Not the Plan but nearly…

I’d say at least half the time when skiing or climbing in the alps things don’t go to plan for me.  Its not necessarily a bad thing and without “failure” success wouldn’t be as sweet. I spend a lot of time thinking about this and how I would feel if I never or always got the things I want to do done.  For me the 2 most important things are; 1.Did I enjoy it? (type 2 and 3 fun is still acceptable forms of enjoyment).  2. Did I learn something from it?

If the answer is yes to both then its a thumbs up and is classified as a “good day”.  Today was one of those, even if we didn’t finish what we set out to achieve….

We (me and Emily Roo) had planned on traversing from the Aiguille du Midi to the Aiguille du Plan via the famous and aptly named Midi-Plan traverse. From the top we were going to ski down the Glacier d’Envers du Plan, obviously in knee deep, perfectly stable, un-tracked and sunny pow pow. We found the pow but it wasn’t in the right part. From the Col du Plan we waded our way up through steep, sugary snow on the ridge for hours. After a brief battenbourg stop mid way along (oh she does look after me:-) we decided we had had enough and started to scope out a short but steep couloir which would lead us back down to the Grande Envers via some steep turns.  I gave Emily a masterclass in how to put your skis on on a steep slope and set her of on her merry way. The snow in the couloir was pretty crusty but I was super impressed with how our lass skied it. Good work Emily! My knee has been pretty bad the last week so this was my first ski day for a while but it feel pretty good now.  Super happy with my new Salewa/Wild country kit and also my new Blizzard Cochise skis which I might go as far as to say is the best ski I have ever owned if not skied on. Super Stoked to finally have a set up that I like and trust.

Looking Back, Looking Forward….

….to another great winter in the place I call home.  Chamonix has been my home for 5 years until this summer where I made the decision to take a break from mountain life and focus on making my bank manager happier and learning a new trade that would make it easier for me to earn better money. Back in may I packed my little van and headed back to the UK to pursue a carrier in Rope Access knowing all along that I would be heading back to Chamonix for the winter at the very latest.  I had originally wanted to spend a month in Cham in the autumn as I’ve really missed big routes in the last year and as we all know October is North Face season. Its possibly my most favourite month in the valley with the beautiful autumn colours fresh cold days and often perfect alpine conditions.  Unfortunately it didn’t happen and I’m still here, in London, living out the back of my van, working when the weather permits and pulling on plastic when it doesn’t. Its been an interesting summer learning the ropes.  Its had its ups and downs (sorry I had too) and I have had some good days out climbing in the UK but all I can think about now is mountains.

I find myself hanging from a rope completing a mundane task dreaming of pillows in the trees or steep powder faces or the thunk of an Ice Axe in perfect Neve.  Its normal at this time of the year for anyone addicted to the mountains, the excitement of winter bubbling inside but at the moment I still need to focus on the task in hand and stay in the moment at work.  I’ve been looking back at some of the past moments in my climbing and skiing career and getting very very psyched on what the future has in store.  I look forward to sharing some new experiences with you soon but here’s some photos for you of some of the things I dream about whilst hanging about in London (groan).

Hunting Chickens in Amazonia.

Johnny V on the 2nd Pitch of Amazonia in the Envers Des Aiguilles.

The unusually high temperatures we have been experiencing this month have really drained me. I’m much more of a cold weather person so finding psyched to trudge about on a falling apart glacier in the baking heat is difficult. Luckily Chamonix provides ample opportunities to find perfect granite with minimal glacial faff and a fine place to look is the Envers Des Aiguilles. This past trip with kayaking legend and general cool guy Johnny Vincent is the third time that I’ve been to the Envers this summer and this short trip provided us with a great route and an opportunity to hunt the elusive chickens that can often be found stuck in up to there necks in the granite.

We chose the route Amazonia on the first point of the Nantillons which is a stunning 370m 6a on pristine granite with a mixture of cracks and slabs (Michel Piola waz ‘ere but must have been having an off day as the slab pitches aren’t sandbags for a change!).

We started at about 8pm and with all told made it back to the train in good time so this route is a good day route to do at the end of a trip to the Envers if your reasonably efficient (which we weren’t as I got us lost at one point, dropped my belay plate and generally was a little spaced out due to the heat and having just finished work in time to get the last lift the day before, hense not feeling like much of a winner).  Here’s some photo’s….

In the Envers refuge wondering why I can’t make head nor tail of the guidebook I brought.

Super fun Climbing.

John Vincent dodging belay plates.

Poser.

We found the chickens. They were amazing.

Team summit shot.

Thanks John for a great day. Sorry for all my screw ups but at least we made it back down to the train on time.

The weather is getting cooler now and it feels a lot more like autumn which is very good in my opinion.  Getting pretty motivated for  some big face action and the Himalaya’s…..