Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Last ski of 2010!

~ Friday 31st December 2010

Another excellent day ski touring today - we went up the Vallon des Ignes from La gouille, which was deserted except for a few chamois. Plan A had been to head up to the Col des Ignes but the snow was looking very windblown so we diverted to Point 2959 - Plan B is always better! This is a reliable north facing spot and didn't disappoint - excellent powder for the last ski of 2010!

On Point 2959

Great skiing below les Ignes

Arolla Ski Touring

~ Wednesday 29th December 2010

 Good ski conditions here this week, although there's still plenty of unstable snow and it's worth avoiding steep slopes. 

Monday's trip up the Pallanche de la Crettaz was great - a long haul up there but no-one around and the weather was improving...right up to the summit where a very grey cloud appeared and gave some interesting flat light for the descent. 1200m of fresh tracks though...

Summit of la Pallanche with cloud arriving fast!

Today, the long plod up the Pointe de Vouasson. Luckily someone had made a good track, but it's still along way. The top 150m was very windblown and crusty - not ideal after a 1600m climb - but after that the snow was excellent almost all the way back to the valley. Fantastic day. 

Climbers on the Cascade des Ignes

Well worth the climb!



Grimentz/Zinal Off Piste Skiing

~ Friday 24th December 2010

We found some very challenging snow yesterday in the Grimentz and Zinal ski areas! Lots of wind has left some tricky conditions. Perfect piste though, and very few people skiing. At the end of the day we seemed to be the only people in the Zinal area!

Very heavy snow falling today so a white Christmas and some good skiing to look forward too. 

Happy Christmas!

Petzl Nomic Problems

~ Tuesday 14th December 2010

 Despite loving the Petzl Nomic Ice Axes I had a go with last week, there seems to be a manufacturing problem with the new model. The problem is in the design of the new adjustable pommel and results in very fast wear - I heard about the issue here and a quick check found noticeable wear on mine after 3 days! The local shop doesn't know anything yet, but sadly I wouldn't want to buy a pair until the problem has been sorted...


Evolene Ice Climbing

~ Friday 10th December 2010

 After a couple of days of very warm weather winter is back. Lots of melt has had a big impact on ice climbing conditions: there's a huge crack across the top of La Giette icefall, and the La Tour icefalls all but disappeared. Luckily the Coop route In Evolene was in great condition today. Forecast cold for the next week so that should mean plenty of good ice climbing!

Pitch 1, heading up the pillar

On the pillar

Fantastic 40m pitch 2

Arolla Ice Climbing

~ Monday 6th December 2010

 Here are a couple of pictures from around Arolla this morning. Plenty of ice now - Coop Icefall, Via Ferrata icefall, Tunnel Left-hand, Usine Électrique, La Gouille left and right. The Viesivi Icefall looked good the other day but there's lots of snow now...With cold forecast again later this week it looks good for the ice climbing season.

Usine Électrique

Usine Électrique

La Gouille

Petzl Nomic Axes

~ Monday 6th December 2010

 I've had a chance to climb with Petzl Nomic axes now...and I want some. Oh dear. First impressions were good, and in action they are fantastic. Petzl picks are brilliant, good penetration without getting stuck. Hand grip is comfortable and fits big hands and big gloves. The second position is easy to hold too and the grip tape helps. The geometry works well with no change in angle of pull between the 2 positions.

Not all good though...I find them too light without the pick weights - they bounce off hard ice - but that's easily sorted, they come with weights. The lanyard attachment isn't ideal - these are expensive axes and you don't expect to need to cut and drill bits. The serrated pommel is OK, but not as secure as a spike (it does fit old Nomics). The hammer and adze cost an extra £32 each! Ouch. Fair enough, these are technical climbing tools but there are plenty of situations where and adze and hammer would be nice on a technical tool. (The Quark comes with adze/hammer but costs less) 

I still want a pair...

New Petzl Nomic Ice Axes

~ Saturday 4th December 2010

Thanks to La-Haut in Sion for the loan of a pair of the new Petzl Nomic Ice Axes

First impressions are good. Mine turned up without the pick weights which makes them very light - 540g compared to nearly 700g for an old Quark - fine for mixed and mountaineering buy perhaps too light for ice. They seem more versatile than the old model - there's an optional adze and hammer, and a sort-of spike on the end of the shaft (perhaps this will fit the old Nomic if you can buy them as spares). There's a plastic plug in the shaft which looks like it's designed to drill out if you want to fit clipper leashes. The adjustable grip is plenty big enough even for big hands and gloves. There's even a hole for lanyard attachment, but weirdly this is partly hidden by the griprest on Medium  and Small settings, and only partly visible on Large. Easy enough to cut/drill away some of the rubber grip though. The big hole in the handle takes a carabiner, as does the hole in the head. The griptape on the second hand position is good, but most people will put more further up the shaft for daggering. 

Adjustable grip, awkard lanyard hole, plus mystery hole!

Ice Climbing in Evolene

~ Friday 3rd December 2010

 First ice climbing of the season today. It's been really cold for a week and lots of routes have formed very quickly, changing daily! We tried the icefall behind La Tour - one of the few routes here I haven't done yet. Pitch one went well to the bolt belay on the right, but the top pitch was a scary hollow tube with a lot of running we turned back. Cold forecast this weekend though, so maybe another visit on Monday.

Twid seconding pitch one

About to brave the pitch 2 waterfall

There's lots of ice on the Coop icefall now and the Arolla tunnel route looks good. We drove up to La Forclaz for a check of the Cascade de Veisivi, which looks pretty good already.

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