23 December, 2008

A White Christmas in the Alps

After the huge falls of snow in the Alps in the last few weeks we now have bright blue sunny skies and fantastic snow.

Last week our group of early season skiers were enjoying the fantastic conditions in Ste. Foy and the surrounding resorts. Lead by Bryan Hogg they honed their off piste skills in the powder and the group all come on leaps and bounds by the end of the week.

Nick was out leading a Ski Touring Skills Weekend in St. Gervais, their first day was spent skiing around Les Contamines and practising some avalanche search and rescue techniques. The following day they did a lovely day ski tour around the Petit Croise Baulet and on Sunday they enjoyed a ski descent of the Vallee Blanche.

Over Christmas and New Year we have our Off Piste Performance Foundation and Plus courses running in Chamonix, they will be heading out and around the mountains under the astute eyes of Mark Gear and Olly Allen.

I have been out for a ski in Chamonix this morning and the conditions on and off piste are excellent, with the sun out and not a cloud in the sky, Stuart and myself enjoyed a few runs on the deserted pistes before heading across from Brevent to Flegere, skiing some nice powdery snow in the Combe Lachenal. Before heading for lunch we skied one of the steep couloirs under the top cable car, this astatically pleasing line in Couloir Bellin was an excellent ski and after 500m of jump turning our tired legs just about carried us to the bottom.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, we look forward to seeing you out with Mountain Tracks in 2009, please do give us a call to check availability on our courses.

14 December, 2008

Powder In Chamonix

Have just been up on the Grand Montets ski lift, Chamonix. The snow was amazing with shin deep fresh tracks in light powder. This is probably the best start to the ski season for ten years. There's more snow forecast this week so the Christmas week is looking good. I can safely say the snow is great in all our destinations, from St Foy across to the Silveretta. Watch this space for more updates from the Mountaintracks team.

Fantastic off-piste and ski touring trips

Ski now, work later Olly

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08 December, 2008

Where were you this weekend...?

...if you weren’t out skiing this weekend then you missed 2 amazing days!

It snowed most of Thursday and Friday last week and Saturday dawned cold, cloudy and very very snowy. Courmayeur was the destination of choice on Saturday and with most of the lifts open and an ample covering of snow all the fantastic runs through the steep trees were in perfect conditions. After a lunch of pasta, tiramisu, red wine and cappucino we headed back out into the snow for more deeeep powder. Our final run down the Dolone Valley was the best of the day, no other tracks and light, waist-deep powder, it was fantastic. Here is the evidence...

Sunday was a true bluebird powder day and after another quick journey through the Mont Blanc tunnel and up the classic "sardine can" cable-car to the Glacier du Toule, we headed off into the sunshine for more excellent skiing.

Looking across to the top of the Valley Blanche and the Aiguille du Midi the conditions on the glaciers are fantastic and it was strange not to see any tracks at all on the Valley Blanche because the Midi cable car is closed until next weekend.

We did a few laps of the Toule glacier, the snow was fantastic and plenty of space for lots and lots of fresh tracks.

So if you are wishing you were escaping Christmas shopping, credit crunch depression and the British weather then why not make a last minute booking onto one of our course running in the next couple of weeks. On Saturday we have an Off-Piste Skills week in Ste. Foy with spaces available and over Christmas we have a week of instructional off piste in Chamonix. Further into January we begin our Adventure Off Piste skiing trips, so check out our website or give me a call to check availability.

03 December, 2008

Ski Touring Training

Just been out for the first training skin of the season, bit of a shock to the system! The snow was great, fresh tracks in shallow powder with no one around. The Meteo has forecast more snow on the way over the next few days. Bring it on!

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01 December, 2008

Climbing in Siurana, Spain

Steep 7b+ Magalef

Perfect rock sector Siurinella, Siurana

Siurinella 7b+ Siurana

Just got back from ten days cranking warm(ish) rock in Siurana Spain. Nine years have passed since I'd been there. There has been so much development over the past few years, it's very impressive with grades from 6a up to 9a! If you like steep and technical climbing on perfect rock you need look no further. Despite this I cant wait to get on my skis tomorow after Susies post. Just arrived back in Switzerland to powder. It should be an outstanding winter for off-piste skiing and touring, bring it on!

