/ Alpine Destinations

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Tamati - on 11 Dec 2013
Looking to head to the Alps again this year and hopefully progress onto some easy snow and ice. We have some Scottish winter and lots of trad multipitch experience.

I've head about Arolla and Saas fee. Just looking into other options.

Points:

Away from the crowds ( we'll be going in July and August )
Access to glaciers and beginner alpine terrain
We'll be going in our Van. Where do we leave the van while we're climbing?
What're the cost of campsites?
Rock climbing and bouldering near by would also be nice.

Thank you
Martin Haworth on 12 Dec 2013
In reply to Tamati:

Ailefroide
CurlyStevo - on 12 Dec 2013
In reply to Tamati:

If you actually want to climb snow and ice I would say (mid to late) July and August is leaving it a bit late (for many years).

I loved Bregaglia last year although we climbed mostly on rock, there is glaciers around there. We stayed here http://www.campingbregaglia.ch/en/camping-vicosoprano/tariffe which was a lovely spot and quite quiet. The camping was cheap (less than 10 quid per night), rock climbing in the area from road side sport to stuff on Piz Badile. You can get a chair lift up to Albigna which has multipitch granite routes right by the other end of the lift or a further walk away. All the other areas are walk in but there are quite a few huts in the area.


Martin Haworth on 12 Dec 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I would say Ailefroide area is perfect for "easy snow and ice" in July and August, and multi-pitch rock, and single-pitch, and bouldering, and via-ferrata...
CurlyStevo - on 12 Dec 2013
In reply to Martin Haworth:

I wasn't really commenting on Ailefroide specifically.

According to the literature I have many of the classic snow and ice climbs that used get done as mid to late summer Alpine are less frequently in condition in the last decade or so and this would tally in with what I've seen climbing in mid August the last two years. I'm also kind of assuming here that if the OP wants to actually climb snow and ice rather than walk up it (say around Scottish II/III and up) that they may not want to do this really high up on the first trip and later in the summer the freezing level could well be more like 4000 metres or higher (even at night!) depending on the weather / timing of the trip.

Also towards the end of August its not at all unusual for the snow bridges on the glaciers to start getting pretty dodgey.
Post edited at 10:45
Martin Haworth on 12 Dec 2013
In reply to Tamati:

If you do consider Ailefroide, it has an excellent campsite where you can park the van. A number of classic glacier routes start from the campsite, such as Pelvoux traverse. Also good parking just up the road where the glacier routes on the glacier blanc and glacier noire start. Ideal location for gaining Alpine experience.
Finding anywhere in the Alps that is away from the crowds in August is a big ask!
Tamati - on 12 Dec 2013
In reply to Martin Haworth:

Hi, I have been to Ailefroide. We only stayed a week and the weather wasn't great so mostly stuck to the valley. I didn't know there was any snow and ice routes around there.
badmarmot - on 13 Dec 2013
In reply to Tamati:

Hi don't let a week of poor weather put you off, the weather here is normally a lot better and constant than the northern alpes, one other great thing about this area is out of the Ailefroide valley there are about 80 crags single and multi pitch where you can get away from the crowds for rock days?
Martin Haworth on 13 Dec 2013
Simon4 - on 13 Dec 2013
In reply to Martin Haworth:
Spot of camera tilt there Martin, to judge by the clouds? Very nice picture though.

It is significant that you climbed this in June, snow and ice does tend to go bad earlier in the Ecrins than in the more Northerly Alpine areas, especially those that are higher. I remember the North Couloir of Les Bans only being climbable up to late June, while the OP wants to go later in the year.
Post edited at 09:41
CurlyStevo - on 13 Dec 2013
In reply to Simon4:

From what I can gather even many of the snow and ice routes in cham area are pretty hit and miss later in the summer in more recent years. I went there the year before last and we managed 1 glacier crossing (and that was almost the last day the snow bridges were vaguely safe) and one snow / ice route on the first day, for quite a bit of the trip the freezing level at night was above the vallee blanche level and we ruled out more snow and ice routes as we didn't deem them safe enough and stuck to rock instead. I think if its a MUST that you want to actually climb (rather than walk) on snow and ice then planning a trip in the early summer is an idea.
Simon4 - on 13 Dec 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> From what I can gather even many of the snow and ice routes in cham area are pretty hit and miss later in the summer in more recent years.

Generally agree, but it does depend quite a lot on how high you are going. If you are trying something like the North face of the Pan du Sucre, then after say mid-June, forget it. But high up toward the summit of Mont Blanc, the situation can be very different, though the aspect of a route can be very important here. The couloir from the Col de Peuterey did not seem to be complete at its base this Summer in very early July, but I am sure that ice routes with a Northerly, shadowed aspect would have been fine.

> I think if its a MUST that you want to actually climb (rather than walk) on snow and ice then planning a trip in the early summer is an idea.

Going quite early (say late June, early July), is a double-edged sword. We were climbing this year in the last week of June and first week of July, good in that places where we have been previously blocked by unpassable, huge crevasses were quite easy to get across, bad in that there was deep, unweathered snow that saw us wallowing up to our knees, where skis would have been very helpful.

CurlyStevo - on 13 Dec 2013
In reply to Simon4:
Yeah your probably right in that to some extent its swings and roundabouts and so weather / conditions / year to year dependent.

Personally I winter climb in the UK and on euroice. For summer alpine I keep my options open but really I'm not that fussed about snow and ice, for me the main aim is technical rock climbing as I enjoy it so much more than walking / scrambling and I've already had my fill of snow / ice over the winter and its quite hard to guarantee good conditions during the summer alpine season for reliable technical snow/ice climbing. That said variety is the spice of life and mixing in the odd glacier walk and snowy peak adds to the experience. If I think its at all likely I'll use it I take winter gear on the trip just because you never know what the conditions will be (although this year I didn't bother with tech axes as I knew damned well I wouldn't use them and I didn't use my alpine axe or crampons at all either.)
Post edited at 13:21
Simon4 - on 13 Dec 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo: Fair enough, perfectly reasonable selection of activity for you, but the OP was asking about "progress onto some easy snow and ice". In July/August (i.e. toward the end of July), he might be better off with say the Valais/Zermatt alps, which, weather permitting, will allow some excellent snow/ice routes of various degrees of difficulty.
d508934 - on 13 Dec 2013
In reply to Martin Haworth:

any one have any guidebook recommendations for ailefroide? looking for alpine routes rather than multipitch rock and sport. quick google didn't reveal an alpine one.
Martin Haworth on 13 Dec 2013
In reply to d508934:

Best Guidebooks are:
Écrins East, Cerces, Queyras (Volume 1) - Snow and Mixed Climbs by Seb Constant. This is in English and covers all the snow and ice routes including glacier routes that are done in summer.
Oisans Nouveau Oisans Savage - Livre Est 2011 (2011) by Cambon, which includes most of the Alpine rock routes and multi-pitch crags as well.
Both excellent guidebooks. There are several others such as the AC guide but i dont really rate them and you could spend a fortune.
d508934 - on 13 Dec 2013
In reply to Martin Haworth:

brilliant, thanks!
Tamati - on 17 Dec 2013
In reply to Simon4:

Thanks for your reply.

Do you have any suggestions?

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