27 April, 2009

Haute Route Preparations

Haute Route Preparations

Klemen has out been out with some our Haute Route participants over this weekend in a search for powder snow. They enjoyed some fresh tracks in Cirque Maudit under the towering Maudit ridge leading to the summit of Mont Blanc. A descent of the top section of the Valley Blanche leads to a 2hr ski tour into the cirque, a truly spectacular corner of the Mont Blanc Massif, you are surrounded by some dramatic scenery – Tour Rond, Grand Capucin, Dent du Geant and more granite spires.

Here is a selection of photos from their day out.

24 April, 2009

Expedition Training Weekend

Last weekend we ran an Expedition Training weekend in Chamonix for people heading off to the Himalaya and other mountain ranges. These 2 days, lead by Jonny Baird and David Vallet, teach the essential skills required for a high altitude trek, expedition or ascent of a non-technical climb in the great mountain ranges.

Covering basic rope work, belaying and rappelling; navigation skills, route choice and planning along with personal fitness, endurance and stamina; safety in the high mountains and understanding the acclimatization process.

The group enjoyed their first day on the Mer du Glace doing rope work and crevasse rescue and ice climbing; the sun was shining and the mountains looking spectacular after a fresh fall of snow. The second day gave way to some snow and wind at altitude, never the less the team descended the ArĂȘte on the Aiguille du Midi and snow shoed to the Cosmique Hut, testing their navigation skills in the cloudy conditions.

23 April, 2009

A very short video on our ski adventures in Gulmarg!

Click here for our first promotional video for our fantastic "Curry Powder" ski trips to Gulmarg in Kashmir...a fusion of incredible powder skiing and enchanting Kashmiri culture!

Find out more about our 2010 trips by clicking on www.ski-gulmarg.co.uk

15 April, 2009

Val d'Anniviers

Big off-piste in the bowls of 'Orzival'
(with no body else in sight)

Eric and Penny Kendall and their beautifully renovated auberge.

The Val d’Anniviers (often referred to as the ‘Zinal’ area) has become my favourite ski destination. Big hills, high and comprehensive lift system, and multiple slope aspects are just for starters. There is no mass tourism, no high-rise buildings, and few skiers off the piste. The area is very traditional, with only tentative signs of new development. But most importantly, the skiing is about as exciting as it gets! 1500 m powder descents abound and there are many vast bowls where fresh tracks can be found even weeks after snow! (Hardly the case at the Grands Montets).

Here is a brief summary of the areas, all of which are included on the Val d’Anniviers ski pass:

ZINAL: Lifts to 2900m, Slopes facing East, West and North. Vertical : 1500m

The domain has excellent piste and off piste plus a dedicated free-ride area which offers a long off-piste descent. However the best and most adventurous skiing can be found ‘over the back’. The Sorebois lift takes us to the highest point and from there we start the classic journey to the Moirey Dam, this is the ‘Vallee Blanche’ of the area. From the Sorebois we can also access the vast north facing Chamois Bowl, which, if snow permits, gives us 1500m of descent, often in powder..

GRIMENTZ: Lifts to 2900m. Slopes mainly face East and North. Vertical : 1500m

Grimentz is the largest and most well known area. There is plenty of great off-piste in the domain itself, but the best powder is found in the north facing bowls of Orzival. The Orzival area is found to the north of the main domain and most of the terrain can be accessed without skinning. There is a good choice of routes all with approximately 1500m of vertical. These descents are not to be missed. Grimentz is also the access point to the Bec du Bosson area, this place is a paradise for day-touring, many classic and varied itineraries await.

ST LUC / CHANDOLIN: Lifts to 3000m, slopes face South and West. Vertical : 1400m

Zinal and Grimentz already offer a great deal, but then there is another first class area, included on the same lift ticket and a short drive away! The St Luc – Chandolin area seems to only attract piste skiers, leaving immense areas of untracked snow. There is some interesting day-touring to access the north facing slopes; in spring, huge south facing snow fields give excellent spring snow (when timed right!). The area also offers a wide choice of steep but relatively safe couloirs; in fact this area is perfect for honing steep skiing technique.

At the beginning of April Mountain Tracks hosted an advanced off-piste and day-touring week in the area. We were based in the small village of Motec, in a newly converted chalet. We were looked after in fine style by the owners, Eric and Penny Kendel who have created stylish and memorable accommodation. The auberge feels distinctly homely with a lovely communal area, kitchen and home-made food. Penny does all the catering herself and has an impressive eye for detail. The group found the accommodation aspect of the week different and enjoyable.

I want to recommend a trip to Zinal and surrounding areas to all Mountain Tracks clients, I’m confident that it offers everything an adventurous skier could wish for. Please check the website for our 2010 courses.

By Matt Dickinson

06 April, 2009

S…is for Ski Touring

As the winter season begins to draw to a close our ski touring trips are in full swing, in recent weeks our clients have left tracks up and down mountains from the Silvretta Alps to the Haute Route, Tour du Soleil, Verbier, Ste. Foy and many more.

Having chatted to many of them about their experiences on their journeys through the mountains there seems to be a common theme between the letter S…

S is for…
Super Guides
Sore Feet

Come and join us for a ski touring trip and see for yourself what all the fuss in about with the environmentally friendly ski trip.