Travels abroad

10th Mar 2010

Well, it’s starting to feel like winter’s nearly over. Although having just spent over a week in the Ecrins trying to ice climb, maybe it already is. Saying that, there is a fantastic amount of snow over there now and for anything apart from ice climbing, the conditions are fab.

Tim and I had been planning to go to the Ecrins (Briancon valley) for a while and were meant to go in January but the end of Feb finally saw us leave the country. Lots of things conspired to our late departure, the main thing was a big photography assignment for Tim and as is the way with being self-employed, our holiday turned into a working holiday. But I can’t complain on that front, we had fun and it was a lovely place to be.

In fact I realised that I hadn’t been out of Britain since last April, which is a long time for me and getting over to France was a great change of scene.

We drove in our new(ish) van, it’s first trip abroad and it behaved very well. Even though the temps were on the warm side, we had some cold nights but the van always started first go and we never had any trouble; so well done van. We had to use snow chains at times, which was entertaining but we became pros at getting them on and they were a real help and made driving round in snowy/icy conditions a breeze.

My sister came out for a few days which was great, we picked her up on the way down at Grenoble then the next day she and I went boarding. There was a lot of snow, it was great although for both of us it had been quite a while since we’d done any (apart from my January Peak District excursions) and the going felt tough. The viz was bad and it snowed a lot, so the terrain was bumpy and I seemed to find myself on my bum a lot! Ali fared a lot better on her skis. I did discover that my bindings were a bit loose at the end of the day, which might not have helped too much!! But altogether it was fun to be out.

Ali did a days modelling for Tim (for his Blacks/Millets catalogue assignment) with Simon (local Brit in the valley) and I generally scampered around with flashguns and became a style assistant overnight.

This was a fun day but I was quite keen to get on the ice, after all this was the purpose of the trip for me. I think it’s been 4-5 years since I swung an axe and it was a medium I’d missed the medium. But because we’d left the UK late the ice wasn’t in the best condition and not knowing the area that well, finding solid (easy) ice was a challenge. We’d already been away six days and all I’d done was a days boarding, so being a non-patient type, frustration was setting in.

So we went in search of ICE!!