Tuesday, 19 September 2017

NAVIGATION & MOUNTAIN SKILLS DAY

Danni enjoying the Fiacaill Ridge
I'm liking this!
Tranquil in Coire an t-Sneachda
Fiacaill a' Choire Sneachda
More scrambling, Coire an Lochain now
Navigation, Cairngorm plateau
Fabulous day to be on the hills
A great place for fun

Coire an t-Sneachda
Danni has just got into hillwalking and 'bagging' Munros quite recently. She's walked up some of the easier to navigate hills but wants the confidence and skills to get into more remote and challenging terrain. She initially wanted a day purely of navigation with me. After a few minutes of discussion we turned the day into a mountain skills, navigation and scrambling course. The beauty of joining on one of my courses, flexibility and what the individual wants to get out of it. It's never just a standard 'Navigation Course'.
What a stonker of a day it was. Wall to wall sun, not a breath of wind and warm temperatures. We walked into Coire an t-Sneachda and made our way up to the notch on the Fiacaill a' Coire an t-Sneachda. The terrain up in the coire is pathless, a new experience for Danni. Also a new experience was scrambling along the ridge. She took to it quickly and was soon grinning all the way along. We did some navigation on the plateau before sadly heading back to civilisation.
Brilliant day out with some great banter, don't think I have had anyone chat so much throughout the day! Good craic and laughs along the way, except the 'scary biscuits' bits along the ridge :)
It's good to be home!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

HAUTE ROUTE, DAY 10. THE END

The Matterhorn revealed 
Robert Phsyced for the Europaweg Bridge 
On the Europaweg 
Tunnels & Ledges
That mountain again
Windy along the bridge 
The evening view from my balcony
The final day of this Walkers Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt.  The views all along the Europaweg are absolutely stunning, on a clear day. Unfortunately the weather is still unsettled.  It dawned dry with some blue skies around the Mattertal but the cloud descended to below the tree line by 1pm. Still, the walk from Randa and along the new bridge is so much fun. It was a tad windy this time which was interesting how Europe’s longest footbridge behaved in a 30mph crosswind!  Robert and I survived the 500m crossing.  We had some light rain in the afternoon,  so we had a cheeky beer at the Europaweg Hut to get out of the wet weather.  The forecast was for things to clear up by 5pm. 4.30pm and we were still walking in the clag. 4.50pm at Tufteren and suddenly the clouds started breaking up. The Matterhorn was revealed!  It does exist said Robert! The descent into Zermatt just got better and better has the clouds all melted away.  Journey's end and a beautiful clear evening.
A fantastic summer 2017 guiding comes to an end. Can't wait for summer 2018!
This 10 day walking holiday I was guiding for Mont Blanc Treks.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

HAUTE ROUTE, DAY 9. COLD

Nearing Augstboard Pass 
Cold on top
There's many 4000m peaks from here, not today 
Jungen 
Icy trails this morning 
Augstboard Pass 
Weisshorn and Brunegghorn from Grachan
It was another cold evening and morning.  Clear skies were short lived as high cloud rolled in by 10am. Another chilly NE wind and even some patches of ice on wet areas of the trail over the Augstboard Pass.  No hanging about today. We were all soon over the Col and down into the Mattertal.  Not much in the way of views high above the valley. Usually have some stunning views, not today.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

HAUTE ROUTE, DAY 8. ZINAL - GRUBEN

The Meidpass
Cold on top
Lakes & Mountains 
Cloud clearing slowly 
Meidpass from the Turtmantal side
Fab views to the East
Nice ridges
There was another sprinkling of overnight snow above 2500m. It's been unusualy cool for a long period of time, well for the Alps that is. Cloud was quite stubborn to clear but it did lift by mid afternoon. The walk from Zinal to Gruben has two options. The Forcletta or the slightly longer but by far more scenic route via the Meidpass.  We took the later route. A bonus for the Meidpass option is a lunchtime break at the famous Weisshorn Hotel. The traverse path from Zinal to the Weisshorn Hotel is one of the most spectacular balcony trails in the Alps. The views are all behind you so you need to keep looking back! Sadly it was cloudy this morning so all the big 4000m peaks were covered in clag. We hot lucky on the Meidpass as the clouds broke and we had excellent views of the Weisshorn and Bishorn.

