News

Alps 4000m x 82: Completion by Alpine Club member, Steve Hartland

Congratulations to Steve Hartland - First Brit to complete the UIAA list of 82 x 4000m peaks in the Alps.

Steve Hartland, a member of the ACG/AC since 1990, and British Mountain Guide from Chamonix, has successfully completed the UIAA list of 82 x 4000metre peaks in the Alps in August 2016.

9 December 2016

The period of high pressure continues, giving no new snow and very dry conditions.  
The dryness combined with the higher than usual temperatures means the icefalls have not formed yet, both at Cogne and the Chamonix valley.  Best to leave your axes and crampons in the cupboard for a bit longer!
N.B. The area around the “Fallo di Plutone” icefall is out of bounds for the season because of bird nesting.  (Bearded vulture).

There has not been much information concerning the mountain routes.  Most areas remain very dry and so the gullies are not in condition.

  

The Aiguille du Midi remains closed until the 17th.  The Skyway and the Torino hut has been open since last week.
It has been reported that the Aiguilles Marbrées and the Aiguilles d’Entrêves have been traversed in wintery conditions, (hence more technical.) The N face of the Tour Ronde has been climbed in OK conditions, the bergshrund not presenting a problem, especially on the left. The gully section contains “aerated” ice, but is still protectable. The final 30 to 40m are on very hard snow.  The descent was by the “true” normal route, with one short abseil.  This route is also being done in ascent.  The Gervasutti Couloir does not look inviting and the Rebuffat Gully looks very dry.

The Valéria gully was done on 4/12 in difficult conditions.  The Maudit sector is dry, the crux on the Baxter gully, (Mt Maudit) is bare, Laratoune, (behind the Grand Cap) dry and the SuperCouloir is as dry as it was in August.

 
As for the Albert 1er sector, one can start skiing at around 2000m, but conditions are reported to be poor. A party did the Grand Fourche on 4/12, mainly on crusty snow, though conditions were a bit better on the exposed slopes.   

A party was seen leaving for the Chardonnet, but no further information.

Concerning the Argentière sector, the Grands Montets top station is open.
The gullies in this area look dry and there is no information about recent ascents.  

The Col d’Argentière appears to be the best choice for ski tourers.  The Col du Tour has also been done, though the snow cover is poor at the level of the moraine.  The return down the glacier to Lognan is awkward and requires taking off the skis in places.
The Dolent was done 8/12 from La Fouly/La Léchère.  There is about 30min walking before one can put on the skis. Conditions were generally good.  The traverse between the Col du Petit Ferret the Bivouac Fiorio was in good condition.  The rest of the route was also OK, with hard snow in the upper part and the final slope to the summit being done on foot.  The ski back down in the afternoon was reasonable.  
The Y gully on the Aiguille Verte was climbed on 6/12. The bergschrund went on the right, and there was no snow at the foot of the gully (smooth slab of 1.5m). This was followed by a series of ice steps for 100m then a steep snow gully on the left for 20m before exiting on the left on mixed ground.  The descent was by the Whymper, without major problems.  The bergschrund was crossed on the true right.  Lower down on the glacier there is a huge crevasse which was by-passed by going up towards the start of Moine Ridge.  Return by the Egralets.

For the moment. snow shoes are unnecessary at the mid altitudes. However, good hiking boots and sticks are needed and crampons could prove useful, or even essential, in places.  Below 2000m on southern slopes and 1700m on the northern ones, there should be no problems.  The areas around the Lac Vert/ Ayères, the Prarion, the Chailloux chalets and Loriaz huts are all feasible for hikers.  There is potentially some danger higher up, for example: Lac Blanc and the Chéserys, and these areas are not recommended during this period of seasonal change.
Walks in the valley floor such as the Petit Balcon Sud, the Floria, Charousse as well as Mottets or Chapeau, are perfectly OK for the moment.
The same is true for climbing at Barberine and at the Gaillands.

Fresh snow is not expected in the immediate future, so it may be necessary to adapt your plans accordingly.

