Monday, 27 December 2010

Conditions update & course spaces.

Conditions update 27/12/2010:

The snow in the 3 Valleys is currently in excellent condition - soft, light powder off piste (though still thin in places so watch out for the rocks!), and great snow on piste. With cold, clear weather predicted for the next few days now is a great time to get out & roam far & wide through the 3 Valleys area.

Course spaces:

We still have a limited number of spaces available on the following courses:
Tarentaise Day Tours & Coaching week, 5 - 12 March
Steep Vanoise Tours, 27 March - 1 April

Contact Simon here for details.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Windy weather

Today I met up with Patch, Sam & Olly for a day's touring.
Despite a forecast of strong Foehn winds the morning didn't look too bad!

With Chanrossa chair shut a detour via a few extra lifts took us to the top of the Roc Merlet chair, where we headed off in search of adventure in Les Avals... With no track in place a short skin took us onto a very windy Merlet shoulder from where we dropped down through variable snow to the Plan du Vah.
Time for a spot of early lunch out of the now strengthening wind:

An hour or so of skinning got us onto the Col des Saulces and we headed off in search of powder (or something!) in the Combe des Roches.
Sam leads the team:

Up high the snow was (not surpisingly) very variable, with some nice wind-compacted snow interspersed with harder patches. As we dropped lower onto more sheltered slopes the snow gradually softened up, finally giving some great powder turns through the trees.
Olly enjoying the soft snow:

Well done to all the team for braving the weather, here's hoping for kinder conditions next time!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Intro to Touring weekend

This weekend the Intro to Ski Touring weekend, based in Chamonix. With travel chaos in the UK we were slightly reduced in numbers, but Will, Lou & Don braved the cold (very cold) temperatures and we found some great powder while covering the ins & outs of ski touring.
On Saturday we headed to Le Tour, where cold knee-deep powder was interspersed with the occasional patch of windblown hardpack just to test the balance...
On Sunday, with a poor forecast we looked lower and made the short tour up the Croise Baulet from Combloux. The ski down more than made up for the uphill efforts, with great powder turns, all rounded off by a chocolat chaud in Le Plan before using the lifts to get back to our starting point.

Heading towards the Col du Jaillet, Petit Croise Baulet up right:

300m of climbing took us to the top:

Great powder turns on the way down (too much fun being had & the camera was forgotten!). A mid-descent break for food & drink:

Last few turns above Le Plan:

Friday, 3 December 2010

Yesterday's powder turns

A quick video I knocked together of yesterday's tour above Courchevel, just to give an idea of conditions at the moment:

Courchevel pre-season powder from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

More powder..

Managed to sneak out for another quick tour this afternoon in the brief interlude between weather fronts.
Great conditions again, with perfect powder, up to 40cms deep in places.

Nice views:

Greg enjoying the soft stuff:

Partial opening of the Courchevel/Meribel lift system this Saturday - should be great conditions (certainly on-piste)!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Early season powder.

Went out for a quick look around in Courchevel today. The hill seems to be shaping up nicely - looking pretty white for the time of year...

Skinning up the Loze:

A wintery Grand Bec:

Perfect corduroy, ready for the invasion:

Ginny's first turns of the winter:

Soft & fluffy powder, blue skies ... perfect...

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Busy times... Kendal Mountain Festival

Not long back from another hectic weekend working on the presenting team at the Kendal Mountain Festival.

Highlights include introducing a certain Mr Glen Plake to a packed house on the Saturday night - a true living legend of skiing & genuine nice guy:

Also top of the list were the film "A Life Ascending", and Timmy O'Neil's lecture - off the wall, innovative, completely mad, but fantastic!

A Life Ascending trailer here:

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Archive footage - Jean-Marc Boivin

Some classic footage from the French TV archives - they don't make 'em like this any more!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Kendal Mountain Festival update

'Tower Gully - A summer ski descent' will be showing at the Snowsports Night at KMF, on Friday 18th November in the Dojo as part of 3 hours of films and presentations. Also featuring are the legendary Glen Plake, and snowboarding photographer Dan Milner.
Tickets can be purchased online here.
The film will also be showing in the Ski & Board film selection throughout the weekend.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Tower Gully ski film at Kendal Mountain Festival

Breaking news:
The Tower Gully ski film has just been selected for this year's Kendal Mountain Festival, running 18-21 November. No details yet on which slots it will be shown - will update as soon as the schedule is finalised...

