Layback, crystals crunching under foot like I'm the first person to have ever climbed this route, straight arms, feeling the opposition through my hips twisting, not knowing which appendage to move next. Will this smear on left foot hold, as I reach high with my right hand to grab this crack higher up? Maybe I should have set that piece better, 3 meters below, so it wouldn't have popped out, sliding down the rope 15 meters to my last piece of protection, causing my right foot to start bouncing up and down like a Singer sewing machine rattling out a new garment. And I ask myself, why do I do these things?
High on "Incredible" Gemsplanggenstock
Fi figuring out the last move on "Incredible"
I've climbed for years all around this area of central Switzerland, but have saved Salbitschen until today. What an amazing valley of perfect granite walls and ridges. Hans Berger has spent the last 34 years lifting this area into an alpinist's heaven, and with his wife Beatrice, running the Salbithutte, developing wonderful hiking itineraries and outrageous routes on pristine granite. Thank you both!
It's mid-summer and things are really heating up. The steel colored glaciers were gushing enormous quantities of water last week, but the two snow falls and lower temperatures have eased that pressure and it's now looking fresh and white up high.
The lovely Riedbach below the Bordier Hut.
There's another 3 weeks of high season alpine climbing, then some fun trips for autumn. After this past month of May, powder and silky, spring snow skiing in Greenland, I completed my kite instructor's license in June and started a catamaran based kite trip through the Cyclades of Greece. We're looking to do the same, kitesurfing catamaran based trip this fall, in the Caribbean. Contact me if you're a beginner or confirmed kite surfer to enjoy this relaxed way of sailing.
The joy of simply sailing over the sea.
And for winter 2017-2018, I'll be at it again, hopefully enjoying with you together, what these fine Alps have to offer.
Sailing Caribbean catamaran/kitesurfing adventures October 28- November 5 €1'900/person
And private guiding, daily off-piste/back country all winter and spring in the various Alpine valleys of Valais, Bern, Chamonix and La Grave France and Italy and multi-day trips ski-safari for the ultimate in fine skiing adventure.
Skiing 2000 meters down wild couloirs to bowls to more couloirs into a tiny primitive village in the middle of their annual celebration with everyone wearing outlandish costumes, was our last day of a 7 day ski Safari.
Staying flexible to location, route and lodging was key again to our excellent little adventure. Not knowing which valley, which town or which isolated village we would arrive in the next day made it all that much more stimulating.
Starting just across the Rhone Valley from Verbier, at Montana Crans, we headed up the wind scoured Wildstrubel, only to get blown off 200 m from the summit. With our tails between our legs, we headed south back into the Valais rather than our intended descent north into the Bernese Oberland. It was obvious the wind was hammering the high peaks, so we decided to had a fun day riding a little lift and skiing beautiful power through the forest on the other side of the Rhone valley. Then into the Loetschental next day, over the north ridge for an all-day-run down a lovely valley surrounded by huge rock walls to Wengen, where we met up with team Telluride who joined us for an epic descent the next day, after skinning then skiing then skinning then skiing then skinning into another remote valley, sliding up to the front door of a four-star hotel, served cheese fondue and then, them, team Telluride, skiing down and away in the dark full of white wine and cheese to make the train back to Zürich. Us three, we woke up to hot expresso and a delicious buffet breakfast, slapped on our skins, and headed to the pass 1'400 m above us. The descent down the other side to Kandersteg was the "valley of cliff bands" needing good route fighting or several hundred meter rappels if you got it wrong. With no rope in my backpack we opted for solid route finding. Not another soul in site, just us and the chamois, skiing powder through the last cliff band onto the Oeschinensee, surrounded by hundred-meter-tall-frozen-waterfalls and then sausage and soup in the restaurant on the other side. We found another cozy hotel in Kandersteg, then hopped on the train the next morning right behind the hotel, taking us back to our car in Loetschental and that fabulous last run into the valley celebration.
My first ski Safari of the season and I want to go again tomorrow!
The driest December in this area since measurements began in 1864 created new challenges for a mountain guide like myself. I could have behaved like Chicken Little and believed the end was near, or rather taken advantage of those conditions. The foehn episode that dried the northern Alps in November, coated the southern Alps with a lovely layer of fresh powder. Living close to that main divide here in Verbier, my clients and I profited from the situation, ski touring and heliskiing in the south, and hiking and climbing in the north.
For those who enjoy being outside no matter the weather and conditions, I've found it so rewarding to share these mini adventures with you. Thank you! The following 20 pictures show some of our days together on skis, skins and foot, enjoying what mother nature provides.
October snows, leading to November snows, leading to December sun! Conditions are excellent at altitude, resembling prime alpine conditions of spring time. A stable snowpack in the high mountains has stuck to many of the icey faces that often don't see snow until spring. Isolated areas, protected from the November Foehn winds, give rise to primo conditons for steep skiing in boot top powder.
For those of you who have heard about the ISTA method of avalanche training, I am a certified ISTA instructor, offering group and private avalanche courses. After spending a few days with me, talking about snow metamorphism and slope analysis, you will feel more capable to understand and analyse the untracked slopes you want ski.
This gorgeous weather is forecasted to be with us for another week, when this high pressure system should weaken, allowing more humidity to make its way onto the continent. Have fun skiing that boot top pow!