As always, the OHM looks forward to receiving your route reports so that they can be included in the next update.

Alpine Club Reunion Meet, Pattedale 23rd to 25th September 2016

The meet took place in the club’s new hut, the George Starky Hut in Patterdale.  This has often been the venue for the meet, in previous years, but for the first time, we are part owners of the premises. Although the meet official runs from Friday evening, several people arrived on Thursday, with Nick Smith and Nigel Bassam climbing Kestrel Wall S and Sobrenada VS 4c on Eagle Crag Grisedale on Thursday.

Sunday 11 December is International Mountain Day.

It sounds like an invitation to go and climb a mountain - and that’s what I’ll probably do, some modest little top in the English Lake District will have to suffice. Maybe there’ll be snow.

But it would be missing the point to think that this UN-designated special day is primarily about climbing. How self-absorbed can you get? No, as of 2003, the 11th of December has been observed every year “to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world”.

Those are the UN’s words. No mention of climbing or alpinism, though it is clear from the excellent International Mountain Day website produced by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation that events and activities in mountain areas play an important in raising awareness. Many are planned around the world for Sunday.

Southern Sandstone Weekend 10-11 September

The "Southern Sandstone Weekend" was an informal open-to-all gathering to coincide with the AC's September Committee meeting held near Tunbridge Wells. For committee members this left a few hours on Saturday, on which to sample the delights of vertical or overhanging ball-bearings, and all day Sunday. For some it was an initiation test, for others it was revisiting venues that they'd been trying to forget about for years. The rest, wisely, paced themselves to cope with the Saturday night party.

Mike Kosterlitz 2016 Nobel Prize Winner

Our warmest congratulations go to our long standing member Mike Kosterlitz who has been awarded a share of the 2016 Nobel Prize for physics.

Glyn Hughes shares some personal memories of Mike as a mountaineer.:

“After graduating from University in 1963 I spent six weeks in the Dolomites and the Alps before starting work. My main climbing partner on this trip was Mike Kosterlitz, who has just become joint winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics. This was probably the high point of my climbing career, but just the beginning for Mike. He followed this by becoming one of the leading British climbers in the UK and the Alps at that time, and one of the first to tackle hard routes in Yosemite. Perhaps best known for the Kosterlitz/Isherwood route on Piz Badile (known locally as the ‘via degli Inglesi’, although Mike is of course Scottish), climbed in 1968 when they went off-route on the Corti-Battaglia, and now a classic route of that area.* In 1969 Mike took up a research post at the University of Torino, and during this period pioneered routes in the Orco valley, including the ‘Fessura Kosterlitz’, a notorious test piece for crack climbers. Shortly after this, illness forced him to give up climbing at a very early age, otherwise what more might he have achieved? I met him at a reunion dinner in Cambridge in 2006, and asked him what he was doing now. He started explaining his research work to me, but unfortunately I couldn’t understand a word of it. Presumably  the Nobel prize jury did!”

* See Dick Isherwood's account of the climb in AJ 1969.

This Guardian article gives more information about the Nobel prize for physics winners.

Mike Kosterlitz & Oliver Spence on the Yellow Edge on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Photo Glyn Hughes)

2016 Morocco AC Meet

Nick Smith has sent us this image of the Morocco AC Meet having breakfast in Tafraout before setting off for a day's climbing in the sun.

READ MORE HERE

 

Report 3rd Oct 2016

There is an autumnal feeling to this first week of October.  This morning, (Monday), it was distinctly cool and the Chamonix Aiguilles had a dusting of snow.  The snow descended yesterday down to 2300m. At the higher altitudes there were strong winds as the snow fell, with a dozen cms of fresh snow near the Cosmiques Hut and 40 cms near the Torino hut. The wind makes it feel very cold at altitude.  During this change in the weather the conditions are slowly evolving but the gullies and ice runnels are not in condition yet.  However, those rock routes exposed to the sun remain very pleasant.
At lower altitudes conditions are ideal for hiking.  Attention:  some work is being done in certain sectors. Consult the Chamoniarde website for more details:  http://www.chamoniarde.com/?p=45
Currently we are between seasons. The huts that are still open with a warden are: the Cosmiques until 8th October, the Torino and the Plan d’Aiguille until 1st November and the Loriaz until 15th October. The Aig du Midi and the Skyway (Courmayeur) cable cars will remain open until the 1st November.  All the other lifts in the valley are shut. 

