Alps Massif Ice climbing trip

By Dan Bradley

Alps Massif Trip: Embark on a journey to the heart of Europe's greatest peaks.

Well this was to be one of the most action packed weekend I’ve had without falling off or injuring myself. Despite having a 20 hour drive at the start, with my friends fast asleep for the most of it and my only excitement was poking a camera into their faces to get an unwelcome “go away”! So after a few games on the ferry and an epic drive we arrived at our destination, l’Argentiere la Bessee.

It was early.. ish morning so we got straight on the case setting up the stall and spent the day chillaxing and talking up big stories of what we were not going to be able get up. At about 3 am that night the others arrived via plane and were not best pleased to hear that we were setting off at 6.30 in the morn for ice climbing.

Having done minimal ice climbing before I was a little nervous but after all, how hard can it be? Our guide Murray Hamilton seemed to be a local hero so he quickly got a few top ropes set up. Me and captain shaky (Alex) set to on establishing our own line which proved to be relatively easy work but this was only on easy ground. Later in the day we would prove ourselves to be totally inadequate on the stamina front, we would also come to realise how scary vertical ice is while you are high above your last amazing ice screw.

The next day was to be snow shoeing, I had not tried that and the thought of a days walking in deep snow when I could be climbing was.. well, let’s say I wasn’t that motivated! It turns out snow shoeing is AMAZING! You get to go jumping off two story buildings that have deep snow all round and land with minimal injury! It’s a little hard work but nowhere near as much as what I was expecting so if anyone is yet to try snow shoeing then don’t be shy! Get them booties on and go! That night we had the Ice fest party which was a bivi outside (only –16), a quality band and some good food, a couple others and I may have enjoyed the mulled wine a little too much!

Day 3, this was to be somewhat of a challenge for me, I’ve never tried skiing and thought it would be relatively easy to pick up but I spent most of my day eating snow! After a little while I got the hang of things and made it down a couple of times while Pete and Alex turned out to be semi pro skiers! My knees couldn’t handle much more so I retired to the bar for some gentle relaxation time.

All that was left was the mini epic drive back via Fontainebleau. I only did a little climbing at Font as I felt beaten and was still recovering from the pains of learning to ski! Even still I got a couple of ticks and had a chilled day in Font, a good end to the trip.

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