Lakes Conditions

They were giving a great weather forecast for today and I wanted to go out to check on the hill conditions. Gary, who is currently managing the building work for the installation of our new biomass boiler, decided to come out with me on his day off. The Helvellyn Ridges are in wintery condition with a bit of snow ice, notably at the top of Swirral. There’s a sprinkling of snow on the rocks so it’s all quite slippery, requiring care and an axe and crampons are advisable. We passed a couple of guys who”d been on an unfruitful recce to Brown Cove. It was nice day out on the Ridges though, and quite chilly. To see more recent photos click here.

Hornli Jam

Dave and I climbed the Matterhorn last Sunday. We had hoped to do the Zmutt Ridge, which had been in very good condition. However, on traversing the Breithorn as our training climb we realised that significant fresh snow had fallen during a recent spell of bad weather. We suspected that the new snowfall combined with subsequent very warm temperatures had put the Zmutt out of condition, and this was confirmed by a call to Kurt Lauber at the Hornli Hut. We considered various alternative plans, and finally settled for an ascent of the Hornli Ridge. After some light entertainment at Scharzsee (see photo here) we headed up to the hut where I was amazed to bump into Nuru Sherpa, our Sirdar on several trips to Nepal including our 2007 Everest Expedition. Nuru is working at the Hornli Hut this summer.

Dave said this about the Zermatt trip: “Thanks once again for the outstanding time we had again in your back yard.  Shame about the Zmutt plan but it could still be a possibility in future.  A good excuse to keep fit.  What we managed to achieve though was just brilliant.  Great experiences throughout and I feel quite elated at having been to the top of the Matterhorn.  Anna is happy too, and my Mam as well as others.”

Photos here.

Alpine Update

Late June has been really great here in the Alps. Sam and I made a successful ascent of Mont Blanc by the Gouter Route. Then Dave and I had 3 days rock climbing on Voie Caline, Mille et une Pattes and Voie Frison-Roche. We then had a day off before heading up to the Couvercle Hut and climbing the Aiguille Verte by the Whymper Couloir, which was in excellent condition. We wound down on the Cosmiques Ridge to end the week and Dave hopes to return later in the season to try the Zmutt. To end the month of June Rebekah and I went up to Les Chéserys and had a really nice afternoon on Un Père Noël pour Lucy.

There are photos of all these routes here, and please also visit UKC and vote on the Whymper photos I posted this week.

Good climbing!

Conditions on Mont Blanc

There was a serac fall with associated avalanche on Mont Blanc du Tacul yesterday (photo left, helicopter bottom left of avalanche for scale), which triggered a rescue operation but I understand it turned that out nobody was hurt. Skis had been found and people naturally assumed the owners had been buried. However they had left their skis to continue on foot and later returned safely. However this serves as a reminder to take special care, particularly with the  current winter levels of accumulated snow and summer temperatures. I will be avoiding the 3 Monts personally!

I’ve heard there’s a good track on the Gouter Route and parties report good conditions to the summit.

To see more photos from the last week please click here.

Lakes Winter Climbing

We’ve had some great climbing in the Lakes this winter, and I’ve been out taking advantage of the “alpine conditions” here each week since returning from Scotland in early February. As you can see from the photos it has been truly alpine at times, with bullet hard neve in the gullies and shady coves and clear blue skies above. Approaches were easy in the spring like conditions, but there’s been some good ice and well frozen turf on the crags. As well as all the climbing I had a day skiing in Ruthwaite Cove recently too, and if you take a look at you’ll see the winter’s not quite over yet!

I’m heading out to the Alps for some ski touring at the weekend,  I hope to see you in the fells late April when I’m back!