The peaks and routes of the Alps are much prized during the winter months and it is only the self-reliant that manage to achieve winter ascents. Winter alpinism pulls together all the skills and experiences acquired over the years, allowing you to tackle uncrowded and untracked alpine peaks in winter.
We climb routes up to Alpine AD+. At this level of technical difficulty not only will the routes be challenging and physically demanding, but at a level that for the most part we can keep moving on, allowing us to keep warm, moving freely and so able to enjoy what can be a very harsh and cold environment.
When climbing in the Alps in winter, nights are spent in the parts of the huts called ‘winter quarters’. These rooms give basic shelter, blankets and sometimes a wood burning stove giving warmth and a facility for cooking.
We take all our own food and use snowshoes to approach the hut, get around on the glacier and to access the routes.
We use the first day or two to ‘dust off the cobwebs’ and get moving, basing ourselves in a valley and climbing a couple of winter routes from there, covering the basics on snow and ice and getting a feel for conditions.
We then head up to a mountain hut/bivouac shelter and spend a couple of days at high altitude.
We feel that it’s great to then break the week and have another valley night to rest and refresh before heading up into the mountains again for the last part of the week, returning to Leysin on Friday.