/ Alpine ice climbing/mountaineering with no ski approach - tips?
Can anyone recommend any venues for ice climbing or, if possible, full-on mountaineering where neither a ski approach nor snowshoes are required - or is this asking the impossible? I suspect it's asking the impossible. There's a reason everyone goes in June-October...
Any leftfield tips for reliable ice climbing destinations with a lot to do at WI4, in the Alps or anywhere in Europe, also greatly appreciated. We're already on the ball with Rjukan, Setesdal, Ecrins/Portes du Soleil/Valais destinations, I'm thinking more random places you don't normally hear about like Bohinj in Slovenia, etc...
I hear the Tatras are very well spoken of for ice-climbing, that didn't seem to be in your list. Probably not too snowy either.
Snowshoeing can still be a bit crappy and still very hard work BUT it's very straightforward. If it's snowshoes or no climbing, I know which I'd pick!
Oh, I don't know, I once got my foot stuck for about half an hour. Nearly killed me trying to extract it.
Snowshoeing over boulders is one of the most frustrating things in life, but i guess would be worse in skiis.
"Alpine Ice", Versante Sud
I'd argue that, unless you're doing something really hard that's going to take a really long time, under normal winter conditions, as opposed to a really lean year, anything in the Argentierre basin would probably take 2.5-3 times as long round trip without skis or snowshoes and still considerably longer than it actually should do using snowshoes for access instead of skis. The Aiguilles wouldn't be much different either. That is of course if the OP doesn't like postholling in fresh snow.
I don't think the full-on mountaineering option is really going to work without skis/snowshoes in January in the main Alps massif. You could get lucky with low snowfall, but January is prime cascade climbing season, so better to maximise chances with planning for that activity.
For cascades with a mountaineering feel you could do a lot worse than head for Briancon and do some of the longer routes in Friessinieres and (if not too much recent snow) longer gullies like those of Fantomas and the ones on the Tete-de- St- Margerite.
At Cogne, Cold Couloir followed to the top (and not rapping off) felt like a big, wild alpine day.
Also at the WI4-ish grade you could have a good trip to Val Masino in Bregalia - covering some of the longer routes such as Durango and Val Romilla. With firm snow conditions there's potential to take some beautiful, longer alpine walks to approach remoter climbs and maybe stay overnight in some of the bothies (baite)?
Wouldn't the long approach to the Tete-de-St-Margerite be likely to need snow shoes in January?
How do you get off it BTW?
Ski touring is walking in skis, no ability is required if the approach is flat. Skill is only needed on downhills and it doesn't take long to learn to snow plough...
> Ski touring is walking in skis, no ability is required if the approach is flat. Skill is only needed on downhills and it doesn't take long to learn to snow plough...
Similarly I'm wondering why the aversion to snow shoes. Presumably everyone in the party can walk.
If there's not much snow, or it is old and hard, you can make it on on foot, especially if the path has previously been tracked out.
Descent: back down line of ascent (usually)
> Ski touring is walking in skis, no ability is required if the approach is flat. Skill is only needed on downhills and it doesn't take long to learn to snow plough...*
*BS warning: please note this may not actually be true or based on fact in any way
> *BS warning: please note this may not actually be true or based on fact in any way
Skiing badly is dangerous and not fun. I should know. 'Ski touring' involves actual skiing, with plenty of downhill, otherwise people would never do it.
To the OP, either choose easy-access icefalls or suck it up and use snowshoes, they're not that bad. Of course skis are better, but only if you can use them.
In reality, not many people could ski on rough terrain with a full Winter rack, axes, rope etc.
I just about managed it at Alp d'Huez, when all we had to ski down was a pisted red run.
Thanks for advice all. Think Norway most compelling option.
OK, sorry, janiejonesworld took more than a day to learn to snowplough, this is an outlier, the average is within 1 hour.
> Skiing badly is dangerous and not fun. I should know. 'Ski touring' involves actual skiing, with plenty of downhill, otherwise people would never do it.
Or try it in a steeply-wooded hillside, where turns need to be got in precisely to avoid smashing into trees, where powder may alternate with ice.
