandes Jorasses behind:

On the ridge:

Mt Blanc as backdrop:

Ross & Al ripping the powder:

On Sunday it was time for round 2 with the Breche Martin Encrenaz. Having turned back from here earlier in the winter, but with some insider information, Ross, Oli and I sweated our way up the South couloir and back to the Breche:

The first few turns are very exposed, down a 45ยบ couloir with a 50m drop underneath, followed by a cunning move left, and a few more turns down to an abseil point off a handy rock spike.

Oli concentrating:

Working down to the abseil point:

Looking down into the lower couloir:

Oli on the abseil:

Oli enjoying the powder in the main couloir:

Ross & Olis relaxing on the open slopes below the Col de L'Encrenaz:

Looking back up at the Aiguille de L'Encrenaz, the descent takes the obvious central snowy line:

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Jagged Globe Off Piste Improvers 2009

Back home again after a fantastic week in Tignes running the Jagged Globe Off Piste Improvers week, along with my good friend Andy Jerram.
A mix of weather saw us searching out the cold chalky snow for the first 4 days, followed by 2 days of powder action in the cloud, with a good number of classic descents in Tignes and Val D'Isere through the week (not to mention a fine meal in the Clin D'Oeil in Tignes - best resort restaurant in the Alps?).
A big thanks to Grae, Derek, Mark, Lisa, Pierre, Andy, Kev, Giles, Anne, Rona and Steve for a great week - roll on next year!

Col Pers looking atmospheric:

Entering a gully on the Col Pers descent:

Col Pers again, not bad conditions considering it hadn't snowed for a while...

Lisa, Anne & Giles in the Couloir des Tufs, Tignes:

Lisa on the hike up to Mickeys Ears:

A happy team on the Mickeys Ears ridge:

Kev and Anne in Mickeys Ears, good chalky snow to be had in here early in the week:

Giles in the bottom of Mickeys Ears:

2 weeks of BASI instructor exams to run in Zermatt now, so the blog will be quiet for a while, but check back soon for more off-piste conditions & information..!