The ladders leading from the Mer de Glace to the Couvercle are in the process of being partially dismantled

Joint Alpine Meet - Ailefroide 16 Jul - 6 Aug 2016

Joint with ABMSAC, Climbers’ Club, FRCC, SMC, LSCC, Wayfarers and Yeovil MC

Just over 70 people from 7 clubs and guests attended the meet over the 3 week period and were blessed with good weather for most of the time, what  rain there was being short lived.

The campsite in Ailefroide seems to get busier each year and there was a noticeable increase in numbers since the last meet there in 2011 but after the first weekend which was a national holiday in France it did get quieter but still queuing for the showers and the toilets was normal especially at peak.

The campsite being surrounded by granite crags dictated that the rock climbing was more popular than the Alpine climbing and this was reflected in a higher turnout from the more rock oriented clubs such as the CC and the FRCC than on past meets. Many of the multipitch and single pitch routes were climbed as well as frequent forays to the limestone and quartzite climbing areas in the main Durance Valley and side valleys such as Fournel and Fressinieres.

The Barre des Ecrin being the highest peak in the area attracted a lot of attention all by the normal route as the Barre Noire Couloir was out of condition. Other teams climbed  Roche Faurio, the SW ridge of Pointe Louise, Roche Paillon, Roche Emile Pic, Pointe des Cineastes, Montagne Des Agneaux, the Traverse of the Glaciers (Pic du Rif & Pointe des Arcas), Dents de Coste Counier, Aiguille de Sialouze, Pelvoux and the traverse of the Meije.

Various via ferrata were ascended including the very spectacular Gorges D’Ailefroide located between Ailefroide and Pelvoux, it traverses the vertical or even overhanging walls of the gorge about 10m above river level and the second part is classed as a “Via Ferrata sportive” in the guide it certainly lives up to that name.

The meet was very sociable starting with an evening soiree on the first weekend so people could get to know each other, again we had the group tent where people could socialise and cook on the few occasions when it did rain, quite a few people came on their own and had no problem finding climbing partners. As people left we had several end of meet dinners at the Hotel Engilberge in the village, they provided very good food and service at a reasonable price.

Next year’s meet will be held in the Bregaglia, Switzerland based at Camping Mulina in the village of Vicosoprano 15 July to 5 August 2017.

http://www.campingbregaglia.ch/en/camping-vicosoprano

I hope to see you all again next year. Keep an eye on the club meets calendar for next year’s venue.

By Keith Lambley

 

 

Photopraphs

Top Left; Meije Traverse, Cheval Rouge - Climber John Venier - Photo Andrew Moore

Top Right; Meije Traverse - Climber Andrew Moore - Photo John Venier

Botton Left; Pointe Louise, SE Ridge - Climbers Keith Lambley and Kate Ross - Photo Adam Kassyk

Bottom Right; Super Pilou, Aiguille de Sialouze - Climber Helen Brown - Photo Adam Kassyk

Alpine Club and the George Starkey Hut

Since 2016 the Alpine Club has had a partnership with the Association of British Members of the Swiss Alpine Club (ABMSAC) to lease and manage the George Starkey Hut in Patterdale, in the Lake District. We held a consultation of the AC membership before taking this on, and there was strong support, so we're pleased to say that the hut is now available for members to use.

