Friday, 26 July 2013

Chalk & Granite on EpicTV!

After a lot of time spent filming around Cham, the first episode of "Chalk and Granite" is now up on EpicTV. Thanks to Toby and Rachel at Seven Twenty Productions for all the sweat that they've put into it, and thanks to everyone who came along and helped with the filming. This is a 5 part series, so there will be 4 more episodes over the summer. It's not supposed to be anything too hardcore, just fun. Enjoy.

We still need to do some more filming for some of the later episodes, so let's hope this amazing summer continues. I'm currently making the most of it down in the Ecrins, and I'm just coming to the end of a blissful week in the tiny village of Ailefroide. Anyone who has been here will know the score - lots of sun, perfect rock, and some very nice little cafes. If you haven't been then it is well worth checking out, and provides a nice middle ground between cragging and scary stuff in the mountains.

Sharon on a typical Ailefroide slab pitch

A working holiday! (Much more holiday than work to be honest)

On a Via Ferrata above Vallouise - not quite the rest day we were hoping for!


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Outdoor 2013 at Friedrichshafen

I've just got back from Germany having been to the Outdoor Show 2013 at Friedrichshafen, and Chamonix is warm and sunny, as it has been the whole time I've been away apparently. After a snowy start it seems that summer is now here, and I'm itching to make the most of it, so stay tuned over the next couple of days for blog updates.

 A full report will be appearing on soon, but in the meantime, here's a few shots (and a pretty funny video!) from the show. Thanks Jack, Paul, Alan and Dan for a busy few days!

Checking out the new Lowe Alpine packs

Ueli Steck showing off Mountain Hardwear's latest hardshells

Leah showing off the new NanoPro fabric from Marmot, with (hidden!) help from Liam

Look who I ran into! Climbing whilst simultaneously pulling your Mrs up with you is pretty impressive.

Kenton Cool with Sherpa's latest offering

Outdoor Party 2013!

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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Mont Blanc, conditions update, and some very nice photos.

It's been a busy week here in Cham, which for various reasons has seen me not climbing anything hard, but doing quite the tour of some Chamonix classics. I've been on the traverse of the Entreves, the SE ridge on the Index, and finally the Gouter Route of Mont Blanc in the past week, all of which have been amazing, but all of which means that I am now parked on my backside for a few days. 

The Index was with Toby from Seven Twenty Productions, and was in aid of the Chalk and Granite project (Facebook page here), the first episode of which is out in a fortnight. Unfortunately I don't have any photos, but we got some great footage so make sure you watch the series when it comes out, it's going to be epic!

The Entreves was an acclimatisation day for Sharon and I, and we had a great time climbing this classic and exposed ridge.

View from midway along the Entreves

With a whole 7 hours of acclimatisation, we then had a day off before heading up to the newly refurbished Gouter Hut in preparation for a go at Mont Blanc. 

The Gouter Route might not be technical, but it's one of the most scenic snow plods out there, and we made quick work of the route, and were back at the Nid d'Aigle train station in plenty of time for the 12.30 train down. Result! 

Conditions were superb on Mont Blanc, and it seems that all the snow is finally beginning to firm up with the recent good weather having provided some freeze/thaw cycles. General climbing conditions are actually looking much better now, with high altitude snowy routes being covered in firm snow, and mid altitude rock climbs being dry but relatively easily approached. The only summer routes that I think are definitely out right now are rock climbs that are high or north facing, and technical mixed routes which may not have survived the recent heat. Overall, things are looking good though, and there is plenty of sun on the way so get involved.

In the meantime, here's some of the better shots from Mont Blanc. It's not the toughest summit, but it takes you through some incredible scenery whichever route you climb it by. Enjoy - 

Monday, 1 July 2013

Snowy up high

After some horrendous weather over the weekend, Emma and I figured that there must have been some fresh snow up high, and so decided to get the first bin up the Grand Montets to have a look. Well, we didn't quite get the first bin, but went for the second one - you need someone to set off all the avalanches and in Cham there's never a shortage of volunteers so we let them get the early lift!

We had planned to ski straight down the front face, but the initial few hundred metres looked pretty dodgy and loaded, so we skied down towards the Argentiere Glacier and then turned left and emerged onto the front face about 2/3 of the way down. Happily enough, the snow was excellent all the way down, and whilst it would have been nice to do some lift served skiing in July, I'll settle for the last day of June!

The last day of June!!!

Emma happy with the conditions

Me heading for the Argentiere Glacier. Photo Emma Jack

Me on the front face. Photo Emma Jack

Today I went for a look at the Aiguille de L'M, but baking temperatures and a snowy approach sent us home empty handed. Conditions are frankly quite poor up high, with this huge amount of fresh snow not yet stabilised, and not many rock climbs completely snow free. As a result, finding objectives over the next few days could be tricky, but things should improve by the weekend as there is wall to wall sunshine forecast from Thursday onwards. In the meantime, I'd go for the ever reliable Aiguilles Rouges, or maybe a bit of cragging.