Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Chamonix area backcountry tour

For our last days skiing we got very lucky with the weather as it was forecast to be unsettled for 3-4 days onwards. Unsure what to do initially (so much choice) we finally settled on an out and back tour from Le Buet to the Col de Berard at 2469m.

In the cold forest

Just about to hit the sun

First view of the col
We decided there wasn't a rush and arrived at the heaving (and full) carpark fairly promptly at 8.30am (how had this happened). After a little faffing we ended up being the last people to leave on touring kit.... which initially seemed a bad sign, but ultimately was very positive and worked for us all day.

Dave makes a bee line for the col (lowest point above him)
Skinning up through the forest in the shade was a little foreboding because the path resembled a stunt luge track and I wasn't sure it I would survive the descent of it later in the day.

Rest point with views to the valley we had come from behind

Bandana man.... (jealous it seems to work!)
Gaining height, breaking free of the trees and entering the hot bright sunshine in this beautiful valley was brilliant and even though we could see odd parties away in the distance (specks) it felt like we had the valley to ourselves (well kind of!).

The col when we arrived - busy..... grrr
Higher and higher we went, and tiny skiers could be seen shooting off in all directions for summits and cols..... the final pull up to our col after 4 hours was tricky on dry loose snow.

And 5 minutes later just us there - amazing
On arrival it was like a busy circus at the col, with maybe 10-12 people there, but within 10 minutes they had all gone (leaving a set of poles behind) leaving Dave and I to have food and soak in the atmosphere - It is a great spot with amazing views of the mountains all around.

Dave drops in

Dave enjoying the ride....
Well feeling slightly nervous (me) we stripped the skins, clipped into the ski's, locked the heel down and blasted back the way we had come. the snow was FANTASTIC, and I laughed as I headed down, turn after turn in the soft snow.

Throwing shapes (not sure exactly what) :-)
We occasionally stopped to drink it in before carrying on, but it was all over way too quickly, even with the sketchy luge finish. What had taken 4 hours up, took only 1 hour to descend the 1100+ m.

A very memorable day (hence all the pictures!!) -  this is why I learnt to ski!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Col de la Fenetre ski tour

I'm currently out in the Alps skiing with Dave and Kev. We all spent a few days warming up the legs (and hips!) on the pistes of Combloux and Les Contamine trying to improve our ski techniques. Some of us are aiming for the 'C' shape, whilst others were finding that a good base of support in an 'A' frame posture was de rigueur (mentioning no names...)....

Brooding weather

Dave cuts a lonely (all in black) figure, way out west

Here he comes...
Today and Dave headed off on our first half day ski tour of the trip. It was a relatively gentle affair, with a fairly steady skin up to the col de la Fenetre at 2245m. Great views and surroundings, were only slightly reduced by the terrible, crusty snow on the descent below the Tete de la Cicle.

Nearly at the col

I really struggled on the crusty, crappy snow but eventually managed to cobble together something that allowed me to turn. As we got lower (much lower) it improved a little and was much nicer skiing.

Atmospheric weather and crappy snow!

Think its this way

If only Dave was wearing bright colours this would be a nice pic!!
After an exciting luge (footpath) finish down to the road we were reunited with the van, and caught Kev sleeping in the back of his van - he claimed it was a lunch break...

P.S. the green ski's are Daves...

Dave gliding the meadows

End of the luge

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

2 day avalanche course..... or getting nar nar in the pow pow!

Wow... interesting weekend in the Cairngorms on an excellent and intensive course with the Avalanche Geeks. It was basically a 2 day ski Avalanche Fundamental certified course (AAA level 1).

The Cairngorms
As I get more into skiing I realise I want to learn as much as I can to stay safe when backcountry skiing. Originally me and Rachael had booked on a 1 day course but due to crazy weather last month Mike let us change to this 2 day course and I'm really glad I did.

Pit time with team Haglofs

Now what do I do Jen..!
We were lucky with good weather, but a thawing snow pack. The combination of classroom theory and afternoon ski tours to put the knowledge into practise and ski some sweet lines was an excellent mix.

Rachael skinning

Jen looking smooth teleing in the soft snow
I'd learn plenty of avalanche and snow pack stuff before and vaguely remember a skimming of the topic when I did my winter ML training years ago, but quickly realised that my knowledge was very limited, and out of date and this American syllabus takes it seriously and is very thorough. Of course having attended this doesn't mean that I won't get caught out, but I feel I have loads of new knowledge and tools to help assess the risks and possible dangers when out there in the white room (oh yeah!!).

Sorry me!

I have to also mention that the timed mock avalanche scenario was pretty crazy (in a good way), it was stressful, and yet felt realistic, and was hard work to get through, but made me realise what I may be faced with if I ever have to use these skills for real (which clearly I hope not). A very valuable thing to practise.

Rescue scenario's. Me and Becca looking on while team 2 look for bodies
The 'kids' on the course (team Haglofs) were super fun too, and we met some cool new people and had a real laugh, which helps make it special, and even my ropey skiing managed to pass (literally all of the others were advanced skiers!).

team 2 working hard
I actually think every back country skier/boarder should attend this course it was that good - essential. Thanks Mike and avalanche geeks, I'm now ready to get nar nar in the pow pow.

Team Haglofs....

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

When Scotland delivers..... its epic

Well for numerous reasons that I won't labour here I didn't go to the CIC hut this last weekend, but instead headed skiing....

skinning up man..
Initially a day on the runs at Glenshee with amazing snow and blue skies before a strange night in a wooden pod at an Ecofarm (not sure exactly how they quantify this) on a Llama farm!


The time spent here was even more 'enhanced' by a crazy group of Scottish mental health Nurses (about 7-8, the group seemed to breed and expand) who were straying with the sole intention of getting very drunk on Buckfast (really). They were very entertaining, particularly the one (sorry forgotten her name) who has an interest and seems quite knowledgeable on art, particularly Matisse......

Steeper section that was easier in crampons
Anyway, enough of that!

On the plateau
On Sunday we headed out on a brilliant ski tour, leaving the Glenshee walkers carpark behind and skinning up Glas Maol, before a nice glide and second skin NNE to the second munro of Cairn of Claise.

The second top

Lunch time (Des and Cath)
There were loads of people out, but with the sunny still conditions who could blame them. Originally we pondered a third munro, but after spotting the enticing bowl of Garbh-choire, and with the time available we changed plans.

Its hard to do the descent into this sweet bowl justice and put it into words, but it was magical. The snow was brilliant, the setting even better and with the great company I literally chuckled to myself all the way down (bliss).

Cath heading off

Trying to keep up with Des
Cath and Des
Des summed it up well by saying something along the lines of....  its hard to explain how its worth skinning for 3+ hours just for 30 turns in good snow, but it so is...

Skins on again. Descent bowl behind (so good!)
A truly memorable Scottish snow day.