End of season summits: Weissmies traverse, Mt. Blanc de Cheillon traverse, Gran Paradiso

With shadows lengthening and becoming more defined on the alpine landscape, fresh snow dusts the summits and the leaves change colour as the mornings come with a crisp freshness and the shy sun takes early refuge behind the horizon, leaving the natural world to dance on its last touches of warmth before the darkness lays down its cold, calm blanket.

The autumn can be one of the most pleasant times to climb in the Alps. With decent weather one can climb the classic summer routes and with the new snow and colder temperatures it is often an ideal time to climb some of the steeper ice gullies or north faces in the Mont Blanc range.

The end of the summer and early autumn have included the following ascents:

Weissmies traverse

This is an aesthetic and varied traverse of moderate difficulty on one of the 4000m summits surrounding the Saas valley.

sunrise above the Allmageller Hut, nearing the start of the climbing

sunrise above the Allmageller Hut, nearing the start of the climbing

the Mischabel chain across the valley just after sunrise

the Mischabel chain across the valley just after sunrise

The exceptionally snowy summer makes it possible for teams to gain more height on the snow than is possible in most years.

The exceptionally snowy summer makes it possible for teams to gain more height on the snow than is possible in most years.

The team putting on crampons on the subsiduary summit.

The team putting on crampons on the subsidiary summit.

the summit ridge

the summit ridge

the Weissmies summit

the Weissmies summit

 

Mt. Blanc de Cheillon is one of the less famous summits of the Valais mountain range due to the fact that it doesn’t quite reach 4000m but is a very worthwhile objective with an imposing pyramid form above its plunging north face, bordered by seracs on both ridge lines. The traverse is an excellent journey up the expansive glacier below the Serpentine and along the airy east ridge to the summit, the descent by the west ridge is easier than the ascent. It’s an AD rated climb taking between 6 and 8 hours from hut to hut.

sunrise from below the Serpentine with the Pigne d'Arolla in the foreground and the Matterhorn in the distance

sunrise from below the Serpentine with the Pigne d’Arolla in the foreground and the Matterhorn in the distance

Mont Blanc de Cheillon east ridge

Mont Blanc de Cheillon east ridge

 

Gran Paradiso is the highest summit entirely in Italy, not sharing its summit with France or Switzerland, more importantly it’s an ideal climb for beginner mountaineers, requiring more fitness than technique even though the scramble to the summit virgin Mary is exposed. The view is exceptional and the challenge not negligible.

an autumn afternoon approach to the Rifugio Chabod

an autumn afternoon approach to the Rifugio Chabod

taking in the first views of the objective

taking in the first views of the objective

view from the well equipped winter hut

view from the well equipped winter hut

everyone on top!

everyone on top!

 

 

 

Plenty of space to play in the Burnese Oberland

The climbing in the Burnese Oberland is slightly different to the other areas of the Alps. The summits are high, with steep limestone on their northern flank, to the south of the watershed its a maze of peaks divided by expansive glaciers really giving the feeling of being in a big, slightly wild place. It is a long range of mountains extending from the Col du Sanetsch in the west to Grimsel Pass in the east with a lifetime of mountaineering and rock climbing possibilities if we start to look at the sub-four thousand metre peaks.

P1020817

View east into the Oberland from the Mutthorn hut with left to right: the Eiger, Junfrau and Abeni Flue dominating the skyline.

Looking west into the Oberland from the Engelhorner. The horizon from left to right: Froschkopf, Kingspitze, Kastor, Rosenhorn, Mittelhorn, Wellhorn and Wetterhorn with the huge face of the Scheideggwetterhorn to the right.

Looking west into the Oberland from the Engelhorner. The horizon from left to right: Froschkopf, Kingspitze, Kastor, Rosenhorn, Mittelhorn, Wellhorn and Wetterhorn with the huge face of the Scheideggwetterhorn to the right.

A few weeks ago the Rosenlauistock and traverse of the Kleine and Grosse Simelistock were the objectives with Laurie from Australia. Here are some photos from these two days of alpine rock climbing in the Engelhorner:

The Rosenlauigletscher behind good limestone climbing.

