Friday, 8 June 2007


It's only early June but already I have to start thinking about the next winter season. Last winter we had such superb snowshoeing that it's really an exciting prospect. We'll go back to many of the classic areas but also investigate lots of new ones.

There will be weeks based in Valais, Switzerland, Aosta Italy and Briançon France, as well as trips from my village of Vallorcine.
There will also be all levels from beginner to advanced. Those who want to take it gently can do so, but even so we'll generally get above the tree-line and, conditions permitting, will do some nice rounded summits. Others who wish to push themselves to have some exciting climbs will find their thing too.
The programme will soon be published on the website. More snowshoeing shots and info can be found on


The summer is almost here now and in a couple of weeks my treks will start. We have some exciting trips going, first of which is the Corsica Summits 24 June. Whilst the GR20 is the well-known trek over there, and is certainly very spectacular, there are many lesser-known hikes to do on this mountainous island. Trekking peaks abound and these are what we're going to explore, along with some great spots off the trail. The aim is to discover as much as we can about Corsica, the mountains, the culture, the food and wine and the sea.

Next up I'll be en route from Chamonix to Zermatt via the Walker's Haute Route. This exciting journey takes us through beautiful mountain terrain with spectacular glacial scenery. From Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn, we get to see all the high mountains along the way.

Not much of a break for me before I head off on the Tour of the Jungfrau Region. This is a new trek for me this year and will take us on a magical trek through the mountains of the Bernese Oberland, getting very close to the giants of the region - the Eiger, Jungfrau and the Mönch. There are a couple of trekking summits to do along the way and I expect the scenery to be very varied, ranging from pastoral meadows to high alpine slopes.

The rest of July is taken up with private groups, firstly in the Aosta region of Italy then on the Tour of Monte Rosa.

After that we have a new version of my Gran Paradiso Alta Via 4 trip. This year we are including an ascent of the Gran Paradiso summit, 4061m, Italy's highest peak. There's no doubt this will be busy mid summer but it is a fantastic viewpoint. It is probably the only place on the trek where we'll encounter crowds, the rest of the trail generally being very quiet. Known for it's wildlife, the Gran Paradiso usually gives us lots of sightings of ibex and chamois which is a crucial part of this trip.
Later in August we'll be on the classic, and justifiably well-known Tour of Mont Blanc. This is without doubt the most famous alpine trek, and for this reason people often think it must be very crowded. But this is wrong. There are lots of variants and so many different places to stay, so I find it easy to find reasonably quiet trails, even mid season. This year we will be on the trek just before the start of Europe's biggest trail race, the Mont Blanc Ultra Trail. having done this race last year I will relive many memories of my adventure.
Austria is my next to last trek of the season. This is a slightly different trek to my usual Otztal Alps trip as we are going in search of fine wines as well as fine views. Having had a similar research trip last year in Northern Italy, with very satisfactory results, the quest continues. We'll also do some great hiking in this wonderful mountain region, right next to the Austro Italian border.
September features private groups, in and around the Mont Blanc region.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Corsica GR20: 3 people die in cold weather

The recent bad weather in Europe has led to the death from hypothermia of three hikers on the GR20 trek in Corsica. The three people died in independent incidents, two in the north of the island one in the southern part of the trek.

Although the GR20 route is way-marked, these pain marks quickly become difficult to see in bad weather and once off the trail you are on very rough ground. In normal conditions it's difficult to imagine dying of cold on this trek - usually people fear the heat. But the weather can change very quickly and these are very serious mountains where it can be really hard to get down to safer terrain if the weather turns bad. I have experienced snow in Corsica in the middle of July - people had to be rescued by helicopter from the Cirque de la Solitude. And since the trail is so rocky, conditions underfoot quickly become slippery and progress can be very slow.

Just a reminder really to all of us that these mountain treks demand respect, even though they seem to be increasingly popular and more and more feasible with guidebooks describing every step of the route.