18 December, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Over the last couple of weeks we have seen our first guests of the season out enjoying the early snow. Matt has been very busy teaching avalanche training courses in Chamonix, we have had a foundation and advance level course over the last 2 weekends and a second foundation course running this weekend. With a large amount of fresh snow falling as I type (its very distracting seeing the snow falling past my office window in Chamonix!) it will be ideal conditions for them to learn all the skills for avalanche avoidance. Maybe those of you with snow in the UK today can get out and do a little practice of your own!

Our Early Season Skills week in Zinal has been running this week with everyone enjoying good snow conditions despite the freezing cold but sunny weather. Claire Summer has been leading the trip and they have been perfecting their on and off piste technique as well as a few ski touring skills.

Olly and Jon are out today in the fresh snow with our first ski touring skills weekend in St. Gervais, our group of 10 avid ski tourers are out to learn all that is needed in hopes of taking on more challenging hut-to-hut ski tours later this season. These are great weekends for anyone wanting to tackle a multi day ski tour or if you just need to brush up on these skills and we have more planned for January and February.

With only a handful of shopping days left to Christmas and Ladbrokes giving a 7:2 chance of seeing snow in London on Christmas day its time to book your next great adventure with Mountain Tracks. We have availability on our Advanced Off Piste trips in Chamonix, Zinal and Engelberg as well as some spaces on our Piste Performance courses in January. Places on Remy Lecluse's Steep Ski Camps are nearly sold out with availability in March only and with lots of hut-to-hut ski trips and Backcountry Explorers to choose from; it will take your mind off all that Christmas shopping!

Seasons Greetings and good wishes for the New Year from all at Mountain Tracks.

30 November, 2009

A sigh of relief

What a contrast in just 12hrs, yesterday I was out walking in Chamonix in mild late autumnal weather with a strong southerly wind called the fhone blowing. This morning I awoke to 10cm of beautiful fresh snow outside, the first real snow of the winter is here.
Its has been snowing all morning and there is now around 25 - 30cm outside the Mountain Tracks office, you still can't beat that excitement you get when the first snow of the winter falls. Thoughts drift to ski plans for the weekend or a cheeky early morning ski tour up one of the hills for some fresh turns....

Here are a couple of quick photo's from my snowy drive to work this morning.

We still have places on our Early Season Skills Week if you can't wait for those first turns of the year, Penny and Eric have called this morning to confirm its dumping in Zinal too.

See you out skiing soon.

25 November, 2009

Olly climbing L'oeil du Faucon a classic 3 star 7a at Saut de l'Ours

Olly on the technical headwall of Mac Hulotte 7c at La Livre

Ben Hargreavse cruising Les Arche at les Arche

A busy crag in the Ariege !!

Have had a great winter break climbing in the Ariege. This little known (until now) climbing area an hour south of Tolouse is amazing. It has world class climbing, no polish, very few people and tough grades. The perfect place for a cragging holiday. I have been down here off and on for the past five weeks and have fallen for the climbing in the area, the beautiful views of the Pyrenees and chilled atmosphere. Forget Kalymnos this is better (nearly) as when your arms are pumped and fingers shredded you can do your legs and lungs with some great mountain biking and ruining.
Despite this I'm getting quite excited about this years ski season as the snow is arriving in the alps. I cant wait to get out on my planks and ski some early season powder, fingers crossed.

See you in the Winter (unless I'm climbing in the Ariege)

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23 November, 2009

Steep Skiing Clinics with Rémy Lécluse

NEW for 2010: Two 'steep skiing' Clinics in Chamonix with UIAGM Mountain guide and steep skiing specialist, Rémy Lécluse.
The course is 5 days with 2 days of technical skills/preparation followed by 3 days of steep skiing - the itineraries and routes will be set by Rémy depending on the snow and weather conditions.

This course is a fantastic opportunity for a small group of expert level skiers to spend a week with one of the best steep skiing experts in the Alps.
In Rémy's words..."The goal of the course is to teach you safe technical skills & the necessary psychological attitude to enjoy your passion safely."

Dates: 14-18 March and 11-15 April.
Price - £875 per person course only
Both courses are for a maximum of 3 skiers.

Visit www.mountaintracks.co.uk/winter/offpiste_adventure/steep_clinic or email email Susie for further details.

