Selected Posts From My Old Site

Alps, Cascades, Red Rocks, Joshua Tree and Smith

Friday November 23, 2012

Over the last few years I have been adjusting my work over the spring, summer and fall from rock climbing in NH to traveling more and trying to guide more alpine terrain. This year was the culmination of that change with what amounted to a 5 month road trip with a focus on alpine climbing in the Alps and in the North Cascades. The only thing I could add next year to make it even more alpine would be an Alaskan trip in spring. No plans for that but one never knows what opportunities might come around.

I am now home for the ice season and will be starting to make forays out to see what early ice is climbable so check back for reports here or friend me on facebook to get alerts as to when I update the conditions. Enjoy the photos.

Jon on the Petite Aiguille Verte with the Dru behind, Chamonix France

Kathy on the Petite Aiguille Verte with the Aiguille de Chardonnay in the background, Chamonix France

Kathy on the Arete des Cosmiques, Chamonix France

Kids, families and beginners climbing at the Gaillands, a roadside crag in Chamonix France

A warm and sunny summit of Mont Blanc 15,781 feet (4810m) Chamonix France

One of the great things about working in Europe is getting to work with guides from all over. Matteo a fun Italian Guide from Alagna Italy

Nearing the summit of the Wiesmiess 13,179 feet (4017m) near Saas Grund Switzerland

Kevin Mahoney leading one of the rock pitches on the Frendo Spur Chamonix France

Kevin Mahoney on one of the ice pitches of the Frendo Spur, Chamonix France

Jane (my wife) near the top of an easy day up the long Voie Calline with the Chamonix Valley behind

The little (and very nice) buvette at the top of the Voie Calline, what a great way to finish a nice scramble before the one hour hike down to our apartment.

Stacey on the Chapelle de la Gliere in the Aiguille Rouge with Mont Blanc in the background, Chamonix France.

Stacey higher on the route up to the Chapelle de la Gliere, Chamonix France

Stacey on the Arete Des Papillons on our way to the summit of the Aiguille du Peigne, Chamonix France

One of the crux sections of the Arete Des Papillons, Chamonix France

The Triangle du Tacul with the Contamine-Mazeaud route up the center, Chamonix France

Stacey on the Contamine-Mazeaud

Stacey on the direct finish of the Contamine-Mazeaud

Stacey on the Frendo Spur on the Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix France

Stacey on the Frendo Spur on the Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix France

Stacey higher up on the ice section of the Frendo Spur

Near the top of the Frendo Spur

Stacey in the Aiguille Rouge with the three big routes she climbed, the Frendo Spur, Contamine-Mazeaud, and the Arete Des Papillons.

September in the Cascades, our first camp on the north side of Mount Forbidden near Marblemount, WA

Crevasse rescue practice on the Forbidden Glacier

The short knife edge ridge on Concord Spire in Washington Pass near Mazama, WA

A scenic!

Dorado Needle and Early Morning Spire from Marble Creek Cirque near Marblemount, WA

Sunset at our camp in Marble Creek Cirque

Our camp in Marble Creek Cirque with Dorado Needle and Early Morning Spire in the background 

Our camp near Winnie’s Slide on Mount Shuksan near Glacier, WA

Making our way through some crevasses as we go from the Upper Curtis Glacier to the Crystal Glacier on Mount Shuksan 

Descending Mount Shuksan just before sunset with a very smokey horizon.

Finally some rock climbing in Red Rocks near Las Vegas

More desert climbing but now in Joshua Tree with Jane near Palm Springs, CA

Jane and my ride during our little getaway to Joshua Tree

Back to work with a course in Smith Rock with some November snow near Bend, OR

Cold rock at Smith in November to wrap up the season, must be time to head home for some ice climbing.

