Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Eagle Ski Club Slightly Steeper Week

~ Wednesday 25th March 2015

This week is the Eagle Ski Club "Slightly Steeper" week, billed as E3 S4 in Eagle grades. For people who can skin 1000m every day and ski 40 degrees in control, there's no shortage of "slightly steeper" skiing in the Val d'Hérens! Based in the friendly, family-run Hotel les Mélezes in les Hauderes, there's a huge choice of areas within 20 minutes' drive.

The week started with a wet weekend - it's never good to arrive in the rain - but it meant fresh snow for Sunday...

Down to the Vallon des Ignes.

Perfect weather on Monday but a poor forecast for Tuesday pushed us into making the long climb to the Pointe de Vouasson. Tough going for day 2, but worth it for the descent to Evolene. Reaching the summit we found only 1 set of tracks in the huge NE face - and they turned right onto the "normal" route, leaving us the un-tracked glacier tongue.

Skiing off the top of the Pointe de Vouasson. Perfect.

Blue sky, white snow, fresh tracks.

Nax on Wednesday, with the excellent lift access giving post-Vouasson legs a break! We still ended up skinning around 800m, but saw no-one and skied un-tracked slopes all day.

Skiing the NE face of Mont Noble

Off Piste on the North Face of Mont Noble. All the tracks are ours.

Today the forecast was poor, but happily it turned out ok in Evolene. Up the Pic d'Artsinol, down the Dixence side, and back up over the Rionde de Vendes before skiing a great spring descent into the forest - new ground for me too! The ski world is fond of "secret" spots, but often all it takes is a little touring. With a map, some imagination and a little luck we've skied 4 days now without meeting anyone or skiing tracked snow!

Arolla Ski Touring

~ Thursday 19th March 2015

It's been a funny old week. Fresh snowfall is a distant memory, and with endless sun it feels more Easter than mid-March, yet there's still plenty of good ski touring in Arolla. It's not all about powder after all! The hills have been oddly quiet this week too. Today was a public holiday so there were a few teams heading to the Pas de Chevre, but none turned right to Mont Rouge, and the rest of the week we've had the place to ourselves.

All terrain skinning

Still some soft snow on shady slopes. Un-tracked in the NE face of Mont Noble.

Using the Arolla lifts gives access to a great shady descent to the Vallon des Ignes, and avoids the 500m of steep skinning from la Gouille on the way to Mont de l'Étoile. 1000m up for 1900m down!

Charging into the Ignes Couloirs on the way to...

...Mont de l'Étoile.

Great views from the summit.

Steep climb to Mont Rouge

Perfect spring snow on the descent

Spot the snowboarder in the huge north face of Tseina Reifien

Eagle Ski Club Grimentz (Pt2)

~ Saturday 14th March 2015

For a change of scene we made the short drive over to St Luc on Thursday. A pleasant cruise round deserted piste and some epic button lifts lead to the Bella Tolla. From here an eye-opening traverse on early morning frozen snow left us looking into a long, north-facing descent - which was well worth the effort!

Remember it hasn't snowed for over a week!

Bella Tolla in the distance - deserted and un-tracked the whole way!

Quick descent to the Illsee

And a quick climb to the Illhorn. Still haven't seen anyone all day (except for these 3 of course)

Steep, shady skiing in the Illhorn NW couloir.

...on perfect grippy snow

...before re-emerging into the sun.

After so much good and spookily deserted skiing, it was a challenge to find a grand finale tour for the Friday! We decided to go sunny side, skiing down open slopes below the Becs des Bossons hut (no time for a coffee stop!) before skinning back up to the Basset de Levron. It's a good sign when you have to make a track to a col...

Reaching the Basset de Levron

...because you know it won't be hard to find un-tracked snow on the other side!

Fine views south to the Moiry valley and Dent Blanche

Poor photo of perfect snow. Tiny figure skiing the south face of the col

As it was still only 1pm we gambled on finding some good cold snow on the opposite aspect - a 15 minutes skin after lunch led to another fine descent.

Cold snow on the NE face below Pt 2761

All that remained was a fast cruise down the road below the Moiry dam...but as it happened, this was where we earned our turns! Re-freezing crust turned to long stretches of old avalanche debris on the road, the last thing the legs need on the afternoon of day 6!

Thanks everyone for a great week's skiing!

Eagle Ski Club Grimentz (Pt1)

~ Saturday 14th March 2015

Here's Part 1 of a huge blog after yet another great week Day Touring in Grimentz with the Eagle Ski Club. The mood in the Moiry Hotel on Saturday evening wasn't too upbeat - everyone had seen the forecast of warm temperatures and absolutely no snowfall, and it was T-shirt weather in Grimentz. However, with plenty of skiing on all aspects, the Val d'Anniviers area again delivered a week of excellent skiing with lots of fresh tracks - and the odd bit of "character building" snow to provide the necessary learning opportunities!

Big turns in the Vallon de Réchy

Hiking up the Tsa

Col de la Brinta, with fine views of the Weisshorn, Bishorn, Zinal Rothorn, Obergabelhorn

Skiing into the Col de Tsan

Cloud of the week over the Weisshorn

Crash landing!Sensible bird decided to walk home.

Grimentz and Zinal Off piste and day tours

~ Tuesday 3rd March 2015

It's been a wild and variable week in Grimentz, Zinal and St Luc, with "both sorts" of weather, plenty of fresh snow, plenty of wind, and some little glimpses of blue sky. Still, the area has plenty of options with something for all conditions, and we've had some great skiing, touring, on-piste, off-piste, back-country, call-it-what-you-like skiing!

Enough snow to cover the old tracks on Col de Louché

Weisshorn towers above the clouds

Hiding in the trees, bad weather fun!

Blue sky powder in St Luc

Blue and White

Green and white below the Tuono

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