Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Grimentz and Zinal Off Piste and Day Tours

~ Tuesday 27th January 2015

3 good days in the Val d'Anniviers, with full value from the valley skipass too. Day 1 in Grimentz with fresh tracks down the Vallon de Réchy, day 2 in St Luc with a great adventure up behind the Weishorn Hotel and down to Ayer, then today in Zinal and Grimentz. Forgot the camera for the first 2 days but remembered it today.

Off Piste in Grimentz with plenty of nice snow

Skiing to the Moiry dam with Frost Guiding

Today's mystery picture

Ski touring weights...

~ Friday 23rd January 2015

In the previous blog I mentioned the strong team...Weight matters in ski touring, especially if you want to do bigger days. There's a compromise to be found in uphill/downhill performance (but it's not all about the down!)

It's about 1600m up the point de Vouasson from la Gouille. Hard work on a pair of these...

167cm K2 Brightside with Dynafit TLT Superlite

Or on these...

Dynafit Manaslu 187cm with TLT ST

Not so bad on these...

Movement Fish with Dynafit Race binding - and yes, that's a pair!

But it takes strong legs to get these up there!

180cm Rosignol Sin 7 with Marker Duke

Point de Vouasson

~ Friday 23rd January 2015

Best ski day of the year! (so far...)

At last there seems to be something resembling a base and some reasonable snow cover. Plenty of wind and still lots of instability, but at least the skiing is improving.

Today, with a strong team (more about that later!) and a brief for a "proper" day, we set off for the Point de Vouasson from la Gouille. Worried at first that we might find yet more thinly covered rocks and windblown snow, it was a relief on the ascent to find some promising conditions.

Early on, blue skies and good-looking snow

1300m later and still smiling!

It's a long way up the Point de Vouasson, but it was worth it. Great views, perfect weather and no-one else on the mountain other than 2 early birds with skinny skis, tight trousers and a taste for steep skinning tracks (We made our own fat ski/baggy troosers track)

The summit with fantastic views

Good snow!

Good skier!

Good day!

Arolla Ice Climbing

~ Thursday 15th January 2015

Back on ice today at the tunnels in Arolla. Less than 10 minutes from the road, plenty of ice, and 4 pitches of good climbing with each pitch slightly steeper than the last.

Ice Climbing on the Arolla Tunnel routes

Even found some turf placements!

Keeping a close eye on the Abalokov anchor!

Ice Climbing in Arolla

~ Tuesday 13th January 2015

Arolla is high, high enough to have ice even in this warmest of winters. Today, looking for a mountain day, we ski-toured up from la Gouille to the Cascade des Ignes. This is a pretty safe bet for ice, sitting as it does in the shade at 2300. It is a stiff approach slog from the road though, and showshoes or skis are usually essential.

Cascade des Ignes Icefall from the approach

Skinning with a large climbing 'sack...

The first pitch is the steepest (baby I know...)

Fine Ice Climbing on the Cascade des Ignes

There's a good bolt belay on the right after 45m or so. Then 2 easier pitches lead to the long snow exit.

Smiling despite spindrift

With lots of windblown, soft snow we decided to abseil back to our skis instead of walking round.

Ski down was good at first

Not so good lower down!

Just us and the chamois today

Ski Sunday PDG coverage

~ Tuesday 13th January 2015

There was great coverage of the BBC/Frost Guiding teams Patrouille des Glaciers race experience last Sunday night.

You can watch it here with BBC iplayer (it starts at minute 32) and see lots of previously unbroadcast footage and Graham Bell's personal account of the adventure.

Grimentz Ski Touring and Backcountry

~ Saturday 10th January 2015

Rumours of "no snow" in the Alps are exaggerated...a little bit. It's fair to say there's not much snow, but there was enough for some good skiing last week with the Eagle Ski Club in Grimentz, Zinal and St Luc.

Skiing off the top of la Brinta

Fresh tracks off the Grands Plans lift

Great snow below la Brinta

Big turns on the way to the Weishorn hotel!

Thin, early-season snow-cover always creates 2 problems - avalanche risk and lots of rocks to hit - so it's worth being very wary off-piste. Many of the usual big descents are dangerous or un-skiable, but with a bit of careful choice there's still some good touring around. It will need a lot of snow to sort things out, and a huge amount to properly cover the bare ground where the thin cover has already avalanched. In Particular the steep gullies in Grimentz, the main entry to the Orzival valley, and the East side of Col de la Brinta have all avalanched to the ground this week.

Looking into the Orzival bowl just after it was blasted

The face right of the top chair in Grimentz - a remote release by skiers on the tracks visible.

East face of Col de la Brinta - the return from Rechy.

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