31 January 2009


all I have time for now!!! as there is another route to do tomorrow

Saas Fee shots

Promise I will post some photos of the ice here soon, you will not be dissapointed

23 January 2009

Saas Fee

Well, i can definitely say it was worth coming!!! I'm gutted that I didn't get in to the semi-finals but i did all i could considering the cold that i have. Everything went well, even the 4 hours in isolation before climbing was tolerable but my arms felt spent as soon as i left the ground and, breathless, i didn't top out in the allocated 6 min. I think i would have qualified if i was on my usual form (I was 13th and 9 qualified from my group), but who knows?

My first two ice climbing competitions have been worthwhile and my result in Daone surprised me. But I suppose that as I'm currently unemployed it almost makes me a full time climber. I'd better enjoy it while it lasts! I did most of my climbing outdoors prior to this trip (whilst working) and didn't really train indoors (last season I was in the gym and campussing a couple of times a week) maybe I'll be better prepared for next seasons comps ........ ?

I've got too much time for this blog really - should be climbing (or at least watching climbing).

22 January 2009

Competitors at Kandersteg

One of the Bulgarian team on Twin Towers (Uschinen)

Andy on a quest to find the lower off on Pink Panther due to too much ice! Sterling effort though; PP first red point

Manu on Pink Panther

Sorry, another rest day window shot!

Valle Di Daone

Competition photos thanks to Bettina and Jimmy.

(ph Bettina Misselhorn)
Viewing the route prior to isolation

(ph Bettina Misselhorn)
Oh dear what am i doing here prior to isolation

(ph Jimmy Addison)

(ph Bettina Misselhorn)

(ph Jimmy Addison)

(ph Bettina Misselhorn)
Doing just enough to get in to the semis despite neither axe helping in this photo

(ph Bettina Misselhorn)
Making a total bollard of this contrived climbing nightmare

(ph Bettina Misselhorn)
I guess things didn't go to plan?

21 January 2009

NEW sunny dry tooling crag

I'll let you know more once i have been there. Pretty tough climbing by the looks of it and the new routers have the credentials.


Another aesthetic location!! l'Usine (The Factory) Dry Tooling

20 January 2009


Grande épopée une

As we had a big day planned I had crawled out of my attic room early, grabbed a coffee and set off driving up the Freisinnieres valley. No rush.

Between the time my car developed its 'problem' and actually getting it fixed I had driven it about with the front wheels pointing in slightly different directions. No worries I thought, it was just a bit moody when driving on and off ice depending which wheel was steering. BUT it turned out this WAS a problem for the tyre and snow chain which were pointing towards the kerb while the rest of the car went straight along the road. The result of this un-parallelism??..... some severe wear took place.

So, as i drove up the Freisinnieres the left front wheel was fairly slick and one snow chain was in the boot, broken in several places. But everything was ok as there was no rush. The ice coating the road was rough and I drove in to the car park.
A slight steepening of the road only 20m from the parking stopped me, the left wheel spinning. As I rolled backwards to find some grip I was carefully looking through a frosty rear window at snow banks in the morning half light, but not carefully enough. So the car rolled off the hard ice and on to the soft snow.

A few hours of digging, rocking, chain shredding wheel spinning only got the car further in to the ditch.

So off I went to make a half effort on not the intended route. As I was climbing this route four or five opportunities of rescue drove past along the valley floor so we spent another couple of hours tying several trees to my car with some very dynamic and expensive rope.
Conclusion: you can pull a car from a ditch using ice lines and man power alone.

Grande epica due

“Please don't snow. Please don't be icy.” That was my mantra as we traveled from the Ecrin to Valle di Daone. Luckily we got there without any major drama and signed up for the Ice climbing world cup (thanks to some help from the BMC). This turned out to be a brilliant event that the whole village was involved with. Everyone was there ....... the Mayor, the Priest, Carabiniere, fire brigade, ambulance, mountain police, army, sponsors, UIAA, event organisers to name a few. They gave us bands marching through the streets, fireworks, meals and a large ice climbing structure, oh, and some spek. I think the climbing was just an excuse for the saturday night party which was locals only and there also seemed to be a tradition of long opening ceremony speeches. The mayor, the priest, Carabiniere ........... they all had pages of A4 to read out!!

And I competed, which was stressful!!! give me a hanging dagger any day, but i'd like to go back next year!

The circus comes to town

The (UK) team - 2 Scots, 2 Southerners, a Mancunian, a Pole and a German

The Dutch team - Dennis Van Hoek

One of the hundreds of Russians!


Park Hee Yong

Großes Epos drei

The only obstacle stopping us entering Switzerland is the 2008m Simplon pass.
Its snowing.
The bald left front tyre has been swapped with the good rear and the one complete chain is on the right front wheel. Still the car wheelspins to a halt on the way up the pass. There is nothing more to be done apart from turn round.

