Friday, 23 January 2015

Solstice Party with a spot of Cosmiques Icefall Climbing...

Life happened... This blog post has just been sitting on my computer since before Christmas. Since then I've been mainly working... Making more beds than I can remember in nearly 60 different flats combined with a dose of self-inflicted food poisoning and Cham-plague all took it's toll on me actually finishing this post. But here it is at last! Pat and Hannah can now see some photos from the trip too!
It was so cold in the hut that the (regularly) spilt water froze into 3D blobs!
 Pretty windy night and morning made leaving the hut pretty difficult!

What better way than to spend the longest night of the year than in a high mountain, freezing cold, unmanned alpine hut?! Settling down to 12 hours of potential sleep is always a satisfying prospect, especially when your alpine climbing alarm won’t be in the middle of the night. Arriving in the Abri Simond, with my skis, as the sun set was pretty magical. Though my arrival was probably more magical for Pat and Hannah. As I had failed to answer my phone on the ski down, they decided that I (and the stove/dinner) hadn't made it up so ate all their hill food for the next day. A couple of benighted alpinists also joined our hut party and were glad of the extra food and a couple of litres of water we dontaed to them. Quite the exciting solstice party!

First turns since my latest ankle injury... Skiing off the Midi probably wasn't the best test run!

Hannah and Pat snowshoeeing whilst I embraced the powder wade...
With Pat’s snowshoe needing some fixing we decided not to climb on Point Lachenal but to do something closer to the lift. The Cosmiques Icefall looked in fairly good condition (said Pat, I forgot to look into it) and is about 200m from the hut so became a very appealing alternative! Although I’d done most of the route a couple of seasons ago the crux hadn’t be in condition so I was happy to have another go.

For our team, the route and crux pitch were in pretty good condition. For the party of three directly beneath us it wasn't so good. We knocked a significant amount of ice down on them, including the thin bit of the crux pitch... As we had caused them so much grief we decided to wait for them to finish the final crux pitch rather than abseiling onto their heads. Good job we did as there was so little ice left we had to chuck the following party a top rope, oops!

Hannah throwing some shapes on the crux pitch.
As I had smuggly skied down to both the hut and bottom of the route (Hannah and Pat were snowshoeing) I knew the final return bootpack up to the lift was going to be pretty brutal... And it was! As the other two had long overtaken me and disappeared, I just had to get my head down and hope the gusty wind didn't catch my sail-like skis. Still I made it and blagged my way to the front of the lift queue, win! Getting home and weighing my pack (18kg...) I came to the conclusion that I need some lighter approach skis, because lighter kit is much easier than getting fitter!
Somehow the team following us managed to core shot their ropes right about now...

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