Wednesday, 4 December 2013

We've moved house!

Well it's been a busy time for us, moving house. Friends told us they'd done it once 25 years ago, and never again. Now I know why. Weeks of packing up boxes, loading furniture into our vehicles, taking advantage of non snowy days to get up and down the road in Vallorcine, wondering where on earth to put all our do you get so much STUFF anyway?

Now we're nearly there and will be full time residents in our tiny village tucked away in the wilds of northern Provence.

The snow has come early to the Alps and people are out skiing and snowshoeing already. It looks like it will be a great winter.
Here in Provence we had a dusting of the white stuff but this week the days are sunny and warm.

We've had a conference of vultures in a snowy lavender field, beautiful ice crystals on the rosehips, great sunny days climbing on the local crags and wonderful sunsets both in the Alps and here in Provence.

Here are some shots. I'm going to take a breather I hope before the winter season kicks in :)


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Provence for some sunshine

Sunset on the Dentelles de Montmirail
The autumn has been a tad disappointing in the Alps this year. some lovely days to start with but lately we've had a lot of precipitation, falling as snow on the hills of course which is good, but falling as puddles (big ones) in the valley!
Although there were some great views of the snowy mountains

But last week there was more of this than anything else:
I did manage to get some quality bouldering on my very favourite boulder

But a few days in Provence were deemed necessary to keep spirits up. And it hasn't disappointed although today was a touch hot at the Dentelles de Montmirail. The light is amazing at this time of year - you can see why Provence has long attracted painters and artists. I am neither, but I do love the evening light, seen here on the Dentelles cliffs, and on that ever present iconic mountain, Mont Ventoux.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Indian summer....very short autumn....straight to winter????

Well the Indian Summer has been a blast, so very beautiful: sunshine every day, warm enough for shorts and vest, just day after day....until last weekend when BANG! it all went pear-shaped. Torrential rain then a couple of foggy days (fog!! we never have fog in Vallorcine!). And today - it snowed, almost down to the ground. Shock horror!
This is how it looked before
And this is how it looks now

I know we need snow for the winter but all the same it's a tad early! My fleet of snowshoes are trembling with anticipation in the garage :)
Ah well here are some shots of the last few days




Friday, 20 September 2013

Last trek of the season!

I started this summer trekking season in the snow - old névé snow left over from winter, weeks ago it seems. And fittingly we finished in the snow - this time fresh snow which fell to about 1600m earlier this week.

I had a reasonably "roughie toughie" group this last time which helped as some of the passes had to be crossed in cold and demanding conditions. However, we didn't miss too many views and had 2 perfectly sunny days in Italy, so we saw those steep and spectacular Italian faces of Monte Bianco.

The good thing about bad weather is that when it clears the mountains have a fresh coat of white and are usually very clear, with no heat haze to spoil the shots. This was certainly true this time and our final day from Switzerland back into France, which began in blizzard conditions, finished in bright sunshine. We fought our way over the Col de Balme, faces stinging in the icy snow and wind, but as we descended to the Chamonix Valley we were rewarded with the most fabulous breaks in the cloud, revealing the high peaks in all their beauty.

Now we're back to sunny weather, forecast for the next few days. Time for me to recover and reflect on what has been not only a great summer season for Trekking in the Alps but an amazing year - full groups, lots of weeks and some great people.
Next up is the winter season. Between now and then I'll keep you posted with the changing seasons here in the Alps and later in Provence.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Dolomites in perfect conditions

I last went to the Dolomites two years ago and was really impressed by the spectacular scenery. Going back this year I was equally bowled over by how stunning it all is - you don't have to walk far to be amongst magnificent rocky towers with wide ranging views of the seemingly endless peaks and plateaux that make up this eastern part of the Alps. 

When you think of the Dolomites you imagine the soaring towers of pink limestone, with those famous via ferrata routes snaking precariously up their steep faces, but you may not imagine that there are also beautiful green meadows, long gentle rivers and fabulous crystal clear mountain lakes.


The flowers were also abundant even at this late stage in the season. We came across wild ponies grazing the high meadows, marmots whistled at our arrival alongside the rushing streams, and chamois and ibex peered down at us from their rocky perches.

OK, so I am waxing a bit lyrical, but it really was a very good trip and I will definitely be programming this for next year. Come join me!
Photo: Tyrone Allard