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.

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