The Rosenlauigletscher behind good limestone climbing.

P1000941

traversing pitch on the Rosenlauistock with the Wellhorn behind

P1000945

overhanging abseil on the descent

P1000954

taking in the morning views from the Kleine Simelistock

P1000959

great climbing, perfect setting

P1000962

Engelhorn ambiance

P1000965

Another party on the summit of the Kleine Simelistock where we had just come from.

P1000967

climbing the ridge up to the Grosse Simelistock

P1000977

on the crest

P1000981

summit sandwich

P1000983

looking back up at the “mountain goat” descent

P1000984

relaxing in the meadows below the imposing cirque

 

The Oberland is most famous for its high alpine summits and the biggest glaciers in Europe, here are some photos from the Finsteraarhorn, Hinterfiescherhorn traverse, the Grunegghorn and the Monch in late July.

the Finsteraarhorn in the morning light

the Finsteraarhorn in the morning light

the rimed up summit cross of the Finsteraarhorn

the rimed up summit cross of the Finsteraarhorn

Finsteraarhorn summit view over towards the Aletschhorn, Grosse Grunhorn and the Jungfrau

Finsteraarhorn summit view over towards the Aletschhorn, Grosse Grunhorn and the Jungfrau

the Grosse Wannenhorn  with the Valais behind

the Grosse Wannenhorn with the Valais behind

Grunegghorn summit view up the Ewigshneefeld with the Hinter and Grosse Fiescherhorn on the right and the Eiger at the top of the valley.

Grunegghorn summit view up the Ewigshneefeld with the Hinter and Grosse Fiescherhorn on the right and the Eiger at the top of the valley.

sunrise from the Monchjoch hut

sunrise from the Monchjoch hut

The view down the Aletschgletscher from the top of the Monch

The view down the Aletschgletscher from the top of the Monch

The Monch summit ridge

The Monch summit ridge

Spring powder to end my Chamonix ski season

Here are some photos with a film in the previous post from a couple of runs around Chamonix, ending my ski season:

Tomas climbing up to the Col des Cristaux above the Argentiere glacier.

Tomas climbing up to the Col des Cristaux above the Argentiere glacier.

Tomas skiing the face

Tomas skiing the face

Col des Cristaux with the head of the Argentiere basin behind.

Col des Cristaux with the head of the Argentiere basin behind.

P1000594

Eric enjoying some powder at the top of La Noire NNW face.

Eric enjoying some powder at the top of La Noire NNW face.

Skiing down a steeper, narrow section to make a small rappel.

Skiing down a steeper, narrow section to make a small rappel.

Good powder turns all the way down the face!

Good powder turns all the way down the face!

skiing the Glacier de la Noire with the Glacier de Periades and Mer de Glace below.

skiing the Glacier de la Noire with the Glacier de Periades and Mer de Glace below.

Une Journée a la Noire

Eric’s edit from his POV camera on La Noire

A “skiers” Haute Route

Chamonix to Zermatt is probably the most famous multi-day ski tour in the Alps. There are as many ways to go about the traverse as there are personalities that find themselves drawn to this iconic traverse.

With three guest from the US I found a slightly different way of doing this traverse, we made the most of the world class off-piste in the resorts along the way and of course not forgetting to sample the local cuisine and good wine en route.

We clocked about 16000m of descent and 2800m climbing over the 6 days. Thanks to the guys for a fun trip!

 

Skinning up to the Col de Chardonnet with the Grand Montets ski area in the background.

Skinning up to the Col de Chardonnet with the Grand Montets ski area in the background.

Skiing down into Switzerland to get a taxi to Verbier

Skiing down into Switzerland to get a taxi to Verbier

 

P1000500_2

Off-piste day in Verbier, below the face we just skied in great snow.

Off-piste day in Verbier, below the face we just skied in great snow.

 

sunrise over the Swiss Valais

sunrise over the Swiss Valais

morning view from the hut

morning view from the hut

Smooth turns down the Haute Glacier d'Arolla

Smooth turns down the Haute Glacier d’Arolla

P1000537

enjoying some classic Zermatt off-piste

enjoying some classic Zermatt off-piste

 

 

 

Painting lines on mountains winter 13

Winter 2013 has been filled with good powder turns, here are a few images from the last couple of months.

