January 13th 2013

Eiger N Face, Couturier Couloir, Encore une Fois…a busy few weeks

The end of 2012 was a bit poor on the climbing front with a few unsuccessful attempts on some new lines and a few big days out. Towards New Years things started to pick up with plenty of training on the touring and dry tooling front, and climbing with old friends which was fantastic. A good weather window finally arrived at the beginning of January and it was time to crack on with the big winter plans so I found myself strapped on to some ridiculously hard route on the Eiger North Face with Ueli Steck. Shut down by a terrifying death pitch I drove back to Chamonix and had a quick romp up the Couturier Couloir with Ben Briggs just before the weather came in…so here’s a few pictures to sum it all up. Hope everyone had an excellent Christmas and New Years

Chamoz North Face

Ally arrives at the base of the route only to find powdered up slabs

Ally arrives at the base of the route only to find powdered up slabs

Carrington Rousse- Aiguille Pelerins

Fitness seems to be obsessing me for the moment so Andrew Lanham and I walked up from town one morning to climb the Carrington-Rousse. Conditions were amazing and we simul climbed everything apart from the last two pitches- then legged it back to Montenvers to get the train down.

Andy half way up the route

Andy half way up the route

Past the crux...

Past the crux…

Penultimate pitch of the route

Penultimate pitch of the route

Encore une fois- Rive Gauche Argentiere

At the end of December I got a visit from Will which was excellent news as it timed well with a few days of good weather (finally). Dougal was keen for some mixed Scottish style action so we headed in to the Rive Gauche and up the hard classic of the area ‘Encore Une Fois’. It was a brutal re-introduction to winter climbing with long and cramped belays and a biting glacial wind to add to the fun. But the company was good and there’s nothing quite like ‘catching up’ on a winter belay. Nevertheless we all topped out and enjoyed watching Will take his first turns of the ski season on approach skis and climbing boots.

Will on the second pitch

Will on the second pitch

Doing his thing...

Doing his thing…

Dougal on the top pitch

Dougal on the top pitch

Aiguille d’Argentiere- Milieu Glacier

The following day, New Years Eve, Dougal and I headed off for a bit of a tour; desperate just to get in the mountains after such a long spell of bad weather. Arriving at the top shrund I asked Dougal what time Le Petit Kitchen was open until for lunch “2.30, and I’m psyched”- so that was that then…

Dougal and the Droites and Verte behind him

Dougal and the Droites and Verte behind him

Sod this lets go have some lunch....

Sod this lets go have some lunch….

Nice snow on the way down though

Nice snow on the way down though

Col du Tacul Ski Tour

A few days in to the New Year and it was a very old friend of mine Nicholas Caeymaex who came over for a 2 day visit. Particularly exciting as I started skiing with Nic many many years ago and I was keen to take him out and show him the real backcountry. Sandra joined us to make a happy threesome as we toured up through amazing powder. The view from up there over the Mont Blanc is always spectacular and the ski down was similar.

Nic and his very first earned turns

Nic and his very first earned turns

Eiger North Face- Metanoia

I’ve been waiting for the weather to settle for ages. Months even. Ueli and I had come up with some big plans for the winter but they relied heavily on a good stable high pressure system, and its kind of been the opposite. Typical. Anyway, the New Year brought with it some new weather and so I packed my bags and headed over for the Eiger. The route was the mythical Metanoia- a really bad ass route put up by Jeff Lowe….solo….over 9 days. We’d be trying it in 4 days, and with ridiculously heavy packs and the worlds biggest rack we soloed on up the 1938 route. The second technical pitch was the shut down. A section of A4/A5 followed by a 20m unprotectable verglassed slab was the ‘death pitch’ and put an end to this attempt.

Ueli Steck's secret basement gear room

Ueli Steck’s secret basement gear room

The man and his mountain

The man and his mountain

Very windy on the face!

Very windy on the face!

Easy soloing at the start

Easy soloing at the start

Ueli heads off on the first hard pitch

Ueli heads off on the first hard pitch

Thin and slabby

Thin and slabby

Retreat back to the station window

Retreat back to the station window

Aiguille Verte- Couturier Couloir

Back from the Eiger and I was keen to make some use out of the short weather window. With only a day of good weather left I felt like getting some north face mileage in and keen for a link up of some type. Finding no one keen on the link up idea I headed up with Ben Briggs up the Couturier Couloir on the Aiguille Verte. Conditions are great right now but the seracs are, for once, looking a bit menacing above the couloir this year. Ben managed to ski down pretty much the whole way which was pretty cool to watch. It was also his first time up the Verte…which from the old saying, now officially makes him an ‘alpinist’.

Ben cruises up the Couturier

Ben cruises up the Couturier

The nasty seracs and crevasses of the Calotte

The nasty seracs and crevasses of the Calotte

Almost there

Almost there



Ski time...

Ski time…

Jump turning in the Couturier

Jump turning in the Couturier

Jump turning in the Couturier

Jump turning in the Couturier

In the Couturier looking over the Argentiere Basin

In the Couturier looking over the Argentiere Basin