Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Wow!


Dawned bright and clear - first time for a while, so we packed up fast and headed for the Aiguille du Midi cable car. The brilliant conditions meant it was filled with young snow-boarding types - suddenly I felt old! I caught a glimpse of the Frendo Spur as we flashed past and our comfy bivi-site from about 30 years ago!
12600' meant we were really puffing on the stairways - but it was superb to be up there above the clouds. We explored the area then took the 'bubbles' across the Valle Blanche to the Italian frontier where the views of the Brenva Face (another venue from half a lifetime ago- the whole experience was breath-taking.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Off We Go Again

Another 10 days flown by. The weather has been a bit mixed but that has meant I have almost finished Lofoten - good job as it goes to the printers in a week. Tomorrow we head for Chamonix to meet Thorbjørn for the last few corrections, it was bit damp and drizzly in the afternoon - so I talked Sherri into a 'quick' trip along one of the local Via Ferrata. I can say she really enjoyed it (especially the 'wobbly bridge') but she did well and was pleased to survive the experience!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Mountain Weather!


In contrast to the never-ending days of sunshine at St Rafael (that's what it felt like anyway) the mountains have been throwing a bit of a mixed bag at us! Mind you it has been no worse than changeable and we have still been able to explore the area, get some good cragging done and do some decent walks too. 
Last night we had a wet snowfall so I figured there might be a good covering higher up. We drove up into one of the side valleys, parked well above the snow-line (four wheel drive!) then plodded up in to the blinding whiteness. The views were spectacular and we both got a bit singed by the bright sunshine. There were a few birds of prey quartering the sky and tell-tale tracks in the snow of their intended prey. At
 just over five and half thousand feet we found a south-facing bench, swept the snow off it and enjoyed our butties. The return journey was much easier!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Snow Time like the Present

ClimbFrance ended with a bit of a bang - after a couple of grey but perfectly pleasant days we were woken a spectacular and noisy thunderstorm on our last morning, so close it almost knocked us out of bed. And that was it, two weeks gone and time to move on! We packed up and drove for about three hours eastwards into ever more spectacular scenery, it looked like full winter still up in the high Alps. 
We booked in to our accommodation at AlpSun 10 minutes early, unloaded the car, had a stroll into the old village of Les Vigneaux, which is located in a side valley a short distance to the south of Briançon.
As we were only about 10km from Ailefroid, a place I had long wanted to visit, we had a ride up to the end of the valley. Despite rumours to the contrary the road was open, but there was a whole heap of snow around. It turned out the snow-ploughs had cleared the road that very morning - now that's what I call timing!
Sunday the sky was blue and the snow plastered peaks glittered in the sun - superb. Half a dozen route on one of the local gneiss 'ecoles' loosened the muscles then I zipped through the 'green' via ferrata in the bottom of the Durance ravine - great fun. This area has a mass of potential, it is a matter of how much we can see in ten days!


Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Sun Rock - that'll do nicely!

A cracking week in the Buis area has really zipped by and this morning we tootled down to Nimes to drop Dave Gregory of for his return flight to the UK. It was damp and cool, a huge contrast to roasting on Ubrieux yesterday evening, mind you, I for one am not bothered, a couple of days rest and a chance to get on with putting the final touches to Lofoten are both needed.

Stopping at ClimbFrance has been great, Ollie has kept us supplies with wood for the stove, the hamlet is superbly quiet and of course we never drove more than 8 miles all week to access some really great cragging. Having kept half an eye on the frequent snow showers in the UK has made it all the sweeter.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Aprils Afoot

We packed up from the Cote d'Azure (long faces all around) and headed north though glorious weather (possibly the warmest day of the year yet) to Buis les Barronais. I can't remember the last time I was here - possibly Easter 1982 when we I hitched around the area with Graham Parkes, we stopped at the Camping Municipal and presumably were using Pete Livesey's tiny French Rock guide. The only thing I remember it Graham taking a long fall when he pulled a peg out - everything is fully bolted nowadays though!
We explored the area, bought a guide and checked out the whereabouts of the cliffs then it was an early start to pick up Dave Gregory from Nimes' airport - his flight from East Midlands was £10 return including taxes.
We dropped the gear at the pad then adjourned to Ubrieux and cracked of seven routes, one or two were a bit polished, but it was warm in the sunshine so who is complaining. Great sunset over a snow covered Mount Ventoux which is straight across the valley from us!

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Nafplio - climbing in the sun The trip to the Peleponnes was excellent, a lot of great climbing on a varied set of cliffs.We had a rathe...