Good pow on the south faces round Chamonix this winter!

Good pow on the south faces round Chamonix this winter!

P1000314_2

Beautiful terrain near La Grave

P1000330_2

Couloir skiing near to La Grave, France

P1000416_2

Laying some tracks on a ski tour from Grands Montets

P1000431_2

Getting the goods in Les Aiguilles Rouges near Chamonix

P1000254_2

A guest from Canada discovering a powder day, Chamonix style! 4900m of descent in a day with runs like this couloir off the Grands Montets..

P1000442_2

Touring in Les Aiguilles Rouges delivers as always.

P1000463_2

Touring near Chamonix yesterday

Fresh turns and sunny skies

The last few days have been spent doing some nice tours with the two Henriks and Matthias from Sweden in search of fresh turns and adventure, weeks after the last snowflakes landed on the slopes around the Mt. Blanc range. Here are some photos:

The guys getting some sun on top of the col du Beajeant on day 1

The guys getting some sun on top of the col du Beajeant on day 1

Enjoying the descent down to the village of Buet

Enjoying the descent down to the village of Buet

Henrik looking cool on his yellow skis

Henrik looking cool on his yellow skis

Boot-pack to get the goods at Courmayeur on day 3, spectacular views onto the south side of the Mt. Blanc range

Boot-pack to get the goods at Courmayeur on day 3, spectacular views onto the south side of the Mt. Blanc range

Matthias on our summit for the day

Matthias on our summit for the day

Henrik in action

Henrik in action

open slopes, good snow, sunshine...

open slopes, good snow, sunshine…

On day 4 the boys got up close and personal with the Dru

On day 4 the boys got up close and personal with the Dru

Skiing with a backdrop

Skiing with a backdrop

perfect turns in the cohesionless faceted snow

perfect turns in the cohesionless snow

and again..

and again..

 

Thanks to guys for a good few days of skiing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a cogne classic

That familiar ring tone of the alarm that breaks the silence of the night, an unwelcome visitor arriving well before sunrise, this is the standard start for a day trip to the ice centre of Cogne in Italy. After the obligatory coffee and croissant stop in a warm Italian café, Magnus and I set off down the trail as the first glow of a new day toyed with the jagged horizon of the Gran Paradiso range. Being early and Monday we were first at the foot of Repentance in the Valnontey valley.

repentance

repentance

IMG_2659_2

starting

P1000275_2

Magnus reaching the belay, pitch 1

P1000278_2

Start of pitch 2

IMG_2670_2

leaving the belay on the third pitch

P1000292_2_2

topping out on the first steep wall

IMG_2690

the team on the plateau above the route

ski and ice pics

Some skiing and ice climbing shots from the last week of outings:

Sunset on Swiss Alps from Tete de Balme on an evening ski tour a few weeks back.

Sunset on Swiss Alps from Tete de Balme on an evening ski tour a few weeks back.

P1000182_2

Moody sunrise on the rime plastered granite spires of the Grand Charmoz

P1000243

Climbing through the mixed section of Lillaz Gully with the village of Cogne 600m below.

P1000251

Couloir skiing off the Grands Montets yesterday.

Walking for wind-crust and lift served pow

Skinning up a wind scoured valley to the Col du Grand St. Bernard last Saturday it didn’t look like good skiing was on the menu for the day.. We stopped for some tea at the Hospice before climbing a small summit between Mt. Fourchon and Pt. de Drone. We got some great views over the Mt. Blanc range and some good turns on the ride down.

 

Envers du Mt. Blanc and the Grandes Jorasses

Envers du Mt. Blanc and the Grandes Jorasses

Olivier and me on top

Olivier and me on top

The first descent on the day

The first descent on the day

We then went back over the ridge into Switzerland and got some great practice in skiing wind crust from the shoulder of the Pt. de Drone.

On Sunday Max motivated me into going for a run off the Midi, wasn’t bad.

Max in action

Max in action

same

same

P1000223 P1000207 P1000215 P1000228