Friday, 27 January 2012

End to a good trip...

With Temperatures rising just above zero we decided to head into Freissinieres today, with lots of mixed lines and Ice routes to choose from we were shore to get something done. When we arrived most of the Ice lines were very thin and running with water, we managed to find a little area that still had some ice and also a nice little mixed line. we warmed up on a nice little line called "Pistoleros" which was pretty easy, Paul seconded on up with the hope of having a go at it on the lead, but when lowering off a chandelier  broke off from above and struck his knee, he sustained a nasty little cut to the lower knee which would be the end of his climbing for the day. Next up I jumped on a nice little mixed line called "Le schtroumpf" that Will and Dan had been trying earlier on in the day, the climbing was pretty cool ending on a nice ice pillar, I took a little fall on it but after a few seconds managed to complete the route, there was a really nice pillar to our left that wasn't quite touching down but with it looking so nice we decided to give it a go, Myself and Dan both managed to get the rote lead and Will followed on up on a second, although really wet it was still a nice climb, with the sun getting warmer we decided to call it a day.

another good day on the Ice and the End to a good Ice climbing trip, Now the the long drive back home tonight to see my beautiful girls, really looking forward to seeing them..

Big thanks to all the guys this week for great laugh and also Dave at peglers for really good trip.

Me on Pitch 1 of "Pistoleros"

Will Attempting "Le schtroumph"

Me on the Mixed line of
"Le schtroumph"

Will Attempting "Le schtroumph"

Dan Attempting "Le schtroumph"

Will Attempting "Le schtroumph"

Boot modifications, time for some new boots
I think...
Paul climbing before his accident.

Me on "Grise mine"
Me on the nice piller of "Grise mine"

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


A good day out on Ice today, We headed back into fournel to attempt "Calins Solene" today,a single pitch 50 metre pitch of technical Wi5+ climbing, On the walk in I felt pretty tired and to be honest wasn't really feeling the buzz, The route eventually came into sight and it looked steep and extremely hard, To be honest I was a little like shit what have i let myself in for. Anyway I remembered what Gerry gore had said the night before about 60% of climbing was your confidence, Gerry had done a talk for us at our chalet the night before on all his climbing adventures, the talk was really amazing and some of the big first ascents this man has put up is unreal, routes from 8000m peaks to new lines in the alps, this really inspired me and gave me that little feeling of come on just go for it. anyway I geared up and went for it, the climbing felt hard and technical, lots of hanging chandeliers and not many places to put protection in, I moved on up getting pretty pumped, the route got you into some pretty cool positions and luckily I managed to get some good rests, I basically climbed the last 25m without any protection at all, I didn't really think about this until after clipping the tat at the top. I got a good sense of achievement at the top knowing that i didn't think I could climb this but I just got on with it and managed it within my comfort zone. I called on down to Paul to follow on up, he managed to climb it well only taking one fall, but being on a top rope this didn't matter to much, he did fall around 5m below one of his axes though, then the axe popped and fell, and some how managed to get caught on the corner of his trousers. after this he just dug deep and manged to follow on up the route.

Another great day out on the Ice, we are gonna have a chilled day at Celillac tomorrow but there are a few nice lines there so I don't quite know if we can stick to chilled. Didn't managed to get any pictures of me on the route today, other than abseiling off.

"Calins Solene" takes the left hand Ice fall

Abseiling the route a happy man

Paul, night and the Fournel valley

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Fuck that hurt....

Today we headed into fournel again to try a nice Wi5+ line called "Clair De Lunule, An early start and another waist deep in snow walk in, some hard work and 2hrs later we were at the bottom of the route, it was pretty depressing that we cut steps all the way in then got overtook at the last 50 metres, there were another two teams ahead of us now, we let them set off up the route, The climbing was really nice and steady, there were allot of hook placements where the route has been climbed a few times before, the second pitch was pretty awesome with some nice ice formations, I was really enjoying it when all of a sudden there was a shout fro above, a large amount of ice and snow started coming down the face towards me, i tucked in close to the wall has it hit me full on, it must of only lasted around 10 seconds but felt like a lifetime, I think i was shouting the words "fuck stop" eventually it did but I was left with a very sore arm, i set up a belay and bought Paul on up. Although he hadn't lead before I told him he would have to lead on past me up onto a more secure belay and out of the way of the shit coming down the face, he carried on with some good climbing and reached the belay, i then followed on up. The last pitch looked fantastic but unable to grip my left axe firmly i didn't want to attempt it, I felt pretty disappointed with myself and the fact I was letting Paul down but I guess you can win them all, we made the decision to abandon and abseil the route, we both arrived down safety.

Although I should rest I'm determined to get back up there tomorrow and either complete our route of today or look at Calins Solene.

 "Clair De Lunule" takes the left hand Ice fall moving
onto the right hand pillar thats touching down.

Me moving on up on the second pitch

Paul coming on up the second pitch

Looking down at paul on pitch 2

unknown climber on the last pitch

Monday, 23 January 2012


Early alarm call and a long walk in was the start of another day on the Ice, We headed into Cervieres today, after arriving at the car park and getting stuck in the car we eventually made our way up to the area. The walk in was pretty tough with the amount of snow on the trail, this meant me and Paul climbed 3.5k in thigh high snow, hard work but good training for this years exhibitions, the other teams were all skinning in so they didn't seem to have many problems with the ascent. We arrived at the crag and most of the routes were not in condition, there was one line that seemed to be formed for climbing, so we decided to jumped on it, the climbing was pretty good, a bit wet in places but no harder than a low Wi5, the other guys also climbed this route. Scott manged to climb a nice line to the right of this, a good hanging pillar graded at around Wi5, he had a little moment at the top where he and us was convinced he was taking a lob but he somehow managed to dig deep and reach the belay.

