The last three days have seen me studying snow in Chamonix on a AIARE Level One avalanche course run by Liz and Miles Smart of Smart Mountain Guides.
With a very bad snow pack problem in many parts of the alps this year, it was a great time to go on such an in depth course.
There have been many deaths this winter already in the alps, with huge avalanches being reported in the general media (see this Guardian Report).
A major part of the problem is a persistent weak layer in the snow pack from back on the 19th of December. You can see us finding this layer in the video below.
I certainly don’t feel qualified to comment further on the current conditions here in Chamonix, as the situation is so complex, but suffice to say the season is not an amazing one for skiing big lines! Stay out of avalanche terrain! Happy skiing.
I’ve just got back from a 3 week trip to Patagonia in South America. More pictures, videos and info to come from that trip. Suffice to say we had a great time, but terrible weather!
The last few days back in Chamonix have been excellent, with blue skies and great skiing with Emily.
Whilst I was away in Patagonia I had a lot of time to spend on my laptop, but no internet connection. I used my time to work on video filming and editing skills (thanks Matt Pycroft!) and have a couple of short videos to put up on here from old footage and lots of ideas and skills for new videos for this year.
The first of the archive material is German powerhouse Alex Schweikart on a 7b roof crack at Couteray in Vallorcine, France. I shot this in the spring of 2011! If only I knew then what I know now. Anyway, here it is, I hope Alex enjoys it.
Big HELLO! to Alex and Chrissi wherever they may be!
More videos and articles from Patagonia to come soon – ciao.
Earlier in the year I was filmed for a video for my main sponsor Marmot. The video is part of a series featuring each of the UK Marmot sponsored climbers, climbing some classic routes in their favourite climbing areas.
In this video I solo the classic Gogarth route ‘A Dream of White Horses’, and the nearby ‘Electric Blue’ at Rhoscolyn.
The day out filming with Ian Burton of Image Impossible was a lot of fun, and I believe the whole series was inspired by the video I did last year of Almscliff in Yorkshire.
It was a lot of fun climbing these routes as they are both so good, and this was one of the least stressful days of climbing filming I have done. I hope you enjoy!
In the summer of 2008 a crew of climbers in North Wales were pretty psyched on On Sight climbing – and here we go for Gravediggers (E8 6c) at first onsight, then ground-up.
It’s a hard and scary route, and taking the fall was pretty gripping, but we got there in the end!
We didn’t actually fall off as many times as it looks in this video, it’s just the way it’s edited… honest. We didn’t top rope or inspect the route in any way, we just inched further up the wall taking big falls on to the dodgy gear. Gripping!
This clip was part of Alastair Lee’s excellent On Sight DVD.
I was in Mallorca a couple of years ago on a photo trip with Rockfax and then again last September on a Deep Water soloing trip. Consequently there are quite a few photographs of mine in the guide and also quite a few photos of me – including the cover!
The photo is by Mark Glaister and is of me at El Fumat. El Fumat is a huge crag with some single pitch sport routes that, whilst being 35m long, barely tickle the start of the rock. Also just around the corner, a continuation of the crag looks like it would give amazing trad climbing in a stunning setting – up to 5 pitches high and perfect limestone. You heard it here first!
I have just been on another photo-trip, this time to the Costa Blanca, which was a great success and am now back in Chamonix for a few weeks before the BMC International meet in Wales and also a Marmot Athletes meet also in Wales. Then back out to Chamonix for the summer.
The weather in Chamonix is really warm at the moment, so most people have now switched from winter sports back to rock climbing, which suits me fine. The first couple of weeks back on the rock are always hard after a big lay off, but the fitness is returning – hopefully in time to either climb a new route in Wales or at least clean up some unfinished business on one of my remaining projects. Time will tell.
This video was the first bit of footage shot by Alastair Lee for what became the now legendary On Sight DVD.
It is me onsighting the dangerous E7 6b of Surgical Lust in the Llanberis Pass in North Wales. It’s a superb route with pumpy climbing and hard to read moves and gear. I’m pretty happy when I reach that jug!