About Dave Searle

Chamonix based Climber and Skiier

Summer Round Up – North Wales

First up I’d like to apologise for my lack of blogging in the last few months.. I’ve been pretty busy and I’ve not really been doing any properly interesting days out in the mountains due to the lack of good conditions.  I’ve been out loads though and Ive been enjoying training, climbing and skiing on my days off.

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Video

I’m trying my hand at vlogging.  Check out the video bellow and let me know what you think in the comments section or share the video with a friend who you think might be interested. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel to see the next one! A great day out ski touring on a Chamonix Classic. We were pretty lucky with the conditions too!

Top 5 Pieces Of Gear From This Summer

Here a list of my 5 favorite pieces of gear from the summer so far. Things that have made my life easier, or more comfortable.

Petzl Sitta Harness

Petzl_SITTA_HARNESS

The Petzl Sitta has been a big surprise for me.  Its super comfy, yet light weight and easy to pack in the rucksack.  Enough gear loops for trad climbing and perfect for sport. It works for nearly all my climbing and I don’t need to worry about choosing the right harness for the job as I know it will work for me.  Check it out on the EpicTV Shop here.

DMM Pivot Belay Device

DMMPivotRed

It’s surprisingly hard to find the perfect belay plate but I’m pretty close with the DMM Pivot.  Easy to use in guide mode and very smooth for giving out rope and abseiling. Great stuff from the welsh manufactures.  Check it out here.

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Learning to Guide

With the summer well and truly underway and after an abysmally rainy June it feels pretty good to get some short easy alpine routes and a tone of good rock climbing done.  With the British Guides Summer assessment looming in September I’ve been trying to focus on getting back on the rock to practice the skills we need to pass the test, namely rescues, short roping and navigation.   This means that my personal objectives have fallen by the wayside, but it’s OK because I was mentally prepared for this situation when I started the scheme last year.  Soon I’ll be heading back to north wales to practice more in the appropriate environment and get my head back in the trad game! It’s going to be awesome!

Hopefully I can have one last jaunt into the big hills to propel me in to the summer in wales.  Fingers crossed for the weather!

Here’s some shots from the summer so far.

Mont Blanc Du Tacul South Face

We do love a bit of Spring here in chamonix.  Skiing, Biking and Climbing are all possible depending on what the weather dishes out.  Ive done a bit of everything in the past week which is awesome.  We’ve had a lot of snow this spring but it’s not necessarily been “useful” for skiing.  The last storm brought a lot of precipitation and with it immediate warm temperatures and wind.  I skied the Vallee Blanche at the begging of last week and felt that it was to dangerous to ski anything steeper for a few days after that.

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Col De l’Aiguille Verte, (5.4, 700m)

(Col De l’Aiguille Verte Trip Report From Sunday 10th April 2016)

It’s fairly evident to those who live here that the mountains are getting busier and busier as time goes by.  The Argentiere Glacier has been, and always will be one of the stomping grounds for Extreme Skiers out looking for the perfect day on the steep north faces.  I wouldn’t really class myself as an Extreme Skier. Strapping it on for a 5.4 (Technical Ski Grade) is about the limit of what I would ever feel comfortable skiing and only once every blue moon at that.  I like the feeling of skiing steep powder for sure but the worry and stress associated with putting yourself in that situation is draining to say the least.

I digress. Oh yeah busy….. busy busy busy. Jostle, hustle push and shove. “got to get the first bin!” got to get there before its too late.  Exiting the first bin on a busy day such as yesterday (Sunday) and polling off into the basin, it’s hard to not feel smug.  We have the pick of all the amazing routes in their shinning spring condition.  But what if someone follows us?! I don’t want to race. I want to clip into my skis fresh without stress.  I don’t want anyone above me or below me.  I want this day to be ours.

When I spoke to Joel about skiing the Col De l’Aiguille Verte I could tell he was nervous.  He’s not been skiing that long (even less than my 7 seasons!) but he’s proved himself on a few bigger faces and is super keen.  I knew he’d be happy to bail at the first sniff of trouble which is an admirable quality some lack.

When we reached the bottom of the slope that heads up to the Col De l’Aiguille Verte things looked good and we quickly changed over and started up the short skin to the bottom of the face.  Over the bergshrund we ditched the rope, shovels and probes. We wouldn’t be needing the weight and reasoned an avalanche on a 53 degree slope would be unlikely or catastrophic.

On the climb up we passed a ski that was sticking out of the slope. We’d found a hat at the bottom too and scratched our heads as to what had happened and what to do.  We carried on and found an ice axe about 400m up too.  It later transpired someone had fallen (I still don’t know the circumstances) and had managed to “get away with a broken leg”. Lucky guy.

We kept a steady pace and about 2/3 of the way up were caught up by a friendly Frenchman, Boris Dufour who was on the 4th cable car.  He’d set a good pace to catch us and remained close for the rest of the climb to the Col and during the descent knowing that the danger would be sluff management (by sluff I mean loose snow which grows and gains power the further it goes). After taking some photo’s from the top we slowly and hesitantly started skiing. The first turns were tough with the deep crusty snow but soon things got better and we were able to make some more relaxed, but much steeper and more intimidating turns in the guts of the face.

We pitched it carefully staying out of harms way by tucking under rocks and sticking to spurs as others skied.  The snow was pouring down the face as you skied funneling into massive sluff trains that went all the way to the glacier, cascading off rocks on the way.

Hopping the shrund and heading back to the ski area it all sunk in and a feeling of accomplishment mixed with joy washed over us. A line I’ve always dreamed of with fantastic snow and excellent weather means it will be a day etched into my memory forever.  I’m glad to have shared it with Joel and Boris…… and only them.