Sunday, 12 February 2012

Chamonix Skiing

Skiing - isn't it amazing!!! Jen and I had 2 weeks of fantastic skiing in the Chamonix valley. It was soo good that I'm tempted to sell all my climbing gear and just buy skis! I'm just getting into skiing and really keen to start doing more ski touring and back country skiing where mountaineering and skiing skills combine to take you into some amazing places! We arrived the day after it had just put down 4 ft of fresh snow so avalanche risk was pretty high. The fresh snow was pretty heavy so it made for some challenging off piste. Throughout the first week we had more fresh snow falls and  some awesome powder but the unsettled weather was not great for touring so we just had to shred the vast amount of easily accessible off piste.

View from the Flegere ski area to the Aiguille Verte and Les Drus

Jen on the traverse of the Crouches bowl

Below the Geant Icefall in the Vallee Blanche

Climbing up to Col du Crouches

Approaching Col du Crouches

The weather for the second week was better although towards the end of the week it got bitterly cold! At the top lifts it got down to -25c. We managed to do the classic Crouches/Berard tour and enjoyed amazing fresh powder in the Berard valley. The highlight of the week was skiing the Valley Blanche from the Aiguille du Midi at nearly 3800m all the way to Chamonix at 1100m. Jen and I were joined by friends Greg and Christina  and we took a variarion on the Petit Envers descent finding some nice powder stashes as well as a few areas of grim breakable crust and windslab. Check out the video of our descent below.

Skiing the Vallee Blanche from Rory Shaw on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Snowdon ascent under the full moon

Last night I made the spontaneous decision to go for a wee donder up Snowdon by the light of the full moon. Oli, Jim and myself left Pen y Pass shortly after 8 and under gathering cloud stomped up the Pyg Track. Every now and then we could make out the moon through the thin layer of cloud so we had hopes that we might pop out of a cloud inversion. Given the cold temps and good snow conditions we headed for the bottom of Central Trinity a grade 1/2 climb. As we climbed up towards the Spider (a big snow field) we broke out of the cloud and into bright moonshine. So bright that we only needed torches on for the narrowest and trickiest bits of the gully. We stormed upwards and summitted about 10.15.

Now I've been up Snowdon a fair few times but this will definately be the most memorable. Looking north we could see most of Anglesey whereas to the south a blanket of cloud lapped at out feet reflecting the fat moon. Totally amazing! Unfortunately I am not a good enough photographer to over come the limitations of my point and shoot camera so the photos weren't very good.

After a brief rest to enjoy the view we headed down and where back in Llanberis by 11.30 enjoying bangers and mash followed by a wee dram of single malt... perfect!