Just a quick work update further to my last post a couple of weeks ago. From 3rd Jan I had a top week around Cogne Ice Climbing with Jim Bird. Over the first few days we climbed Patri, Cascade Lillaz and Tuborg, then on thurday we ramped it up and climbed the valleys mega classic – Repentance. It was in good shape with a featured blobby first pitch with plenty of rests, then a sustained but (reasonably) dry and fat top pitch. We finished the week with Lau Bij which was also in good shape.
Alastair MacColl came out for the weekend of 9-10 Jan in the middle of some pretty severe snowy weather (around 60cm over 1.5 days!). Cogne is a bit of a nightmare during heavy snow, due to the huge catchments above many of the routes, so after a snowy (but safe) Cacade Lillaz we bailed to Lys Balma in Gressoney. This gave some brilliant steep ice clipping bolts for pro, with bolted lower offs, all with zero avalanche risk and a 2min approach – our kinda climbing! Cheers to Pete Benson for the tipoff – and more info at http://www.planetmountain.com/english/News/shownews1.lasso?l=2&keyid=37160
Finally Margaret best joined me for a week back in Cogne, which we kicked off with avalanche paranoia and a trip to ‘Castello Incantato’. The Enchanted Castle is a brill spot – a twisting multi-branched cascade tucked away above Verres in the Aosta valley. Its only 15 mins from the car on a densely forested hillside, so quite safe and with a steady stroll off at the top. Great! Things seemed to settle down in Cogne, with several other guided teams out reporting little observed avalanche activity – in the sustained low temps nothing was moving. Andy Perkins kindly put a track in to Lillaz Gully (cheers Andy) so that was our next objective, followed by Cascade Lillaz and Patri – all in great shape. Finally we finished with a change of scene and headed to Valsavaranche and the brilliant Rovenaud – this was in great condition and has a brilliant ambiance set in a deep gorge. All in all a top 2 weeks climbing, thanks for the great company and great days on the hill guys!
David Horwood has just today finished 5 days guided by Jonny Baird, also around Cogne. They climbed Lillaz Gully, Candelabro Del Coyote, Patri Right and Left, Lau Bij and Rovenaud – all still in great condition. The legendary Christophe Profit was at hand to take some photos of David on the top of Patri, so will get those on the blog shortly!
Thanks to Luca on UKC for his useful roundup of Italian ice conditions. Other useful sites for Euro ice conditions include www.gulliver.it, www.camptocamp.org, www.ice-fall.com, www.ohm-chamonix.com, www.cascades-infos.com