Category Archives: Freeride

Arete Gallet Mont Dolent Traverse

“This is real mountaineering,” Ton says to me as we make our way up the final steep slope on the North Face of the Mont Dolent. I was at that moment reminding myself to make a good mental note of how fine our position looked. The fresh snow of last week was still perfectly white, unlike the older snows lower down, which have gotten brown and discoloured from weeks of summer weather. This white snow, now frozen and hard after a few days of melt/freeze, and with the tracks of a previous party, made while the snow was still soft, left us a perfect stairway, foot steps for relaxed feet, not having to front point or “French Technique pied plat.” Conditions like these are rare indeed, nobody else on the mountain, great mixed climbing (some snow and some rock), all contributing to a stimulating experience. The mountain is asking for different skills from the climber, our brain and ego constantly infatuated with the different movements required, as we go up and up, above the clouds on towards the summit.

We hiked to the Bivouac Dolent, “La Maye,” Tuesday, getting there in 2.5 hours. The steep path was a virtual stairway to heaven, gaining elevation immediately. The fields of La Fouly were quickly left far below, and we reached this odd looking bivouac in no time, a submarine like structure placed in the scree slope below the mountain.

Bivouac Dolent La Maye

Bivouac Dolent La Maye

It’s a cosy little place inside, with all the cutlery and crockery from an elderly lady’s kitchen. I’d brought a cook stove for our pasta and morning coffee.

Inside the Bivouac Dolent

Inside the Bivouac Dolent

Wednesday morning’s glacier was chaotic and convoluted, asking for creative route placement for the first couple of hours.

The convoluted Dolent Glacier

The convoluted Dolent Glacier

Reaching over the gaping bergschrund at 3250, we mixed it up, with our right foot on rock and left on snow.

All mixed up

All mixed up

After gaining the NE ridge, we found tiny holds for our crampons on the north side, then back onto the glacier, and back again onto the rocky ridge, then onto those pristine, final slopes, after yet another vertical bergshrund crossing.

Climbing rock in crampons

Climbing rock in crampons

 

Rock Snow Moon and clouds

Rock Snow Moon and clouds

Ton, near the top of the Mont Dolent

Ton, near the top of the Mont Dolent

 

Argentiere Basin, Chamonix Valley

Argentiere Basin, Chamonix Valley

Looking into the Chamonix valley, with it’s multitude of alpinists, we couldn’t help but feel super lucky to be completely alone on a supreme alpine route.

On the summit of the Mont Dolent

On the summit of the Mont Dolent

Thank you Ton! I’m always amazed, how you can come back here to Verbier, your little paradise away from home in Holland, working more than full time as a nephrologist/transplant physician, a research scientist on the cutting edge of new organ growth, and hospital manager in charge of thousands of employees, and climb so well with me to the top of all these peaks we have done together over the years.

Bravo!!!

Sailing Croatia

I’m back from three gorgeous weeks of sailing through the islands of Croatia. A nice jaunt to the top of Mt.Gele this morning will help me reacclimatise for upcoming trips into these beautiful hills around the Valais.

We experienced all kids of sailing weather this summer. The Bora hit hard for three days, forcing us to sit out 2 days in Rogoznica. Day 3, we headed out towards Vis, looking at a 6 hour sail. The winds had kicked up some large waves and it was still pushing 25 knots. So half way across, we jibed and sailed to the Island of Brac, dropping anchor in an idilic, protected bay with a typical tiny family run restaurant ashore. Another week of great winds blowing 10-20 knots sent us to Hvar, Vis, the Kornati Islands and many other tiny islands and bays. We revisited the little port of Zlatan Otok at Seta Nedilja and managed a few more fun sport climbs.

Cruising these islands of Croatia takes one to so many different settings. From isolated bay, each one a bit different, to big historical ports, each day seemed so varied. And the fun part was not knowing where the winds would blow us the following day. Sailing according to the winds was an analogy of going with the flow in life, easing downwind with the storm-force pressure on reefed sails, and upwinds when the pressure was agreeable.

I’ll be heading to Greece this fall to sail and climb, and am looking for company. The price will be around €1’300/person. Hope to see you on the water or in the hills.

Greenland Heliskiing and Spring Update

What a winter! There was so much to do I needed 36 hours in the 24 of each day. Hiring some of my favorite guides to look after the clients I couldn’t ski with did add some of those hours. But it still felt non-stop. We were lucky too this winter, with the bulk of the Alpine snow falling in this corner of Switzerland. Mid February showed us with 138% of norm snow depth.

20160114_hsrel_en_c

This has meant a lack of updates from me. By then, my knee was strong enough to start guiding with confidence. There were so many fun trips in my backyard and further afield around the Valais and to Italy and France. One of my favorite powder shots was in late February, Nellie on her second run from the heli, super exhausted already…

Heliskiing Verbier 20176

Heliskiing Verbier 2016

Then Greenland again! What a pleasure it is to stay in the tiny village of Kangaamiut, our base for heliskiing on the west coast of Greenland. There was less snow than I’ve seen, yet the skiing was as good as ever. A few more days of bluebird weather would have been nice. But the glaciers were so well covered, it allowed us to again ski lines never skied before. We will be in Greenland again from April 17, 2017 to May 7, 2017. Come join us for the best heliskiing in the world.

Summer is almost here, and I’ll be traipsing around looking for fun rock to climb and waters to sail. Please drop me line to join in any adventure.

Fiona rock climbing above the Rhone

Fiona, rock climbing above the Rhone Valley- June 7,2016

Early season ski touring and lift serviced freeriding

Two weeks after our first snowfall, the skiing is still supreme. Conditions are rapidly changing though. The 50-70cm of snow at 2500 has squashed to 30-60, and is powdery only on the north aspects. Some of the wind blown couloirs are even showing fine spring snow. At 2000 meters, it’s been around +3. This has lead to a lot of melting on south aspects. The forecast is calling for fine weather for another 6 days, then some models show some snow… The opening of TeleVerbier last Friday offered super fun, lift serviced, freeriding. There was just enough snow on the ground to ski the front face of Attelas to Verbier, and conditions were not far from as-good-as-it-gets. Here are a few photos from the past few days. Hope it’s getting snowy now too, in your neck of the woods!