Just a short update on the conditions we found in Cogne a few days ago.
In general there was less ice then what I have seen the last few winters in Cogne at this time of the year. The recent warm weather has made the ice white and thin in most places that are exposed to the sun. Heavy traffic has also contributed to chopping off the ice from certain pillars and cigars.
Still there is lots to climb on the west side of Valeille (rive droite) valley as well as far into Valnontey.
The consistently good skiing starts end of February, when day light consists of a permanent sunrise/sunset. This is when we like to make our entry up north, still hungry for deep, fluffy snow, but craving solitude and peace after a powder-hunting first half of the winter in the Alps.
Our life in Northern Norway is all about good snow, happy people, nice accommodation, and closeness to the beautiful nature.
Last year we got the opportunity to first ski on the Lofoten islands before settling down in our house on the Lyngen Peninsula for 5 more weeks of incredible skiing and stunning views (video from March and April 2012).
Already on the approach you get a feeling for the rough textured and sharp, white granite, as you cross the slabs behind the Needles Watch tower. After an hour of pleasant cross-country hiking you enter the main Needles. The canyon between the Sorcerer and the Witch Needles opens up to you and hits with a striking beauty!
You’re overlooking an alley framed by vertical, about 150m high, neon-green to white, granite walls. There is no need for a guide book to find the classic climbs, the perfect lines of cracks and corners are drawn out for you right there in the rock.
The most popular mountaineering route accessed from Almageller hut is the Traverse of the Weissmies (4023m), a classic four-thousander in the canton of Valais in Switzerland.
However, when visiting in the end of July 2012, we decided to prolong the visit to Almageller hut in order to experience one of the region’s most spectacular attractions; the Portjengrat. Much more demanding both in difficulty and length, but highly recommended for those who likes more excitement and have some experience with rock climbing.
In the middle of the complex south-east face of Grepon unwinds one of Chamoinx’s greatest classics; Grepon-Mer de Glace, D, 850m, first done in 1911! Now days it’s sometimes done in one day return from Chamonix, ascent via Montenvers train and cable car down-load from Plan de l’Aiguille. Light and fast, simule-climbing in friction shoes. We did it a bit more old-school in big boots carrying bivouak gear, setting off in the afternoon and spending the night on a large ledge 200m above the petit Trelaporte glacier.
The east spur issues from Pointe Balfour on Grepon (3482m) is climbed on top-quality granite and gets gradually steeper and harder. For a chronicle series of photos from the climb see also: Grepon-Mer de Glace, 18 Jul 2012.
The East ridge of Aiguille du Plan rises from a series of massive bergschrunds, off the small Glacier Enverse de Blatière, in the heart of Les Aiguille des Chamonix. This prominent ridge line in-between Pain de Sucre and Dent du Crocodile was first climbed in 1906 by Lochmatter brothers and Ryan, and later on alternative starts were added in adaption to the varying conditions of the glacier.
Climbing along the crest is a mix of slabs, cracks, chimneys and horizontal line-dancing. The drop to both sides, the general increasing steepness of the ridge, wider and wider views, adds a feeling of exposure and wildness. We are all alone, with clear skies and no wind in the backyard of Chamonix Aiguilles.
A typical month of March have passed, which means you get the full spectrum of off-piste and ski mountaineering experiences. The valley turned to spring and we skied corn snow on south faces, while north faces in altitude still offered powder skiing.
Check out our 4th video episode from skiing in Chamonix in March:
From Siberian cold to summer warm, we certainly skied a bit of everything, from dried out powder to full-on spring snow.
The first half of Feb we hardly stuck our noses out the window without wearing double down jackets, boot heating, and full facial protection against the freezing winds. Ice climbing was on in the sun. By the end of the month we went ski touring in t-shirt as the snow slowly transformed to smooth corn.
A month of ski touring and exploring new places with untouched snow in the Mt Blanc massif. Enjoy the 3rd video episode of Chamonix skiing:
I sometimes travel through big cities. And sometimes I see people wearing an air-filtering mask over their nose and mouth when walking to work. Shocked I stare at them and think “How can they possibly go on living in a place like this?”
So, where do I live? I live in Chamonix, the outdoor mountain sport capital of the world, and an idyllic town of 12.000 yearly inhabitants at the foot of Mont Blanc. Protected by the queen of the Alps we are well away from stressful and grey big-city-atmosphere, breathing healthy mountain air and value what is really important in life…
…Sure, dream on, that image is about as a false as the smiling doctor on a Lucky Strike package. The sad reality is that it is me who should be wearing the anti-pollution mask!
A few seriously snow-loading storms with up to one week high pressures in-between, allowed for a lot of powder skiing off the lifts as well as a good start of the ski touring season.
The general snow cover is better then ever and we especially enjoy all the skiing on the lower half of the mountains down to the valley floor, exploring new variations that are seldom skiable but now full of fluffy snow on a thick base. Second video episode of Chamonix skiing:
Skipping the pre-season in Chamonix this year and going straight for mid-winter powder skiing during most of December! Since it started it never really stopped. The cold storms with heavy snowfalls have been releasing each other, with just a few clear and warm days in-between.
This was our December 2011 and the whitest Christmas I’ve seen in the Chamonix valley. As the new year has just arrived we are excited and confident that 2012 is gonna be a BIG winter in the Alps!
Lyngen and Northern Norway has become our favourite spring-skiing destination. We like it for many reasons; the quality of the skiing, the solitude, silence and absence of lifts and helicopters, the views, the fishing, the exotic food… The excellent quality of life is enhanced by the cleanliness and absence of air pollution as we know it in central Europe. Over 10 years we have discovered the best ways to experience the ski touring in Lyngen and share it with all levels of ski mountaineers.