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Powder and Fresh Tracks

The weekend provided 2 great ski days in Chamonix, I spent both Saturday and Sunday skiing on the Grands Montets, the weather was good both days and snow even better. With the Bochard gondola open it provided access to lots of great powder skiing in the Lavenche and on the Herse side.

On Sunday myself and some friends ski toured up the short distance from the top of the Bochard to ski around the back of Grands Montets down towards the Argentiere glacier. The snow was fantastic, pristine powder and not another sole in sight, it’s a real privilege to ski somewhere like that with no-one else around.

It continues to snow today in Chamonix and there is more forecast through the week, the conditions are excellent on and off piste and ideal for those luck people coming out to ski with us in the coming weeks, grab a place on some of our December trips quick.

28 November, 2008

Lifts opening this weekend....

This weekend sees the opening of Grands Montets in Chamonix, Les Houches, Courmayeur and Les Contamines as well as a large number of resorts across the Alps. The snow is fantastic and the forecast is for more over the weekend.

It’s a brilliant start to the season and our early courses in December and going to be enjoying some fantastic conditions in Ste. Foy and Chamonix. I’m off skiing at the weekend and looking forward to getting out on the mountain again.

25 November, 2008

The snow has arrived

Over the weekend we had some excellent falls of snow in the Alps. It snowed all day on Friday to below 1000m with an accumulation of around 30cm at 2000m. Saturday and Sunday were mixed weather with snow showers and sunshine. The intrepid headed out on Sunday to ski tour in the lower tree lined resorts of St. Gervais and Megeve and skied some fantastic powder between the spells of heavy snow.

On Sunday night as Jodie and Ian were being voted off Strictly Come Dancing the snow really began to fall outside in Chamonix, I did not know which was more exciting to watch! In the morning there was 20cm of light fluffy snow, it took me an hour to clear my car and shovel the driveway clear to leave to get to work. The snowline fell right down to the valley floor with snow all the way to Geneva on Monday.

This morning I headed out with Stuart MacDonald to ski tour up Les Houches, putting on ski’s and boots by 0815 in the freezing cold and heading up the newly pisted slopes was wonderful. With the sun rising and illuminating the peaks of the Dru, Aiguille Vert and the Midi, the trees laden with fresh snow and the noise of the snow cannons blasting out we headed to the top of the Prarion. Arriving at the top the view towards the Aravis and Mont Joly was beautiful, a real winter wonderland. We took our skins off quickly as it was windy and cold and headed off down the piste and into the powder where the piste machines had not been working. The snow was around 2ft deep and light and fluffy and with a few wobbly turns we whooped and smiled our way back down to the bottom.

Here are some pictures of our ski tour.

Susie skinning up the piste

View of the Chamonix Valley


Heading down

Enjoying the powder

20 November, 2008

The Big Freeze

Well I had my first ski of the winter season on Saturday in Cervinia, Italy. Conditions were excellent and almost all of the ski area was open with great snow on the piste and some good conditions off piste, even getting some fresh tracks in nice soft powder snow.

We have a very active cold weather front heading towards the Alps arriving tomorrow bringing huge quantities of snow right down to low altitudes, very exciting! The meteo forecast is predicting up to a meter of snow at 1500m over the next 4 days, a brilliant beginning to the season. They are also predicting chaos on the roads, sounds a bit like the UK, hopefully everyone will have got their winter snow tyres on the cars by now!

With snow falling well into next week I expect there will be some other ski resorts opening at the weekends very soon, why not pop out to join us for a cheeky early season ski in Chamonix or Les Contamines, we have spaces on our early season ski trips so give myself or Chris a call to book your place.

Here are a few pictures from last weekend...

Great snow and fresh tracks to be had.

