Monday, 18 June 2012

Busy, busy, busy

It's been a bit of a frantic few days here in Cham as the first weather window of the summer has (sort of) arrived. I say sort of because it hasn't been a true high pressure with settled conditions, but there has been plenty of very welcome sunshine. 

On Friday I teamed up with photographer extraordinaire Alexandre Buisse (meaning that the standard of photography displayed on this blog is about to rocket!) for a day climbing on the lower slabs of the Envers area. As it turned out our intended route (Voie Georges) was wet so we decided to go and check out the Trelaporte slabs, not far from the Envers des Aiguilles ladders. The guidebook says that conditions vary there, and the routes may not be accessible due to movement of the glacier, and so it proved. The gap between the ice and the rock was about 3 metres, and the glacier has shrunk so much that the routes are now separated from the floor by 50 metres of blank, glacier polished rock. We ended up doing a couple of routes at Montenvers and chalking it up as a fun research day.

One benefit of finding a massive hole in the glacier is that a happy 20 minutes can be passed chucking rocks of varying sizes into it and listening to how long they fall for! 
Photo Alexandre Buisse.

Over the weekend Sharon and I decided on a change of scene and headed over to Saas Fee. Incredibly, if you are staying in the Saas Valley (even camping) then the lifts are free. Not half price, FREE!!!!! As a result we went up the Hohsaas lift 2 days running and found an incredible amount of snow, and a lot of people doing some amazing looking skiing. Without skis we had a look at the S ridge on the Lagginhorn, but it was a bit of a non starter with the amount of wading it required. If you're thinking of heading over to Saas Fee this week then make sure you have your skis, it looked like conditions were really good. Also, make sure you check out Feetchi crag, just past Saas Almagell, and most importantly, make sure you pay the 15 francs to ride a bike down from the Kreuzboden lift! Money very well spent! Overall a great weekend of climbing and attempts at mountaineering, but wish I'd taken my skis. Grr.

All photos Sharon Wray - 

Current conditions on the Weissmies

And the Lagginhorn

Venturing off road on the hired bikes at Kreuzboden!

Back on road, but still showing off.

There is a lot of snow, but the effort of slogging up to the Lagginjoch was worth it for the views alone.

Today (Monday) I teamed up with Alex again and we climbed the Contamine Mazeaud on the Triangle of Mont Blanc du Tacul. I've done most of the day routes off the Midi several times so it was good to do something new. Conditions weren't great, but the route is perfectly climbable right now. When we got to the top of the route the weather looked as if it was really coming in so we decided to ab down instead of carrying on any further up the Tacul. Once we were down a short way we traversed into the Chere couloir as this is a really straightforward abseil descent, and it also looked in good condition right now. 

All photos Alexandre Buisse - 

I think a rest day might be in order!