20 November, 2009

Curry Powder Skiing Gulmarg...2011 dates published

Gulmarg is currently one of the hottest ski tickets around - the combination of fantastic powder skiing and the unique culture of India is a winning formula!

Our 2010 weeks are now almost fully subscribed and with the main hotels in the resort fully booked through January and February anyone still hoping to get out there this winter may be disappointed.

With that in mind we're pleased to announce that 2011 is now on sale! We've just published our dates for January and February and to find out more click on www.ski-gulmarg.co.uk or email Chris

If you can't wait until 2011 then do call Chris on 020 8123 2978 for the last few places this winter.

06 November, 2009

Zinal...home of the best off-piste in the Alps?

Over the past 30 (or so) years Nick has been fortunate enough to ski many of the Alps' best off-piste ski areas - Chamonix, St Anton, Andermatt, Alagna, La Grave, Ste Foy. It's a long list...and if you ask him for his top 5 or top 10 he'll tell you that on the right day with the right snow and the right group any and all of the above will be at the top of the list.
Now here comes along a (relatively) new name to compete for top spot...Zinal in Switzerland's Val d'Anniviers. Like many of the above resorts, Zinal - and the other small villages that line the valley - has abundant off piste terrain but what makes it so special is the best runs aren't easy to find and are still relatively unknown so therefore don't get tracked out in ten minutes. Top that off with spectacular peaks all around, good tree skiing and a wonderful new chalet to relax in and it is a real contender for that top spot!

Mountain Tracks is running a number of off-piste weeks in Zinal throughout the 2009-2010 season, starting with an Early season skills week, 12-19 December...places still available!

For information about the wonderful new chalet which is the base for our trips click on www.skizinal.com - taking time to enjoy Penny's fantastic photography.

05 November, 2009

Mountain Tracks at the London Ski Show

It was show-time at London Olympia recently when the annual Ski & Snowboard show hit town.
A new attraction at the show was the 'Off-Piste Adventure Theatre' which featured a daily menu of talks on topics from 'Skiing the Haute Route','avalanche safety' and our very own Olly Allen and Matt Dickinson giving talks on 'Curry Powder skiing in Gulmarg' and 'Making the transition from on-piste to off-piste'.
Thank you to everyone who came by our stand and said hello!
We look forward to seeing you there next year...if we can negotiate a good deal with the organisers!?

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03 November, 2009

The snow is arriving, time to go and find my skis!

Snow is falling across a lot of the Alps this week, I returned from the UK yesterday to strong wind and rain at Geneva airport but as I drove back into Chamonix you could see the snowline down to around 1200m.

There were some snow flurries last night and this morning and the view from my office window is one of white snowy mountains (I have a great view straight up to the top of the Grands Montets and the Pas de Chevre) and snow sitting on the trees, combined with the late autumn colours, its really beautiful!

We have a string of warm and cold frontal systems crossing over the Alps this week and the Chamonix meteo http://www.chamonix.com/page.php?page=11&r=meteo_chamonix&ling=en reads of an accumulation of up to 50cm at 2500m over the next 24hrs. The snowline should drop to 1000m, just below the height of Chamonix town from Thursday and the weekend is forecast for further snow falls.

Will it be time to get the skis out soon? Lets hope so, maybe not this weekend but almost certainly the next. Some of the resorts with glacier skiing like Cervinia, Zermatt, Tignes and Saas Fee will be in great condition and it means we will start the season on a high with a good base for the 3rd year in a row.
Here are a couple of photos:

Further snow updates as it fall.


07 October, 2009

Webtogs Chamonix weekend...

In August our friends at Webtogs - leading UK online outdoor gear experts - joined us in Chamonix for a weekend of alpine adventure.

To read their story click on http://blog.webtogs.co.uk/2009/10/04/chmonix-trip-the-lowdown/

To watch the video click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXM4w67wjtE

To find out more about what we can offer you, your friends, family or colleagues - contact contact Chris

01 October, 2009

Fantastic Autumn Weather and Golden Granite. Liz Jones returns to the Mont Blanc Massif.

Autumn can be a great season for Alpine climbing, the weather can be stable and storm-free and further more it is out of the main tourist season.

True to form the autumn of 2009 has been sunny and warm which means there is a vast choice of fantastic routes to choose from.

