Spring in the Alps
The past two months has been a whirlwind, but here is a little update on what’s been going on at Into the Mountains…
After arriving in Chamonix at the beginning of March I began working almost immediately. The spring conditions in the Valley were more favorable this season for skiing than Alpine climbing so almost all of the work t I did was on skis. There are so many great lift accessed day tours from Chamonix it is hard to get bored. There is something for everyone no matter what your skiing ability or your fitness level. Some of the most memorable tours I did this spring included the Capucin couloir, the Aiguille Argentire, the “trios cols” tour on Caroline’s birthday with five or her girlfriends. And, of course, the spring wouldn’t be complete without a descent of the cosmiques coulouir, which I did with my friend Max in a late afternoon blitz with great snow conditions.
A large part of the spring ski season in the Alps are the hut trips and this spring I did two trips on the Haute route via two different variations. There are many ways to tackle the world renowned Haute Route and not matter which way you go it is sure to be an adventure you will remember. The fist trip that I did was in late March and unfortunately the weather wasn’t very cooperative. Nonetheless, we managed to ski a majority of the route and had some nice snow while doing so. Because of storms we weren’t able to complete the last leg to Zermatt, but a retreat to Arolla in a whiteout was a memorable experience for everyone.
On the second Haute Route trip I lead I skied with a father and daughter from Tucson and Boulder respectively. Evan, Heather and I opted for the “classic” variation which, while starting and finishing the same, takes a more technical and remote variation in the middle. In the mountains it seems like it is either one extreme or the other and this trip the weather was almost too nice… For the start of the trip we were fortunate to have blue skies, but it was hot! Warm springtime weather, while being great to work on your tan, can be a bit of a hazard in the mountains. Rapidly warming snow slopes and weak overnight freezes are something not to take lightly no matter what mountain range you are in. Because of these seasonally warm conditions we had early starts and finished quite early in the day. That means more time spent at the beautiful huts in the Alps indulging in local dishes and drinks wondering how you’re going to possibly burn off all of the extra calories…
By the end of the trip the weather had turned on us and it was quite a challenge making it to Zermatt. Nonetheless, with some GPS navigation and roped up skiing we managed to complete the trip. The final ski to Zermatt was a bit of a mess and included skiing on about every type of terrain possible except for good snow: slush, dirt, grass, rocks… It was a fitting end to the ski season for us all and we spent an entertaining night in Zermatt watching some bizarre music performances and the rain fall in town.
In between it all I also worked on a week ski trip in Switzerland, did many Vallee Blanche descents and began remodeling an apartment… Needless to say there was hardly a dull moment over the past couple of months. It is now to try and reverse the legs to arm ratio and get back into rock climbing shape. Caroline and I will both enjoy all little down time from guiding for the month of May and then will kick off the summer guiding season with some time on Mount Rainier before heading back to the Alps at the end of June. Our schedules are getting pretty full at the moment, but there are still some openings if anyone is thinking about taking that once in a lifetime summer climbing trip the Alps.