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Tower Gully ski film

Following last night's premiere of the Tower Gully film at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival it is now live online:


Tower Gully - A summer ski descent from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Tower Gully film at Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival

Just a quick reminder that my film from this June's descent of Tower Gully on Ben Nevis is showing at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival this Saturday. The session starts at 7pm and also features several other films + a lecture by legendary British alpinist Mick Fowler.
Tickets still available here.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Cave-skiing video

And finally, after some delay...:

Cave-skiing from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

Mad? Probably... Fun? Definitely!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Tower Gully film @ EMFF

An update on the Premiere of my Tower Gully film at this year's Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival - the film will be showing as part of the Saturday evening session - 7pm, October 23rd.
The session also features climbing & kayaking short films, as well as Dave Macleod & Andy Turner's recreation of Marshall & Smith's epic week of new routing on Ben Nevis; to top it al...l off the guest speaker is the one & only Mick Fowler - legendary taxman and "mountaineer's mountaineer"!
Should be a great evening - don't miss out - tickets are available online here.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Winter on the horizon?

From one extreme to the other this week - drove back from 3 days climbing in shorts & t-shirt on sunny limestone in Orpierre to find snow down to 2100m in the Savoie!

Speaking of which, I finally found time to do a quick edit of footage from July's ski mission on the Mt Pourri:

July skiing - Mt Pourri from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Steep Vanoise 2011 dates

Dates for this coming winter's Steep Vanoise weeks are now confirmed:

Steep Vanoise - based in Bourg St Maurice (accommodation tbc): 27 Feb - 4 March

Steep Vanoise Tours - based in Brides-les-Bains (accommodation tbc): 27 Mar - 1 April

Please see the main offpisteskiing website for more details.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


The "12 Month Challenge" is alive and well!!!

Despite work getting in the way big style this month, a ski descent was pulled out of the bag on the 31st August...

I had heard rumours of a 'legendary' cave that existed with a snowfield in the bottom of it which kept its snow all year round... last year with further research I discovered its name: the Chourum de la Parza.
Sitting in the Devoluy massif, South of Grenoble, the Chourum sees very occasional ski descents, mainly due to the difficulties in getting into it - 75m of abseiling to access it, followed by a climb back up the ropes to get out again!

Will testing out his 4x4 sandals:

Entrance to the Vallon de Truchiere:

Thar she blows! - The entry to the Chourum:

Don't forget some bolt hangers! - The top belay is rigged with bolts and nuts but no hangers - presumably to avoid casual users getting in over their heads?

25m down the top slabs, just the small matter of a 50m free-hanging abseil from here:

Luckily we had taken a 100m rope along with the 75, as the top of the snow was pulling away from the rock leaving a big, dark bergschrund - with 75s one person would probably need to stand holding the rope-ends at all times to avoid them drifting out of reach above the void!!

On top of the snow, looking back up the ropes:

Will starting the free-hanging abseil:

Almost down:

Will enjoying his first subterranean turns:

The snow was great - firm névé with a soft surface - after the first couple of metres which were covered in debris from above the surface was smooth & debris-free and with a steady angle of 35-40º perfect for skiing! After 80m or so the snow ran out onto a gentle area of rocks & dust; further exploration below the snow-line took us another 80m or so deeper into the cave, past quite a few bones (previous skiers?) to the cave bottom...

Will climbing up for another lap:

After a few laps of the 'indoor ski slope' we decided we should really think about getting out of there again...time for some suffering...50m jumaring up free-hanging ropes, in ski boots, with backpacks & skis hanging off the harness... enough to make anyone sweat. Will did a sterling job for his baptism into 'proper' rope climbing - good effort mate!

Will near the end of the big climb:

Almost back on dry land!:


Great views - the scenery was absolutely stunning - from the rocky peaks of the Obiou, to the Verdon-esque rock walls in the valley - and best of all - not a soul in sight!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Haute Maurienne

I have finally found some time to finish editing the footage from this Spring's trip to the Haute Maurienne with Will & Greg, where we spent 2 nights in the Evettes hut and made descents of the East Face of the Albaron and the North Face Direct of the Petite Ciamarella.


48 hours in the Haute Maurienne from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Dent Parrachée East face video (finally)

I have finally found the time to start work on the remaining projects from this spring/early summer. First out of the mixer - footage from our descent of the East face of the Dent Parrachée - a hefty 5.3-rated descent featuring 50º skiing in exposed positions, and a great day out on a stunning peak...

Dent Parrachée - East Face from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

More videos to be found at the offpisteskiing Vimeo channel.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Greenland new routes

Just back from a short work stint in Baffin Bay...
On the way up fog offshore kept us in Aasiaat, Greenland for 3 days and although we couldn't venture too far from the airport I still managed to sniff out a small crag up in the hills behind...

