Posts Tagged ‘mountain climbing’


We’re moving to our new domain!!!

July 9, 2009

So exciting, we have finally matured from a blog to a website! I feel so grown-up! Please don’t desert us, follow this link and we’ll continue where we left off…


As extreme sports and extreme vacations go – Chatel has it all

June 16, 2009

Instead of talking about one extreme sport today, I am going to wax lyrical on an area which supplies just about everything you could possibly want to do on an active summer holiday (we’ve already covered this region for the winter season) – Chatel in the Haute Alpes.

In the whitewater sports they offer canoeing (two-strong team), canyoning (jumping, sliding, daredevil abseiling), hydrospeed or whitewater bodysurfing (a slippery, fast, exhilarating experience), rafting (a 7km ride down the Dranse) and kayaking.

Then there’s bobluging… a 650m descent with 7 bends, an average speed of 7m/sec – definitely a fun-filled thrilling descent. There’s a chairlift to get you back up to the top. The bobluge is open from 28th June to 31st August – weather permitting, and closed over the lunch hour.

And then of course there’s the ubiquitous mountain biking.

The Portes du Soleil has around 650 km of marked mountain bike trails and seemingly endless single track to explore. Using the 24+ lifts that are adapted to carry bikes in the summer,  you have access, from Chatel,  to almost every resort in the Portes Du Soleil including Morzine, Les Gets and the Swiss resorts of Morgins, Champery and Les Crosset – this really is prime mountain biking country and  ideal for mountain biking holidays.

ffredt gives us an idea of what the mountain biking is like:

There are also many downhill mountain biking tracks. Châtel bike park is situated at Pré-la-joux and accessible by Pierre-Longue and Rochassons chair lifts, it consists of 13 trails of all levels of difficulty (including 12 downhill courses) and one “Cross park”.

The 27th and 28th June will see the  PassPortes MTB event celebrating its 6th birthday. More than 20,000 people have now participated in this 80km circuit. The event takes place at an altitude of between 1000 and 2250m and covers resorts in France and in Switzerland discovering the Portes du Soleil area and its fabulous landscapes.

You can check out the link here if you’re interested in taking part yourself:

There’s a second competition on the 3rd, 4th and 6th July called the Chatel Mountain Style contest.  Professional and amateur riders will compete over the 3 days on the 300 metre long “Face” course. 22 Pro Riders from all over the world have already entred the competition.


There is also a good range of climbing routes available in the area.

Plaine Dranse is an excellent place to learn with more than 26 routes, but its the Essert waterfall which will suit our readers I think. You can abseil and canyon at this 250m landmark, with two semi-wet and wet routes and six 30-50m descents. Plus the Pas de Morgins which offers 50 climbing routes of 10m-40m and with a difficulty level of 3 – 7.

Of course there are artificial climbing walls too…

And then there’s the Fantasticable…

This is for the thrill seekers, the  adrenaline junkies of this world. Dizzying speeds and astonishing heights in a ride that is unique in the Alps. Safely harnessed you can fly over the Plaine Dranse hamlet at nearly 100kph, 240m up. The length of the first run is 1,200m and the second one is 1,325 and participants must be no less than 35kg and no more than 120kg.

Watch TheBukakeMaster experience the Fantasticable. I love the superman music and the euphoric laughter!

And, of course, paragliding where you can go for a first tandem flight with a professional.

As adventure holidays go, or an extreme vacation for that matter, what more could you possibly want? Discos?  Well of course they have that too: Le Sloopy, to name but one, and to add to the fun they have theme nights throughout the season…

Hiking the Haute Route traverse between Chamonix and Zermatt

June 5, 2009

Are you looking for the perfect holiday where you can combine your love of extreme sport with adventure? Well then, the Haute Route is for you. Although not exactly an ‘extreme sport’ being a hike rather than a mountain climb, the fact that it takes 12+ days and is a combination of difficult to very difficult trails, we think makes it fit neatly into our catagory.

