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Servus, whoever you are. This blog offers you some tips for trips, links and my experiences with given tour. There could be also some interwievs or philosophical thoughs hidden here and there. But don't take them to seriously.
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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Calicula - Dent d'Oche

difficulty: 5b
altitude: ~2000
month: April

The topo above is taken from:
The map above shows two tours in this region. This article is about the one marked red, which was multi-pitch climbing tour. The tour marked blue was one of my exercise tours for UIMLA course. I will say also few words about that one although we promised not to publish information about UIMLA course at social networks.

The access to the multi-pitch is little bit tricky, only very small path leads there. But we found it after few loops. Calicula starts with few 'easy' pitches, at least according to the topo. But in my opinion, somebody had to be very drunk when giving grades to the beginning of the route. One can feel it at first pitch, 4a - "well it is not difficult but if this is 4a, then I don't want to see the 5b" were my words after first pitch. And it is getting worse and worse. The 5a was really bad. There is very difficult section one quickdraw above belay station (if I fell, then directly on my brave friend). When we finished this pitch, we stood below 5a followed by 5b. We were seriously considering rappelling down, but even that would be very difficult, since there is many traverses in the route. 

We climbed. And it was surprisingly easy. The 5b was very nice and very easy. Uf.

After climbing Calicula, we had to cross entire ridge, which is nice tour at max II grade UIAA. But you have to use your skills in route finding. Views are astonishing.

It would be nice to do it to the hut, but it is not really possible. There is fixed rope installed at one point on the ridge, which is worth to use for rappel down. After rappeling it, one has to be little bit careful on the grassy slopes leading down to the valley from the ridge. I can imagine that falling there means somersaults on the whole length of the slope.

Couple of words to the touristic path to the hut. One has to expect some small technical difficulties there at last 100 meters bellow hut, again I-II UIAA. These sections are usually equipped be fixed ropes, but most of them where under snow when we climbed this in May. There are some reports on doing this as a ski-tour, but it wouldn't be my choice at all. But generally the are is somehow different from other parts of the Alps. White towers are rising up from the meadows and with little bit of snow and blue sky, it can make remarkable scenery. I could enjoy it with couple of friends and thunderstorm somewhere far.

Beginning of steep section before the hut

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Tour Du Tour

difficulty: easy and mostly safe
altitude: ~3300
attitude: alone
month: April

The green contour on the map is the previous outing and this report is about the blue one. Going up to the pass de Balme was completely without snow. But my super light skies didn't bother me too much on my back.
If there is a moment in my life to which I would like to return once, then except from first kiss of my wife it is skiing down that slope from the pass de Balme. Nobody around, Sunrise, hard snow with thin soft layer on top like a cream on an apfelstrudel (who doesn't know aplfelstrudel with cream or vanilla sauce haven't been alive so far).

Col de Balme
The valley. Crazy, there had to be a big avalanche that fell down this year. Basically, if you want get up to d'Orny by this valley, you need to count on small delay somewhere in the middle of the valley. The path disappeared and thousands of fallen trees need to be crossed.

I used crampones. All the way up along the glacier. And I don not regret. Slope is around 30 degrees. Some very fast ski-alpinist was still 50 meters behind me and he did the same. Of course if the snow is soft, the skies would be better choice but then you have to count on the fact that the slope is infinitely long.

The official ski route leads out of the glacier over rocks at very left. But as you see on the picture above, it is much more reasonable to go by glacier on left side. There is one big crevasse. Better not to go there to late or to early in season.

When I reached glacier plateau near d'Orny hut, I thought I am done. But it wasn't completely true. There was one technical problem from pass du Tour. I was f-cking exhausted after 2500 meters elevation gain and at that point I had to climb down. It is better to rappel. But I had no rope with me.

But don't worry I survived. Descent is perfect, no issues.

Tour Du Chardonet

dificulty: PD
altitude: 3340
month: April

This is about one of the classic ski-tours - green on the map. On days of nice weather, it would be very difficult to find solitude here but the beauty of this area is there no matter of how many people is around. I was planning to do this tour alone but since Dadka visited us, I used that opportunity and take her with me since she is very experienced skier. 

I have to admit that I did a mistake on the glacier after circa 1 hour of the tour. Once we entered the glacier we could see the glacier step which is usually crossed at very right. Since the right side looked very icy, I decided to cross the step in middle of the glacier. But it is really crevassed at that part and one has to go back and forth all the way. However, we managed somehow and arrived to the foot of the slope going to pass du Chardonet.

We decided to take a crampones here and walked the first steep section of the slope. That was good decision. All other alpinists there didn't do so and fell down after few meters in that slope. Some of the falls were dangerous and they lost even more time than we with putting up the crampones.

And then the tour became to be a better one. Views to north faces Vert and Droites are astonishing. Maybe one of the best views in the Alps.

From the pass, there is short section to rappel down. But this makes the tour nicer. We got stuck at the pass waiting for others to rappel down. It might be more clever to wait a bit few meters bellow pass where it is not so windy.

We started the tour too late I have to say. The consequence of that was, that in the second pass (between Fourche and Chardonet) we had to cross, the snow was already too wet and potentially dangerous. We took the risk in order to be fast since the weather seemed to get worse. Well, mountains are never without danger. That's how it is even though one can be responsible and reliable as much as possible.

I have to admit that this was the best tour I did this winter. Definitely recommended by 9 of 10 washing machine makers.