It's a fantastic new AC membership benefit, with its excellent location in the eastern Lake District by Ullswater, with easy access to the M6 from Penrith. There is direct walking accesss to some of the best winter climbing in England and great multi-pitch climbing and scrambling in the area. Rock climbing in Langdale and Borrowdale can be accessed in 45 minutes driving. It is also a great location for mountain-biking, fell-running, and canoeing on Ullswater Lake.

8 beds are reserved for members and guests of the AC and ABMSAC on a first-booked, first-in basis. Given the combined numbers in our clubs it is essential to confirm availability each time before travelling. Regular users can apply for their own key. The remaining 20 beds may be booked by our clubs, or by other clubs or groups, and the availability for club booking is shown on the online calendar. In addition to the members area, individual AC members can book half the hut (10 beds), if available, via the Group booking system. Of course weekends get booked up but weekdays are often available.

There is an online booking system where members can see what is available, when, and  book places to secure them. If you have any questions or problems, please email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Charges as of 1st October 2020:- Members pay £9.00 and guests £16.00 per night.

 

From April 2022, the club will be offering a 95% discount on bookings by club members (including up to two non-members per member booking) to encourage use of the hut. To find out how to take advantage of this discount, please log in to the website and select the 'GS Hut Discount' option from the 'Member Login' drop-down menu.

  

 

Kanchenjungha/Makalu Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Nepal: 18 - 21 Nov 16

If you have summitted either Makalu or Kanchenjungha (or can tick one before November), you are invited to attend the Diamond Jubilee celebration of their first ascents, which was postponed due last year’s earthquake, in Nepal. Once in Nepal, your food and accommodation expenses will be picked up by the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

Report 16 August 2016

Conditions are generally very good throughout the massive.


- Albert 1er : Most of the peaks in this area are being regularly climbed. This includes the Forbes ridge, despite some ice on the “Bosse”.  2 x 50m ropes are necessary for the descent.  

- Argentière : The conditions remain good for the summer classics in this sector, especially the Aiguille d’Argentière.  The Petite Aiguille Verte is also in good condition.

- Charpoua : The old approach directly opposite Montenvers has been dismantled.  The approach is now by the new path, which starts after about an hour’s walk up the Mer de Glace.  However, the approach for the Flammes de Pierre is via some rock climbing just below the first ice pinnacles opposite Montenvers, (you can see the topos on the Chamoniarde.com website.)  For the Normal route and the traverse of the Drus you need to go very high up the Charpoua glacier and cross it before descending to the start of the routes. The rock climbing near the hut is in condition, e.g. Sale Athée. 


- Couvercle : There has been nobody for several days on the snow routes on the Droites and the Courtes.  The Jardin Ridge to the Aiguille Verte is in good condition, descent by abseilling down the Whymper if it is well frozen.  Some parties have done the Grands Montets ridge, likewise for the rock climbs near the hut.  The bergschrund below the Armand Charlet S gully is no longer passable.

- Leschaux : A party did Manitua in 3 days, another party went for the Shroud, (no further information.)  The W Face of the Petites Jorasses is dry. The rock climbing near the hut is also good, notably on the Aiguille Pierre Joseph.

- Requin : the descent from the Midi-Plan to the Requin is still OK; likewise for the ascent or descent of the Vallée Blanche. The Renaudie and the Pierre-Alain are being climbed.

- Envers des Aiguilles : Parties continue to go for the E Face of the Grépon, the Aig de la République and the routes near the hut.  However, the bergschrund for Subtilité Dulférienne, and Amazonia are very difficult to cross.  No news concerning the Ryan, though it appears to be OK.

- Torino : Generally very good conditions for this sector, with lots of parties going for the Rochefort Arete and the traverse of the Jorasses.  The Kuffner Ridge, (2 axes recommended for the direct gully at the start,) and the traverse of the Aiguilles du Diable are also popular. The N face of the Tour Ronde and the satellites of the Tacul have been done recently.

- Monzino : a lot of activity on the Peuterey integral, the Pilier Rouge, the Pointe Baretti and the Brouillard.  2 parties on the Central Pillar of Freney, 14/08.

