Thursday, 12 July 2007

Snow, snow and more snow July in the Alps!

The Chamonix Zermatt Walker's route looked more like a winter trip in Scotland than a summer hike in the Alps! We had very unseasonal weather from the start although there was a fantastic respite mid-way through for our day over to Arolla when we had wall to wall blue skies and superb freshly coated white peaks.

The high passes were generally snowy and became more so as the week went on. We all agreed snow was much better than rain but a few more views would have been welcome and it would have been nice to shed the waterproofs more often.

Nevertheless it was a real adventure and a great sense of achievement to stroll into Zermatt yesterday (in sunshine finally) with the Matterhorn soaring above, flanked by clouds on its East face.

The final day was beautifully sunny and we were able to see all the Zermatt peaks.
There is now a considerable amount of snow in the high mountains giving a high risk of avalanche and some cornice build-up. Conditions below 3000m should improve quickly but for the moment there is some snow and ice and the existing nevés have not melted at all for some time.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Corsican sun versus rain everywhere else!

As the rain poured down in northern Europe and the Alps, Corsica lived up to its reputation as the "Ile de beauté". Temperatures were hot, but tempered by a strong wind which we felt on the ridges but which elsewhere was very comfortable. The sea was 23°C I was told, and felt wonderful. Even the rivers were not too cold for a dip.

We spent a day or two on the GR20, staying in one of the huts on this route. As usual there were a fair number of people intent on doing this long distance trail as fast as they could. As soon as we left the main trail we were alone and we climbed several summits with no-one else in sight.

A two day trip on a horse-shoe ridge walk with a night in a gite at the beach was a highlight, as was the final night spent deep in the mountains after a long walk, some of it off trail, and with a visit to the famous "mountain with the hole", Capu Tafanatu.

Now back to the alpine treks. The mountains look green and beautiful and the flowers are at their best. The sun is forecast to come out later this week. Chamonix Zermatt, followed by the Tour of the Jungfrau Region should provide some of the most scenic trekking in the Alps.