11 July, 2008

Summer in the Mountains

After a wet and miserable spring with snow falling in the high mountains till mid June we thought it would be a slow start to the summer season, fortunately we have been blessed with glorious sunshine and warm temperatures for a few weeks now. Inter-dispersed with a few noisy and spectacular thunderstorms and the odd frontal system we are enjoying perfect climbing conditions.

So far we have had guests successfully traverse the Domes du Miage, ascend the Gran Paradiso in Italy, do a number of training days on the glaciers around the Chamonix Valley learning those essential mountaineering techniques. Our programme gets busier towards the end of July with Mont Blanc ascents, Eiger climbs, an assault on the 4000m peaks around Zermatt and our first Matterhorn climbs of the summer.

On Sunday our first trekking tour began, the Classic Haute Route Trek from Chamonix to Zermatt. I joined our team of 6 on their walk to the Albert 1er Hut above Le Tour, with Andy Perkins as their intrepid guide. With a slightly inauspicious start sitting out a passage of violent thunderstorm activity in the minibus we relocated to the café for a coffee and as the weather improved everyone made the final adjustments to their rucksacks before we headed up the lift to the Tete de Balme. Our walk to the hut began with a gentle stroll through the flower meadows, traversing the slopes towards the Le Tour glacier. Rounding the corner on the Bec du Picheau you get the most amazing view of the Le tour Glacier and its huge waterfalls and seracs, a magnificent site even in the hazy sunshine between the rain showers.

Crossing onto the moraine wall of the glacier we ascended straight up to the hut at 2700m crossing some snow patches and bracing ourselves against the increasing wind and rain, the hut was a welcome site and shelter from the weather. As the guests settled into their rooms and headed to the dining area for lunch, I had the inauspicious task of walking back down to the bottom again to collect the minibus and dry out before the beckoned on Monday morning!

Since them the Haute Routers have made it to the Vignettes hut, ascended the Pigne de Arolla and headed to a cosy pension in Arolla for a much deserved night in a comfy bed and a hot shower, they are due into Zermatt over the weekend, a report and pictures to follow on their return.

We still have some spaces on our Mont Blanc Climber from the 9th – 16th August our Haute Route Treks from the 2nd – 11th August and the 30th August – 8th September. Or join us for a wonderful trek around the Bernese Oberland from the 9th – 16th August or a quick weekend of alpine mountaineering on our Best of Chamonix Weekend 18th – 21st September.