- Cosmiques : the Contamine on the Triangle du Tacul and the 3 Monts traverse are being done regularly. Some parties have also done the full traverse from Durier hut.
The rock climbs on the S face of the Aiguille du Midi and the Pointes Lachenal are also popular.

- Plan de l’Aiguille : The Frendo Spur and the rock routes in this sector are popular.  Crampons recommended for the approach to Nabot Léon and neighbouring routes.

- Grands Mulets : conditions remain good and the hut is guarded, (do not forget to reserve.)

 
- Durier : the traverse of the Bionnassay is still in condition.


- Les Conscrits : the traverses of the Dômes de Miage and the  Aiguilles de Tré la Tête to the Lex Blanche are both in condition. The descent by the Col des Glaciers is still OK.  

For the hikers there are not really any problems, except for a patch of steep snow at the Col de la Glière, as well as patches of snow near the Col de Salenton on the Bérard side and beneath the summit of the Buet.

Report 5 August 2016

There have been no big changes since the last update. Conditions generally remain very good.

The recent bad weather has put down a dozen or so centimetres of fresh snow at the Cosmiques and Gouter huts.  This was combined with strong winds which are likely to continue through the weekend.  Be warned, this could result in windslab and wet snow avalanches at altitude.
It will be necessary to wait several days for certain routes to come back into condition.

 

Albert 1er :  Table Ridge, the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite and Grande Fourche are being done regularly. For the Chardonnet, the Forbes ridge remains feasible but the approach to the Migot Spur has become seriously complicated.

 

Argentière : Climbing is still popular behind the hut.  The Jardin ridge, Flèche Rousse, Glacier du Milieu and the traverse of the Tour Noir are also popular.

Mer de Glace Basin: Rock climbing is popular in this area, as well as near the Talèfre and the Leschaux.  The Whymper is no longer recommended and the Moine ridge still has a lot of snow.  The Moine is OK.


Torino : the conditions are generally good with numerous parties on the Grand Capucin, the various satellites, the Diable Ridge and the Gervasutti Pillar.
Good conditions also for the Italian side of the Mont Blanc starting from the Monzino, Gonella, Dalmazzi and Boccalatte huts. The Quintino Sella bivouac, (for the Tournette Spur,) is closed for repair work.

Cosmiques : The rock routes are feasible but the 3 Monts will certainly be out of condition for the next few days due to risk of windslab avalanche. The Frendo remains very popular, however there is still a passage of ice to exit the route.
Conditions were recently excellent for the Grands Mulets route via the N ridge of the Dôme. Contact the hut warden for more information regarding the best route across the Jonction.

Conscrits : generally good conditions. The traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré la Tête, the traverse of the Dômes de Miage and the traverse to the Bionnassay have all been done recently.

For hikers ; the situation has much improved, though there are still some snow patches which might cause problems, for example at the Cols de la Glière and Salenton, (heading for  Mont Buet.)

The snow/rain level will have dropped today, (5th August).  This means, as mentioned above, it will be several days before normal conditions return.

 

Please do not hesitate to inform the Office de Haute Montagne of the details of your outings

Report 28 July 2016

Conditions are generally very good for the time of year, though early starts are needed to get the best from the night time freezing, which is not always that good.

- Albert 1er : There are no problems with the normal routes on Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche and Aiguille du Tour, (including the bergschrund on the latter.)  The Couloir de la Table is now very dry and not recommended, but the Arete de la Table is in good condition.  There is a very large bergschund at the foot of the N face of the Tête Blanche which almost certainly makes access to this climb impossible. The Purtscheller and the Col du Pissoir are being climbed. The Forbes ridge is in good condition.  The bergschund on the Migot is awkward but still possible on the left.  For the descent from the Chardonnet, 2 ropes of 50m are recommended.

- Argentière : lThe rock routes are in good condition, as are the Glacier du Milieu and the Flèche Rousse Ridge. The Jardin ridge is also being done. The Tournier Spur is dry.
The Tour Noir traverse is very dry and no longer to be recommended.
No problems with the approach to the hut from the Grands Montets.  
Petite Aiguille Verte is OK but ice is starting to appear in some places.