Overall a fairly good day on the Ice, not the best but still good to get out, Will and Dan did managed to get a good ski run in before we left the carpark, I managed to get a good video which i will upload when I get home. I think maybe tomorrow we will head to fournel again to try a nice route we spotted a few days ago.

Me leading on up on a nice little route

Dan on Wi5 ice

Scott on unknown Wi5

Will Hardy

Will Hardy

Me leading on up on Wi5

Paul on Unknown Wi5

scott Swalling

A nice little walk on

Sunday, 22 January 2012


Les Nains des Ravines

With it being Paul's first day on the Ice we decided not to push the limits too hard, we spotted a nice 300m Wi4 called "les nains des ravines" so decided this would be our route for the day, a fairly easy walk in of 45 minutes was nice too and it wasn't long before we were at the bottom of the route, we geared up and headed for the first pitch, the climbing was pretty easy, The ice was in really good condition and it was perfect for Paul's introduction to the ice, I placed allot more screws than I normally would on the idea of getting Paul to practise taking them out. anyway I arrived at the belay and Paul followed on up and didn't seem to have any troubles at all, we moved on up pitch by pitch with there being some little steep walking sections to get us to the next step. We arrived at the last pitch and the route was now getting pretty wet, we climbed on up with this probably being the best pitch. with a couple of abseils and a steady walk down a couloir we were safely back at the bottom of the route. I congratulated Paul on his first Ice route, and also mentioned that He would be having ago at leading tomorrow.
Overall a good day out on the ice, we will return to this area on Wednesday to try a nice Wi5 further up the valley and maybe look at how formed the Wi6 pillar is for a crack at it.

Me on Pitch one

Paul coming up the 5th pitch

Me on pitch 1

Paul on 4th Pitch

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Arrival in Vallouise

After a long night of driving with the comforts of redbull, monster energy and Banana cake we finally made it to our destination for the week, Vallouise situated in the Ecrins massif is home to some of Europe's best ice falls and we have 7 long days to tackle has much has we can. We arrived today around 14:00, we would have been a little earlier but we hit a blocked road and had to do a 30km detour.
As I type this I have just finished a lovely bowl of lasagna and am about to tuck into apple crumble and ice cream. we have decided to head into vallee du fournel tomorrow, I will do a little training with Paul on setting up belays and placing screws before I drag him up some routes, I'm sure if he tackles it like everything else Ive thrown at him he will be fine.

Below are a few photos from the local town that I took this evening, Oh I also managed to get myself some new ski boots today for the forthcoming Denali trip.

0300am and going strong running on Redbull

Amazing evening light in the town of Vallouise

Local Vallouise Church

Saturday, 14 January 2012

No right turn...

In an earlier post relating to this years McKinley trip I stated that "We have a strong team with climbers having different strengths". Come May when on the mountain we are planning to use skis on the lower slopes rather than Snow shoes, this should be allot quicker, easier and safer with the amount of snow bridges and hidden crevasses. The only problem with this is the fact that my strength isnt Skiing, Ive never even put skis on my feet before, This could be a problem but I am determined to put this right.
I browsed the Internet looking for all my local ski slopes and lessons available, then I remembered the Snowdome in Milton Keynes where they use a real ski slope with real snow, I looked through and managed to get myself booked onto a full days lesson where they informed me they could turn me into an intermediate skier within the 8hrs.
Anyway I arrived at the Snowdome a little anxious as to how I was going to perform, there seemed to be lots of these young snowboarder dudes walking around in there fancy clothing, woolly hats and multi coloured boards which i knew were going to be flying past me on the slopes. I booked myself in, collected my boots, skis and helmet and waited for my instructor for the day. he arrived and after a quick briefing we were on the slopes, i picked it up pretty quickly and wondered what all the fuss was about, and it wasn't long before i was going from the steeper top section. going down, fast and stopping seemed pretty easy, it was the turning that I was having difficulty with, I couldn't seem to turn properly, Run after run I would get a good one then think Ive nailed it then on the next one end up nearly taking someone else out. After 8hrs of solid skiing and tramping back up the slope i was a little tired.
Overall I think it was a good day and I feel confident that a little more practise when out on Ice fest next week should see me getting those turns right.

I was unable to get any pictures as they didn't allow cameras into the slopes but this has a similarity to how I would Have looked.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

"Smackdown" M7+

Today I headed down to the training cave again with the hope of completing smackdown, After a few attempts and some working I finally managed to link it together, after believing the crux was half way Along the route I discovered today that it was actually nearer the end when my body was near on drained of energy but adrenaline and excitement managed to pull me through. Although its hard to grade has its only a boulder problem it feels around the M7+ M8 mark, Hopefully some others will try the route and set me straight.

I managed to create a short video (Not the best but does show the whole route......).

Smackdown M7+ FA from Tommy Harris on Vimeo.
Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are
naught without prudence, and that a momentary negliance may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; Look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end