Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pic Blanc du Gallibier, 21 Jan 2007

The first 'gita' of the SUCAI Scuola di Scialpinismo, came at the end of a week of 3,500m freezing levels, and spring-like weather across the Alps. We expected a rather soggy washout, but got April in January instead. Snow and sunshine at the top, grass and clouds at the bottom: actually, a great day.

The normal route to the Pic Blanc du Gallibier starts from the road on the Briancon side of the Col du Lautaret, but due to lack of snow at 2000m (groan) we started from the Col du Lautaret car park. It was cloudy and snowing a little at the bottom, but as we snaked our way up the snow-covered road to the Col du Galibier, the sun emerged, and from there up we got a stunning mix of sun from above, and clouds below.

To see our route, please download this Google Earth file It also contains geo-tagged photos along the route. I'll get round to adding some of the better ones to this page when I have the time - but in the meantime you can see all of them here.

And the grass at the bottom - it wasn't that bad - see for yourself...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Warm Ice, Cerasole, 14th Jan 2007

After a cold but slow start to the snow season in the western Alps in 04/05 and 05/06, I thought that a spot of ice climbing might fill the gap this year. So I signed up for a course with the Scuola Motti, and waited...

One of the good things about being bad at something (or at least a beginner) is that you should be less demanding, and may not know what you're missing. For the first day, we would could almost have been at the Somerset House ice wall in London (although they might have not have been happy with us practising Abalakov threads, and I gather they've been suffering from melting ice as well). But despite the truly excessive temperatures this weekend (freezing level at 3,500m), the scuola managed to find us a nice waterfall in the Val d'Orca not far short of Cerasole Real.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Boschetti di Claviere, 3 Jan 2007

Skiing, I was told when learning, is all about timing. We got our timing right in the woods in a small Italian resort on the French border, the day after the first real snow for almost a month. Not much base, but plenty of powder...

I didn't hit the tree, honest...

Julian makes it looks a bit crusty here, but it wasn't...

See, I didn't hit it!

...and a great view of Pic du Rochebrune, from Colle Berchia (the top of Claviere, where it joins with Cesanna Torinese):

Finally some snow in Europe....

Time to go skiing!

(Thanks to