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Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Haute Route Success!

~ Friday 24th February 2017

The title says it all really - a tired, smelly, footsore but happy team skied into Zermatt yesterday after a tough but successful Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route with the Eagle Ski Club.

I first did the Haute Route in February 1993 with Mike Clark. Staying in the winter rooms we saw no-one for 5 days, ran out of food, got lost and snow-bound for a day but finally reached Zermatt - a great adventure! An article by Rob Collister in the Eagle's yearbook about finding more "sustainable" adventure nearer to home gave me the idea of running an annual attempt. There's no shortage of ski adventure to be found in far-flung places but could the world's best-known (and busiest!) ski-tour out of season provide similar challenge without travelling half-way around the world? The answer seems to be yes - previous efforts varying from non-starters in bad weather to very near success, but each trip provided plenty of challenge and seclusion in the high mountains.

Day 1: We left the Grands Montets lift for the long climb to the Col du Passon, then turned right for the Col du Tour, leaving the Chamonix crowds behind.

Day 2: A complicated day, skiing, climbing , skiing, taxi, lifts, then finally leaving the Verbier pistes for the peace and quiet of the Rosablanche. Good powder made for a good ski down to Prafleuri and a "luxury " night with electric lights!

Day 3: Mixed weather for the climb to the Dix hut. This is usually the "easy" day, but trail-breaking and surprisingly delicate avalanche conditions (Cat 2 but "whoomphing"!) made it quite challenging.

Day 4: Perfect weather for the Pigne traverse, if a little windy! The dry winter has left the Serpentine bare, and we climbed in crampons before skinning to the wind-scoured summit.

After a bumpy ride from the summit on wind-blown waves we at last found where the snow had gone - the lower slopes were great skiing!

Keen to make the most of good weather we skipped the Vignettes and climbed over the Col de l'Éveque in the afternoon - a long way but gaining 2 valuable hours for the final day.

Day 5: Grand finale, and perfect weather! Up the Col du Mont Brulé, down, then the long slog to the Col de Valpelline. It's all downhill from there...2000m down, with fantastic views and some really good skiing. The Stockji glacier is very open (no surprise) but the snow lasts all the way to Zermatt where the inevitable culture shock awaits after 5 days in the mountains!

Matterhorn col du valpelline

Matterhorn ski haute route

Val d'Herens Ski Tours

~ Friday 17th February 2017

Despite the very tricky conditions in the Alps at the moment we've just had a brilliant week - mostly fresh tracks, mostly deserted, all of it good fun - exactly what ski touring should be. Full credit to the Norwegian team who, with 110mm underfoot, could deal with anything downhill - but also managed back-to-back 1000m+ days and a solid 1600m up the Pigne in a day yesterday. I will sleep well tonight!

With more warm weather and an altitude record to beat, we made the long climb up the Pigne d'Arolla. Spectacular views, no-one in sight, and surprisingly ski-able despite the wind-scouring!

Frost Guiding Guarantee. A little bit of certainty in an uncertain world!

~ Sunday 5th February 2017

Frost Guiding Guarantee:

  • Price Guarantee: There will be no last minute surcharges (whatever the exchange rate)!
  • Booking Guarantee: If we accept your booking, we will run your course (even when courses are not full)
  • Environmental Guarantee: 1% of Everything You Spend with Frost Guiding will be donated to Environmental Causes as a Member of 1% For The Planet

The first 2 points are possible because Frostguiding is "run by accountants". Or "an accountant" and a mountain guide to be precise. The accountant also grows the salad you eat at the chalet, answers e-mails, does the chalet shopping and changes the beds, but still finds time to do very careful forecasts, planning and pricing for the season ahead (plus some time to run, ski and climb) This means the advertised prices are guaranteed - there won't be last-minute surcharges - and your course will run even if we can't fill it.

Point 3 is more to do with the guiding side of things. Most guides (and our customers!) love quiet, un-spoilt mountains - yet we also try to make a living from those mountains. This means we drive and fly miles to ski and climb, we encourage our clients to take regular short-haul flights, we expect fresh food in huts and efficient rescue - which means regular helicopter flying, we use ski lifts and ski artificial snow...the list of environmental compromises and "catch 22s" is huge. Obviously this is a vast and complex issue but hopefully by giving back something, and by looking at the way we operate our business, we become part of the solution rather than just part of the problem.

Arolla Ski Touring Conditions

~ Wednesday 1st February 2017

After a very slow start to the ski season things are finally starting to look better in central Switzerland. Being honest, snow cover is still thin and we really need more...a lot more! But with recent snow we at last had a good day skiing fresh tracks, and hit no rocks. Happy skiers and happy skis! More snow forecast for the weekend too.

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