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Snowdonia Peaks

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Crinkle Crags & Bowfell 4-3-17

Well what another great day on these iconic Lakeland Fells. Another last minute decision as I was torn between this and another visit to the Carneddau in Snowdonia but the weather seemed to make the decision for me as it seemed more settle up here. It was also the chance to get to know a few folk off one of the walking groups connected to Facebook that I'm a member of and to put names to faces. The other walk in Snowdonia was also connected to the same group so that would of been another opportunity to get to know fellow walkers. As it happened, I knew one of the group I was with which always seems a good way of breaking ice to gel with the other members and as it happened we all got on like a house on fire, good stuff :-)
This was a near repeat of the walk I did in March last year but with different weather. Last year a mixture of blue sky, sun and strong wind while this year was more of a snowy walk with little wind and a bit warmer. We also did a different and longer (killer) ascent route that felt like it was never going to end!!    CLICK HERE
An early start of about 8am in the car park of the Old Dungeon Ghyll in Langdale, saw us start walking about 8.20 through Stool farm and along the track that should of took us to the wooden bridge over a quite swollen Oxendale Beck, only the bridge wasn't where it should of been, i.e, fixed over the water!!. For some reason it was lying on it's side with on end in the beck and looking a bit precarious to get over, but where there's a will, there's a way :-) and with a little bit of thought and carefulness we all made it across all in one piece and dry :-)
Our route for the day
Collapsed Bridge
Easy does it
Once we all got safely over it was the start of the steep ascent that takes you up past Browney Gill between tHE two lumps of Pike O' Plisco and Great knott and on towards Red Tarn. We swung round and headed on to Great Knott just before Red Tarn, and this is where we encountered the first bits of any lying snow. The snow here didn't look much but it did prove a bit difficult to walk on as it was lying in the path and was a good few inches deep in places, in fact one or two deep pockets that were like traps as you lost balance now and again.
Taking a breather @ Browney Gill
Great Knott and the Crinkles
Pike O Plisco
Snow covered path
Snow getting deeper over Great Knott
The depth of snow in places made for very tough going as there was times when you'd sink to you knees unexpectedly. With the rocks and tuffts of grass poking out of the snow it looked straight forward enough but then you'd get caught out by the unseen sink holes, fun in the snow :-) The weather was quite unexpected as the forecast said it would start to deteriorate as the afternoon went on, where in fact it actually got better and reasonably warm despite the alpine look. Although hats and gloves were on at rest points, mine were in the bag for most of the day as the wind also stayed away. A little breeze on the tops but nothing more and once the low cloud started to disperse it made for an excellent day with some great views all the way to the coast.
A frozen plateau
Sink holes in the snow
Small cornice forming between the Crinkles
Low cloud starting to lift
Pit stop view on the Crinkles

There's a fair amount of up and down on the Crinkles as you make you way over them and judging by the tracks in the snow there hadn't been a great amount of folk up here in the past few days. There were a few tracks that made the going a bit easier to follow and it showed where folk had been caught out by the sink holes and with the cloud lifting it made route finding a bit easier which is always on the helpful side. Between us though, we did have an assortment of maps and gps's to help us out along the way. By the time we had reached the three tarns the sun had made an appearance and all tops were clear of any cloud. In fact it had a warming effect as we stopped to take a layer off where we should of been adding a layer, but no complaints as we headed upto the highest summit of the day, Bow Fell.
Easy does it

Low cloud moving away to reveal our route so far
Langdale Valley coming into view
Sun hitting the Scafells with Bowfell all clear
Langdale Valley with a distant Windermere
One way to get down
Frozen tarn with the Scafells as the backdrop
Blue sky and sun over Bowfell as the layers come off :-)
The ascent of Bowfell
Bowfell Summit group photo
Summit view towards Mossdale/Eskdale
Summit views over to the Scafel range
Summit view down to Langstrath and beyond
Summit view back along Crinkle Crags and beyond

Summit views video
The initial plan of descent from Bow Fell, was to head over to Esk Pike, follow the path round and down past Angle Tarn before heading up to Rossett Pike and down the path following Rossett Gill, joining the main Cumbrian Way path back down to the car park. Because of the time it had taken us, because of the conditions, it was decided to bypass Esk Pike and Rossett Pike and just head straight for Angle Tarn and keeping to the descent path from there. A little disappointing as I would of liked to of ticked those two off but a sensible one as time was getting on. It just means another excuse to come back again but I'll not be looking forward to this descent path as I found it to be a bit off a killer after a tough long day. As we headed under Esk Pike the ground conditions were changing as the snow was turning more soft and slushy and therefore a bit more slippery. Again we all made it in one piece and it was good fun in parts :-)
Coming off Bow Fell
Keep away from the cornice
Blue sky & snow wasn't in the forecast
This is where it started to get a bit on the slushy side
On the slushy slippery descent

Angle Tarn with Rossett Pike
The descent path skirting under Rossett Pike
Heading into the Langdale Valley
Looking back up to the Crinkles and Bow Fell
 We got back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll for a debrief about 4.30pm so about 8 hours spent in this great area. A big thanks for Tony for organizing the walk and also the great company of Sharon, Nicci, Jay, Johnathon & Peter.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Meribel French Alps January 2017

