Tuesday, 28 June 2016


Les Drus
Aiguilles Rouge
Grandes Jorasses & Mer de Glaces
Aiguille des Charmoz
I like the heat
Early evening light on Les Drus
Mer de Glaces
A glorious clear skies dawn over the Chamonix Valley. It was already very warm by 8am today. There are many wonderful day walks from the town that you could easily have a week to 10 day walking holiday based out of Cham. One of my favourite trails is the Grand Balcon Nord which runs underneath the Mont Blanc massif. The highlight being the superb view of Les Drus. This rock spire piercing the sky as been the scene of many climbing adventures and misadventures over the decades. No cable cars or trains for me today. Sometimes you have to earn your views! Most folk take the rack and pinion train up to Montenvers, overlooking the snout of the Mer de Glaces. This leaves the uphill approach trails to here very quiet! The viewpoint at 'Signal' is amazing. For me an even better view can be had by heading further up hill toward Aiguille des Charmoz. Pathless so deserted. I had an Golden Eagle soaring above me for a while as I watched the afternoon cloud shrouding the Drus. Great stuff.

Monday, 27 June 2016


Climbers heading out onto the glacier
Cosmiques Arete and Mont Blanc in background
Tour Ronde & Mont Blanc
Grandes Jorasses
The Brenva face of Mont Blanc
Busy on Cosmiques Arete
A lovely day, sunny and hot in Chamonix. The biggest tourist attraction in the area is the amazing cablecar which runs from Chamonix up to the Aiguille du Midi at over 3800m. Even more spectacular is the wee cablecars that run from the Midi over to the Hellbronner summit in Italy, don't miss it! With wonderful views of all the big Mont Blanc massif peaks as you slowly drift over the Geant Glacier. It's not cheap but with my IML carnet I get to ride all of the cablecars and trains in the Chamonix Valley for €15 per day, the price of a couple of beers! It's great being a tourist now and again.

Sunday, 26 June 2016


The final snowy approach to Lac Blanc
On The Ladders
Plenty of Ibex today
Aiguillete Argentiere
The team at Lac Blanc
Final day of the TMB Highlights trek with the fun group of 12 Australians. I always like to finish in style up to Lac Blanc. The 'Ladders' route up from Argentiere is a spectacular way to ascend. A series of ladders, cables and narrow paths weave up beside a crag overlooking the town. On the way up we got entangled in the TMB Marathon, 1500 runners pounding down a section of the trail. Eventually we went away from their route and shortly after spotted several ibex grazzing amongst the undergrowth. Not a care in the world about 13 folk walking past them. This area is always a good spot to get to see these wonderful beasts. After our fun on the ladder section we hit the snow again at the 2100m contour. The final 50m to the lake is well banked with deep snow. A quick decent down to the Flegere cablecar and end of the trek. A great week with super group. I was working this week for RAW Travel.

Saturday, 25 June 2016


Clouds cleared for those Mont Blanc views
Baguettes and coffee
Aiguilles Rouge
Gear drying at the bus stop, as you do
We've been spoiled the last three days with hot sun and clear skies. Today was very different. Cooler and a cloudy start. The overnight thunderstorms returnd by late morning. Perfectly timed for our arrival on the Col de Balme. We received a heavy downpour, cloud, breezy and some thunder/lightening. Refuge was closed so many folk were huddled around the walls for some shelter. My group got some warm clothing on then we made a fast descent. By the time we got down to Charamillon the cloud lifted and we enjoyed the warmth of the sun plus some great views of Mont Blanc. We witnessed some arogant groups out on the hill today as they forged their way past my group claiming they had some right of way across the snowfields. This was no doubt due to their inadequate footwear and clothing ( approach style shoes on snow and plastic capes over shorts). On the col and way down I had six separate individuals asking for directions off the hill. One couple, separated from their group,  were asking how to get down to Le Tour. The guy had a compass on full display around his neck, map in hand and stood 20 metres from a signpost displaying his intended destination! Another person with a TMB guidebook was also asking where he was stood ( standing next to the cafe at the top of a major cablecar). Good to know that my job may well be safe for a wee while yet :).  Top marks for my group who coped well in the conditions. Tomorrow is our final day of the tour, Lac Blanc and some stupendous views over to Mont Blanc await, if the weather is kind to us.

