Saturday, 28 March 2015

Review - RAB Exodus Softshell Jacket

When venturing into the mountains, we are constantly exposed to the elements. No matter how amazing human skin is, it still needs protection. Some people get by with the latest in expensive, high tech materials, others with a simple bin liner with holes cut into it for the head and arms (if you have even the smallest of brains, never do this!). Back in the day it was a simple waterproof jacket to keep the wind, rain and snow off. But within the last 10 years, Softshell has really taken off. At first people were skeptical: warmer than a hardshell but not as waterproof. Colder than a fleece but more windproof. So where does it stand? Today though, it's what a majority of people go to as their protective layer. But with so many variations and choice for us on the market, we need to narrow this selection down and be realistic about our intended use. For me, I wanted a mountain specific jacket with a hood large enough for a helmet, no membrane, harness accessible pockets and breathable but still keep out all but the worst that the weather can throw at me. So I settled on this jacket: the RAB Exodus.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Chere Couloir - Triangle du Tacul

The Chere Couloir (II,4) The very top climber in at the 3rd belay and the bottom 2 making their way up to the 2nd.
We met the famous Dane Burns of the Coldthistle gear blog the day before on the steps back up to Montenvers, had a beer and then went for dinner with him. I hadn't had the opportunity to climb during my time out here, mainly due to lack of partners, so he offered to climb with me. We chose the Chere couloir as neither of us had done it, plus it's a ski in, ski out route so a great multi-activity day,

Monday, 9 March 2015

Toule glacier and the Vallee Noire

View from the Torino hut from the Dent dy Geant on the left, to the Integral ridge on the right
Do you believe in fate? Or what about luck? Do things happen for a reason or do we determine our own path through life? I used to believe that 'It'll never happen to me' and that it always happens to other people, but this attitude in the mountains can prove fatal and is a stupid way of thinking. You're never truly in control in this environment. Ok, so you're confident in your abilities and that you're prepared for the conditions. You've checked the weather and the avalanche bulletin. You've picked your intended route or descent because of the current conditions as it's a safer option. But you're in the mountains now. You can't predict every avalanche, or a serac fall. How stable was that snow bridge you just skied over? Oh, you didn't realise you just skied over a crevasse? And what about those rocks above you, frozen in time to the mountain face, waiting for the 'true loves first kiss' of the rising sun to awaken them? In these circumstances, timing and 'luck' are the things keeping you from having a bad day. As we found, when skiing the Toule glacier.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Grand & Petit Envers VB variation: Keeping up tradition...

FINALLY! The wind has died down and the midi is open! But unfortunately for Dave, he's heading home. However, he did make it all the way to the ice tunnel on the midi before heading back down via the lift as he didn't think he'll be back in time to get his transfer. Any way, me and Kev carried on down the ridge with our plan of skiing the Grand Envers. The sun was shining, the snow was good and off we went.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Dear Chamonix...It's not me, it's you...

The winds still haven't died down and so we've been forced to seek skiing elsewhere. We headed to Courmayeur on Thursday but like with Cham, the top bin was closed because of the wind. But still, we had the sun. Not really knowing what else there was off piste wise, we started to spot interesting little lines from the chair lifts. We did a few laps down a steep slope under the Bertolini chair which consisted of chalky snow and moguls which was good practice for steep skiing and a lot of fun, then headed over to the Aretu chair where we spied the remains of a small avalanche so went to investigate.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Grand Montets

Top of Bochard nearing the end of the day
Since Dave and Kev have arrived, the weather has deteriorated. High winds have closed the top bin of the GM and the Midi and the avalanche warnings are consistent across the range at 4, so we're forced to seek our fix else where. The obvious choice being off the Bochard and Herse lift on the GM. So over the last couple of days, we've been skiing pretty much every bit of Off piste the GM has to offer.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Col du Lac Cornu - Col de la Gliere, Aiguille Rouge

I arrived in Chamonix on Wednesday after the most stress free traveling I have ever had; no cues, no waiting (apart from the compulsory 2 hour wait before boarding the flight) and no rushing! I had 3 days on my own before Kev and Dave got here so had to pick my objectives carefully. With all the recent news about avalanches, I was reluctant to do much off piste, but I checked the forecast, looked at slopes below 30 degrees and decided to head up into the Aiguille Rouge and do a short ski tour.