The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

Friday, 28 February 2014

Kandersteg ice conditions today

Last day in Kandersteg today, so we hiked up above the village to check out all the routes in the Oeshinenwald sector.



Grimm/Haizahne area

The upper pitches of the Grimm/Haizahne area



Blue Magic


All the routes looking thinner and not as well formed as in past years, but at least the routes are there! 
It didn't freeze overnight last night, but if it goes cold then the routes will firm up, become better bonded and fill out a little.......... it could be great.

Safe climbing

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Kandersteg today

We left Cogne and headed over to Kandersteg in Switzerland today.

When we arrived in Kandersteg, I immediately  spotted a great looking free standing pillar high on the mountain side. I hadn't seen the pillar formed there before and it looked in condition - so up we hiked!!

We found this beautiful free standing pillar

Great climbing on very thin, steep and fragile ice.

Jerry enjoying the steep climbing and working hard to find good secure axe placements in the steep, hollow and fragile ice.

Unfortunately Colin, our chief photographer today was last up, so I only this photo of him topping out on the pillar - next time Colin!

A great adventure, with some good steep and technical climbing. 
I'm not sure if the route's been done before? I couldn't find any abseil tat and it doesn't look like you can walk off the route easily - I'll do some research.........

Safe climbing


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Tuborg today

-4 degrees this morning and snowing heavily, so a lot warmer than it has been this past few days here in Valnontey, Cogne.

We headed up into Valeille and climbed Tuborg WI4+/5

The view of Tuborg seen from when we were on Stella Artice a couple of days ago.

Looking up at the top half of the first steep WI4+/5 pitch of Tuborg on the approach today.

Colin leading the 2nd pitch on Tuborg, Valeille, Cogne.

Jerry enjoying the ice on the 2nd pitch of Tuborg today.

Colin 'focused' while leading the 2nd pitch of Tuborg today.

Jerry leading the 3rd pitch on Tuborg today.

Only in Italy! 

I took this image while belaying at the top of the 1st pitch on Tuborg today - A team climbing the super steep and very rarely formed pillar called 'Hard Ice Direct' WI6X

The pillar of 'Hard Ice Direct' seen when we walked below it, on the way back from climbing Stella Artice a couple of days ago.

A team yesterday climbing Inachevee Conception WI5+/M6, Valeille, Cogne.

Still very good conditions here in Cogne, although maybe 10cm of new snow has fallen above the village of Lillaz today, so maybe a little caution of bigger accumulations in some of the higher bowls and gully systems.

Safe climbing

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Lau Bij and Lillaz Gully

-15 degrees here at Hotel La Barme last night again and another 'blue bird' day!

We drove up to Lillaz and from there headed up into the classic Lillaz Gully, a 200m, WI4 ice/mixed route high above the village.

The classic Lillaz Gully WI4, Lillaz, Cogne.

Colin and Jerry heading up steep snow above the first pitch, leading to the steeper upper ice/mixed pitches.

Jerry enjoying the ice/mixed climbing in Lillaz Gully today, Lillaz, Cogne.

Colin at the top of the 5th pitch in Lillaz Gully today.

Jerry getting stuck into the narrow mixed section high up in Lillaz Gully, Lillaz, Cogne.

On the descent from Lillaz Gully we headed over to see if Lau Bij was in condition.
It's an amazing looking ice feature and incredible how the ice just hangs from the steep overhanging rock cliff.

Me heading up the first steep pitch on Lau Bij WI5 80m, Lillaz, Cogne

Jerry arriving at the belay at the top of the first long pitch on Lau Bij

Colin enjoying the ice on Lau Bij, WI5, Lillaz, Cogne.

Me leading the very steep, overhanging and very fragile ice fringes at the top of the route, finishing out right at the top.

You can see the steep overhanging ice fringes and pillars at the top (right) of the route.
From below, the way through these overhanging fragile pillars, columns and fringes looks almost impossible! but there is a diagonal line which weaves it's way up through it all, which seems to defy gravity! (to finish up high and right)

The route's seen a lot of sun but still is in good condition, just get on it before the sun does early in the afternoon.

You've got to love the ice climbing here in Cogne!

Safe climbing

Monday, 24 February 2014

Ice update

Super busy this past week...........

I headed back to Ollomont and we climbed Sodoma WI5, Valpelline.

We then went back to a valley which I had a poke around in last week, as I spied these 2 amazing looking unclimbed ice lines.

Unfortunately though, after a few hours of snow shoeing (through deep unconsolidated snow!) to get to a good enough view point to see if it was climbable, we found that the sun had already done to much damage. You can see some gaps in the ice on the lower pitches of the right-hand line - next time!

We headed over to Cogne and climbed Patri - we took this photo looking across to a team climbing Patri de Gauche

A view back up towards Patri de Gauche WI4 and Patri de Droite WI4+/5

A team in front of us on Patri de Droite, Valnonty, Cogne.

We headed up to Lillaz and walked into Valeille today and climbed Stella Artice WI5
Me climbing the steep 2nd pitch

A view up to the top pitches on Stella Artice, Valeille, Cogne.

Jerry enjoying the ice on the 4th pitch of Stella Atrice

Abseiling down the main pillar, a team where climbing the steep 2nd pitch

Amazing weather and great conditions today on Stella Artice

Teams on Tuborg - WI4+/5 today, which looked in great condition

Teams on Candelabro del Coyote WI4+ again which looked in great condition today

Still very good conditions here in Cogne, although be careful in the full sun and early morning as it's been -16 degrees overnight and the ice is getting a hard freeze overnight.

Stay safe


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Pat and Gab!

Another 8 inches of snow over the weekend here in Leysin, so Simon and I headed over to Ollomont for the day yesterday.

Simon was keen for a day on the ice and I was keen to climb the last of the main established routes in Ollomont valley that I hadn't climbed which was 'Pat and Gab', especially as it's in great condition at the moment.

'Pat and Gab' 4 pitches, WI4+ Ollomont, Valpelline.
(Pat and Gab - FA Patrick Gabarrou?)

As we were abseiling down the route another team were on the 2nd pitch which is a surprisingly steep pillar!

Simon topping out over the steep pillar on the 2nd pitch

Simon enjoying some steep ice on the final pitch - 'Pat and Gab' Ollomont, Valpelline

Fantastic conditions and a great route, maybe the best of the small cluster of established routes in Ollomont and safe from any major avalanche hazards, even with the amount of snow they have over there at the moment.

Safe climbing