The ledge was about the size of a single mattress; perhaps a little shorter. Up ahead, the Pointe de Segogne was caked in fresh, unconsolidated snow. I checked my watch. Six-thirty in the evening – it’d be dark within ninety minutes. Misha made the last rappel to join me on the ledge. He was obviously […]Read more "Gritted Teeth"
I arrive back in Chamonix at the start of October, practically frothing at the mouth at the prospect of being back in the mountains. I message everyone I know in the valley to find a partner, but no-one bites. Instead, I spend a frustrating day driving up and down the valley, scoping out conditions on […]Read more "Mileage"
As I pour yet another cup of coffee and watch the clock inch inexorably closer to our arranged meeting time, my mind is a violent maelstrom of excuses. ‘Tell them you’ve got a last minute phone interview for a job!’ ‘How about you say you’ve lost your lift pass?’ ‘Claim you’ll slow them down too […]Read more "The Spark"
The last month or so hasn’t involved a whole lot of climbing. I’ve had a pretty indulgent time visiting Julia and my family, lounging by a pool in Turkey catching up on some reading and trying to sort out my stubborn alpinist tan lines. After a while, I was itching to get back to Chamonix […]Read more "Ecrins Excursion"
“Experienced, comfortable leading IV and looking to push grade, try some Vs!”, the text had read. But the person on the other end of the rope had just spent nearly an hour lacing a 30m grade II gully with gear, after asking me to lead the grade IV crux icefall for them. They were repeatedly […]Read more "Walking the Walk"
The meteorological theme for mid June was changeable weather: fair and sunny in the morning would give way to heavy cloud and storms in the afternoon. It helps your sense of urgency if every time you look outwards from a stance you see a wall of weather advancing towards you. After a couple of weeks, though, […]Read more "Surviving an Alpine Heatwave"
Lists seem to be pretty trendy at the moment. ’10 things you learn after leaving university’, ’50 things 90s kids will remember’, ’10 billion lists you have to read before you die’. I don’t really know why this is. At a guess, it’s probably symptomatic of the instant-gratification, info-byte culture we live in. We want […]Read more "Five pieces of outdoor kit I wouldn’t leave home without."
The Aiguille des Ciseaux’s twin summit stands, splayed akimbo, bang in the middle of the iconic Chamonix skyline. It’s not as imposing as the Blaitiere, or even the Fou, which flank it on either side, but it’s a cool little summit and I’d wanted to go stand on it for a while. Jack floated the […]Read more "Voie Prioreschi-Troussier, Aiguille des Ciseaux"
The alarm goes off like a bomb. Jack and I bolt upwards, out of the blankets and head downstairs, rubbing our eyes. The hut is a ghost-town this early, with everyone having seen the forecast and decided to sleep in. For better or for worse, we saw the forecast and figured we’d get amongst it […]Read more "South Ridge, Aiguille de Moine"