Dark and wet, infact properly chucking it down. We couldn’t help wondering if we were keen or just mad this morning on leaving the Arve Valley. We were heading north and in to the Réserve Naturelle Nationale de Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval…to find out!
Whilst the week ahead looks wet and warm, today remained cool – enough! It was lightly snowing in Sixt-Fer-Cheval and big flakes of snow settled in the accumulating powder as we pottered up through the lovely winter forest towards the Cascade de Dard at 1350m.
The line of the cascade ejecting in to a free standing vertical column from the gentle forests above to then be smeared over the rock walls below gives quite an impressive first sight of the route!
The climbing is sustained from the off with long pitches and slightly slower going today with the fresh snow on the ledges but, on the other hand, lovely chewy toffee ice beneath!
The 2nd pitch gives some fun steep moves up through a groove, with bits of delicate ice, but good protection either side and a fine grotto ice cave belay out on the Left.
Above that some steep but featured and fun moves on ice cauliflowers lead in to an excellent easy groove. This had 2 in-situ abalokovs at the top of it which was the only fixed gear we found on the route (apart from the bolts at the top).
Whilst the final column pitch looked both inspiring and really steep from the road and walk-in, it appeared to lie back a bit from the belay below and was looking like a good ‘soft touch’ pitch of 6! It’s funny how the apparent angle of ice changes according to where it’s viewed from though, as whilst climbing up it…it felt pretty steep again!
But the ice was solid, good conditions, a few half decent footholds from previous teams, plenty of good hooks and screws and really enjoyable steep climbing which comically switches from the vertical to the horizontal as you enter the stream bed that feeds the cascade from above. This mini gorge heads off up in to the woods whilst we headed back down the route, abseiling off the 2 old style bolts…
Apart from the 2 threaded abalokovs at the top of the 3rd pitch, any other fixed gear was either buried by the fresh snow – or maybe the fashion is shifting from abalokov threads to clean lunule séche (threading the abseil ropes directly through the ice thread). We joined the fashion and did several of these to rappel back down the route in 4 pitches.
It was 0C back at Sixt, and still lightly snowing, but it does look like a thaw is inbound towards the end of the week before a return to cooler conditions for the weekend.
Ice conditions remain pretty good – please get in touch if you would like to do some intro training or guiding on routes.
Our Winter – Spring 2022 Ski Courses – Remaining Availability
The selected courses below are all running and ready for you to join & you can keep an eye on the full programme on our course page here.
- 1 place available on our Val Feret & Rifugio Bonatti Ski Touring Weekend – 19-20 Feb
- Places available on our Grand St. Bernard Intro Ski Touring Weekend – March 12-13
- Places available on our open group Ski Vallée Blanche descent, March 19
- 2 Places available on our West Oberland Ski Touring Weekend –April 9 -10
- 2 Places available on our Chamonix off piste coaching and ski touring 5 day classic course 11-15 April
- 2 Places available on our pretty hard-core Spring Ski Summits course 24-29th April with the option to Ski Mont Blanc with our 3 day extension, after a couple of rest days!
And a quick note on our Summer 2022 alpine & training courses…
Our June Mont Blanc courses are now full but we do have spaces in September and October + a few spaces left on our UK Mont Blanc training weekends in the Scottish Highlands in April and Snowdonia in May.