Saturday, March 19, 2011


This morning i booked flights to Alaska for May. I was in Alaska last year, we were thwarted by phenomenally poor weather while attempting a gob-smacking new line. Although frustrating, the trip was also eye opening. Alaska is where its at, its big and bad. Yet in a way just like a huge version of the Mont Blanc massif with no town, and add another 1500 meters to all the faces.
         I'll be heading out with my main alpine partner, Jon Griffith, but we'll be sharing camps with some American and Chamonix-based friends, hopefully making for a fun trip. We're both tingling with nerves/excitement for our objective.
      Other Brits out this year, Matt and Jon have their eyes set on something cool-  .
ALASKA! myself on the "shaft", Moonflower, Mount Hunter.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This Week.

Well i can't believe its mid March!! the Foehn of late has been doing an excellent job of stripping the little snow there was left beneath 2500 meters, and some miracles are gonna have to be worked if the pistes are to be kept open any time in to April!
       Yesterday i was at GM and did three laps of the Pierre a Ric to equate to 2300 meters of ascent. And the day before i had a good training day with 1000 meters ascent in the morning followed by reps of routes at Le Fayet in the afternoon. My training has slacked off in the last few weeks, partly due to my training slope behind the house melting away!! So the last two days have been good for getting back in the swing of it.
    Here's a short little movie from Bjarne of myself climbing the top pitch of "Nuit Blanche", then talking some more bullshit.
     My dissing of skiiers is purely in jest! seriously!.........

William Sim - Ice Climbing from Bjarne Sahlen on Vimeo.

More from Bjarne here- .

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bettembourg-Thivierge Aguille Verte

Yesterday i headed up the Grand Montet with Swedish friend Andreas Fransson to climb something on the North East face of the Verte. We got first lift and made a rapid ski to the bottom of the Couturier. Andreas is arguably one of the worlds best extreme skiiers, so it was a challenge to keep up with him.
     After seeing someone had bivvid and beaten us to our route, we decided it wasn't a goer, as we wanted to solo, which is not cool beneath people. Instead we climbed the Bettembourg, which is in fairly nasty condition with grey ice throughout. However, its always nice to climb the Verte and we were sunbathing on the summit just over 4 hours after crossing the schrund. It was inspiring to watch Andreas climb with such competence and fitness, considering he broke his neck, pelvis and a few other things less than a year ago!
Myself and Andreas.

In the Bettembourg. Its soloing territory, but as the ice is so blue right now, we stuck on a rope for 100 metres.

We then rapped all but the last 200 metres of the 1000 metre Couturier on v-threads, about half of which we replaced. In January i downclimbed this fairly fast, but its now in more icy condition so is better to rap. Must have been more frustrating for Andreas however, as its well within his skiing abilities when not so icy! The way down through the Glacier des Rognons to reach the Argentiere glacier proper was the most open i've ever seen it, and required at least 4 hops to cross open slots, and a lot of weak bridges.

Nearing the top.

Summit ridge of the Aguille Verte.

      Sadly, i got a phone call half way up the route from a friend. Another friend who had seen us set off to our route, had minutes later witnessed a large serac release from high on the Verte, which took out two climbers behind us. Not knowing whether it was me and Andreas or not, he'd asked someone to check we were ok. Unfortunately one of the two were killed, and i'm unsure on the status of the other.

Although not extraordinary in isolation, the incident has just re-affirmed to me what a terrible winter that of 2011 has been. Bairly two weeks ago the young Chamonix guide Max Belleville was killed in a crevasse fall while out guiding the VB with clients. There's been deaths pretty much daily, and most of them you can link to the lack of snowfall and warm temperatures we have had this year. The "Have you heard what happened to...." line, that as an alpinist you here far too often, has been heard far far too often this year.

Here's a good little write up from Andreas - .

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Patagonia Movie

Here's an excellent little movie made by Jonathan Griffith of our trip to Patagonia in November/December 2010.
          We went to Patagonia to attempt the West face of Cerro Torre. Unfortunately we never got a weather window substantial enough to get on the route. However, in the two minor weather windows we managed some incredible climbing, including the brilliant patagonian testpiece "Exocet" on Cerro Standhardt. We also climbed the East face of Cerro Piergiogio, making the first alpine style ascent, and probably second overall.
Here we go:

Patagonia 2010 from Jonathan Griffith on Vimeo.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Who likes winter anyways???

 This dry and mild winter has been excellent in allowing us to get out and climb sport in the sun. I've been out to Bionassay fairly regularly with a mix of partners, mostly with Ally, Jonny and Carl. This is great as all three are superb sport climbers and have been inspiring me with their strength, and getting dosed up on redponting to keep their Catalunya temptations away.....
       Bionassay is a beautiful limestone crag just above Saint Gervais. Its Western aspect means there's only about 1 hour of the day when it isn't in sun at the moment, and therefore you can climb in t-shirts, even if temps are close to, or below 0. The upper crag looks like a mini Ceuse, and certainly something you wouldn't expect close to Chamonix. I found a wicked 8a project on my last visit, but ultimately i know that i'd have to sack off any exped plans for this Spring if it was to become a reality before the Autumn.
        I was also down at Medonnet the other day. This is a collection of incredible quality granite boulders in a Tolkienesque forrest above Sallanches. I am probably the world's worst boulderer, and therefore find that location is really important for my motivation to get off the mat and pull on holds. Medonnet is certainly somewhere that provides the motivation, and my tips were suitably sore by the end of the day.
     Here's a quick movie of that day:

Today i've been up at GM, climbing Nuit Blanche. I've done this Chamonix classic a number of times but it is always great fun. Today i climbed the top pitch only (the bottom pitch is the main event), for Bjarne's video camera. It was extremely wet, and after about 5 metres i was already soaked to the skin, and therefore suffered from a high ratio of hot-aches to metres gained for the remainder of the pitch. But it was all fun.

A still from the camera. Credit: Bjarne Sahlen

And another. Credit: Bjarne Sahlen.

Credit: Bjarne Sahlen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bruno Gouvy on the Dru.

A friend showed me this awesome little vid of Bruno Gouvy doing his famous descent of the dru via sky-dive, abseil, snowboard then parapente. In the 80's Bruno Gouvy along with Jean Marc Boivin and others were obsessed in linking mountain sports such as climbing, skiing, boarding, parapenting, basejumping, hangliding etc, together in an awesome environment. Unfortunately, as you'll see in this clip, they were on the whole dependent on large support teams, helicopters and a huge amount of cash. (Where this came from i'm never too sure). There are countless examples, but this is one of the few to have found its way on to youtube.
     Make sure to watch his totally out of control landing on the summit many times, and try and work out what he was trying to do!?   Its 80's frenchies at their best, colourful lycra, headbands and chisseled jaw and cheekbones. Aso note Bruno's colour co-ordination with the helicopter. Enjoy!