You might remember that I did an article on the Haute Route several months ago – right in the middle of our winter and therefore a possible area of interest to any skier or snowboarder.

But now with summer upon us, this route is also available to hikers and climbers. It was, after all, first charted as a summer mountaineering route in the mid-19th century by the Alpine Club (UK). It was first successfully traversed on skies in 1911.

Since the ‘Haute Route’ has become a bit of a generic expression for high level, multi-day, hut-to-hut tours, this route is now known as the “Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route”.

If you are thinking of walking the Haute Route this summer, you will need to know that it is a 180 km (108 mi) hike and is normally done in 15 stages, or 12+ days – this is very flexible.

This is not just a route that you can stroll along admiring the magnificent scenery (although of course you will be doing plenty of that). It is a serious mountain hike involving 3 different standards of hiking:

  • gradual ascents or descents along well defined paths or tracks. Suitable for novice walkers.
  • considerable ascents and descents over moderate fell type terrain
  • and strenuous sometimes exposed routes requiring map reading and navigational skills

You start your hike at Chamonix at 1037m, at the lowest level you will descend to 717m  and the highest ascent will be to 2965m – with many  days of ups and downs inbetween!

Haute Route hut

The Haute Route has what is thought to be the greatest collection of four thousand metre peaks in the Alps, it culminates at the foot of the Matterhorn in Zermatt. Mont Blanc will remain in view for much of the hike, but you will also become familiar with other equally impressive peaks such as the Grand Combin, Mont Blanc de Cheilon, Pigne d’Arolla, Dent Blanche, and the Weisshorn.

It is a spectacular walk, but strenuous – crossing eleven passes, many over 2,700 m (9000 feet). While some days will be extremely hard work, there will also be leisurely days where you can bathe in and enjoy the beauty surrounding you. However, you must be very fit and well-prepared for this walk as there are a few very long days over difficult rugged, open terrain.

The hiking trails are generally well graded and well defined which makes for great hiking. There are, however, sections that include mud, snow, loose rock, and scree. There may be a section that includes a 70 foot ladder.

Good luck and enjoy. It will be worth it.


Congratulations to Ranulph Fiennes and his Everest conquest

May 23, 2009

Here’s another one for our extreme sports personalities – Ranulph Fiennes, or, more correctly, Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes – a British explorer extroadinaire and the holder of several endurance records. According to the Guinness Book of Records he is the greatest living adventurer.

Ranulph Fiennes

This is what this extroadinary man has accomplished in his 65 years:

  • 1969 Travels the length of the White Nile by hovercraft
  • 1970 Traverses Norway’s Jostedalsbreen Glacier
  • 1979 to 1982 Travels globe on its polar axis by land transport
  • 1992 Discovers lost city of Ubar
  • 1993 Attempts to cross the Antarctic unaided
  • 2000 On solo walk to North Pole his sleds fall through ice
  • 2003 Four months after double heart bypass, he does seven marathons in    seven days
  • 2005 Attempt on Everest ends when he has a heart attack
  • 2007 Climbs north face of Eiger
  • 2008 Exhaustion ends a second attempt on Everest
  • 2009 Reaches Everest summit

He attempted Everest 3 times. The first time, in 2005, he had a heart attack 300m from the summit. The second time he was forced back at 8,400 metres, suffering from exhaustion. Afterwards he declared: “I won’t be returning to Everest.”

But defeat is simply not in his vocabulary, and despite everything he set off again. Just before 1 a.m. Thursday, 21st May, he became the oldest Briton and first UK pensioner to climb the 8,850 metre peak.

It is hard to believe, after his conquest of Everest and the north face of the Eiger, that this is a man who is morbidly afraid of heights.

Fiennes continues to compete in UK based endurance events and has seen recent success in the Veteran categories of some Mountain marathon races. His training nowadays consists of regular two hour runs around Exmoor.

He’s also an accomplished author. If you’re looking for a REALLY good read, try ‘The Feathermen’ – it’ll keep you spellbound.


