Saturday, February 10, 2018

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!!

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