In fact as I pointed out, even bimbling down a piste with a full climbing sack is not so easy. I have seen people ski down from routes and do it impressively, but not many can, and you need to be a pretty good piste or touring skier to even consider it. The idea that snowplowing is adequate is frankly ridiculous.
If you cannot ski very well, and there is the possibility of deep snow for any distance, snowshoes are the only option.
Agree with all that's been said about skiing.
I'm actually a pretty good piste skier and I had my first taste of skiing down from a route off-piste last year. Was taken aback by how difficult I found it, even in very good snow conditions. Certainly I don't think I'd have been able to deal with any crevasses if we'd been on a glacier. You've got the bag, and the unusual feeling snow, and also touring skis are harder to ski. Plus you're tired after doing a route, etc., and the last few hundred yards to the bottom of the valley are always going to be steep and full of trees and streams.
Last winter was really awful one, with almost no or very little snow also in the mountains. If it wasn´t for that very cold period I would say that the entire winter season was bad, but that saved the day a bit.
But I'm suggesting the OP thinks about using ski's to walk into and out of routes, giving easier approaches ice routes around places like Cogne.
I was in Cogne this summer for a look and the tourist information had the ice routes on a free map that they gave out! Amazing.
Having slogged in thigh deep snow before I'd recommend using touring skis every time! They keep you above the snow instead of in it and allow you to make good speed on the walk in. Yes, you need skiing ability to go downhill, but not on the flat (I did try to make that obvious, but hey?)
For the next climbing area you have to drive some 15 km to Tamar walley. Here too you have to walk some 4 km to reach a refuge at the end of Tamar walley. There are two what are considered the best winter routes in Slovenia (Travnik gullie and gullie between Travnik and Šite ). This two routes are very dependable of conditions and are not very often in. But againk If they are, there is heavy traffic in them. No skis or snowshoes. The last mountain is Jalovec with it steep couloir. An excellent route, very popular and in condition every year.
Thank you kindly for this. In fact I've just cut and pasted your message, and forwarded it to my partner.
I will have a look at these suggestions and come back at you with follow-up questions.
The one that immediately jumps to mind is - I don't suppose there's a guidebook...?
Nice - thanks!
Having said all that, I learnt to ski because I was frustrated at following my skiing partner miles behind after doing winter routes. The best way to minimise the disadvantage is to go up to the hut and do two or more routes in one stay. The food is fantastic.
If you are 'slogging in through thigh deep snow' to routes in cogne I would suggest you are taking rather a risk of being avalanched sooner or later.
Also if you are going in on skis in cogne I would have thought it would be loads more of a faff than needed, especially coming down as it isnt all downhill so you would need to switch skins etc alot or ski down with your skins on which isnt great either.
On balance I think your reccomendation to ski into routes in cogne 'every time' is a little ludicrous.
The knackered and miserable looking snowboarders I've seen lugging their boards up by snowshoes in Lyngen would suggest this isn't always the case!
> On balance I think your recommendation to ski into routes in Cogne 'every time,' is a little ludicrous.
My apologies, I did not mean to twitch your ludicrometer. I merely believe that walking on the flat on skis on snow is better than walking on the flat in snow.
> The knackered and miserable looking snowboarders I've seen lugging their boards up by snowshoes in Lyngen would suggest this isn't always the case!
Yep. I'm a crap skier, I have used snowshoes a lot, and even I can ski uphill faster than I can snowshoe. Getting down safely and stylishly is another story...
It is true that skiing will generally be significantly faster going uphill than snowshoeing, though I have seen 3 Belgians manage quite a fast ascent of a 3000m peak with them. The point is that anyone can snowshoe, but most people can't ski-mountaineer and are not likely to learn quickly or easily.
In the actual mountains though, for alpine routes or remote water ice routes, skiing badly back down, rucsac or not, is dangerous and unfun, as noted above. I've used skis a lot in Antarctica, but have always rued not being good enough to ski well (or at all) down some of the stuff we have skinned up.
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