Chasing Ice

Chasing Ice

By Ramon Marin

Ramon's an Alpkiteer and old friend of Alpkit. He took the campervan on a trip this Christmas, and told us all about his trip.

Christmas is a time to take some time off and visit family for us, we normally take our campervan down through France and into Spain. This year we were planning to do some ice climbing and skiing, but seeing the warm winter weather Europe has had we also packed all our rock climbing gear as well. With that amount of gear (and Christmas presents!) for all types of adventures neither flying or train travel is really feasible.

Having spend a wet November and December in the Peak District trying to eek out the rare gritstone days, we were keen to hit Spain first and bask in the sunshine as soon as we could. We headed for our regular crag of Saleretes near Gombren, which at this time of the year always seems to be above the foggy inversion in the valleys. In three days we managed to replenish our vitamin D levels and also got away with a quick 7c route, the last one for me to complete all the routes at that crag.

ice climbing in Alpkit gear
ice climbing in Alpkit gear

After a few days feasting with the family we headed over to Courchevel for some skiing. Being so warm, the snow conditions weren’t so good, so one day we decided to drive high up in altitude to Chambery-en-Vanoise to try out the ice climbing on the tower that host the Ice Climbing World Cup. Climate change was in full effect, we were climbing ice at 15 degrees celsius, which was like standing under a shower, which made my Alpkit Definition waterproof work extra hard to keep me dry.

We managed to climb all the ice routes and even have a go at the competition structure, so much fun! Having whetted our appetite on the ice we were left hungry for more. We’ve heard that in Adelboden in Switzerland you could take a cable car all the way to 2500mts of altitude and some ice routes had formed there.

We drove across all the beautiful Swiss valleys to arrive at Adelboden whilst the Ski World Cup circus was in full swing. We caught the cablecar and indeed we could see the ice on the north face just below the station. We had a great day sampling all the routes there, which are mostly quite easy, but it had a couple of more testing offerings which got my pump going. Admiring the views from high up on that Swiss plateau, looking down at the inversion in the valley below, all the hard work of chasing ephemeral conditions all of a sudden feels totally worth it.

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