Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Mountain for a Dream 2

Here is another picture that struck me lately, of Leila peak, 6614m in Pakistan , from a gifted Ukrainian photographer Karabas Barabas, more of his work here. Let's dream on!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blue skies of Alsace

This w-end - incredible fourth w-end in a row of good weather - saw us back on the rocks, this time on the red sandstone of Vosges, little charming mountain chain in the Eastern France's Alsace. The blue skies were with us through the w-end, and the charm as well. Vosges hide around each corner - or should i say hill - romantic towers and old abandoned castles that invite exploration and send others on a climbing expedition. This is the old Petit Ansberg castle, climbing just below the base, top belay from the castle chambers!

Climbing is very good, far from polished belgian limestone. Sandstone is incredible, with little stone incrustations in places, in others with orange-white stripes, almost like Arizona's famous canyons. However the level is rather high, few things in the 6th grade, most of the fun is to be had at 6c and higher. We visited several areas, Wachtfels and Kronthal in addition to Ansberg, with good climbs at every place and a big wish to come back!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Wildhorn Traverse

Skiing - again, and this time it feels as if spring is nearing summer instead of it being beginning of February. Global warming, that's the way it goes now in the Alps. Having to carry skis already in February on the shoulders at 2 700 meters - what a world...

Anyway, the tour organized by our Belgian Neige et Montagne had a good program and not too tough an itinerary. We went up the lifts at Col du Pillon to the top of Diablerets and traversed from there through the Sanetch Col and the arretes to the top of Arpelistock, at 3K, and then down in good powder to the Geltenhutte. Yes, we do apparently have to pass each time climbing areas while on skis! Geltenhutte was pretty crowded, entertainment being provided by André, a sicilian living in Switzerland, who won a kiss from me for having repaired one of my skis.

Unfortunately, one of our group members screwed up his shoulder on the way up and had to abandon us half way, going down with Mathieu from Geltenhutte. The remaining six of us continued the traverse the second day, going to the top of Geltenhorn, another fun arrete, down the south face, and up Col de Brochets. View on Glacier 3000 skiing area of Gstaad from the col:

German and French names cross here as the North part of the itineray is in Bernese canton, and the south in Valais, border running through those same arretes that provided our skiing fun. View of the descent on the other side of Col de Brochets:

Last day saw us up Wildhorn - as well as a couple of other parties dropped off by the numerous helicopters. Weird feeling of pride and shame in the same people getting to the top the quick way - but then again their satisfaction level is certainly much less than ours. They don't even go to the summit cross - just get out of the helicopter near the summit and ski down. Helicopter take-off as we photograph it from the summit:

The descent was very enjoyable, especially the lower part of the Iffigenalp lake and valley. This is Cyprien showing us how it's done on the lake traverse under big rocks:

Thanks to the whole team for making this a worthwhile outing.