 
- La Charpoua : The rock routes are mostly free of snow.  Some parties have done the Drus traverse.

- Le Couvercle : The rock routes are popular.  The Whymper is not in condition, but the traverse of the Courtes is.  Nobody has been on the Droites for more than a week.  The route up to the Pointe Isabelle is becoming more and more awkward. The Grands Montets ridge was done, descending by the Moine Ridge.

- Leschaux : The approach is OK for Anouk and the  Contamines on the  Petites Jorasses. The abseil points onTonton Daniel have been renewed.
4 parties left for the Walker on the 28th, making rapid progress.

- Boccalatte : The normal route on the Grandes Jorasses is still in good condition, parties passing below the serac without a problem.  The rocks at the Reposoir are dry. The traverse from the Canzio bivouac was done recently. Abseilling down the Rochers Whymper is possible with a 60m rope but better with 2x 50m.


- Envers des Aiguilles : The bergschrund for the Grépon has become very awkward, but no problems for the other approaches, except for the Ciseaux. A party went for the Ryan on the 29/07.

- Le Requin : The descent from the Midi-Plan is OK for the moment, as well as the approach to the Pierre-Allain. Nobody has gone for the Renaudie recently. Good conditions in both directions for the Vallee Blanche, on foot.)


- Torino : Generally ggod conditions for this sector.  The approach to the Dent du Géant is becoming very dry, danger from stone fall; likewise for the gully on the Aiguillettes au Grand Capucin and for the approach to the Aiguilles du Diable.
Tour Ronde is feasible by the SE ridge “intégrale” and by the Gervasutti Couloir.  The N face is OK if there is good freezing.  
The approach to the Pyramide du Tacul looks awkward.

- Plan de l’Aiguille : The Frendo Spur is in good condition and is (over)popular, (14 parties in one day !).  The left exit has some ice patches.

  An important rock fall has been reported at the level of the 2nd abseil on the Epéron des Minettes.  Crampons not needed for Lépidoptère.  However, crampons still needed for the Pilier Rouge de Blaitière and for the decent of the Peigne snow field.

- Cosmiques : If there is good night time freezing then the Contamines, Grisolle, Negri and Chéré on the Triangle du Tacul are popular. The 3 Monts to Mont Blanc is in condition with just a little ice after the Col du Mont Maudit, ice screws useful.  
A party went for the Gervasutti Pillar on 28th.
On the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal there is an unstable zone at the foot of the abseil, but it is easy to avoid.

 

 - Grands Mulets : The traverse of the Jonction is best done by the lower track. The N ridge of the Dôme is in excellent condition but the descent by the Plateaux is not recommended due to a lot of open crevasses. Contact the hut warden for advice on the best route to take.


- Mont Blanc : Good conditions on the  Bionnassay Ridge and the normal French and Italian routes. There is stonefall danger in the Grand Couloir in the heat of the day or if there has not been good night time freezing
- Les Conscrits : The approach via the glacier is not recommended.  The footbridge path was closed due to damage by storms but should be repaired and re-opened by the 29th July.
The Mont Tondu, the traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré la Tête and the traverse of the Dômes de Miage are being done regularly. Nobody on the Lex Blanche for more than a week.

-Other Areas : The fixed ropes on the  Pointe Dufour, Mont Rose have been stripped away by rockfall, foresee two abseils of 40m. (belays in place.)
The Grand Paradiso is in good condition.
Still a lot of snow on the Hornli ridge, Matterhorn making it a bit awkward, (though apparently no problem for Pippa Middleton !).

Hikers are advised to avoid the Col de la Glière and Lacs Noirs sectors as potentially dangerous snow fields remain there. Mont Buet still has snow, so proper equipment is essential.

Emosson sector: there is still a lot of snow in this sector, though the dinosaur tracks are now mostly visible.