Monday, March 26, 2007

Glarner Alps or Dolomites in Snow

Lesser-known part of the Swiss Alps (at least to myself), a lost valley and a closed pass - one of the longest-closed passes, rightly called Klausenpass, welcomed us this w-end. It stood up to its reputation - apart from a couple of snowborders on top of the Urnerboden lift (a curiosity in itself, operated by an ageless man speaking some strange language with probable elfish origins), we did not meet any other skiers.

The only human being through the two days was another - trollish this time - guardian of the Clariden hutte. Unfortunately this one was less welcoming and offered us only soup for dinner and scarce bread/jam mix for breakfast. He was not more happy than that to be disturbed in his self-imposed loneliness in this beautiful place.

After some scarry approach on the first day we were alone with over 50cm of fresh powder on these endless glacier plains of Hufifirn.

After the ascent of Clariden (finally, a summit - despite the wind that chased us down), we spent several hours tracking around and back to the Klausenpass and Urnerboden. It is lucky we still have untouched places like these in the heart of Europe.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jonathan the Goeland

Feeling a bit weary and goellanddy...integral text of this awesome story is available here - http:// Bach's best book - his other stories are too personal and full of his details, but this one goes along with Little Prince and the Rose.

Maybe one day our dreams will come true. Maybe not.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Joan Mitchell or when Abstract becomes beautiful

Just wanted to share this pic and a thought for Joan, one of the rare abstract artists i enjoy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cham in the Sun, Gervasutti and Piseux

Surprise surprise, wonderful weather for once, perfect forecast - no questions asked, we are off to tick off some long-standing plans for Cham.

More surprises await though. First one - Midi benne is closed because of wind and we depart at 9 instead of planned 7 30. Too bad, we'll go directly for our plan - Gervasutti couloir on Tour Ronde - see this beauty!

Certainly the plan is (as usual) too Napoleonian for me - first couloir, and an S5 to start off - but whatever, just being there is great - i forget the questions and breathe in the air of my temple. It is like last year at Jungfraujoch - sun, mountains, snow. Perfect planet, no problems - breathe in and pray. Snow is also perfect, 20cm of new untouched powder. Down and up we go. A couple of people here and there in the goulottes, a guy has already made steps up our couloir.

Going up the couloir with skis isn't as bad as i thought i manage it pretty well and still close my eyes and ears to the piercing cry of my body - how are you going to ski down that???

Next surprise, the wind that made the telepherique start later gets at us at the second part of the couloir - best of them all, fresh snow blown at you upwards. Very cold and unpleasant - not recommended to try alone at 3000 meters, after 4hr sleep in the car and a long drive from belgium before that. But no choice there. We don't even manage the last 100 meters separating the top of the couloir from the summit - down, the only thought.

No summit again. That is how Cham is used to treat its worshipers.

Here i finally open my eyes and ears to the painful truth - there is no way i'm putting on my skis in this thing - i'm crazy, but not that crazy...We did bring 2 60m ropes for a reason - a couple of painful rappels and i'm down, watching my partner make his curves. Mmm, i should probably learn to ski at some point - not today anyhow.

Going down Vallee Blanche, we are alone again in a windless world. My temple is back. We cannot resist, put our skins on for the most pleasant experience of the w-end - a happy stroll up Helbronner to get a look at the Torino refuge and get some more of the powder. Weather is finally perfect - we even manage to forget the wind. For once, no other place i'd rather be.

Next objective - refuge de Requin, happy place, probably my favorite here.

And off to bed at 8 pm to be up early next morning for another couloir - a more realistic Breche Piseux this time. We still are too heavy - 2 60m ropes, crampons, ice tools - i'm surprised at my sherpa capacities myself. Certainly, we are long as long could be.

Just enough, a quick rappel gets us down to Mont Mallet glacier - and here the wind catches up with us again. A painful descent down the wind-blown piles and a short serac traverse gets us finally exhausted to the Leschaux. Blissful push to the end of Mer de Glace, and a painful drive back brings us in short 6 hours home. My car made its first test drive :).

Monday, March 05, 2007

Fonti paradise

This w-end, after numerous deliberations, we left for Fontainebleau as the weather let us down (again) for any snowy activities due to the avalanche risk. It was not at all a bad idea as conditions were very good, +10 degrees, the famous collante was with us, and the crowds were away.

The first day was a relaxed circuit in Canche aux Merciers - here are a couple of my pics

+my try-out of photoshopping.

The second day we went to Apremont, a very scattered and huge area where even less people enjoyed the perfect light with us. Too bad for them, we had fun despite a rather weak performance scores.