Posted by Marc Chauvin in Selected Posts From My Old Site

Presidential Figure of Eight

Figure of 8: Pushing the Mountain Run

Wednesday May 27, 2009

img_6468Many have heard of the Pemi Loop here in the White Mountains and it has become the signature long trail run/speed hike in the White Mountains. The Pemi Loop is just over 30 miles and it has an elevation gain and loss of about 9100 feet The thing about the Pemi Loop is that it does not go over the signature range in the White Mountains, the Presidentials! The long hike/run in the Presidentials tends to be and end to end hike that requires two cars and the logistic of a car spot. What I wanted was a loop hike like the Pemi Loop with the same kind of distance and elevation gain and included the majority of the Presidentials, what I came up with was the Presidential Figure of Eight. The reason I call it the Figure of Eight is because of the shape of the route when drawn on a map. The route starts at the AMC Pinkham Notch Camp and climbs via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail across the Bigelow Lawn to Lakes of the Clouds Hut. From there it continues down the Crawford Path and Webster Cliff Trail to Mizpah Hut. From Mizpah the “eight” goes down the Mount Clinton and Dry River Cut-Off trails to the Dry River trail and follows that up the Dry River and Oakes Gulf back up to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut. From there it goes up the Crawford Path towards Mount Washington to the Westside Trail and onto the Gulfside Trail. The Gulside trail is then followed all the way to Mount Madison then down the Osgood and Osgood Cut-Off to the Madison Gulf Trail then on to the Old Jackson Road back to Pinkham. The Presidential Figure of Eight Loop is 30.6 miles long with an elevation change of 10,000 feet. Here is a PDF Map of the route with hour splits, the red line sections are the sections I was able to run while the blue line sections are where I did some speed hiking, it is best viewed at 150%. Figure of Eight Map.

The trip started well all the way to Mizpah Hut, the Southern Presidentials and in particular the Crawford Path has to be some of the best high mountain trail running in the White Mountains. Things started to change as I descended down into the Dry River. The trail is rough and the long winter had taken its toll with mud, debris and blowdowns. The conditions worsened as I descended to and made my way up the Dry River. About 2 miles away from Lakes of the Clouds Hut I started to run into snow, I had expected some snow on the trails but I was surprised by how much was still on the Dry River Trail. There were sections of postholing and a few times it was difficult to find the trail. The Dry River section took far more time than I had planned adding about 1 hour to my estimate. Once I broke treeline the trail cleared out and I was able to keep to a more consistent pace. I was feeling pretty good all the way to Madison Hut, the climb up from the Madison Hut to the summit of Mount Madison however felt very hard. I was able to run down from the summit of Madison all the way to the Madison Gulf Trail but it was a very stiff labored run. When I hit the 2 mile section of the Madison Gulf Trail up to the Mount Washington Auto Road the slight uphill of that trail made it impossible for me to run. I was able to eeek out a run for the final section down the Old Jackson Road.

Here are the statistics;

Trails: Tuckerman Ravine, Lion’s Head, Alpine Garden, Tuckerman Crossover, Crawford, Mount Clinton, Dry River Cut-Off, Dry River, Crawford, Westside, Gulfside, Osgood, Osgood Cutoff, Madison Gulf, Old Jackson Road, , 
Type of Trip: Figure of Eight Loop
Distance: 30.6
Elevation Gain and Loss: 10,000 Feet 
Time: 11 Hours 38 Minutes

The Pack

To give you an idea of what I wore and carried here is a list;

This is what I wore all day;
EMS Techwick Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Patagonia Running Tights (no longer available)

LaSportiva Wildcat Trail Running Shoe
Julbo Sunglasses

This is what I carried;
1.5 Liter Camelback Water Bladder
Marmot Driclime Windshirt
Pearl Izumi Cyclone Gloves
Petzl E Lite
Cell Phone
MP3 Player
Roll of Athletic Tape

This is what I had for food;
3 Snickers Bars
9oz of Trail Mix
5-Hour Energy

Here are the conditions on the summit of Mount Washington during the day;

Temperature Degrees F
8 AM
NNW 23

9 AM

NNW 22
10 AM
NNW 17
11 AM
Variable 5
Variable 7
1 PM
W 8
2 PM
WNW 14
3 PM
W 16
4 PM
W 12
5 PM
6 PM
WNW 15
7 PM
W 12
8 PM
W 10

Quality views and awesome running in the Southern Presidentials

Can’t beat running trails like this

Looking into the black hole of the Dry River

Looking back at the great running of the Southern Presidentials

Now this is a real White Mountain Trail, dropping into the Dry River 

img_6497More fun in the Dry River


Views of the high peaks from the Dry River


Blowdowns and snow, just what a mountain run needs to make it an adventure.


Why trail runs are often measured in miles per hour. Or is that hours per mile???


