Thursday, 20 June 2013

A morning stroll in the mountains.

The past week has finally started to feel like summer. This means everyone is out doing things, road biking, running, rock climbing, alpine climbing, BBQ and many more.. Pretty much everyone is loving the fact that the sun has finally showed it face, I'm not though!

It's hot, it's really hot, which means you get sweaty, dehydrated and grumpy. In the mountains, you have to walk everywhere now, because you can ski back down to town. You'll forget to put sun cream at least a couple of times and then you have the horribleness of sunburn. Then when your rock climbing on a big face your feet will swell in your rock shoes, this then becomes painful. Basically I don't like Summer that much, I'm rubbish in the heat. But, I also don't like the cold either, and my poor circulation emphasises that. Still to figure out what I'm here for yet...

Our route for the morning.

Wednesday was different though. I didn't climb anything big or epic, I just had a really good time out in the mountains. This was due to a few factors. Firstly I got new climbing boots. Secondly we were taking skis! I broke my lightweight Skitrab skis whilst sliding down a hill a month ago. So today I was taking out my home made approach skis that I hadn't used before. Another sort of major point for me today, was that this was the first time up the hill since my accident. I knew I'd be fine, but never the less I did wonder how I would feel moving around in the snow.

Cutting the skis down to size.

Glue and bolt the tails.

Colin on the rock step of Lachenal.

So I met up with Colin and Dorian, outside the midi station for first bin which is at 7:10. For some reason the lift took a while to open and first bin didn't run until 7.40. Normally this wouldn't matter to much but we all knew it was going to be sunny and hot today so didn't want to waste time while the snow was softening up.  Soon enough though we were at the bottom of the arete, and clipping into the skis. I made my first few turns in the skis which weren't pretty, but was over at the Tacul in no time.

Heading up the first slopes
on the Tacul.

As we approached the Tacul, the winds were strong and we could see this huge black cloud descending from Mt Blanc towards the Tacul. So we thought it might be best to just quickly do the traverse of pointe Lachenal, then see how the weather was doing whether to head back to the midi or run up the Contamine - Grisolle.


We swiftly went up and over the Lachenal traverse, and then seen that the huge cloud hadn't shown it's face so we decided to head up to the Tacul. 

The mass amount of snow and ice around has made great conditions for the route, allowing for fast climbing. Once we reached the last of the rocks we stopped to put the jackets on as we knew once we were on the upper slopes we'd be heading into windier terrain. As the gusts would come out of nowhere, well we knew where they were coming from, but they'd suddenly try to push you over. So we just put the heads down for the next 5-10 mins till we were able to ski onto the descent slope. This is where the fun really began..

This is the main thing I like about winter/Spring alpinism, it's the climbing up and skiing down. It's so much faster and easier when skiing. However this was the first time I had used these small skis and skied in these boots.

Good to find a nice safe place to practice my



The first slope was just a long traverse, after this we headed straight down the normal route. It was about 11am now and the snow was starting to soften, but only just the surface which made for perfect spring skiing conditions. I got the hang of the skis and was loving it. Felt great to be skiing in really nice conditions on the 17th of June! However at the bottom of the slope it had softened up a lot more and had become slushy pow.



Getting the hang of these skis.

You may wonder why I bother with a ski set-up like this. Why not just take normal touring skis and boots? Well I much prefer climbing in my mountain boots than ski boots. Ok this climbing wasn't too bad and would happily climb it in ski boots, but for future routes where I would like to climb in climbing boots and have to ski in. Then this is a good set-up. As for the small skis, well it makes them easier for carrying and there easier to manage than normal size skis in the climbing boots.

Dorian lovely the huge turns.

Cooler temps look like there arriving soon, thank f**k for that. Let's see what next week brings...

Going back up to the midi is so much faster and easier
than walking.


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