30/November/2018: While the travel planning for the two principal expeditions (Cotopaxi March; Pik Lenin August) in 2019 continues apace, I have been trying to make the most of the ‘shoulder season’ here in the Alps. Depending on the weather and snowfall, September-November can offer terrific access to high altitude one day, and stop all activity the next.
Some brief notes from the fall ventures so far:
- Early October ascent of Haute Cime (3,257m), the highest peak in the imposing Dents du Midi range overlooking the upper Rhone valley in Valais
2. Late October ascent of Pointe Percee (2,752m) and overnight wilderness camping on its slopes with the family. It’s a favourite annual climb, with a decent technical challenge and the ‘Alpine light’ elements of terrain, wildlife and rockfall risks.
3. Late October adventure atop Mont Saleve (1,300m), Geneva’s backyard playground, where a surprising early snowfall and cold blast made for some great photos.
4. Scenic hikes and mountain-bike rides in and above the gorgeous Cirque de Sixt-Fer-A-Cheval valley (1,000m), ringed by waterfalls and steep cliffs.
5. Mid-November winter hike to and under the Aletschgletscher, the longest glacier in Europe, with a view of both Mönch (4,107m) and Matterhorn (4,478m) from the middle of the glacier. The complete solitude and recent snowfall covering the crevasses made me a bit apprehensive to continue with the original two-day plan, so I returned home after snapping some amazing photos.
6. Late November winter season premiere in La Clusaz and first time ever on a ‘Splitboard‘, the radically millenial child of a snowboard and touring skis (ski randonnee). With experienced Norwegian mountaineer Bjørn, we completed a 750m vertical ascent (1,500-2,250m) on relatively benign grade in about 90 minutes, followed by a 9 minute descent.