Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Sunny rock climbing

~ Tuesday 28th September 2010

Just back from a week of sunny rock climbing. We started on the excellent Follomi at Sanetsch - 8 pitches up to 6b+ on the fantastic Sanetsch limestone. Then off down south to the Pilier Lomasti above Arnad in the Aosta valley, and 6 pitches of perfect granite (and I can truthfully claim to have on-sighted "The Rose and The Vampire", although it was the "Rossa et il Vampirla")

Next we drove down to Ceuse - the only sport crag where alpine fitness is useful! - for another 4 days of top quality cragging and a meeting with Greg Murrow, formerly my secondary school PE teacher and responsible for teaching me to climb.

Back home in the Alps and autumn is here - snow in the mountains above 2000m!

Season Ends!

~ Friday 17th September 2010

The last booked week of the summer season finished yesterday in a blizzard at the Hornli hut - un-forecast snow made the Matterhorn a complete non-starter, so our disappointed team trudged back to Zermatt for second breakfast. The clouds cleared to reveal a beautiful but snow-plastered Matterhorn. Better luck next year!

The week had started well with a sunny traverse of the Couronne de Bréona and an enjoyable and fast traverse of Mont Blanc de Cheilon - the only team on the route in cold snowy conditions.  



 This is the way the season ends, 

 This is the way the season ends, 

 This is the way the season ends, 

Not with a bang (luckily) but not with a Whymper route either...


An Apology!

~ Sunday 12th September 2010

 I'd like to apologise to all local guides and members of the Association Des Guides du Val d'Hérens as well as any blog readers who may have been upset by the comments I made in the blog entry on August 21st 2009. To suggest the bolts were placed by "a fat/lazy local guide" was offensive and silly. 

The Swiss Mountain Guides Association see safety and the prevention of accidents in the high mountains as their responsibility, and  following a series of accidents on this route they decided to place the new bolts. I have been threatened with legal action should I try to remove the bolts, so I'd like to make it very clear that this is not my intention. I am too fat and lazy to carry a spanner all the way up there anyway. 

I still don't understand or agree with the placing of bolts on existing mountain routes, especially when those bolts are within 20cm of good runner placements, but I realise this is just my own personal climbing "ethic" and others may see things differently. 


Mont Blanc

~ Saturday 11th September 2010

 A very chilly Mont Blanc summit yesterday - it's definitely autumn! We went from Tete Rousse hut, and just caught the last train down. Still good conditions though, with the Grand Couloir staying frozen for our descent. 

Due to the work to drain the Tete Rousse glacier lake, the train only goes as far as Mont Lachat meaning an extra bit of walking. You're not allowed to walk up the railway track because of work going on at the tunnels. The signposted "Les Rognes" path is spectacular but loose, and it's worth wearing a helmet...a lot of Ibex live on the steep ground above the path and they knock rocks down.

Matterhorn Hornli Ridge

~ Saturday 4th September 2010

 A fantastic end to a busy and tiring week - success yesterday on the Matterhorn Hornli Ridge. 

Conditions are pretty good, with much less snow than we found on the Dent Blanche - we reached the Solvay hut without crampons despite a few patches of snow, then put crampons on at the shoulder. The summit slopes are bare ice though, and quite tricky to descend. 

Unfortunately my camera was in the car boot, so no pictures...

Dent Blanche South ridge

~ Thursday 2nd September 2010

 The Dent Blanche South Ridge is usually quite a good choice when snowy - it clears quickly and the rock is quite climbable in crampons. 

As it turned out there wasn't much fresh snow from Tuesday's bad weather, but there was lots of rime making for time-consuming climbing and a lots of sweeping to clear the way.

Aspirant guide James Thacker reaches the top

Descending the couloir

Petite Dent de Veisivi

~ Thursday 2nd September 2010

 The Petite Dent de Viesivi dominates the village of les Hauderes. If it had a Chamonix style cable car access it would be one of the most popular day routes of its grade in the Alps - luckily/sadly it doesn't. Instead, 3 hours of unrelentingly steep path lead from Satarma to the start at the Col de Tsarmine. From here, turn left and follow the ridge - excellent red Gneiss and fantastic climbing over several gendarmes. 

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