My New Badge – Proud

Guides badge

Its been one hell of a summer preparing meticulously for my final guides exams. As with all things, not everything can go your way and there were some ups and downs in the lead up. First Michelle’s Father sadly passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. Being Chamonix based you are surrounded by death and loss, I would never go as far to say we are hardened to it but more that we are used to the strong emotional feelings of loss, sadness, stress. Its hard to comprehend the feeling of loss her Mum has after 50 plus years together.

After the dust started to settle I put my head back to the grindstone and was in the mountains training nearly every day practicing guiding techniques with peers. Then I caught a nasty D&V virus that had me feeling nauseous, weak and sleeping for hours after work. It seemed to go away after a week but after a Grand Paradiso and Mont Blanc week it made a return and I started to get nervous that I’d get my strength back in time. Another week went by before I felt better enough to try a 2 day alpine route. On the walk in I sharted, all was not good and that was a stinky couple of days.

With 10 days to go the viral fatigue disappeared and I started to eat properly again. Back on track. Then I took a call from my sister that started with ‘are you at home?’ and ended with the shocking news my Mum had died unexpectedly. The funeral couldn’t be delayed and I flew back to Scotland to be with my family on this sad occasion. With only a few days to go before the exam I needed to get back to Cham quickly, sort gear, prepare, acclimatise and gain some head space. On the way to the airport in Aberdeen I got a text from British Airways to announce they had cancelled my flight from London to Geneva. I couldn’t imagine anywhere more lonely than stuck in a airport hotel at heathrow on my own the night of my Mum’s funeral.

I made it back to Cham the next day and had to wait until the day before our exam briefing before there was weather to run up Tacul to acclimatise.  I carried quite a bit of emotional stress into the exam but after a couple of days my motivation returned and it was a good weak with a great bunch of people. Somehow I made it though it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.


Col des Cristaux

I teamed up with Ben Tibbetts and Chris Booth to go ski the north east face of Col des Cristaux in the Argentiere Basin just after the prolonged spell of foehn that brought heavy snow to the area. This line is the easiest on the north wall at 5.1 but its still around 600 m of 40-50 degrees with some no fall terrain mixed in up high but generally relaxed enough to make some big turns. Ben has invested in a fancy powered gimble so it was an interesting project to go and simul ski while filming! In the cable car we met Loic Thivierge and Guillaume Mars who were headed in the same direction so we teamed up them for a social day.

Check out Ben’s superb photos on his website and videos on his facebook site:

Ben Tibbetts Facebook



Col de la Verte

This was an attempt early April…possible a weak one at that, my head was full of Baffin preps and Lambert had just fallen 600 m down this slope a few days before and was lucky to live. He is still in hospital months later. I hope he makes as good as recovery as is possible.  I went  thinking it would be good skiing but the wind blew away our dreams of powder.  At mid height we encounter sections of neve which doesn’t really rank as fun skiing in my opinion, risking it all when the margin is that slight is something I will leave for the lemmings.


Enrico at the turn around point, patches of neve glistening amongst the snow.

col verte RHDSC06339DSC06346DSC06356DSC06372DSC06381