Mistakes to avoid when abseiling

April 27, 2009

Several months ago I did a couple of articles on abseiling, and imparted the little known fact (to me at the time) that most climbing accidents occur when abseiling.

Don't rap off the end of your ropes!

Having shinned up a few faces myself, it’s the abseiling bit that I’ve always loved and probably treated rather cavalierly as a result. Fortunately for me, I have always climbed with people who know what they’re doing, and it’s probably entirely due to them that I am still here happily tapping keys, and not crumbled up in a heap at the bottom of some face!

I love that feeling of almost floating down the face, bouncing off the wall with your feet and descending in whoops and swings. Actually, I can’t sufficiently describe it – better get back out there for another go and come back and describe it accurately! I can imagine that lovely sensation – but can’t put it in words…

There, you see, I take abseiling too lightly. Having begun this Blog, and learnt so many things I didn’t know before, I thought it would be an idea to highlight some of the mistakes you can avoid when abseiling.

A certain amount of abseil paranoia is healthy as it leads to a methodical and thorough checking process, which leaves nothing to chance. This is what keeps you alive in dangerous situations.

  • And the obvious one is to make sure your rope is long enough! Sounds utterly stupid that doesn’t it, but it is such an elementary error that has been known to happen again and again and again…
  • Avoid distractions when you are setting up the abseil. Check, check and check again: anchor, rope through anchor, knot, rope in device, device attached to harness, krab screwgate done up, harness done up…
  • Rapping off the end of your rope. Tie stopper knots in each end. Check they make the ground or next anchors if possible. This avoidable mistake still manages to take the lives of even experienced climbers.
  • Rapping off a single piece, only to have it pull. Never, never rap off a single piece, unless it’s a huge tree or bollard, and even then think carefully. Don’t be cheap with bail gear.
  • Taking a ground fall because the rope you abseiled off was not fixed directly to the anchors, but had slack caught around a hidden feature, which subsequently released when the line was weighted. Don’t rush! Make sure there is no slack between you and the anchors.
  • Getting hair or loose clothing caught in your abseil device. Tie hair back and tuck clothing in.
  • With in-situ abseils, check the anchors (look, feel, push-pull, twist etc). Check all parts of the system that link the anchors.
  • Don’t assume that just because everyone else uses the in-situ abseil or someone used it recently that it’s still OK. Make your own judgement on the reliability of the set-up each and every time you use it.
  • Back-up the anchors you’re going to abseil from by placing a separate bomber piece that’s linked to the abseil rope. This back-up should not be taking any of the load, when your weight comes on the ab rope, so you can check the in situ anchor is reliable. If you’re not returning to the same spot the last person down can remove the back-up if all looks good with the original anchors.

Don’t cut corners and don’t rush your decision-making.

And this is worth watching to clarify a few grey areas, with thanks to mikebarter387 for the video:

Please bear in mind that this is by no means a definitive list. Know what you’re doing before you do it and climb with others who know more than you. You can never be too careful. Remember, this is an extreme sport and has the inherent dangers that go with it.


Fascinated by ‘El Cap’, today we decided to take a look at Grand Teton’s noteworthy events

April 10, 2009

Grand Teton is located in the north west corner of Wyoming. It is a classic alpine peak, so impressive that a whole national park has been named after it – The Grand Teton National Park. However, the mountain range itself is called ‘the Tetons’ or ‘the Teton Range’.

Grand Teton itself  is the highest mountain within the Park at 13,770 feet (4197 m), and the second highest in Wyoming.

There is a controversy over who made the first ascent of Grand Teton. Nathaniel P. Langford and James Stevenson claimed to reach the summit on July 29, 1872. However, their description and sketches match the summit of The Enclosure, a side peak of Grand Teton. The Enclosure is named after a man-made palisade of rocks on its summit, almost certainly constructed by Native Americans. When William O. Owen climbed the true summit in 1898, he found no trace of prior human passage. It is probably that the The Enclosure was first climbed by Native Americans, while the true summit was first climbed by Owen.