(Apologies for poor quality of the snaps - only had my mobile phone unfortunately)

The Dash 7 - Greenland's commuter bus:

The Western boundary of the ice cap

The fine catering facilities at Aasiaat airport:

Lots to do round here then! (Aasiaat, pop 2000):

Aasiaat from the water:

Midnight at 70º, aboard the Troms Vision:

Something missing here (apart from the snow..):

Ah, here they are:

The new (micro-)crag, 5 minutes walk behind Aasiaat International Airport.
2 new lines at a whopping V.Diff max... Mosquitoes with size 10 boots the biggest objective danger..:

Aasiaat airport - complete with iceberg:

Local supermarket, food, hardware, guns, the works:

Downtown Aasiaat:

Harpoon gun - no longer in use unless the whales come in to the harbour!:

And finally, our trusty steed comes to take us to work:

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A busy weekend

Fresh back in France from a couple of weeks work in the UK it was time to make the most of the many possibilities out here...
Wednesday was mountain bike day, with a hot thrash up to the Gliere Refuge, and a good 1400m of descent all the way back to Bozel; on Friday the baggies were swapped for lycra and the road bikes came out for an easy climb over the Col de Tamié, followed by a birthday meal for Ginny.
On Saturday we were up early again for some fine rock-climbing in the Lauziere range - 200m of perfect granite at amenable grades to the highest summit in the range, and not a soul in sight (try getting that in Chamonix!!).
The Grand Pic de la Lauziere - the route "Rave Party" takes a line just left of the white slabs to the main summit (centre):

Not content with all of this we were up even earlier today (Sunday) for some ski mountaineering action as part of my newly hatched challenge for a 'proper' ski tour every month of the year...
The Mont Pourri stands at 3779m and is the 2nd highest peak in the Savoie department. A 4am wake-up saw Ginny & I parking up at the bottom of the Grand Col chair above Les Arcs at 6am. 10 minutes walking and we were able to put skins on, with near continuous snow all the way from there. Tricky conditions below the Col des Roches slowed progress and with Ginny feeling the pace of the previous 2 days she opted to sunbathe there while I pushed on to the summit. A quick downclimb onto the Glacier du Geay, and a long breathless thrash (not easy going to 3779m after 4 weeks at sea level...) and I was on the summit. The summit ridge gave great spring snow skiing all the way back to the Col des Roches, at which point things became a little more variable...
The summit of the Mt Pourri from the Col des Roches:

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Rock architecture

Last weekend I made a quick stop in Staffordshire for a day's bouldering en route from Surrey to Scotland.
My good run of weather continued, with blue skies, blazing sun, but just enough breeze to keep things from getting too sweaty. This was my first trip to The Roaches, but I'll definitely be back, loads of great problems to climb, and some interesting local features including Rock Cottage - a fantastic building dating back a few centuries and now owned and run as a hut by the British Mountaineering Council.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Midsummer skiing - Tower Gully, Ben Nevis

With a few days left in Scotland and a short spell of good weather forecast I was keen to sneak in some midsummer skiing. Tower Gully on Ben Nevis has been on my 'list' for a long time, despite a close call with a double-fracturing cornice about 15 years ago, but it is one of those things I never quite get round to doing - either through being in the Alps in the Spring or not being able to travel back with ski gear...

With everything but skis in the car I gathered a crack team comprising Al Reid - in top form (only 1 days skiing this winter) and local all-round mountain man Jonny Sutherland. A quick visit to an old friend & I was sorted with a pair of slightly short skis, but hey - for spring snow almost anything will do (cheers again for the skis Mike!).

Despite a cloudy start to the day we set off hoping that the forecast would come good...And sure enough as we walked towards the CIC hut the sun finally burnt off the remaining clouds:

Not much snow left in #2 & #3 gullies...

A quick pause at the hut to take in the view and we wandered round to the bottom of Observatory Gully:

There was still a tongue of snow almost to the bottom of the gully, and though thin we were hopeful that it would be continuous all the way up. A quick swap to ski boots and we were off again:

A sneaky dogleg towards the bottom of Point Five gully and 10 yards on rock & grass saw us connect to the upper snow. Good firm conditions under foot made for rapid progress.
Level with the top of Tower Scoop:

Heading towards the light in Tower Gully proper:

Al pushes on towards the cornice:

Culture shock - Ben Nevis summit busy with walkers - needless to say we got some strange looks wandering up there in our ski boots!

Al contemplating the cornice, normally the crux of the descent:

Al & Jonny in Tower Gully:

The ski down was fantastic - a small drop to get over the cornice, and then perfect spring snow all the way - a couple of narrow sections that had to be straight-lined near the bottom, but a fantastic place to be skiing, particularly in June!!

Some headcam footage from the descent - full video to follow at a later date:

Tower Gully - Headcam footage from Simon Christy on Vimeo.