Dave Hollinger teamed up with Owen Wallis for a private week of ski mountaineering and skills training – again some top weather and a few classic summits. Report in from Dave:
Day 1 – Aiguille d’Entreves,Chamonix: with a mountaineering flavour to the week this provided an excellent technical warm-up and some much needed acclimatisation for the things to come.
Day 2 – Breithorn and Ayas Hut: The Klein Matterhorn lift made the journey to Owen’s first 4000m peak somewhat more gentle on the lungs. With preparations well under way for the Mezzalama Ski Mountaineering Race, it wasn’t difficult following the poled track along to the Ayas hut as the clouds rolled in.
Day 3 – Pollux: Crossover day, via the Schwartze Glacier to escape the Mezzalama hoards but ideal to make an early ascent of Pollux, another of the majorZermatt4000m peaks. Some steep ropes made for a brutish warm up before a superb easy but exposed snow crest led to the small summit which we had to ourselves. The ski down the Schwartze glacier included the anticipated roped up section through some tricky crevasses but a not so anticipated battle with some rather unfriendly moraine having made the decision to leave the glacier early. Still, the afternoon skin to the new and rather grand Monte Rosa hut left us with a good thirst for a well earned beer.
Day 4 – Grand Traverse: Although not particularly technical, the long journey from the Monte Rosa Hut to the Britannia Hut kept the interest with the short sections to reach the Gorner Gletscher and the final climb to the Adlerpass.
Day 5 – Relocation: Fresh snow and a wash-out forecast saw us bail out from Saas (along with many others) in the hope that we could capitalise on some good skiing and a slightly better forecast the following day further west. Assured that we could ski into Saas, it seems the Swiss may have an equally ‘Scottish’ take on what constitutes fresh snow on a firm base (of rocks!). In any event, we made the short trip around to Arolla and made light work of the skin from the village to a friendly reception at the Dix Hut.
Day 6 – Mt Blanc de Cheillon: Lots of teams still Haute Routeing but we enjoyed a quiet ascent to the winter summit of Mt Blanc de Cheillon. Our hopes of traversing to the summer summit were dashed by some rather Peruvian looking snow crests but, no drama, we thus enjoyed putting in some of the best powder turns of the trip.