Sorry folks about the delay in getting this to you, I blame the Green Album, by Mr Hillage and that’s my final say on the matter.

So the past week or so I have been working with a great team of folks; Gerard, Nicola, Chris and Nick, with guides Simon Hale for the first week and Robin Beadle for the extra 3 days, on a Chamonix Intro with a Mont Blanc Ext, for Adventure Peaks.

 

Trient Plateau with Gerard, Nicola, Simon, Chris and Nick

Sunday July 22nd had me once more strolling up to the now legendary Albert Prem Hut, which I hasten to add, STILL has not been renovated, or even blown up. I do have the co-ordinates to call in an air strike, just don’t have the aircraft….Simon is working on that, as well as fending off a mass invasion of mice with his boot, by all accounts. Anyroad, it’s all very dry up there. Saw a couple of teams heading up to the Chardonet to do the Forbes Arête, then everyone else was heading for the usual culprits - Tete Blanche, Petit Fourche, Aig Du Tour etc. We had a good old potter about with our crampons just to get into the swing of things.

Monday 23rd July - Quick nip up to the Tete Blanche, then headed back down and up the Col Sup du Tour and across to the Trient hut in very windy conditions. Quite a few folk about, again on all the usual suspects (good film). Once we had got ourselves sorted in the hut, we headed out  for some crevasse rescue action and a spot of moving together.

 

Tuesday 24th July - Early breakfast at 4 am, then head out into the rather dark yonder, but check out the pic above of Si and his team heading up to the Aig du Tour, very cloudy, atmospheric conditions. We were second on the summit before the screaming hordes arrived an hour or so later.  Rimaye not too bad but think it may get worse over the forthcoming weeks. With the summit in the bag we headed on down to the valley with a bit more rope work action thrown in along the way.


Gerard and Nicola relaxed and relieved!

Wednesday 25th July - Traverse of the Crochues, and not another soul on it other than my team and Simon Hale and his team, FANTASTIC !!!!! what more can I say. There is NO snow on the ascent to the col, but there was still quite a bit of snow on the descent, we just had an ice axe and ski pole combo and glissaded most of the way, with some very stylish attempts by all team members. Great day out.

Thursday 26th July - Freezing level way above 4000 metres, hot hot hot. We headed for the Cozzy Hut, down, down, down the snow arête we went, the concentration was palpable, the team did really well and there was a massive sense of relief to reach relatively flat ground. We then headed round to the hut, with more rope work action just below it, in the poo-filled wind scoop, bit more of an incentive not to fluff the crevasse rescue.

Now where's that Contact lens??!!

Friday 27th July - Due to the hot weather and the freezing level being above 4000 metres we didn’t fancy risking life and limb and going for the Tacul, so we went for an early ascent of the Cozzy Arete, most of which we did without crampons, the crux wall has a sling in it, but gone is the iron bar that used to help; there are however a few chippidy doo dah holds to get your cramps into. As per, the final fun and frolics is the ladder at the end and trying to get onto the viewing gallery whilst being accosted by tourists touching your gear and wanting to pose for photies with you. Oh it’s a hard life, fame and fortune.


 


The team did really well on this route, I was super pleased for them; thus ended another week in the Mont Blanc Massive.

We were due to be going for Monte Bianco on Monday but due to the forecast we decided we would be better off heading to Italy for some Grand Paradiso action. It rained like crazy on Saturday 28th July and a little on the Sunday as we left for the tunnel. We all drove over to Pont, a change of guide, Simon had gone to do battle with the mice, so we now had Robin Beadle with us. We walked up to the Vittorio Emanuelle hut in good time and very pleasant weather.

 

A busy day on Grand Paradiso 

Monday 30th July - A very busy and cold ascent of the Grand Paradiso, but the team dug deep, well done Nicola, and we all got the top in good time. Longish descent back to the valley and drive back to Cham.

 

A cold Summit - Grand Paradiso
 

Tuesday 31st July - Via ferrata action above Passy just down the valley; it’s a great half a day, you can hire any gear you need from the café/hire shop just up from the car park, its mainly traversing with up sections thrown in for good measure, and a few interesting cable ways to cross as well, and great views to boot. We then headed down to a local lake to cool off, great way to finish a great few days with a good bunch of people.

 

So thank you to Gerard, Nicola, Chris and Nick, and guides Simon Hale, Robin Beadle.

 

The White Mountain from Passy
 

Robin and I had a day off, then were straight back into another Mont Blanc, along with Tim Blakemore. The forecast had been high winds for the few days previous which will have been moving the snow around a fair bit; it was also forecast to snow high up on the Wednesday night.

Thursday was a bit of a non-starter, so we re-grouped and decided to go for the Blanc in a one-er from the first bin on Friday.

6am outside the Midi station, geared up and ready to go, just light the blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance. We were all cooking on gas up the Tacul, but some small pockets of wind slab in places, and snow not just feeling right.  All three guides pulled onto the shoulder and looked over to Mont Maudit, it was the first time there for all of us since the accident. The slopes on Maudit had a REAL chalky white palour to them, not good; there was obvious loading to the slopes, there were however 3 teams heading up them and 2 teams heading down having turned around. The slope might or might not go, if it went it would be catastrophic……….nuff said. Some of the team went to do the Tacul some headed on down, both myself and the other guides all knew we had made the correct decision, not an easy one given it was the team’s 2nd attempt at the Blanc. They will return.

Saturday 4th August - We drove up to La Praz and did the Via Corda, it’s in the latest copy of the Cham valley cragging guide, worth a look at for a short day’s entertainment. As is Voi Caline which is further right, and has a bit more technical climbing on it, not hard though; would avoid both after rain as they can get quite a cover of fine gravel.

I now have a week or so off, so intend to eat drink and be merry, and celebrate the 26th Bulldog Bash that is taking place over the weekend, the greatest biker gathering in Europe, support your local Big Red Machine.


I’m also going to be visiting a few bouldering areas I’ve not been to, including Medonet and Col de la Colombiere, so will keep you posted on that.

 

Col de la Colombiere

Just got back from Col de la Colombiere, well what can I say, just go have a look for yourselves, bouldering good, some high, high balls, and the crags behind it all, mmmmm. Info in Les Blocs de la region de Chamonix for the boulders and for the crags it’s the Massif Bornes Aravis (2006) or the internet for both. The col can get very busy, and parking a pain; there’s a via ferrata there as well.

So what’s been done over last week or so - here’s the scores on the doors.


9th August - Breithorn centrale South face, Rock route, take friends and nuts 5 pitches maillions at the belays.

9th August - Grand Combin Arete du Meitin, Great condition

9th August - Lyskam Trav East – West  very good condition

9th August - Frendo Spur, dry at the bottom half, VERY!! and very icy top part.

8th August - Ailfriode Centrale, Grand Course a fab route and it’s in good condition at moment.

8th August  - Midi Plan Trav, tracked, but delicate in places.

4th August - Mont Dolent

3rd August - Weissmies, tracked but watch out for the seracs on the descent.