Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Arolla Ski Touring

~ Tuesday 28th February 2012

 The warm weather has left some "challenging" snow. Definitely character building...

There's still some good skiing around though, like yesterday's descent from the Cassorte. Short climb, great views, some steep turns and it ends in a bar!

Ice Climbing

~ Saturday 25th February 2012

Ice climbing is a tough sport, but some people manage to make it look easy...that was the case this morning. With only 4 hours for an ice climbing intro we were a bit pushed for time, but the Hotel de la Tza venue is ideal - progress was quick, and after an hour we were moving on to the vertical bits...

Evolene Ice Climbing

~ Friday 24th February 2012

 Excellent climbing conditions at the Coop icefall in Evolene yesterday. It was a bit wet in places (there's been a huge rise in temperature in the last 48 hours) but great to climb. This route is a surprisingly long walk up from Evolene, but gives 2 big pitches with lots of possible variations.

Cosmiques arete

~ Wednesday 22nd February 2012

 A change of scene today. With a pre-dawn start from Evolene to beat the Chamonix crowds we made it onto an early Aiguille du Midi lift and had a great day on an all but deserted Cosmiques Arete, in perfect conditions. A brilliant route!

We saw one other team - a Chamonix guide and client who clearly had a train/plane to catch, or maybe he'd left the bath taps running, anyway they were in a great hurry. 

Arolla Ice Climbing

~ Wednesday 22nd February 2012

 After a tiring Monday in Mauvoisin we decided to have a more relaxing day on Tuesday. A chilly but very enjoyable training session at the excellent ice boulder by the Hotel de la Tsa filled the morning, followed by a very nice lunch in the hotel. 

Refuelled with cheese and rosti and full of renewed enthusiasm we set off up the left hand variation of the Arolla tunnel route in teh afternoon. This is much steeper than the central line and provides 3 big pitches, and a just-before-dark finish, all the time being watched by a very brave chamois. 



Ice Climbing - Mauvoisin

~ Monday 20th February 2012

 Brilliant day today on the Cascade de Bonatchiesse in the Mauvoisin valley. Yesterday's snow made for a tiring wallow to the base of the route, but the ice was excellent, giving 4 big pitches with some tricky climbing getting out of the cave on pitch 2! We saw no-one else all day.

Tuono NW Couloir

~ Saturday 18th February 2012

 This is the very obvious couloir, visible from St Luc. Access from the top - just below the Tuono subsidiary summit - is quite tricky, but you can make the long steep skin directly up the couloir. Breaking trail and finding some suspicious windslab we didn't go all the way to the top, but the skiing was very good.

On the way up, all couloirs are long! Only 73 kick turns to go...

On the way down they're all too short!

Zinal Grimentz Off Piste

~ Saturday 18th February 2012

 Fresh snow on Wednesday, then Thursday brought windless blue skies. Surprisingly Zinal was very quiet and we had several high speed runs in pretty good snow before heading off down the great descent to the Moiry dam. A bit rocky at the top, but then lots of fresh tracks. Instead of walking over the top we cut down right under the dam, then off to Grimentz for lunch. In the afternoon a quick blast through more fresh powder from Orzival to St Jean made a great day. 

Father and son...



From the Orzival lift we saw this snowboarder having the ride of his life. Avoid freshly wind-loaded slopes in the afternoon sun! In an impressive display of solidarity 2 of his mates followed his track. 


Le Métailler, Ski Touring

~ Tuesday 14th February 2012

 In winter the Dixence valley is cold and remote, with the road open only as far as Pralong. High above is the excellent ski peak of le Métailler, a classic day tour involving a "bit of everything". It's a long, tiring 1600m climb on steep ground, needing stable snow, to reach the col before the summit ridge. After slogging all the way up there it was a surprise to find a team of helmet cam guys leaping off the large cornice!

Reaching the summit needs an easy but exposed scramble. Rather than retracing steps we made a steep descent northwards to the Glacier de Métail. The glacier is tiny now, something of a last chance to see...but it leads to a brilliant descent, continuously steep and interesting all the way back to Pralong. 

Le Tour Off Piste

~ Tuesday 14th February 2012

 Excellent day at Le Tour yesterday. We met in Vallorcine and spent the day exploring the les Jeurs off piste before finishing with the long descent to Trient. 

Invisible skier on top of Tete de Balme

Exit from the Vallon des Eaux Noires

Tuono, St Luc

~ Friday 10th February 2012

Touring today up the Tuono - the imposing peak which dominates the St Luc ski area. After a team vote we decided on a purist approach, setting off on skis up a very chilly Prillet piste. Higher up it was still cold and windy, and plans for the North West couloir were looking doubtful. At the summit a lull in the wind prompted an attempt on the couloir. The entry is easy at the moment, skiable and no need for a rope. Unfortunately this meant I was 100m down before admitting the obvious - terrible conditions, with unskiable crust. Time to turn round and slog back up, before skiing the south face. 

Vallée Blanche

~ Monday 6th February 2012

 A quick trip over to Chamonix yesterday on the coldest day of the year so far. A shocking -24 in Evolene! Arriving in Chamonix it was still -19 but windy as well. Not ideal. Luckily, having decided to go up the Midi lift "for a look" it turned out to be warmer at the top. After a chilly descent of the ridge we were soon peeling off extra layers and skiing in the sun down the Envers variant, with excellent conditions all the way to Chamonix. 

Thanks to Sue for this one.

Crans Montana Touring

~ Friday 3rd February 2012

 Just back from a 2 day ski touring trip staying overnight in the Wildstrubel hut winter room. Things started ominously with the highest Crans Montana lift being shut. Luckily we met the ski patrol boss, and after some begging we were soon riding up the closed cable car with him - thanks!

Leaving the Glacier de la Plaine Morte

Leaving the lift area there were no tracks, and we had the whole place to ourselves. A quick lunch at the hut then an ascent of the Tierberggrat in the afternoon provided a good intro to touring for my 2 clients - both Ironman athletes and keen for adventure. 

Skiing off the Tierberggrat

 Sunset from the hut

In the morning, inspired by the ski patrol boss' recommendation (sorry I've forgotten your name) we set off on a tour to the Barrage de Tseuzier. A long climb to the Rohrbachstein led to a long descent - from wild windy summit to the beautiful mayens of Mondraleche. Intricate route finding through cloudy forest led to the dam - now "only" the tunnels separated us from the road head at les Rousses... 

Skiing to Mondraleche


Entering the tunnel

Tunneling out of the tunnel!

Leaving the tunnel!

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