Early December Snow Conditions Update

We have good snow coverage now here in Verbier. At 1500 meters in town, we have 30 cm of compact snow. At 2000 meters we have 65cm of various layers. Above that, the wind and warm temperatures have filled couloirs and faces with snow. Because of these high temperatures, these layers of snow are bonding very quickly, which is unusual for this time of year. The avalanche risk should descend to level 2 out of 5 by tomorrow. The forecast is calling for bluebird weather for the next two days, and the two week forecast shows a depresion sitting over northern Europe, bringing a humid, westerly flow through to mid-December.

Verbier is now open all week, having opened for weekends a month ago. Here’s a 1 minute video showing what conditions are like at present.

Electric Mountain Bike access Mountaineering

I’m completely enamored with my EMTB. I’ve been riding mountain bikes since bringing mine to Verbier with me in 1983, but these electric bikes have opened up a whole new world. It truly is like skiing off-piste in winter. The ride we do in a few hours now, used to take days. I’m getting a fantastic work out, even more than my non Ebike because I love the speed! I just want to go faster uphill because it’s such a new, and literally uplifting feeling.

Last week, we rode to the head of the Val de Bagnes to the Mauvoisin Dam. That’s usually it for the day’s activity. Ride back down and recover. Instead, we then did a via Ferrata while recharging the batteries, had a nice lunch, then rode to the head of the valley to the Chanrion Hut.

We climbed the lovely Ruinette the next morning. The climb starts with a beautiful, remote hike through fields of edelweiss, to some lovely steep moves on gneiss, up onto a tiny glacier, then 45 minutes of rope work along the ridge. We spent an hour on the summit, enjoying what is perhaps one of the nicest views in the Alps. Especially if you live in this Bagnes valley! The next morning, we rode back down the valley in a surreal ambience of drizzle, fog, and mist over the Lac de Mauvoisin. Being on a bike, rolling along, left me to enjoy the scenery as I’ve never done before. Though I was moving quicker, I was taking in more, somehow quite in the present, being more aware of the fleeting moments I was living. There were waterfalls everywhere, sometimes thundering underfoot, sometimes rolling through. We got back to Verbier and still had time for a tour of the Pierre Avoi on dirt and single tracks.

EMTB at its finest!

A Summer of Alpine Climbing

From short-roping along remote rocky ridges, to nice long hikes, day after day, all summer long, I’m  in a new kind of space. Sharing these alpine experiences with new and old clients alike, gives these experiences way more significance.

Ton and I climbed the Grand Darray in early July. What an outstanding climb that was! There we were, a stone’s throw away from the Chamonix valley, where hoards of people populate popular routes, queing to get on the rock, stuffed into large refuges, queuing for breakfast.Thanks to the efforts of Raoul Crettenand, we climbed a super fun multi-pitch climb just behind the hut on our arrival afternoon. Touching this fine, fresh granit, so high in the mountains, stepping lightly up on grippy stone, was an absolute delight.

We spent the night in the tiny Cabane de l’A Neuve, catered to by the lovely Martine, snacking on her scrumptious cakes and enjoying great food so subtly spiced. Breakfast by candle light, we set off at daybreak the next day into a deserted valley, all to ourselves. To me, this is mountaineering: being alone in a valley, onto the peak, to the top, together, alone. We took 1 hour to the start of the route, then 4 hours short roped and belayed climbing on the ridge, choosing left, heading right, placing the toes of my new Scarpa Ribelle boots on big and small holds, opposing hand holds to balance our way up, placing a little “pro” when needed. The descent was so fine, down the north ridge, which is mostly scrambling, a short rappel, to the col at 3400, then left (east) onto the Darrey Glacier, and slip sliding down to the Saleinaz Hut. What a nice day out!

Then a really nice haute route from Chanrion to Zermatt with Jason. Chanrion is an awesome little spot, located way-way up our pristine Val de Bagnes. Hut warden Rene Buémi is handing the reins over to his son Célien to care after the hut. But they were all there, with Nicole his wife, adding warmth and charm to the hut. Crossing up and over the Otema Glacier the nest morning is like a himalayan trek, deceivingly long distances, warping your estimated time of arrival. Down into Arolla for an amazing luxurious night at the Kurhaus Hotel, next day up to Bertol, the most alpin of alpine huts with the gregarious Ann Marie, serving her famous lasagna and chocolate cake, over the Tete Blanche next morning and long, long down to the Shönbuel Hut, then to Zermatt the last day. What a very cool “hike”!

Then bagging the Eiger, Matterhorn and a few more remote peaks, rounded out July and August summer alpine climbing.

What now? Anyone for an inexpensive holiday to Greece aboard a 40 foot catamaran? It’s a luxury holiday at non luxury prices, stopping to kitesurf and eat whenever we can. The price for the 7 day trip will be around €790.00 per person. Have a look then send me a note to hans@mountainadventures.eu to make a plan.

Winter Haute Route on Skis

I’m just back from another fine Haute Route with a lovely group of folks from Australia. We had perfect, sunny weather for our 8 days together. It’s been hot for 3 weeks, so the snow feels more like mid-May. It’s not smooth everywhere, rather cupped and structured from the intense sun. But it’s raining outside my window now in Verbier, at 1600 meters, so snowing high up, creating a clean slate for great adventures next week!

I’m off to Greenland, heading 400 kilometers north of Kangaamiut, to Qeqertarsuaq, another beautiful little village on the south end of Disco Island. The area is near one of the most popular tourist destinations, Ilulissat, known for the huge Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, which is the source of most of the icebergs flowing down the Atlantic, finally melting at a latitude just north of New York. If you’re tempted to ski the best terrain in the world, come join me next year, April 29 – May 12, 2019.

My feet will be super stoked to be out of ski boots when I get back in mid-May. I’m organising a few sailing/climbing adventures in Sicily, Greece and other islands in the Med this summer, land based and aboard a chartered catamaran. If you’d like to join, learn to kitesurf and climb, while visiting everything these islands have to offer, please send me a note to create your own trip together.