The Grand Teton has the most routes listed in the historic climbing text Fifty Classic Climbs of North America of any “peak”. The only other “peak” to have more than one route listed is El Capitan with, The Nose and Salathé Wall. Since the Tetons first ascent, 38 routes with 58 variations have been established.

The most popular route up the mountain is finished via the Upper Exum Ridge Route (II, 5.5) on the Exum Ridge, a 13-pitch exposed route first climbed by Glenn Exum, co-founder of Exum Mountain Guides. The direct start of the Exum Ridge using the Lower Exum Ridge Route (III, 5.7,) is considered a mountaineering classic.

A rough drawing of some of the most popular routes of the Grand Teton – photo and editing by Alan Ellis:

  • Yellow:   Owen-Spalding
  • Red:         Upper Exum
  • Green:     Lower Exum
  • Blue:        East Ridge
  • Violet:    Petzoldt Ridge

Noteworthy Ascents of Grand Teton:

  • Exum Ridge: July 15, 1931; Glenn Exum
  • North Face: August 25, 1936; Jack Durrance, Paul and Eldon Petzoldt
  • East Ridge: July 22, 1929; Robert Underhill
  • First Female Ascent: August 27, 1923; Eleanor Davis
  • First Winter Ascent: December 19, 1935; Fred Brown, Paul and Eldon Petzoldt
  • First Ski Descent: June 16, 1971; Bill Briggs and Robbie Garnett via the Stettner Couloir
  • Speed Record: August 26, 1983; Bryce Thatcher; 3 hr., 6 min.; Lupine Meadows to summit and back
  • First Grand Traverse: 1966; Jim McCarthy, Lito Tejada-Flores
  • Grand Traverse Speed Record: 2000; Rolando Garibotti; 6 hours, 49 minutes
  • First Winter Grand Traverse: January 19, 2004; Stephen Koch and Mark Newcomb

thesnazdotcom posted this video showing the climb up Upper Exum Ridge of the Grand Teton, and down the Owen Spalding route. Gives you a good idea of what to expect.

There is also an ultramarathon run in the national park, known as the Grand Teton 100 Ultramarathon.

The race is either a 100 mile event or a slightly less demanding 50 mile race through the Teton Mountains.

The course is a “clover-leaf style” loop, with each loop consisting of 25 miles in length over terrain that includes single-track, service roads, bike trails and short stretches of pavement.  The competitors will take on 5000 feet of vertical gain per loop. The 50 mile event is expected to last roughly 17 hours while the 100 mile course is estimated to take 36 hours.

The race is to be held on Saturday, September 05, 2009 @ 5:00 AM – Sunday, September 06, 2009 @ 6:00 PM.

Entries close on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 @ 11:59 PM.

An added benefit to this extreme family friendly marathon is the wonderful scenery that you will be surrounded by …

Click here to view the event organizer’s website


An update on the Banff Mountain Film Festival

March 2, 2009

You might remember that way back in November I did an article on the wonderful Banff Mountain Film Festival. This annual festival is right down our street – fabulous films on the great outdoors and extreme sport.  I promised to bring you the updated schedule on screenings for Europe as and when it was published.

Kindly the Banff Film World Tour co-ordinator  alerted us to the following screening dates around the world… not all are in at the moment, but those that are, are in Australia, Austria, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Scotland and Switzerland.

A brief reminder as to what the Banff Mountain Film Festival is all about… enjoy this fabulous video from TheBanffCentre, with thanks.

