Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dont d'Oche

The Dont d'Oche is part of the Chablais Trilogy, which also includes Mont Grnage and the Cornetts de Bise. Big lumps of rock, that stand in a great position, close to the shores of Lac Leman and can offer some awesome views. If you have driven towards Thonon from geneva, the Dont is the higher hill next to the spikey tooth like Chateau d'Oche


Having just got back from the UK and with busy season about to hit, there was just enough time before the winter arrives properly, to get one more day out in the hills! We had had snow whilst we were back in the UK, but have had a solid week of sunshine, so Chris and I thought that we would get as high as we could on the route and withdraw if we needed crampons etc as Chris doesn't have any. After a minor fuel issue, we started slightly late at 11:30, straight into the climb towards the Chalets d'Oche. d'Oche means green pasture and as we drew near to the alpage, we could see why. Then it was slog time, climbing up the grasss slopes before reaching shattered limestone rock and the start of the chimneys with some chains for the tricky bits.


Slightly higher up, we stopped to take some shots and were looked down upon by some Butan goats (this was what a woman we met called them, although I cannot find them on the web!) which were great!



After the goats, some gullies led to the refuge. Wow, doesn't really cut it. When you come out of the gully onto a 2 foot wide ridge with a refuge above you and quite simply an amazing view, it pretty impressive!


Anyway, after a spot of lunch we then headed up through some sugary snow and then on to the summit. Amazing views.




Coming back through the snow and ice steps was a bit sketchy (for me) but once past the refuge, we were down within an hour. A great day out in perfect late autumn conditions. 1800 meters of climbing apparently, which is why my knees now feel stiff! Bobbles at the ready, bring on the snow!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Col de Fenetre Epic day out!

This has to be one of the biggest and most amazing days that I have spent on my bike! Full waffle to come, but here is a pic to get the idea of what I'm talking about...


ok, two...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mont Billiat

Whilst Steffi whisked Monty south for some sun and 'jump ins' into to the swimming pool, i stayed behind with the intention of doing some walking and riding. what happened was I squeezed one evening walk and a day's riding into a week - the rest, I managed to fill with work!

Having got the map out several times over the summer, there were a number of objectives that were on the cards, but there are to mountains that I can see from my house which have always drawn my attention. Looking down the valley from Seytroux, there are two distinct ridges of vertical limestone, opposite each other.

These ridges are the first 'big' things that you come across when driving up from Thonon and are (looking towards Lake Geneva from Seytroux) Mt Billiat on the left and Mt Ouzon on the right.

Mt Ouzon
Mt Ouzon

I chose Mt Billiat as I thought it had the more impressive looking outline! It was a Friday night and there was not a cloud in the sky and most importantly, no wind, as it looked pretty vertiginous from the map contours... I planned on driving up to the chalets at Mevonne, but the reality was that to do that, I needed a 4x4 and the right to access the road. My car was out of its depth before I had to give up the right to the road, so I pulled over and did the (quite long) slog up the road to the alpage pastures and chalets at the top.

I had set off at 4:30pm with the intent of seeing a bit of the sunset and by the time I reached the alpage at Mevonne, the light was incredible, just coming over the col and lighting up the sheer limestone cliffs behind.

I can't really do this sight justice at all. There was no one there, the light was amazing and there were about 50 cows jangling in a hidden meadow under the cliffs - it looked like a mini Yosemete with a bit of cow bell thrown in for extra atmosphere - one of the most amazing sights that I have ever seen in the mountains, anywhere.

Climbing up to the coll on the right, I then struck up the steeper ground towards the summit. This ends up traversing a steep (80 ish degrees!) grass hill side with some chains put in at the most exposed parts. The clay like soil is slippery when wet although ok for me as it hadn't rained for a few days. Following this traverse, you pop out onto a ridge which heads to the summit.

I was glad that there was no wind as it is about a meter wide in places with a considerable drop on either side, both at that 70/80 degree angle!! I saw one deer that bolted when it got my scent, other than that, no one!

Having topped out a bit before 19:20, I sat and enjoyed the view for a bit. You can see sooo many peaks and lake Geneva in its entirety! The fountain looked miniscule! Where are the pictures, I hear you ask? Well, I took my slr which had no cards in it!!!

