Saturday, 18 February 2017

Assessing risks in the mountains

Spontaneous avalanche off Mont Blanc.

We, as humans, have that instinctive ability to stay alive. From our commute to work to getting into bed in the evening, we are constantly and subliminally evaluating and assessing the risks which present themselves in our day to day lives. And when the time comes for us to venture into the mountains, we inevitably up the game in how we assess and manage the risks thrown at us. Unlike in our ordinary nine to five lives, where a minor misjudgement in our own assessments may only cause embarrassment at the very least, in the mountains this minor misjudgement may cause us serious injury, or worse.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

So you want cheap* gear....

*Cheap (adjective) costing little money or less than is usual or expected
The gear that we require for alpine climbing and backcountry skiing is expensive. But does it need to be? Before I go into detail and suggesting ways in which you can save money on your next purchase, take a minute to really decide whether you need to buy it in the first place. That is the first step in saving money: Here are 11 more...

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Impeding Hitler’s endeavour to capture Mont Blanc – The battle of the Vallée Blanche

A small, conspicuous metal gate is all that guards the high mountains above Chamonix from the hordes of Japanese tourists, eager to capture a glimpse of Western Europe’s highest mountain through the eyes of a lens. Without this selfless guardian, the Col du Midi would be a sea of Hello Kitty trainers, SuperDry jackets and more thumbs up than a picture of Kim Kardashian’s breakfast on Facebook. That is assuming they manage to make it down the ridge! Yet, 71 years ago the scene from the Aiguille du Midi was of a darker nature. Aspirant guides took on the physical form of Terminus to Mont Blanc. Their presence was not to guard against a few harmless tourists, but to keep Mont Blanc from the hands of a growing evil, to keep the Swastika from ever desecrating the summit.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Midi to Helbronner, a revised adventure...

How many times do you visit a single ski resort? Once? Twice? Return every season? I have visited a fair few resorts in my 2 years of skiing, but there is one that I keep returning to, with out fail: Chamonix.

But why? 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

When 2 become 1...

Winter in the UK can be very hit and miss. You blink and it's gone. Scotland usually does 'alright' but the mountains of England and Wales constantly tease you, leading you on like a school boy crush. A fall in temperatures, a dumping of snow, word on the grape vine that 'Route X' is in condition. The eyes begin to glisten, fingers tingle and stretch for the winter gear, a decision is made to go this weekend...then BAM! Thaw sets in, temperatures rise to double figures and that white gold we all crave is stripped from your grasp! UK winter IS gambling. It's addictive. It should come with a warning. Instead of pouring over the Financial Times and trying to decipher the stock market or working out this weekends winning lottery numbers (which by the way, is way easier then the following), we, as UK winter climbers, are looking with a vacant expression, at the cryptic lines and symbols on weather charts, pressing refresh on the Met Office Mountain Weather page, MWIS and that other weather website your mate Dave swears by because he saw it mentioned on an AD break while watching Bear Grylls repeats on...DAVE, to try and decipher the weather patterns criss crossing the UK to figure out...will Kinder be in this weekend?

Sunday, 19 July 2015

My Top 10 bivis


We all love it, we all need it. A fundamental part of any holiday or trip away is based around where we'll be counting sheep, the rest just falls into place. At the end of the day, all we can think about is getting into a nice comfy bed and closing the day. Some of us can function on very little, which bodes well if you're a climber. For any normal person, a bed, four walls and a roof is the accepted minimum, or standard should I say, if you count going camping as an acceptable holiday, in this case, at least some form of electrical hook up and functioning toilets and showers. But for us 'dirt bag' climbers, who don't deem a bed as 'necessary' and want everything free (even the beer), we'll get our heads down literally anywhere. So here are my top 10 bivis. They aren't ranked from worst to best, more the story behind them and their location. After all, why pay for something which I already have at home?

Monday, 29 June 2015

Insatiable (7b+) Cheddar Gorge

Me and Chris were supposed to head to Bosigran this weekend, However due to the weather and change of plans, we ended up staying home, so headed to Cheddar for an afternoon instead, just to get our fix. We jumped on Raw Deal (7a) which I have previously tried before but failed to link the moves after the crux due to being too pumped! Yeah it's only a few metres high but my endurance is crap. Any way, I managed to get it and clipped the lower off! feeling pretty pleased, I wanted more. There were 2 couples climbing beside us, pretty good climbers as they were doing 8a's, so I got chatting to them and they had suggested Insatiable (7b+) to the left of Raw Deal. I did mention about my struggle up a 7a, but their words of confidence persuaded me to at least try it, at least I could say that I had.