21 May, 2009

'Curry Powder' Skiing 2010

If you have spent any time recently around Nick or Olly you'll no doubt have heard their tales of epic powder skiing combined with the wonderful sights and sounds of India on our skiing trips to Gulmarg in Kashmir.

Well, now's the time to get on board for 2010. Until July 1 our Gulmarg trips next year are on sale for a whopping £125 off the standard price. That's £1,400 for flights from Delhi to Srinagar, all transfers, 7 days powder skiing with UIAGM Mountain Guides, lift passes, 7 nights half-board accommodation in the Hotel Highlands Park in Gulmarg (twin-room), 1 night on a floating houseboat in Srinagar (twin room).

With round trip flights from London to Delhi with BA currently on sale for about £440 through www.expedia.co.uk, you can get the holiday-of-a-lifetime for under £2,000 all in...what are you waiting for!?

Find out more by visiting our dedicated Gulmarg website at www.ski-gulmarg.co.uk or call our office on 020 8123 2978.

But hurry...this offer expires on 30th June!

09 May, 2009

The Final trip of the winter season finished with some excellent skiing on Mt Blanc and the Grand Paradiso! Despite poor weather the respective teams managed to summit on the Paradiso and the Dome de Gouter. Everyone had a great time and some lovely spring snow on descents. If you would like to see the trip pictures go to http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/ollyguide/SkiMtBlancMay2009

My skis are now packed away for the winter and rock boots are now ready for action.

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07 May, 2009

Chamonix ski touring weekend, 2 & 3 May

We had perfect weather for Peter and Anna's weekend of ski touring!
On the Saturday we set off on the Aiguille du Midi accompanied by Julie Slaughter and skied the Vallee Blanche round the bottom of the Pyramide du Tacul. Here we put on our skins and skinned up to the Col des Flambeaux, while on route being treated to the sight of a party skiing the first tracks on the Tour Ronde North Face, a route a lot of ice climbers aspire to! (check out the photo)

After lunch we decended the Vallee Noire to Montenvers, on mostly very nice snow. The Noire is an excellent alternative to the Vallee Blanche for better snow and less people.

On the second day, just myself and peter went up to Grand Montets, and after skiing onto the Argentiere Glacier skinned up to the Col Tour Noir on the Amethystes Glacier. It was a very hot day and Peter was 'hard as nails' skinning up in his Mantra skis with Marker Duke bindings, a heavy set up. After lunch on the col with superb views into Switzerland we descended beautiful spring snow back down. A great way to finish the season!

Thanks to Jonny Baird IFMGA Mountain Guide for this report.

There's still time to enjoy one last ski touring hurrah this winter...contact us for details!

03 May, 2009

Bernese Oberland April 2009

It was an ominous warning – at the pre-trip briefing in Interlaken our guides Matt Dickenson and David Vallet told the group the weather outlook was grim to say the least. A massive cold front was heading our way and our Bernese Oberland tour was heading right into the eye of the storm.

The next day we headed off to the Jungfraujoch known as the Top of Europe –but we didn’t get further then Grund before our train was turned back. High winds of 150 km/h had closed down the Jungfraujoch. After two hours, our guides decided to head to the other end of the Bernese Oberland traverse and we arrived at Blatten in the late afternoon.

We started skinning up the Lotschental valley in fairly poor weather, it was extremely windy and several of the team was blown over by the shear force of the strong gusts of wind. It was a long slow skin up to a hut that had only opened before the winter. And for the ‘hut virgins’ like myself, Annenhutte was a welcome site and by hut standards we were told, very luxurious - flushing toilets, running water and warm toasty duvets to keep the cold out.

The next morning we set out in a full blown blizzard. After a little traverse we were on the Lang Glacier. We made a 1000 metre ascent but the last 150 metres were the toughest of the trip. The Hollandia Hut was in our sights, but it was at the top of a very steep slope and in a metre of fresh powder, we battled the elements as the track was blown over within a matter of minutes thanks to the extreme wind. We all struggled up this final part, some of our skins froze and we were left to try and make our way on foot – an almost impossible task. Once inside the hut, we were cold, wet and tired. But hot tea and a tasty meal warmed us all up and we soon fell asleep physically exhausted.

Day 3 was not much better on the weather front. We’d been warned it would be a long day as we skied down in very deep fresh snow. We put our skins on and set off for Konkordia Hut – a 9km journey. Once again conditions were appalling. With David navigating the way with GPS in one hand, we skinned past crevasses, over snow bridges and finally ending up on the flat plain of Konkordiaplatz. It was by far the most mentally challenging day of the tour. In a total white out, we had no idea where we were heading or how long it would take, it was difficult to see any definition in the landscape. We just had to push on. Matt gave us words of encouragement along the way and eventually he pointed out the hut in the distance. It’s built on a rocky outcrop above a glacier but because the glacier has receded so much, the final 120 metre assent is on foot - up 433 stairs!!!

The morning greeted us with another bad weather day. After a 500 metre skin over a pass we skied down towards the Finsteraarhorn peak to our next hut. There was another steep 100 metre climb before we were indoors and relaxing with hot tea and beers.

This was the day we had all been waiting for. It was a picture perfect blue sky day. After days of extreme blizzards, fresh powder awaited us. We skinned up the Wysmollen, a 650 metre ascent to the summit. We skied down in fluffy fresh powder - we all savored the moment. It had taken 4 hard days to reach this goal. We looked back at our fresh tracks with great satisfaction – we knew the blizzards, the extreme winds, the cold and wet conditions had all been worth it. It was sensational and we all had huge happy grins on our faces.

The final day and we woke before dawn. As the sun began to rise, we set off on an epic 9 hour journey. We skied down the Fiescherberg Glacier in breakable crust and then skinned up 600 metres – using ropes we climbed up the Galmilcke Col. Then it was down the Minstiger Glacier in fresh powder. We saw natural avalanches as the day wore on and the sun warmed up the southern slopes. As we descended to the vally floor the snow turned to cement and it was tough skiing for a while. Thanks to the cold storm over the previous days, we finally skied out on a hiking trail all the way to the town of Munster. It was all over and we had made it!

Matt described our Bernese Oberland tour as one of the toughest Mountain Tracks weeks he’d experienced. It was a real ski adventure. Mother Nature had thrown her all at us – raging blizzards, extreme winds, total white outs and then perfect blue sky days. It was a tough week both physically and mentally – and as we enjoyed a few beers back in Interlaken we knew we had all risen to the challenge thanks to the guidance and encouragement of our guides David and Matt.

By Steph Kennedy

Final 2009 Haute Route

Despite the poor weather for the first 3 days, Klemen and I managed to battle through! One meter of fresh snow fell in 24 hours causing mayhem (not to mention tired legs breaking trail) Finally the weather cleared and we made a break for the final 3 days of the route. Due to the fresh snow we had perfect conditions over the Pigne des Arolla and the final days ski into Zermatt. Thanks to the group for their patience in the blizzards. Here is a link to the other pictures http://picasaweb.google.com/ollyguide/2009HauteRouteBest80

Cheers Olly
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