Back to the good stuff, Jefferson and Adams


The last big up, Mount Madison


The last view of Mount Washington just before entering the trees on the Osgood Trail

Posted by Marc Chauvin in Selected Posts From My Old Site

Chamonix Zermatt Haute Route

April Haute Route
May 11, 2009

img_6306Whenever I haven’t written in my blog for awhile I find it difficult to get started writing one. Often it is not because I don’t have anything to write about it’s usually because too much has gone on and I feel daunted trying to write it all down. For instance my last entry was posted in the middle of March. Since then I’ve ice climbed with Hakan and Mike who were training for Rainier, I climbed with Ed and his grandson for two days, I I taught two 4 day AIARE Level II Avalanches Courses, got to climb with Harold who has been coming up to climb at the end of March for as long as I can remember and I got to climb with Jacky and Tim. That list ended my March. At the start of April I left for Chamonix to do some ski tours, I had scheduled two Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Routes, the first with Ryan, Mike and David the second Haute Route was with Joe, Cameron and Tom.

The first trip started April 5th with a ski down the Vallee Blanche, although this ski descent isn’t very steep it is very scenic and is a good way to get over the jet lag and begin the process of acclimatizing. The next day we took off and started our tour to Zermatt. The weather on this trip was not as good as I have had in the past but it wasn’t so bad as to prevent us from completing the tour. The poor weather we did get had the benefit of creating some really good skiing, particularly the last day where we got good powder skiing down toward Zermatt with the Matterhorn in the background. 

The weather did have it’s challenges though. We had two very poor days, the first was the day from the Dix Hut to the Vignettes Hut, the second was so bad that we couldn’t move so we stayed all day holed up in the Vignettes Hut. The day from the Dix started out pretty good but it soon turned cold windy and eventually so foggy we were in a whiteout. This day also happens to be the highest point you reach on the Haute Route, going over the Pigne D’Arrolla at a height of 3790m (12,435ft). Fortunately I had a good route plan (sample pdf) and we were able to follow that to the Vignette Hut. The route plan I had made for the Haute Route was used as a sample in the book Backcountry Skiing By Martin Volken, Scott Schell, Margaret Wheeler.

After waiting a day at the Vignettes Hut we woke to less wind but the weather still looked marginal. We started that day with the idea that we would give it a try for a couple of hours and if the weather did not improve we would either turn around or descend the Haute Arrolla Glacier as an escape. As we crossed the first of the three cols we had to climb to get to Zermatt the weather started to improve and we made it to the last col in pretty good weather. Once we arrived at the final col the clouds had moved back in and I was getting prepared to navigate the complex glacier down from the col to Zermatt. We skied a couple of hundred meters and we were greeted with clearing skies, a beautiful view of the Matterhorn and powder skiing. It was a brilliant finish to a challenging trip.

After a few days off in Chamonix I met my second group. Our first day was quite eventful. The Haute Route starts with a lift to the top of the Grand Montets ski area and from there quickly leaves the piste and heads down the very popular Glacier de Rognon. After a 30 minute descent down the Glacier de Rognon you cross the Argentiere Glacier and begin your climb to the Col de Chardonnay. We began our descent from the top of the lift and within the first 20 minutes one person in our group took an awkward fall and twisted his knee. Apparently the injury will not require surgery but he was unable to continue the tour. After a couple of hours he was evacuated back to Chamonix and we continued the trip. Unfortunately the delay along with some acclimatization problems slowed us down to such an extent that we all returned to Chamonix. The next day we took the train to Verbier where we stared our trip back up. Fortunately the rest of the trip went well and 4 days later we were in Zermatt.

Since I’ve been home I have had three days of rock climbing in beautiful weather climbing a average of 12 pitches per day with Richard and Jim and then a trip to the Boston area to teach an AMGA Single Pitch Instructors Course. It was quite a change going from skiing in the Alps to rock climbing on NH granite but it was nice getting to enjoy some warm rock. 

Skiing down past some crevasses and seracs

Just before getting to the first hut on the Haute Route

Getting ready to ski down the Val d’Arpette on the second day

Good skiing in the Val d’Arpette

Powder skiing below the Rosablance on day 4 

More powder as we get to the Prafleuri Hut on day 4

David with the Matterhorn in the background during a side trip to
La Luette

Skinning up with the Dix Hut in the background just before the weather went “white”

The group with the Matterhorn clearing up just before a great powder run!