This has got to go down as one of the best few days we've had anywhere. Everything just seemed to fall into place and could not of been any better if it was planned to precision. The relaxation, the weather, the views, our base and of course seeing our son out there. This break was all about going to see our son who is working the skiing season in MERIBEL, the major ski resort in the THREE VALLEES area of the French Alps region. We aren't skiers, in fact I have only ever been skiing the once way back when I was at school sometime in the early 1970's while Jill has never been anywhere near a ski so this was to be very new territory for us and wasn't quite sure what to expect. A lot did depend on the weather while we were there and the weeks leading up to it we were constantly checking the weather reports and the WEBCAMS around the area. Being a ski resort, they do need snow, lots of it, and a few weeks before we were due out there it did snow quite heavy for a time which made the locals and the skiers quite happy and also the organizers of the world cup skiing competition that was being held during the week that we were there. It also made the place like a Christmas card scene as the decorations seem to stay up all through the ski season making it a proper winter wonderland feel good factor. We stayed right in the heart of Meribel at a place called LE ROC and was no surprise when we went to our room that we had ear plugs, as well as towels, as this place is on top of one of the busy bars that is open till about 2am each night!!! To be fair, we weren't really disturbed by any excessive noise as our room was right above the front porch and not at the back over the music area :-) We did join in with the night life as we had no itinerary to follow so didn't have to up at the crack of dawn.  The only traveling we did was on the many ski lifts that go all over the three valley's, there is also a free bus service that runs between the villages and resorts so getting about is very easy. We were there from January 21st-26th and the weather couldn't of been any better, with blue skies and sun for the time we were there. It was also quite warm despite the snow and altitude and lazing about on deckchairs at nearly 10,000 feet, just below the summit of Mont Du Vallon will stay with me for a very long time :-)
All photo's are off my phone, GoPro and camera.

Our base in the heart of Meribel

Ear plugs!!
Meribel main street
View from our room
The ski run for the World Cup that was taking part during the week
Saulire summit @ 2,738metres
Mont Blanc takes centre stage from Saulire summit
Mont Blanc @ 4,808 m (15,774 ft)
Some of the artwork that's around some of the ski lift area's
Roc-des-Trois-Marches culminates at 2704 meters above sea level! This is one of the main summits of Meribel. In winter, you have to go by the Plattières gondola from Le Mottaret. A beautiful climb to seize a view of the glaciers of the Vanoise and the fabulous Meije.
Mont Du Vallon (The Mont du Vallon is one of the main summits of Méribel . Located at an altitude of 2950 meters, it is accessed by the gondola Mont-Vallon. Once again, it is the panorama that motivates this race, it is magnificent, a horizon of massifs.)
Mont Du Vallon rest area
Me and some old guy
Mont Du Vallon rest area
Statue at Mont Du Vallon
Mont Du Vallon ski lift platform

View across to a distant Mont Blanc
Blue sky and sun :-)
Cloud inversion going on over the village of Les Allues
The high points we managed to get to had some great vistas all round and the weather certainly played it's part. There was only one point where the wind picked up all the time we were there and that was at Plattieres. The spindrift was quite bad and stinging when it hit your face but thankfully it didn't last long. We also paid a visit to a few of the lower resorts of Les Allues, COURCHEVEL and SAINT MARTIN DE BELLEVILE
with Courchevel being the most extravagant of the lot!! A real eye opener and somewhere to stay if money is of no object with it's array of 5* chalets, hotels, restaurants and all the very best in designer clothes and jewellery. There are shops and cafes that do cater for the rest of us and it is a nice place. Les Allues was just a very quick visit to pass a bit of time while Saint Martin is quite a popular village with a lot of skiers with a good choice of accommodation and places to eat.
View down on to a mountain restaurant from the ski lift on the way to Courchevel
K2  @ Courchevel Real luxury and at a real luxury price!!
Tougnete @ 2434metres
Looking down on Saint Martin De Belleville from Tougnete

Tougnete summit view
On the ski lift to Saint Martin De Belleville
Saint Martin De Belleville
Another place we visited for a laugh was the party on the piste bar, LA FOLIE DOUCE 
Quite an experience getting down with the skiers & boarders as the thumping music and Champagne showered the crowd while dancing on the tables and chairs in the sun. The things you get up to eh :-)
La Folie Douce
La Folie Douce
La Folie Douce
We did get a short walk in while we were there, in fact we did it just about every day as there is a 5km walk from MOTTARET back down the valley to Meribel. A pleasant walk that takes about an hour from the ski lifts back to our base and was always a good way to finish the day. The last ski lifts were abut 4.30ish so as long as we were down by then we had a bit of a wander. Another short walk we did was again from Mottaret that took us round LAC TUEDA, which was frozen over and covered in snow, and was another good end to the day. There are lots of walks around the area, low level where we were and of course around the high summits. We could of done a bit more high walking but as there was hundreds of skiers everywhere and not knowing where all the paths were we played it safe and stuck to the lifts :-) A walkers paradise in the summer months when its a lot more quieter but a bit of a pain to get to and stay as 90% of the place shuts down.
Walking around Lac Tueda
Walk around Lac Tueda
Frozen & snow covered Lac Tueda
Snow Angel @ Lac Tueda
Lac Tueda
The walk back to Meribel
View back to Mottaret
Frozen waterfall
Entering Meribel

Video of the views from the high area's and ski lifts

A video of fun in the sun
So there we have it, a most amazing time in a most amazing place. Of course, like most places, the weather needs to be right for what we did and boy was it just!! Absolutely superb with almost unbroken sunshine during the day and cold and clear throughout the night making this one holiday that won't be forgotten in a hurry. I'd certainly recommend doing this if you're not a skier and you love looking round the mountains. It's made so easy with the pedestrian ski pass and the free buses that run all day and evening and if the weather is kind, well, enjoy :-)

Thanks for looking :-)