The current available screenings can be seen in the following countries on the following dates:


Adelaide:                    Venue: Mercury Theatre
May 26, 27, 2009

Brisbane:                     Venue: Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts
June 2, 3 & 4, 2009

Cairns:                           Venue: Cairns Civic Centre
June 5, 2009

Canberra:                    Venue: James O’Fairfax Theatre
May 13, 14, 2009

Hobart:                         Venue: The Plenary, Wrest Point Casino
June 18, 2009

Launceston:             Venue: Earl Arts Centre
June 17,2009

Melbourne:               Venue: RMIT Capitol Theatre
June 9, 10, 11 & 12, 2009

Perth:                            Venue: The Playhouse
May 19, 20 & 21, 2009

Sydney:                        Venue: Seymour Centre
May 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9, 2009


Eisenerz:                     Venue: Innerberger Gewerkschaftshaus
April 23, 2009

Innsbruck:                Venue: Congress, Saal Tirol
March 26, 2009

Klagenfurt:                Venue: Messe Klagenfurt
March 28, 2009

Liezen:                         Venue: Kulturhaus
April 18, 2009

Salzburg:                    Venue: Sporthalle Alpenstrasse
March 27, 2009

Vienna:                       Venue: Hauptuni, Audi Max
April 16 & 17, 2009

Vöcklabruck:         Venue: Stadtsaal
March 21, 2009

Waidhofen Venue: Plenkersaal
an der Ybbs: April 2, 2009

Wolfurt:                     Venue: Cubus
March 20, 2009


Portillo: 2009 dates to be announced

Puerto Natales: February 12, 13, 2009

Puerto Varas: October 8, 9, 2009

Santiago: October 1, 2, 2009

Torres del Paine:February 16, 17, 2009


L’Argentière: OIS Communauté de Communes du Pays des Ecrins
la Bessée: January 9, 2009


Augsburg: Venue: CinemaxX
April 25, 2009

Berchtesgaden: Venue: Kino, Kur- und Kongresshaus
March 19, 2009

Berlin: Venue: Globetrotter
March 26-28, 2009

Bonn: Venue: Lichtspiele Stern
April 20, 2009

Braunschweig: Venue: CinemaxX
March 24, 2009

Dresden: Venue: Theater Wechselbad
April 7, 2009

Essen: Venue: CinemaxX
March 31, 2009

Frankfurt: Venue: Cinestar Metropolis
March 23, 2009

Freiburg: Venue: CinemaxX
April 2, 2009

Garmisch- Kongresshaus/Olympiasaal
Partenkirchen: March 21, 2009

Hamburg: Venue: CinemaxX am Dammtor
April 21, 2009

Hanover: Venue: CinemaxX
March 25, 2009

Karlsruhe: Venue: Filmpalast Schauburg
April 23, 2009

Köln: Venue: Globetrotter, Olivandenhof
April 22, 2009

Mannheim: Venue: CinemaxX
April 1, 2009

Munich: Venue: Forum
March 20, 2009

Nuremburg: Venue: Loewensaal
April 29, 2009

Pforzheim: Venue: Kulturhaus Osterfeld
April 8, 2009

Rosenheim: Venue: Ballhaus
April 28, 2009

Stuttgart: Venue: CinemaxX Bosch Areal
April 24, 2009

Ulm: Venue: Xinedome
April 27, 2009


Livigno: Venue: Telemark Club, Livigno
March 31, 2009


Fort William: Venue: The Fort William Mountain Film Festival
March 13, 2009


Basel: Venue: Casino
April 18, 2009

Bern: Venue: Hotel Kreuz / Saal Holder
April 17, 2009

Luzern: Venue: Verkehrshaus
April 19, 2009

Naters (Oberwallis):   Venue: Zentrum Missione
April 16, 2009

St. Gallen: Venue: Adlersaal
April 14, 2009

Zurich: Venue: Volkshaus
April 15, 2009

If you wish further information in any of these countries, please refer to the following list and the relevant email contact details.

In Australia, please contact:








And, if you live anywhere near these screenings, make the effort to go see the films. I am sure you will find it time well spent. Extreme sport in all its exotic, bewildering, fantastic, nerve-wracking, exhilarating beauty….  Hope you get the chance to see them. Sadly the only screening in France is MILES away from where we live – like 7 hours or so, so I was unable to make it, but would love some feedback from anyone who does get to one of the venues.