Sunday, 25 August 2013

Tour of the Matterhorn in perfect conditions

 This has been a fabulous summer all over Europe and the Alps haven't missed put on the sunny weather. Last week it cooled a touch and this suited us fine for the Tour of the Matterhorn which takes a mix of normal trails and glaciated passes. Crisp cool mornings meant the snowy sections were nice and hard, followed by warm sunshine later in the day for the meadows and picnics.

The Matterhorn looks so different from varying angles and at different times of day, I could never tire of it. We sat opposite it on the first day spying out climbers with our binos. Later in the week the Spanish phenomenon Kilian Jornet crushed the ascent record by running up and down the peak in 2h52 mins from Cervinia.

None of that nonsense for us, but we had a great time walking around it. My team were all very fit and once again international - this time, as well as the UK, we had Lithuania and Denmark represented.

Although the valley flowers are now waning, the high alpines are in full bloom.
As for the wildlife, marmots were a bit thin on the ground but the ibex more than made up for it at our high hut 2900m above the valley.

We finished the trek with an ascent of the Breithorn peak above Zermatt. At 4164m this peak is quite the climb and we were extremely lucky to have calm and warm conditions. I thought it was stunning as did the folks on the rope with me. The other team seemed to be less excited by the whole affair, one of them describing it as if it was a walk in the park!
Take a look and decide for yourselves :)


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Down time in the Alps

It's been a lovely sunny week in the Alps and I've been out and about enjoying it. No group this week, time to recharge my batteries.
Chamonix is as busy as I've ever seen it - the 15th August is an important Catholic festival day, charmingly called "Maria Himmelfärht" in German. This week sees many events and celebrations in the Alps.
As of this weekend the exodus should begin. The French set great store by the Rentrée (going back to school or work) and all the children have to have new satchels and exercise books so the end of August is a time for Shopping.
Below are some photos taken this week. Off to Zermatt this weekend to meet a new group for the Tour of the Matterhorn - the forecast is excellent - hooray!!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Lots of sunny weather, great hikes, marmots and flowers.....then fog and rain!

Since my last post I had a few days off to go climbing and now I have just finished with a large and generally very friendly International group - people had come from Wales, New Zealand, the UK and the Yukon in Canada. They had signed up for my Chamonix Mountain Adventures week, so I set about giving them just that.  
Although there have been forecasts for storms pretty much every day for the last 3 weeks, the weather has been amazing - hot and sunny with only the odd rainy episode overnight. 

  We had a fabulous first 3 days in glorious hot sunshine. Summits were climbed, as were ladders, and we even managed to have a warm swim in a high mountain lake - this was really special.

Unfortunately the last two days were rainy and misty, despite a promising forecast for the Friday. But we had a fun overnight in a mountain hut where everyone enjoyed traditional cuisine in very convivial surroundings. The final day certainly gave us an adventure as we took a bold route through the limestone foothills, amongst rocky scenery, most of which we could only guess at as thick fog refused to clear. But we had a brief encounter with ibex and we made it down Death Gully!!  Everyone seems to have had a great time, even if my own nerves are slightly frayed!!