Saturday, 24 January 2015

Christmas in Chamonix

I Can't believe it's a month since Christmas already but once again spending it out in Chamonix was, as ever, a lot of fun.  With a mix of climbing, the usual festivities but a lot less skiing than normal due to a distinct lack of snow this year, although a few weeks on now and it sounds like it has eventually arrived now.

Although I didn't actually climb anything I hadn't done before I got some great days out with some quality climbing.  First up was Scotch on the Rocks with Jon.  Not been able to ski down to the valley and a late first cable car meant we only had time to climb the first few pitches to the top of the crux before getting the lungs working and skinning back up to the Midi to get the last lift down.

Photo - Jon Griffith

Next up was a bit of cardio training with Jon again, this time a quick simul-solo up and over the Swiss Route on the Courtes with skis on the back to kick the legs and lungs into gear.  Conditions on the north faces in the Argentiere basin were looking great and we up it in just over 2 hours, forgoing the summit and making straight for the Col de la Tour des Courtes in the rapidly worsening weather.  Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for the conditions on the decent and we eventually made it back to Chamonix 5 hours later with some pretty battered looking skis.

Photo - Jon Griffith

After that it was back to the East Face of the Tacul again, this time with Ross for some more quality climbing on Pinocchio, just to the left of Scotch.  It really is a fun route stacked full of quality climbing.  Conditions were just about perfect, just enough ice to make it make it good fun and really entertaining climbing, not too hard but not too straightforward.  That’s the great thing about these sort of routes, you can do them numerous times in different conditions and have a different experience on them every time.  I’d say Pinocchio is probably one of the better, easy access day route in the valley.

Photo - Ross Hewitt

Photo - Ross Hewitt

I couldn't resist getting the skis out on the final day, so Ross, Betony and myself headed into the Argentiere basin for a little look around.  We ended up skiing a little couloir behind the Argentiere hut, which although it had been skied quite a bit and the snow wasn't amazing, gave a really good fun day out.  A great way finish off a fun trip before returning to the office - out in the mountains with good friends, that’s what it’s all about!

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