Archive for screaming barfies

on Monte Rosa [a failed attempt at speed climbing]

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2016 by xi'an

With my daughter Rachel and her friend Clément, we tried last week to bag a few summits in the Monte Rosa massif, which stands between Italy (Aosta) and Switzerland (Zermatt). I wanted to take advantage of the Bastille Day break and we drove from Paris to Aosta in the very early morning, stopping in Chamonix to rent shoes and crampons, and meeting with our guide Abele Blanc at noon, before going together to the hut Rifugio Città di Mantova. At 3500m. Our goal was to spent the night there and climb to Punta Gnifetti (Rifugio Margherita) and Zumstein the next morning. Before heading back to Paris in the evening. However, it did not work out that way as I got a slight bout of mountain sickness that left me migrainous, nauseous, and having a pretty bad night, despite great conditions at the hut… So (despite my intense training of the previous weeks!) I did not feel that great when we left the hut at 5am. The weather was fine if cold and windy, but after two hours of moderate climbing in a fairly pleasant crispy snow of a glacier, Rachel was too out of breath to continue and Abele realised my nose had [truly] frozen (I could not feel anything!) and took us down before continuing with Clément to both peaks. This was quite a disappointment as we had planned this trip over several months, but it was clearly for the best as my fingers were definitely close to frozen (with my worst case ever of screamin’ barfies on the way down!). And we thus spent the rest of the morning waiting for our friends, warming up with tea in the sunshine. Upon reflection, planning one extra day of acclimatisation to altitude and cold would have been more reasonable and keeping handwarmers in our backpacks as well… In any case, Clément made it to the top with Abele and we got a good altitude training for the incoming San Francisco half-marathon. Plus an epic hike the next day around Cogne.

The Pinnacle [by Hot Aches]

Posted in Books, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2014 by xi'an

Last night, I watched “The Pinnacle” on my computer. This film retraces the unworldly week of Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith who climbed in Feb. 1960 six first winter ascents on Ben Nevis. This included the great routes Orion Face Direct and Point Five Gully. The film includes a detailed interview of Jimmy Marshall as well as the repeat, 50 years later, by Dave MacLeod and Andy Turner of the six routes that were first climbed over that 1960 week. This is terrific climbing and I also loved it for following so many climbing routes on the Ben! Following Steve Dean’s description, the “pinnacle” alludes to the feat of Marshall and Smith, who re-defined Scottish climbing, all this using old-style ice-axes and step-cutting rather than the soon to come front-pointed crampons and much more manageable shorter and doubled ice-axes… The film is available for free screening on Hot Aches website for a few more days! (I also learned at last the meaning of hot aches and screaming barfies from the movies. Handy for the next winter climb or run!)