As the year draws to a close I can’t help but reflect on what a vintage year it has been –  if I was lucky enough to be your guide then thank you for making it utterly brilliant for me – check out the photos below and revive some of those incredible memories. With the shortening of the days I’m sure you feel the craving to get out in the mountains just like me. It’s time to start dreaming and planning your next adventure whether it’s some specific life goal or simply getting a boost catching some winter sun in the Alps. For winter 19/20 I  will be guiding out of Chamonix from November to May and I still have  some gaps in my calendar so if you having been dreaming of that place where the magic happens then don’t delay, get in touch before its too late. It will be a pleasure to spend time in the mountains with you again or get to know you if its your first time.

December 1st winter kicks off on skiing the Toula Glacier with the opening of Skyway (Helbronner) on the Italian side of Mont Blanc. The Aosta valley has ALOT of snow right now with its huge option of early season touring and sidecountry. Mid-December I’m holding a 3 day avalanche awareness course for the new employees at Bluebird Cafe and Solocal who are Chamonix newbees. Aiguille du Midi opens on December 13th and Grand Montets is already open at the weekends.

January and February will be deep endless powder days based in Chamonix and Skyway including some Valley Blanche action. I am also guiding in the secret stash spot of Sainte-Foy for the second year running and can’t wait to get back for its legendary trees and easy access backcountry.

March and April I already have 2 steep camps with clients who are looking to access the steep and deep in the big mountains. Snow cover will be at its best and the longer days open up the classic ski touring possibilities. The mind boggles at the endless possibilities.

May sees the return of 2 clients hunting specific big lines in Chamonix which is always a great time of year for the high mountain.

Opening the Entreves Spur, Skyway, Chamonix

Early December days at Skyway are some of my favourite

Avalanche course crew on Brevent

Avalanche awareness and terrain management course on Brevent

Ross Hewitt enjoying deep january powder days

Deep endless powder days, Plan de l’Aiguille

Ice climbing in Chamonix

Ice climbing in December and January

Snow anchors and crevasse rescue

Teaching snow anchors & fundamental skills for crevasse rescue

building and equalising anchors

Teaching how to build an ice screw anchor and equalise it

La Sentinelle ski meet Chamonix

La Sentinelle ski touring meet was in Chamonix this year and Monte Viso in 2020

La Snetinelle with Bruno Compagnet

Good cop, bad cop at La Sentinelle

traditional dining, La Sentinelle ski meet Chamonix

Traditional mountain food at La Sentinelle

Snow Sport of Great Britain ski test at Pila Italy

Snow Sports of Great Britain ski test at Pila, Italy

safety and skier for a British independent fictional film

Thats a 70k camera! Working as a guide and stunt skier for a UK film

touring in the Vanoise

Ski touring in the Vanoise national park

bespoke ski guiding for an Australian based client

Bespoke ski guiding for Andrew

backcountry picnics in Sainte Foy

No rush for the powder in the Tarentaise, enjoying a backcountry picnic

steep camp for 2 British clients looking for the magic

Steep camp heading to ski Aiguille du Plan South Face

touring under the Giant Argentiere basin north wall

Returning for Aiguille d’Argentiere

snowboarding Mont Blanc

Deep day on Mont Blanc early May

col des cristaux, the classic big steep line in the Argentiere basin

Riding giants, those dream lines forming the North Wall of the Argentiere  glacier

Midi Plan traverse, classic alpinism

Classic alpinism on the Midi Plan traverse

Passing the Vallot shelter en route to Mont Blanc

Dawn at the Vallot shelter on the way to Mont Blanc

glorious sunrise near summit of Mont Blanc

Sunrise on Mont Blanc as we summit

classic Swiss ridge scrambles

Scrambling with stunning views

Jegigrat Traverse

Classic Swiss ridges, this one done in a day hit from Chamonix

Sunset on the Matterhorn

summit of the Matterhorn under 4 hours, winner!

Summiting the Matterhorn under 4 hours

sunset over the Matterhorn

The Matterhorn at sunset

Classic Italian ridges in a day hit from Chamonix

Classic Italian Ridges easily accessible from Chamonix

Christmas at Skyway

Christmas as Skyway

High Trail Evotec Glueless Climbing Skins Review

I was sent a pair of these skins to test at the end of the last season so they have been burning a hole in the box waiting to get out. As I collected my ski pass the other day it seemed like it was the right time to cut the skins for my Black Crows Corvus. For the last five years I have religiously used Black Diamond STS mohair mix so they set the benchmark for comparisons.

So how does a glue-less skin work? The Swiss made High Trail use a silicon based coating which creates a molecular bond to adhere to the ski. They come in a stylish box with a very effective Stanley knife style skin cutter, stuff bag, and comprehensive instructions on how to fit them.  For all of you who will only read the instructions as a last resort, there is a useful video here for fitting the skins. The product has a high quality feel and appearance as you would expect from a Swiss made item, only time will tell on the performance.

The thing that remains to be seen is how well these skins hold up in wet or cold conditions and the overall durability of the glue-less system. Unlike conventional glue, the coating can’t simply be reapplied.  One major benefit is that the skins are much easier to peal off a wide freeride ski. Weight wise there is nothing in it. The tail of the skin has a easily adjustable clip that looks more robust that the Black Diamond skin tails which tend to perish after a season or two.

So all we need now in Europe is for it to snow so I can really put them to the test!

high trail skins-1


The latest reset on the Midi had everyone heading for the freeride zone in the Cosmiques and Rond. Will has shin splints and I needed some exercise, so we decided to go tour even though the train was closed with trees on the line. There wasn’t much snow stuck on the south side of the Midi Arrete, so we bailed on the Grand Envers approach and went for first tracks on the low angled pow on the Gros Rognan.

The snow kept changing with aspects and with it our minds on which of the 3 Tacul tours to do. Finally deciding to go to Breche Tacul we got to 50 m from the ridge and were falling into holes in the unconsolidated wind blown snow. That decided it – Capucin.

At the Col I could push my pole completely into the snow and not touch rock. Finding the anchor required a lot of digging with the showel!

There was some good cold snow down the right side which we hugged tightly to avoid sluff activity coming of the sunny side on the left. The skiing was fun and it was great to be out in the mountains after such a long period of unsettled weather. Thanks also the American team behind for waiting and not sluffing us out.

After the walk down to Chamonix it was definitely beer o’clock!