Sunday, 29 April 2012

Foehn Wind Chaos

The last week has seen the arrival of the dreaded foehn wind here in Cham, and as ever it has brought really warm and unsettled weather. Valley locals believe that everyone goes a bit mental when the foehn blows and I can see why, as it basically rules out any mountain activity and brings a really odd feeling to the place. This foehn has been particularly strong, knocking over trees and destroying a few chalets in the process.

Despite the funny weather I've had a fun and varied week. More snow arrived early in the week so John, Jack and I went and skied some amazing powder through the Grand Montets trees one morning, and had a fun afternoon skiing the slush afterwards with a big group of Cham locals. 

Former giraffe turned ski beast, Jack Geldard, on his new waterskis.

John Cuthbert enjoying the late April powder.

Fashion matters on the mountain! It's Jack's before anyone emails me asking to buy it.

Mark Faulkner dishing out some lessons on the final red run back to the car.

Since then however, skiing has been on hold and climbing season seems to have begun. I've had a few days single pitch cragging, and then on Friday Emma, Matt and I drove through the Mont Blanc tunnel and climbed the classic "Dr Jimmy" (6a, 400m) at Machaby. The route itself is great - varied, stress free and pretty steady (apart from the 2nd to last pitch - sandbag!!!). The best part is that from the parking area you walk down to the start of the route, then back downhill to the car from the top of the route - no uphill!

Matt getting letched over on the walk in.

Emma and Matt making a bit of a meal of the 4th pitch.

"That's the thing about sport climbing - it's all about having strong fingers." Matt on the penultimate pitch.

Today (Sunday) saw Sharon and I climbing on the lower slabs at Barberine with no-one else around and  the sun beating down. I'd never climbed on the lower slabs but the climbing is great, and it keeps the sun from mid morning until late afternoon. The routes are very slabby, and it's a great place to get the footwork going again after a winter on skis, so I think I'll be back again soon.

Sharon at Barberine

This was the river on the way to Barberine. So that's where all the snow has gone!

Hard to predict what is coming now, but the ski season might not be quite finished if we get some precipitation up high. Mont Blanc on skis anyone?