Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Dent Blanche

~ Thursday 21st July 2016

The Dent Blanche is the emblem of the Val d'Hérens, Evolene's Matterhorn. At 4357m it dominates the view from the village. I'd been thinking (to myself) about trying to climb it in a day from the valley...then I carelessly mentioned the idea at dinner with friends. Unfortunately 1 of them is an ultra-running type. Predictably, he thought it was a good idea so more wine was drunk, and a plan made.

Next day, while in the Coop stocking up on biscuits to fuel the ascent I saw Kilian Jornet doing his shopping - it turned out he'd just been up the Dent Blanche, and had the nerve to Facebook about an "easy day". Well, we'd see...

2am in the Ferpecle carpark, time to finish our coffees and start walking. The Dent Blanche hut approach is famously long, an energy-sapping climb if tackled in the afternoon sun. Happily, in the cool early hours with a stunning full moon lighting the way the climb passed fairly painlessly.

We saw headtorches leave the still-distant hut as dawn broke over the Dent d'Hérens, and some time later we flopped onto the hut terrace for a quick break.

We'd now got most of the walking behind us - the climbing starts right behind the hut. Dry rock, then well-frozen snow lead up to 4000m where the trickier climbing starts. I'd been hoping the ultra-runner might slow down when we got to the climbing, but he had a mis-spent youth as a pretty handy rock-climber so sadly there was no change in pace!

By now we'd caught a few people but the mountain was quiet, with only half a dozen teams.

Introduction to Alpine Climbing

~ Tuesday 19th July 2016

Here are a few pictures from last week's Intro Alpine Course. Thanks to Andy Perkins for the photos and for running the course!

The 3 guests were all fit, and regular indoor wall climbers, looking for an instructional week before setting off together to climb in the Alps. The Moiry glacier is an ideal spot for day 1 glacier training on the way to the Moiry hut.

Day 2 brought perfect conditions for the Pointe de Mourti, and time to put into practice some of the skills from day 1

Unfortunately the Alps forgot it was summer - it rained, then snowed! The enforced valley day turned into an intensive skill-training session, with regular tea-breaks!

In more mixed weather the team headed over to the Dix hut ready for more big peaks.

La Luette provided a character-building battle with more unseasonal weather, and the ridges around the Pas de Chevre turned into excellent ground for learning to lead and move together, making a good finale to a thorough week's instruction.

Happily the following weekend saw the return of summer, and the guys took their new knowledge back to the Dix hut, climbing the Mont Blanc de Cheilon and Pigne d'Arolla in perfect summer conditions.

Rock Climbing in Switzerland

~ Saturday 9th July 2016

Rock climbing at Sanetsch yesterday. The Col du Sanetsch is the opposite side of the Rhone valley to Evolene and has fine panoramic views south to the high Alpine peaks - plus a 200m high limestone crag! We climbed "Au Bord Du Vide", a varied 7 pitch route with a "sting in the tail" finish.

sanetsch rock climbing

Sanetsch rock climbing

Mont Blanc de Cheilon

~ Thursday 7th July 2016

Cheilon adventure yesterday. After a comfy night at the Cabane des Dix we made an early start for the normal route. There's still lots of snow, but a good freeze overnight meant fast progress and we reached the Col de Cheilon at dawn.

The rocky scrambling up the ridge is dry and soon we were putting crampons on again for the steep snow above. Although there's lots of snow lower down, the steep slopes up here are getting quite icy and delicate already. The final ridge is still snowy, with some big old cornices, and we kept crampons on to the summit.

As it was still early and we were moving fast, we decided to continue along the traverse of the summit ridge. Excellent, airy climbing with huge exposure down the north face. The traverse works well in either direction but going anti-clockwise means there's some time pressure - the snow descent is sunny, and heating up fast!

As expected, the descent was a bit soft at first, but soon improved as we turned back onto the shady aspect. A fine day, and a great effort from Bloxham School climbers - good luck with your A level results!

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