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Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Bishorn Revisited

~ Friday 29th April 2011

The last week of my ski season was by coincidence another Bishorn trip. Despite having been here last week  I was amazed by the change in snow cover - we walked all the way to the hut!

Climbing the Gassi

The next day - with skis on feet at last - we found excellent spring snow before a second very comfortable night at the Turtmann hut.

Having climbed up to the Tracuit hut we were ready for the Bishorn but disappointed to awake to thick cloud and snow. Not ideal.

Happily things improved enough for us to reach 4000m before finally turning back in deteriorating weather and poor visibility. We skied powder on a firm base down a deserted glacier, all very atmospheric, before walking out down the Turtmanntal in a blizzard. A strange end to a snowless winter!

There are more pictures here...

Bishorn Ski Tour

~ Saturday 23rd April 2011

This week was based on the Haute Route Impériale ski tour. We started from the St Luc ski lifts on the last day of their season - the lifts were still running but we had to walk down some of the piste on bare grass and rocks! Soon we were skiing in to the beautiful Turtmanntal on perfect spring snow, but around 2200m we ran out of snow and it was skis on rucksacks again for more walking up to the Turtmann hut.

Walking up Turtmanntal   

Day 2 starts with a steep crampon up the Gassi, which leads to vast glacier terrain beneath the north face of the Bishorn, and a spectacular ascent to the Tracuit hut. 

 

Tiny skiers below the Bishorn North face

Day 3: The Bishorn was in great condition although the lack of snow means there are more open crevasses than usual. Stunning summit views and a great ski descent. 

Moon and Mont Blanc from Tracuit

 

Day 4: The descent to the head of the Zinal valley is a great ski, but we ran out of snow around Roc de la Vache - more walking! Instead of a simple skin up the glacier to Grand Mountet we battled through moraine for an hour - it was a relief to finally put skis on. 

Day 5: After an very comfortable night at the Mountet hut we skinned up to the Arete du Blanc - an amazing feature on the north ridge of the Zinal Rothorn. Then, skis on for a huge descent, weaving a way through seracs and rock bands all the way down the glacier on excellent spring snow, a great end to the week. 

On the Arete du blanc

Skiing beneath the Obergabelhorn

There are lots more photos here

Arolla Zermatt Ski Tour

~ Wednesday 6th April 2011

After blowing the cobwebs off my little skis and bendy boots we set off for lunch in Zermatt via Bertol and Tete Blanche. For most of the winter I've been skiing in big touring boots and wide skis - excellent for the downhills but it's not "all about the down". It's amazing how much difference lightweight gear and a daypack makes on the uphill. A pre-dawn start meant we made the long slog to Bertol in the shade, emerging into a cold wind which became a freezing gale by Tete Blanche. Luckily, we found perfect conditions on the Stockji glacier with fast, firm snow and soon we were eating pizza in Zermatt before the train ride home.  

Col de Bertol

Skiing past Tete Blanche

Haute Route

~ Sunday 3rd April 2011

Things started well with blue skies but the weather turned in the afternoon of day 1, making the planned Grand Lui variant out of the question. Instead we had a great ski down the Val d'Arpette in fresh snow, and taxied to la Fouly. With the return of good weather we managed a delicate stage through to St Bernard only to be foiled again by the weather - plan B saw us skinning from Bourg to the Vélan hut, passing the site of the terrible avalanche accident the previous weekend. Early morning cold meant fast progress the next day, up past Valsorey and over the Plateau du Couloir with no-one else around all the way to Chanrion. Another wild day followed, climbing the deserted and trackless Serpentine glacier on the Pigne d'Arolla and skiing to the Vignettes, where it was a shock to rejoin the hordes for the final stage...

Col des Écandies

Above la Fouly

Climb to Plateau du Couloir

Serpentine glacier

Pigne summit

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