Sunday, February 25, 2018

Skills Development

Junior Paddlesport @ Western Swimming Pool

Saturday afternoon Junior Paddlesport skills development program, winter indoor kayaking at the friendly Western Swimming Pool, Peel. 

Adventure Club - Sea Kayaking off Peel this morning

Using the challenging conditions off the west coast of the Isle of Man this morning, the Sunday morning Adventure Club skills development program, outdoor training year-round.

Adults Paddlesport @ Western Swimming Pool

Sunday afternoon Adults Paddlesport skills development training, winter indoor kayaking at the friendly Western Swimming Pool, Peel. From absolute beginners through to Adventure Club members and coaches.

Solo Kayak to Scotland and Back

Wednesday conditions allows a solo crossing from Point of Ayre (Isle of Man) to the Isle of Whithorne (Scotland). On arrival in Scotland, I took a small break to cook up some hot food, and then paddled back again...

"Be bold, start cold! I tried to be bold as i scraped the ice off the windscreen, and climbed into the Defender with my hat an gloves on! Kitted up in the dark, set off at first light and arrived in Isle of Whithorn, Scotland late morning. Sub-4 hour crossing from the Isle of Man 😁 sloppy sea state 3/4 and delightful easterly wind to prevent overheating! The return trip included a bit of battle, touching home gravel as the sun sank out of sight... February training goal achieved!"

Catch you on the water soon
Keirron and the Team

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Vallee Blanche, Chamonix

Skiing the Vallee Blanche, Chamonix

The Vallee Blanche is a renowned high altitude off-piste ski decent, in the middle of the French Alps. I was on a guided tour with Chamonix Guides. Stepping off the Aiguille du Midi cable car at 3,778m, a panoramic banquet blows you away.  A short trek with crampons and your away into the Mount Blanc massif itself...

 Olivier Larios - our Mountain Guide for the day

Lunch break with views

After a quick assessment of our skiing, Olivier led us down a more challenging decent initially before re-joining the Classic Route, continuing with forays into blue ice canyons, mini-challenges and a rest break at a mountain hut... in hot sunshine!! Caught up with Rob, (whom we'd met ice climbing in Cogne before Xmas), also enjoying refreshments at les Mottets hut.

Having shredded my legs the previous day skiing Grande Montets hard, the phrase 'skiing the Vallee Blanche' can be taken as 'descended the Vallee Blanche as best as I was able' : )
We had a great group of folk (much more experienced than me), to whom i'm much indebted.

Skiing right down into Chamonix itself (a 2800m descent over 23km) finishing with the narrow forest challenge in mid-afternoon baking sunshine. Only a few of those breathtaking views are pictured here... we passed world class ice falls, crevasses, snowcapped peaks and untouched slopes... this trip has (literally) burnt a real desire to return even fitter and discover more of the 'high mountains'.

Looking forward to the next challenge!!

so many friendly folk, so many like minded people

Scotland to Chamonix

Ice Climbing - Cairngorms

After a few days conditioning on the neve slopes in Coire an t-Sneachda, and meeting a few friendly faces taking folk on climbing and mountaineering adventures, staying at the Scottish Youth Hostel in Aviemore it was time to up our personal challenge level... the forecast was ideal!

We met up with Jake from Summit Ascent and enjoyed probably our best day of Scottish winter climbing. We climbed Aladdin's Mirror Direct icefall, Patey’s Route and Original Summer Route (direct start), walking out of VisitCairngorms in darkness beneath the stars, a few head torches twinkling above the Corrie, where teams were making the most of conditions : ) Thanks Jake for your guidance and photos, superb!

For our final day in Scotland, wind was back up to delightful strength so we chose another gully to ascend quickly as a pair, then practice some navigation in the interesting conditions above, before dropping back into the Coire to pass the Mountain Rescue teams training with their dogs : )

Jim leaning into the wind at the top of the Goat Track (had to fight our way down on day 2)

Jim dropped me at Glasgow airport and his way back down the country, and I caught an early flight to Geneva... 

Skiing Grande Montets

Staying at Chamonix Lodge (a hostel in Chamonix with a hot tub, sauna and shared dorm prices) was the perfect place to meet folk who wanted to "eat - sleep - shred" the business's motto!
Genuinely friendly staff creating a really friendly, sharing culture.

I skied Brevent and Flegere slopes for the first two days with Keith from Australlia, learning a few new things... including skiing in zero visibility cloud : )

The following day I headed up the Grande Montets with Sebastian (one of my room mates at Chamonix Lodge) from Denmark, and we pushed the challenge level hard. Got some great practice in on the steeper off-piste slopes and un-pisted runs with delightful moguls... 

The run 'skiers left' from the top of Grand Monets (3275m) was the epic finish to the mind blowing day, completing our last top to bottom decent and legs suitable burning!!

The views were pretty special, looking across at the touring route Sebastian has done the previous day... psyched and feeling on great form, Sebastian inspired me to do the Vallee Blanche.

I managed to secure a last place on a guided tour (with Chamonix Compagnie des Guides)
of the famous Vallee Blanche the following day. Having left my wallet at the hire shop further down the valley, a rapid run was in order to collect this and get back before the office closed... an ideal warm down to the already long day!

A hot tub and cold beverage back at the Chalet, splendid!!