Sunday, 26 August 2012

A hot end to the summer trekking season

Mont Blanc

It's been a hot and sweaty week on the Tour of Mont Blanc trail. The media warned us the "canicule" was coming and we should keep old people and pets hydrated. Last weekend saw the temps soar to well over 35°C in the valleys, obviously considerably less in the mountains, but nevertheless my fellow hikers were seeking out the shade.
But what luck to have such amazing weather! We were never cold and could sit out in the evenings watching then sun go down. Our sacs were light as we had no need to carry lots of extra layers.

Herens cow at the Col des Posettes

Getting close to the Grand Col Ferret and the Swiss Italian frontier
Clearly we had to carry more water but not a ridiculous amount. My group coped really well and were rather spoilt by great views from the start.

Storms were forecast from mid week but somehow we managed to always miss them and only had real rain overnight a couple of times. However we did hurry along a few times when black clouds cloaked and thunder rumbled down the hillsides!

Storms clouds over the Mont Blanc massif

Admiring the view from the Val Veny

Conditions were probably better where we were than in the high mountains. With a freezing level at 4600m the glaciers have become very open and icy, and there have been reports of considerable rockfall on certain slopes and gullies. Also the threat of storms will have stopped play these last few days.
All that is about to change with snow forecast this weekend at 2000m - I had to scrape ice off the car windscreen this morning!

Mont Dolent from the Grand Col Ferret

Monte Bianco

Taking it all in above Refuge Bertone

Onwards and downwards!

This marks the end of my summer trekking season - somewhat earlier than usual but everyone needs a break sometimes. Trekking in the Alps is heading off on holiday for a few weeks - time to hang up the boots and lie on the beach (in my dreams anyway!)
However, don't panic, the winter and spring programme 2013 is already up and bookings are coming in. Go to this link:

Sunday, 12 August 2012

2 days of rain then paradise returns

What do you do when you have a fab week revisiting some walks you've not done in a while with a wonderful group of kind, funny and good looking folk? You make a very long blog post with loads of photos!!
This was a Creaky Knees Special based in Chamonix, but none of the members had creaky knees (well not really anyway) so we just made it a week of adventurous hikes around the Mont Blanc region.
Photo Tracy Fantham

Okay so we did have rain for the first two days, but after that the sun came right back out and it was perfect - I mean really perfect.
A hotel based week like this allows me to go wherever I think we'll have good views, the right sort of walking and get away from the crowds (it's high season now so this is important).

3 days in the Chamonix valley area right opposite the Mont Blanc massif gave us great views of all the glaciated peaks. Then we headed over to Vallorcine and did an adventurous trail near to the impressive Emosson lake. The views really were excellent and the flowers too. We also got to see some wildlife - ibex and eagles on these walks, supplemented by more of the same and chamois and a ptarmigan later on.

The Aravis range provides a real contrast in many ways to the walks near to Mont Blanc and we all enjoyed the rocky scenery and totally different views of the Mont Blanc massif seen from here.
All in all a real blast - I hope the group enjoyed it as much as I did!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sun and storms

This is what we walked around - the mighty Monte Bianco
Really busy time here, barely a minute to write up the blog. Luckily though I have lots of photos as ever. For this post the photos will have to tell the tale of what we've been up to lately: great sunny trekking with the odd storm thrown in for good measure.

Crossing from France into Italy at the Col de la Seigne

Pink T shirts on the trail

On the Mont de la Saxe

Me and Skip, my favourite dog, guardian of the Rifugio Bonatti
Beautiful Queen of the Alps

First day after a storm, beautifully clear

Pending storm