Liz Jones enjoyed 2 weeks of high level Alpine Rock Climbing in the Chamonix area at the start of September.

In all we climbed 8 routes:

1: Emperon du Cosmiques
2: North spur of the Papillon Arete
3: 'Punk not dead', Balme
4: 'Amazonia', Envers
5: 'Guy Anne', Envers
6: 'Venus', Dalmaze
7: Rebuffat, South Face of Midi
8: 'Crakoukass', Aiguille Rouge

Liz trains hard for her alpine climbing and this level of dedication allows her to climb on very steep rock (illustrated in the pictures).

Picture 1: Guy Anne

Picture 2: Punk not Dead

Picture 3: Liz leading on Crakoukass

Picture 4: South face of the Midi

I also thoroughly enjoyed these climbs so thanks Liz and see you next year!


20 September, 2009

Aussie Docs On Tour

Evening sunset on the Aiguille du Chardonne

A snowy col below the Grand Combin

Crossing the Ruinette glacier towards the Dix hut

Cabane des Dix after fresh snow
Click the link to see the pictures from the week.
Picasa Photos
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Team Manchester Matterhorn

Team 'Madchester' on the summit of Pollux

Tricky rock sections on Pollux

Exposed snow arete on the summit ridge of Cator

Ministry of silly grins on the Riffelhorn

Despite some changeable weather team Manchester managed to bag some classic 4000m peaks. for the first two nights we stayed in the Eyas hut in Italy and summited the Brighthorn, Pollux and Caster. The team then decended down to Zermatt and a much welcome night in the Hotel. Over beers the last three days of adventures were discussed and bigged up! The narrow summit ridge and ice slope on Castor became steeper and narrower as the evening progressed. Even James's fixed rope incident got air time. On day four we climbed a seven pitch route on the Riffelhorn just before the storms arrived. Due to the bad weather the Matterhorn was off the radar so we had an exciting day descending the Zermatt gorge on airial runways and via ferrata's. In the evening we walked up to the beautiful new Tasch hut and attempted the Alphubel but poor weather faught us back. If you want to see more pictures from the week follow the link. Picasa Photos
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01 September, 2009

Charlie, Greg and I on the summit of Mont Blanc

The narrow summit ridge

Leaving the Gouter hut

Greg on the summit of the Dome des Miage
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A great week was had by all with perfect summit conditions on Mont Blanc with Charlie and Greg. Here are more pictures from the trip.
Picasa Link

27 August, 2009

Be a Winner in our Autumn Competition!

Win up to £800 worth of BERGHAUS kit for your next adventure in our Autumn Competition!

Plus 3 runners-up prizes of £100 Mountain Tracks vouchers.

To enter, all you need to do is answer the following 5 questions and email your answers to Email us or send a postcard to Mountain Tracks, 250 York Road, London SW11 3SJ. Please include your email address and a contact telephone number.

Question 1: Gulmarg is a ski resort in which Indian State?
Question 2: Which of these 3 mountains in the Alps is not a 4000m peak – Mont Blanc, Eiger or Matterhorn?
Question 3: From which French resort would you access the famous Vallee Blanche ski run?
Question 4: What is the English translation of 'Via Ferrata'?
Question 5: On what frequency do all (post-1996) Avalanche Transceivers operate?

Closing date is Sunday 25th October 2009 and the winners will be drawn on Friday 30th October 2009.

Good luck!

26 August, 2009

Atop the Matterhorn

Keeping up the success rate, Tjalling Halbertsma, summited the Matterhorn 2 weeks ago with Tomaz Jakofcic as his guide. Congratulations Tjalling. Here are a few photos he sent us of his trip.

Tjalling and Tomaz on the top

One happy climber

Summit of the Riffelhorn

24 August, 2009

A Mountain Tracks first...

We were contacted earlier this week by Ben Slee with some news that we think warrants a blog entry! Ben was a guest on one of our Off-Piste Performance courses in March 2006. Also on the course was a young Aussie skier called Vanessa from Sydney.
Fast forward 3 years and Ben and Vanessa are now married and living in Oz.
We're delighted to have been the catalyst for Ben and Vanessa and so for anyone else out there looking for love...one more reason to ski with Mountain Tracks ;-)