So we take the length of shredded orange rope (that has been ground in to chalk cliffs, towed me off the A3, tensioned ice lines in the Freissinieres) then use pieces of its core to tie the broken snow chain back together. As the plough passes us we are amusing the Swiss in a big winter tyred Audi by kneeling on a garage fore court using a pair of mole grips* to put the finishing touches to the snow chain/knot.

*the garage left these clamped to the replacement tie rod and I found them days later while digging the car in to the Freissinieres snow? ...... !!!!

I'm surprised that we ever got over to Switzerland.

happy days; i can ski down a red run

Some photos for my wall

Here are some cool photos

Thanks to Stew Rogers for taking these, check out his site...........


Dancing Fall

a full 60m

Aux lames Citoyens @ Cervieres

11 January 2009

Briancon old town & more Les Orres

Yesterday; did another dry tooling line at Les Orres cave (didn't quite tick the crag though) and today did a nice ice route on the way up to Les Orres cave.

While my car was in for repair I took a look round the fortified town of Briancon with my camera. Here are some of the results!!!

yea i know, more work needed on the photography front!!

9 January 2009

Double Figures

Oh yes! I'm sitting here in front of the fire drinking coffee and eating cakes occasionally looking out of the window at the mountains. A perfect rest day.

This morning

The Ginger Whinger - a master at chilling out

Yesterday we hunted out another mixed climbing venue (Grotte des Hirondelles @ Les Orres) and I ticked 3 out of 5 lines there (onsighting the easiest two). The other line is called 'Promocion social' which climbs a slab, a wall, a roof then back on to a wall - similar in character and difficulty to RSH at White Goods. I think we will head back up there and try the remaining two lines as the climbing is interesting, mostly on natural placements and the cave has a good view for a change!!!

Some beta: the dry tooling crag is located above Les Orres station, follow the road until there is a left hand hair pin with lots of parking on the right and a Via Ferrata sign. Walk south along the track (the Grotte will be visible briefly) up the east side of the steep wooded valley, pass a bergerie and another V.F. sign. Carry on on the east side as the valley opens out. When the ground steepens at the head turn right and the cave will be up on the left. See P231 of 'Glace et mixte en cascade' 2005 by Fine & Turin.

and now for the rest of the rest day??.......... A 'problem' .... I have to take my car to the garage to get a tie rod replaced?? Well, it turns out that some of the energy of my car sliding in to the barrier was converted to a bent rod and a 160 euro repair bill. AAAAARGGHH. I'm happy (really) as this is a 100 euro saving from the original quote given by the small garage in Les Vigneaux.

and possibly some films at the Ecrin Ice Festival tonight?

7 January 2009

La Schappe

More snow!!! Last night there was another fall and rather than go skiing or get avalanched we had a look at a pure dry sector that is basically in the centre of Briancon. This turned out to be a small venue with big potential, there are currently 3 dry tooling lines; the two 20m M7's in the guide give good climbing but we haven't tried the new line a bit further upstream by the old bridge.....yet

Good climbing on the east bank of the river and what appears to be some huge potential on the other bank (below the old town so possibly no access)

Andy getting a few laps in

One of the Spanish raiders showing how it's done.

5 January 2009

Cervieres & Freissinieres

Since a good start at Ceillac (Sombre Heroes ice and mixed) we have been getting familiar with some of the other mixed crags in the area.

Cervieres is a good little venue with some 30m mixed and ice lines dominated by the Tube, a dagger hanging down the centre of the crag. The premier mixed line of the crag is Changement de slip, a route that involves ditching axes and laybacking a big flake while smearing with crampons then, as Andy demonstrated, jam behind the flake. When we were at Cervieres the tube had only just touched down (about 100mm diameter at the base!) so I wasnt about to belt that with a Fusion, but the mixed line (Aux lames citoyens) to the left joined the dagger at half height so I decided to do this. Blunt fusions and fresh cold ice lead to an interesting finish on this quality route. So this was not my usual climbing territory as it was more Scottish than figure 4 but all in all an enjoyable crag.

Freissinieres; Tete de Gramusat.....

NOT a little crag.....

(photo Andy Turner)

As you can see in the previous post this is a big cliff (the ice route starting in the bottom LH corner, Geronimo, is a 550m grade 5). Trouble is the ice is a bit questionable now so the photo above is me working Hasta la vista that is located in the sheltered bay to the right of Geronimo. It's a tricky line as it has seen very little traffic and it's missing the ice dagger, maybe next time?.......

4 January 2009

Work Life?

An interesting start to the trip so far; an ice route, a mixed route and two parallel turns. Not surprisingly winter sports are taking some getting used to. The ice route was a total wake up call, but the skiing turned out to be awesome and with a lot of advice i got down a run without crashing.
Much. One thing i didn't get down without crashing was the road from Puy St Vincent. An early start on the snowy road lead to a slow motion bounce round a corner. It seems that as long as there is no snow or ice things are ok!!

The Tete de Gramusat not in as good condition as it looks, a warm spell has de-bonded some of the ice..... tread carefully!!