Friday, 24 June 2016


On a day that saw the UK voted to be out of the EU, I was guiding my group of 12 folk in The Swiss Alps. How very strange. But life goes on and todays section of the TMB is a slightly essier day. The Bovine Route from.Champex to Trient only just gets above the treeline but is still a steep walk and over 900m of ascent. Another very hot dsy and the tree cover was a welcome relief from the heat. No snow to walk across so my group welcomed that.

Thursday, 23 June 2016


Another scorching day on the TMB. The Grand Col Ferret is the highest of the cols on this popular trek around the highest summit in Western Europe. Just over a week ago the route was 'closed' because of the amount of snow and bad weather. It's something that is unheard of in the UK mountains. Reality is anyone can attempt to get over it as there is no physical barrier up stating 'mountain closed'. Guiding it professionaly is another matter. Today everything was fine for us. Soft snow, well trodden and glorious clear skies. Of course if it went cold and cloudy then your skill set would need to go up a notch. The Swiss (NE side) of the col as huge anounts of snow and some impressive cornices hanging over the ridge line.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


The summer season out in The Alps seems to come round earlier every year! Can't quite believe we are slready nearing the end of June. The first trips on the Tour du Mont Blanc are the ones I enjoy the most. With the trail quieter than the main high summer season and with lots of wonderful flowers all across the meadows, it's a delight. Early season also has the reminents of the winter snows lingering on the cols. This year has seen more snow than usual, it's also been a poor Spring in the Chamonix area. My group of 12 this week have been lucky though. We are enjoying some lovely hot weather and blue skies. We had a drizzly first day with low cloud over the Col de Bonhomme but todays section over the Col de la Seigne was stunning. There were loads of Marmots running all over the Utslian sude of the col, wonderful to see them scurrying across the snow. This season I am working for a great company based in Australia. RAW Travel. My fun group of Antipodeans had never walked in snow before so this is a real novilty, of course I love it too :)

Saturday, 18 June 2016


The Barns of Bynack
From a different angle
Finding some scrambling along bynack Mors ridge
The Barns
Beautiful sunny day
Strath Nethy and Bynack Mor
A glorious summers dayafter a cold, wet week here in The Cairngorms. The Western Highlands once agan seeing the best of any sunshine ths week. So a nice ridge of High pressure for everyone today (in The Highlands at least). It was an overcast morning but the sun was out by mid day and feeling very warm with not much of a breeze on the summits. Bynack Mor is one of the less visited big Munro summits in the area. Being isolated  and a relitively long approach it gets less visitors than the  central Cairngorm plateau. Cycling from the house in Aviemore it makes a great day out with good approach tracks and there is an excellent path virtually all the way to the summit. You can find some scrambling amongst the final summit ridge line to make it more of a challenge. The mountains finest feature and one that most folk who 'bag' the summit have probably missed out on is the 'Barns of Bynack'. This massive monolithic piece of granite protrudes out of the beautiful grassy plateau. It's well hidded ffrom the path up, yet only a 10 minute descent from the top. I usually go down here to escape the winds, but today it was a beautiful spot to sunbathe and pic-nic.  A glorious early evening cycle back. Smashing day out.

Thursday, 16 June 2016


Clach Mhic Cailein (The Argyll Stone)
A beautiful mini-waterfall with many mosses and plants
Glen Einich
Biking into the cloud
Some colour today
I'll start with the positives. A good blast on the bike. Some great navigation ground, not a soul seen all day, Golden Plover and a lovely sighting of Ptarmigan and her chicks. The downside, rain, no views, low cloud, more rain. It's been raining for over 48 hours in the Aviemore area. Low cloud, cool and wet just about sums it up. A bit soggy in the Cairngorm hills if you were on holiday up here this week. A quick afternoon blast up Glen Einich and an unconventional way onto 'The Sgorans' I gave up on any chance of views shortly after gaining The Argyll Stone.  Good spell to test out the waterproofs for sure. Tomorrow looking a bit similar but hope on the horizon with High pressure and a nice dry day in store at the weekend.