Category Archives: Alpine Climbing

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.

The Winter of 2017-18

It’s been so silly good, for so long, with days blending into weeks, of storm after storm, filling in the upper mountain like I’ve never seen it before. I’m pushing my skis into lines and over cliffs that haven’t been possible in my 35 years playing here. It is just so fat! Couloirs are becoming faces, cliffs disappeared 2 storms ago, and it goes on…

I’ve tried posting an update several times since returning from the waters of Brazil and Hawaii, but the story keeps changing. Maybe this one will be it? So many fun photos of fun faces, hovering over the fabulous snow surface, as we make our way to the valley floor. Thank you for the amazing days folks!

Bitchen Salbitschen

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?

Climbing on "Excellent" Gemsplanggenstock

High on “Incredible” Gemsplanggenstock

Fi figuring out the last move on "Excellent"

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.

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 sailing over the sea.

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
  • ISTA Avalanche Education
  • Skiing India/Kashmir February 3-10 €2’100.00/person
  • Heli/Randonée Skiing Greenland April 23-29 €8’800.00/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.