The end of 2012 was a bit poor on the climbing front with a few unsucceful 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 begining 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 here's a few pictures to sum it all up. Hope everyone had an excellent Christmas and New Years

Chamoz North Face

Ally Swinton at the base of the N Face of the Charmoz- powder covered slabs made it impossible to even get on the face proper! Still a good walk in all the way from town and a nice sunrise

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 heading up the Carrington-Rousse

Andy on the final pitch of the Carrington Rousse


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 of Encore Une Fois

Dougal Tavener on the final pitch of Encore Une Fois

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 touring up the Milieu Glacier; Les Droites and the Aiguille Verte in the background

Dougal skiing back down the Aiguille d'Argentiere

Dougal skiing back down the Aiguille d'Argentiere

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. Particuarly 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. 

Some dude arrives at the Col

Nic makes his first turns

Light, fluffy powder

Heading down to the Vallee Blanche

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. 

How many shoes do you own??

A very windy morning on the face, spindrift everywhere

Ueli heading up the 1938 Route

Ueli getting stuck in to Metanoia- loose and steep limestone seemed the norm here

Ueli getting stuck in to Metanoia- loose and steep limestone seemed the norm here

Retreating to the Stollenloch window, nice evening though!

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 officaly makes him an 'alpinist'.

Ben charging up the Couturier Couloir

Pulling my Ueli Steck pose...© Ben Briggs

Ben approaches the top of the Verte with the Jorasses and Mont Blanc in the background


Jump Turning on the upper section

Jump Turning on the upper section

Skiing down the Calotte before the steep bit rears its head. Charndonet, Aiguille d'Argentiere in the background

The Money Shot- joining in to the face proper...

Lots, but also nothing, going on. Its been great to see old friends, get some training in, and just get back in the mountains. Now I'm just waiting for the next high pressure...fingers crossed!