Friday, 17 April 2009

The end of the winter - next step, Mallorca

Over the last week the snow has melted astonishingly fast - but only in the valleys. The is a still a huge amount of snow above 1500m and the skiing and snowshoeing will be good for weeks yet. In fact just yesterday we had heavy snow during the afternoon and the forests are snow-covered again today.

The last few days saw us out on snowshoes in Italy at the Rifugio Bonatti where Skip the lab joined us for a hike opposite the Grandes Jorasses.
But it's time to change the snowshoes and skis for walking shoes and climbing boots. The crags in the valley are generally dry and the climbing season is getting going. The trails are emerging from the snow - but be warned, there will be névé on trails above 2000m well into the early summer I think.
So to get good hiking we need to head south - Mallorca in this case - for a week of summit-bagging amongst the splendid limestone scenery of the Sierra Tramuntana. If it's anything like last year we are in for a blast!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Spring has come at last!

Finally the spring has really arrived - after 6 months of deep, dark winter - well actually not all deep and dark but very, very snowy.
In the space of a week we have gone from this:

To this:
There is still loads of snow around but we've reached that wonderful time of the year when you can do a ski tour or snowshoe hike in the morning then hang out on the balcony in shorts in the afternoon - or even get a few hours at the crag if you have the energy.
Long may it last - it's amazing seeing flowers and bright green grass after 6 months of whiteness. Not that this winter hasn't been good - it's been incredible and will remain on record as exceptional for the snow cover, throughout the Alps and beyond.
There has been considerable fresh snowfall this last week in many areas and this added to the high temps mean that the avalanche risk is quite important, especially later in the day.
We'll be snowshoeing and skiing well into the May this year but for now most of us are just enjoying rediscovering ground and the joys that that offers!