Damn right it is! Just looking out the window is enough evidence to suggest we are fully embraced in my favourite season of them all. It seems like a silly question for mid January but as I have no winter routes under my belt so far it feels like winter hasn't even started yet. A result of poor weather and condition's have meant I haven't been out climbing but also because I have been focussing on the next phase of inductions for the British Mountain Guides
scheme. Over the last two week I have been in the Alps working on improving my skiing technique, proving that I can ski at the required standard and then followed up with a 5 day avalanche course.
|Guess the mountain game|
We started of at a brilliant resort in Leysin in Switzerland for a 3 day ski technique course ran by Alex and Ivan. These two guys are something else on ski's. Its hard to describe how good they are but imagine skiing down as fast as you can, then look ahead and you will see Alex skiing backwards giving you tips on your technique as he weaves through the crowds on the piste...one one ski as well! That is what 30+ years on skis will do for you. He is also a coach for the Swiss ski teams. We were in good hands.
|Ivan strapping his boot up for an intense warm up!|
Our group has 12 members, all of different abilities and backgrounds, some climbers, some instructors and some pro skiers. Everyone was picking up good tips and knowledge off Alex and Ivan no matter what their ability.
After the 3 days in Leysin, I went to Samoens in France with Calum for two days skiing. Unfortunately it was raining at all levels so we just did one day skiing and then had a late start and headed over to La Grave for the rest of the trip.
|Who knows how to ski?|
Our first day in La Grave
was the Ski Induction. A one day assessment of our skiing ability to make sure we haven't falsified our logbooks and that we are a suitable standard for the scheme. Phew, we all passed and can continue onto the next stage of the scheme.
|Misty conditions at La Grave|
After we all passed our assessment we then went on and started a 5 day EAS avalanche course run by Mark Diggins (Top Man at SAIS)
, Bruce Goodlad (BMG Training officer), Nick Parks (BMG) and Peirre (Local Guide). A collected wealth of experience and expertise meant we had a very informative course and we all took a great deal away from it. I always believe it is worth doing as many avalanche courses as possible.
|Digging snow profiles|
|Its getting cold, lets go!|
Not only were we digging snow profiles and writing avalanche reports, we were also looking at safe travel through the mountains with groups and on skis. So during the week we went on two mini ski tours looking at route choice, hazard identification and group management amongst many other topics.
|Hands up for breaking trail? |
|A safe place to be|
|A bit Scottish today|
|Le Meije. A beautiful summit. Cant wait to come back and climb it,|
So all in all, a great couple of weeks in the Alps but to be honest I am really glad to be back in Scotland. The snow is here, routes are in conditions and I have a few days off before work really kicks in. More pics HERE.
One another note, I am very sad to hear two local climbers who I knew lost their lives in the mountains of Glencoe yesterday. Thoughts and prayers go out to their families at this very tough time. Rest in peace Simon and Joe, two very enthusiastic young lads.