After a bit I headed down and it quickly turned dark. The track through the forest went on for EVER and I was glad to see my car by head torch, feeling knackered.

I Found these shots on the web which come close to my experience!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Radio silence is broken!

Its been a veeeeery long time since I posted anything on the old ibfc, which is tragic! Life has been bust this year, but I've had plaenty of adventures as we all have. It appears that blogging time is squeezed when running companies and chasing toddlers! I've got a free patch coming up with some time for walking and catching up, so I shall sort some posts out from our adventures this year... In the mean time you can see some of our skiing and snowboarding adventures on the alpine highs blog!

Here's a pic that Michael at Cuttin Edge Solutions took the other day. This was from a trip to Chamonix which might just have been the best single track riding I have ever done. That's quite a big claim, but with 25 minute descents on ribons of completely smooth then technical track, all taken at mach ten and a large penalty for overshooting the switchbacks, I think it might just be justified!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

South Downs Way

So, after fighting with my ankle for 6 weeks I decided to take a different approach. Lay off the MTB and climbing and focus on low impact stuff to keep my fitness up. The road bike has come back out and I have become addicted to Strava! My fitness has gone through the roof and after 5 weeks my ankle has realy started to show signs of improvement :-) Itzi and I finally got back on the MTB's last weekend and did a gentle downland amble of about 15 miles and that felt good, so this weekend we decided to ride from Petersfield to Amberley on the South Downs way, which is about 28 miles. A good test for my ankle and a good challenge for Itzi as she has never rode that far, especially off road with about 3000ft of ascent! The sun was shining and we set-off from Petersfield train station about 09:30. After some initial good progress Itzi got a puncture, followed by a brake failure, swiftly followed by a broken chain! Good job I'm an engineer! And then about 10 minutes later I looked up a descent from the bottom of Beacon Hill to see her dissapear into a hedge! After sprinting up the hill I found her OK, but a bit bruised and shaken! To her credit after a bit of bread and a cuddle she got back on to finish the remaining 15 odd miles-well done Itzi!!

Brilliant day out

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Harrsions, Bowles etc

Had a cracking weeekend down in Kent on Southern Sandstone. Itzi, Shaun and I went down Fri night. We got off to a flying start & whilst Itzi set-up camp (bless her)Shaun and I got straight down to Bowles for an evening climb. Shaun had never been before and my ankle was still screwed from climbing (falling!!) in France, so we were never going to set the world on fire but we got up a couple including the classic Pigs nose. All followed by a bbq on the open fire at the brillliant campsite-Campfire weekends, run by an absolutely cracking chap who lights the fire for you, day and night! Saturday saw us up at Harrisons, where we snuck a lot of routes in, ad despite the now very painful ankle I even managed a few I haven't tried before-nothing too taxing but quality routes, especially, Birchden Wall-5b, and Unclimbed wall-5b, the latter being a lovely traverse. DSCN1383 Wailing Wall 5c DSCN1336 Another BBQ and fire followed, this time with the owners of the campsite and some of their friends. This made for a lovely evening and a real pleasant change-very nice! Sunday and we were off to Bowles again, Shaun had to go home Sat, so on Sunday we met my sister and Paul with our niece Ellie for her first taster of outdoor rock! This was perfect could I could barely walk by now (need to give the ankle a few more weeks!) so spent all day putting up easy routes for Ellie and Itzi, of which they did about 7-8!!! Leanne and Paul even got a chance to have a quick go. DSCN1393 DSCN1408 DSCN1404 All this was then topped off by Jay and Alice turning up for a late afternoon climb and howdy-so back we went to Pigs Nose where Jay romped up with a hangover after going to a wedding Sat night-Sweet!! DSCN1416 DSCN1411 DSCN1422