Monday, 11 September 2017

HAUTE ROUTE, DAY 7. LA SAGE -ZINAL

Zinal Rothorn & Besso
Pigne de Arolla & Val de Herens 
Descending Col de Torrent 
Lac de Moraiy 
Val de Herens 
Taking it easy
Dent Blanche 
Weisshorn from Col de Torrent 
Big day today with around 2000m of ascent and 1850m descent.  The Col de Torrent sits at 2919mm, above the Val de Herens.  A beautiful,  stunning day. Cold, crisp and just wonderful clarity of air in the northerly airflow.  There was some cloud in the afternoon when we walked over the second col of the day, Col de Sorbois.  The Weisshorn and Zinal Rothorn suddenly unveiled themselves of the cloud and one of those wonderful,  magical moments occured has their gleaming glaciers sparkled in blue skies. We seemed to be the only group on the route between La Sage and Zinal today. A fantastic day with many big 4000m mountains on view throughout the hike.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

HAUTE ROUTE, DAY 6. EASY STROLL

Fresh snow above 2200m
Lac Bleau
Cloudy
Would look great with no cloud 
The easiest day on the Haute Route today with a short stroll, mainly downhill, to La Sage. The fresh snow from yesterday still lingering above 2500m. Cool temperatures into next week.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

HAUTE ROUTE, DAY 5, SNOW

Cold and snowing 
Not many Eidelweiss left now
The final pull up to the Col Reidmatten 
Col Reidmatten (2019m)

It's not unusual to get snow falling in the Alps down to lower altitudes,  even in July and August.  So September is no exception. I guess for some first time trekkers to the Alpine environment its can come as a bit of a shock to be walking in warm sun one day and cold, snowy weather the next. That is exactly what we got today.  There has been a cool, Northerly airflow all week and today we had percipitation in the form of snow forecast at 2200m. We set out early before the worse of the conditions set in. Leaving the Prafleuri Refuge at 0745 we left many groups behind who had decided not to tackle todays steep Col and instead they walked to the Barrage at Lac Dix to get a bus round to Arolla. That left just my group and one other group on the mountain! We had mostly dry conditions,  just a few light snow showers above 2500m. We we're at the Col Reidmatten for 11.15am, the earliest I have been here. The winds were not a problem and no way near what was forecast.  An easy descent into Arolla and only the last hour did we get wet. We arrived in town at 1.30Pm, good going. It's always a good idea to hire a guide ( me!) and a company like Mont Blanc Treks who know the routes well. They are vastly experienced guiding the Haute Route and TMB many times per season. It was worrying watching some groups this morning who didn't have basic kit such as waterproof trousers. All afternoon it has been snowing in Arolla at 2000m. Will be interesting to see the hills in the morning. 

Friday, 8 September 2017

HAUTE ROUTE, DAY 4. THE 'WILDERNESS'

Mont Blanc range from Sentier de Chamois 
Grand Combin from the trail to Col Louvie 
Col Termin 
Male & female Ibex
Grand Combin 
Col Prafleuri 
Enjoying the traverse 

Grand Combin from Sentier de Chamois 


For me the finest day of the Walkers Haute Route has to be the section from Cabane Montfort to Prafleuri. High trails, wilderness, stunning mountain scenery and beautiful wildlife are the key ingrediants for a memorable time in the hills. We we're blessed with excellent,  sunny weather and not too hot. An early start to get the best light and for spotting Ibex, Chamois and a young Eagle. There was a full moon overnight which was still visibile this morning. There are 3 cols to traverse, the finest being the Sentier de Chamois.  It lived up to it's namesake.  We  saw many ibex aswell as Chamois.  All along are stunning views of the Grand Combin and the Mont Blanc range. We were at Prafleuri by mid afternoon and nice to sit outside in the sun, looking at even more Ibex.