More off piste

On the chair lift

Roger happy to be back on the slopes

14 November, 2008

First Ski of the Winter

I'm off for my first ski of the winter tomorrow in Cervinia, Italy I can't wait! With new snow during the week and cold temperatures at altitude and I am in eager anticipation of some good snow and even powder ;).

Checking the forecast the weather will stay good for the early part of next week before a new frontal system brings snow on Wednesday and Thursday with the Chamonix Meteo saying, I quote: " Abondantes chutes de neige en montagne..........!", YIPPPPPEEEE

Wax those ski's, find your gloves and goggles and book a flight to the Alps, join us for our Early Season Skills Weekend or our Zermatt Intermediate Off Piste week from the 13th - 20th December. Don't get left out on getting your first tracks of the season before Christmas!!

06 November, 2008

Metro Ski & Snowboard Show, London 22-26 October 2008

Check out the photos of our stand at the recent Metro Ski & Snowboard show which took place at Olympia in London from 22-26 October.

This was the second time we've had a stand at the show - first time was 2006 - and something of a last minute decision!

Thanks to everyone who visited the stand and made the show worthwhile! We're already in discussion with the show organisers about next year's event - we're hoping to get some support for a 'Backcountry' feature where we can demonstrate ski touring skills - e.g. skinning, uphill turns, avalanche search and rescue. Watch this space for developments!!

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30 October, 2008

Where are my skis?

This morning provided a lovely surprise with a covering of beautiful fresh snow, somewhere it will be a great powder day! Here are a few pictures I took on my way to work and as I look out of my office window the sun is out, there is blue sky and the mountains are shining brightly with their covering of perfect fresh snow....

04 October, 2008

First snow of the Autumn

Well I awoke to snow falling outside my window this morning in Chamonix, very exciting. I went for a quick trip to the top of Aiguille du Midi to take some photo's when the cloud began to clear today. Have a look at the beautiful view....

03 October, 2008

First snow's of the winter

The first snows of the winter are falling on the Alps today, as I look out of my office window in Le Fayet, close to Chamonix, I can see the peaks of the Aravis range of mountains are all white!

The forecast is for a small accumulation of 5-10cm at 1800m and looking at the webcams on the Grands Montets and Aiguille du Midi you can see the snow falling. It’s not a lot but every little helps and the excitement is high for the coming winter season. I will post some pictures over the weekend.

Mountain Tracks will be at the Metro Ski & Snowboard Show between the 22nd – 26th October, come along and meet Nick and the team and book your winter trip.


30 September, 2008

Summer draws to a close

Well summer in the Alps has almost passed and autumn is rolling in, the first frosts have appeared in Chamonix and it won’t be long before I have to scrap the ice of my car windscreen before I go to work!

We have had a successful summer at Mountain Tracks with almost all of our trips achieving their summit goals. Only the last few weeks have been hampered by poor weather preventing some summit attempts on Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Our guides have worked hard to move to an area of better weather, usually on the south side of Mont Blanc and the Gran Paradiso providing an excellent alternative summit.

Over this summer from late June to mid September we have run 3 successful Haute Route Treks; 2 short Best of Chamonix Weekends for budding alpine mountaineers; 3 exciting Via Ferrata holidays in the Dolomites; we have lead over 20 guests to the summit of Mont Blanc this summer and many more up and over copious other alpine peaks including the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, Eiger, Brithorn, Castor, Pollux and the Aiguille du Chardonnet to name but a few. We have employed over 30 different mountain guides across the Alps to safely lead our guests up, down, over and around the mountains. They do a wonderful job and now having a well deserved rest before they start to lead our winter program.

Nick is leading our penultimate trip of this summer at the moment, a stunning trek in the Bernese Oberland, taking in the splendour of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Nick then heads off to the Dominican Republic for more safety work on a program for the Discovery Channel.

Hopefully you will be looking forward to the winter ski season with the night’s drawing in, take a look at our great range of courses for budding off piste skiers, to those who want to search out the steep and deep. Later on in the season our ski touring program begins with weeklong ski safaris to multi day hut-to-hut trips from the western to eastern Alps; there is something for everyone. Come and join us for a carbon neutral adventure!

Susie Burt