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another trip to Morzine

Back in June Itzi and I went out to Morzine to see all the folks out there, especially Chris & Kates new arrival Alahna, amazingly it also coincided with Monty's second birthday! We managed to squeeze in as much climbing as possible, some local stuff at the elephants nose in St Jean D'Aulps where we practised faffing climbing multi pitch with 3! This was so we could put it into practice on some routes in Chamonix. So on our day off from the girls (they had one too and went to the spa-how different we are!)we drove down the valley, through Chamonix to a crag that had been recommended "Vallorcine", it was in a beautiful part of the valley and after a short walk we arrived. Unfortunately it was running with water but we got started anyway and once out of the forest onto the second pitch it dried up. We had a cracking time on route, despite getting lost and actually climbing about 3 different routes in one, which made it quite an adventure, thankfully it was quiet so we didn't annoy too many people!!! IMAG0366 IMAG0370 IMAG0392 IMG_3779 IMAG0362 Lots of nice social evenings, eating and drinking ensued and some more local climbing, plus Itzi and I did the red via ferrata at Rocher de la Chaux, which I was very impressed with considering it was Itzi's first adventure above about 100m! DSCN1115 DSCN1112 DSCN1108 DSCN1100 DSCN1156 Cheeky post climb drink More climbing at Rocher de la Chaux IMG_0534 IMG_0540 Great times (unfortnately no biking this year but you can't do it all....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Goats ride Morzine early season

Just a teaser for the mo, but Mark and crew headed out just before the season for a different take on the usual winch and plummet riding. Great week, where the weather did its best to stop play, but overall an awesome time and some great wheel to wheel action on the deserted trails! DAV_1576

Summer in Morzine has ARRIVED!

We'll be on it! DSC_0546

Sunday, April 29, 2012


The blog has been looking very dry so thought I better make an effort! Loads more to come with some shots of recent climbing in Dorset, Cheddar etc. But first the main one! Itzi and I have just got back from an amazing 2 and a bit weeks in Thailand. I will save all the travel stuff for Facebook and just cover the extreme parts here!!! 1 bit I have to mention is we checked into the Lebua at State Tower hotel on our last night stoppover in Bangkok. £90 last minute room and we got upgraded to a £500 a night suite on the top floor-amazing!!!! In case you didn't know this is the place they film the rooftop bar in the Hangover 2. Very cool way to spend the last night and we were treated like royalty! DSCN0804 Oh and the fact that on our first stop in Bangkok it was Songkran, which is effectively one giant water fight which everyone joins in on. Basically you cruise along whether it be on foot, Tuk Tuk, bus and even 80 year old ladies throw buckets of ice cold water over you and rub your face with chalk/flour whilst wishing you happy new year! Absolutely mad but also hilarious; DSCN0217 DSCN0220 Right onto the good stuff. We basically went to this place to chill on the beach for 2 weeks but as I am incapable of doing that I steered us to Railay as it is the number 1 spot in South East Asia for climbing. In a nutshell amazing and I managed to tick off my first 6c+!!! So close to 7a but don't have the minerals yet! Most of the climbs are straight off the beach on lovely white sand and the bath like ocean is only metres away. So it is also the nuts for bouldering. Best climb of the week was "Make A Way" 6B, 27M. Some of the most amazing dripping limesone features you have ever seen finishing with a crux on pockets on a fairly blank headwall. I struggled to climb a lot of the stuff without a rest as it was so hot but I really wanted this one clean, onsight so I charged it and was well chuffed when I topped out just as the sun was going down! Itzi wasn't so pleased as she was stood at vthe bottom getting eating alive by mosquitos!!!! DSCN0663 DSCN0388 DSCN0405 DSCN0368 We did a couple of quality treks as well on Railay; One leaves the main trail to Pranang beach and goes up steep rocky and muddy hillside with the assistance of fixed ropes to a viewpoint and a lagoon. Pretty cool; DSCN0334 DSCN0348 DSCN0339 The other climbed up the Bamboo ladder at the far end of the climbs at Escher World and went through a couple of caves (with the assistance of my trusty torch!!) and then more bamboo ladders before you pop out a hole looking out of Thaiwand wall and over the whole peninsula. You then have to set up and abseil back down into the jungle and then trek back to the beach. Very cool. DSCN0464 DSCN0467 We also had loads of really cool day trips, speedboats out to Ko Phi Phi, snorkelling with plankton at sunset, and on the day before the last we took a sailing boat out for a day of Deep Water Soloing. We met some really cool people on this trip and had a great day. Very chilled out cruising in the boat and then some quality climbing. It turns out I got the fear big time soloing above about 10m which I have never got before!!! Must be getting old!! Or maybe it was just climbing roofs with big heel and toe hook moves by your earholes that freaked me out!!! DSCN0686 DSCN0700 Amazing