Fresh snow on the Glacier de Rognon
Trip 2

Climbing up to the Col de Momin
Trip 2

Powder to the Prafleuri Hut
Trip 2

Spooning in the turns
Trip 2

The Prafleuri Hut after a great powder run
Trip 2

A beautiful view at the Nacamuli Hut
Trip 2

Posted by Marc Chauvin in Selected Posts From My Old Site


Tuesday December 16, 2008 

For the past 3 weeks my wife Jane and I were visiting my daughter Nia who is in the Peace Corps in Mozambique. During that time we were shut off from most media, particularly the Internet, so I couldn’t update my blog or keep track of ice conditions here in New Hampshire. Since getting home I have been reading reports and it seems we have been going through the typical early season cycles of warm and cold spells where ice has been forming then deteriorating. Since I have been home I have seen very warm weather and ice storms but it appears that we are now going to get into a consistent winter weather pattern and it seems that the ice should soon also become consistent. I will be heading out to get a report on conditions later this week.

Since I don’t have any first hand knowledge of the ice right now I’ll write a bit about my trip to Africa. Our goal for the trip was to visit my daughter and see where she has been working for the past year then do some traveling with she and her friend Jamie while they were on break. Over the first 2 days we flew to Nampula in Northern Mozambique where we were met by Nia and Jamie. The next day we headed to Monapo where my daughter lives and works. During our visit there we went into the countryside to visit the family of Asani one of my daughter’s students. The visit was truly an amazing experience. After a couple of days in Monapo we headed a couple hours by vehicle east to the coast for some time on the Indian Ocean. After a few day at the coast we backtracked west back through Monapo and Nampula then continued west by train, vehicle and bicycle to Malawi.

Our trip to Malawi was highlighted by an 11 hour train ride that traveled about 200 miles from Nampula to Cuemba near the Malawi border. After a night in Cuemba we continued by vehicle to Mandimba then by bicycle across the border into Malawi at Chiponde. A quick ride from there got us to Liwonde. We spent a couple of days in Liwonde visiting the national park there then we made our way to Blantyre . After a day arranging our flights back to Johannesburg and home we had a few days remaining so we went to Mount Mulanje for a little hiking. After a couple of days there we headed back to Blantyre and started our series of flights back home. I hope you enjoy the photos.

The water source for the small village where Asani lives

The water source for the small village where Asani lives


My daughter's colleagues in Monapo

My daughter’s colleagues in Monapo

Enjoying some time on the coast

Enjoying some time on the coast

Getting on a "bus" in Monapo

Getting on a “bus” in Monapo


Early morning in Cuemba

Early morning in Cuemba

Traveling 3rd class on the train to Cuemba

Traveling 3rd class on the train to Cuemba


The last few kilometers to Malawi on the bike

The last few kilometers to Malawi on the bike

Another "bus" this time to Mandimba

Another “bus” this time to Mandimba


Hiking on Mount Mulanje

Hiking on Mount Mulanje

Liwonde National Park

Liwonde National Park


Lunch at Wandies in Soweto, South Africa

Lunch at Wandies in Soweto, South Africa

A nice swim at the end of the hike

A nice swim at the end of the hike

Posted by Marc Chauvin in Selected Posts From My Old Site


Tuesday April 10, 2007

I am writing from France, I left April 4th just before the Northeastern US got hit with a snowstorm and arrived in La Grave the 5th. I have a number of friends that guide in La Grave and I was quickly setup with a place to stay, this had all been organize by my friend Matt Farmer who everyone knows as just Farmer. I was met at the bus stop by Adrian and his wife Lissa. Once at their apartment they fed me and gave me a bed to sleep in. The next day Lissa, Adrian and I met with Keith, another friend and guide, and went skiing. Keith has been in La Grave a number of years and was anxious to show me around. It’s always fun when I get to catch a local guide on their days off.

For those of you unfamiliar with skiing in La Grave it is a mountain area with a lift. It is not really a ski area as we know them. The lift takes you up and there is are no “runs”. For the most part it is lift service backcountry. The lift accesses some very complex terrain and it takes quite some time to learn the area. Because I was with local guides I got to experience La Grave in three days in a way I would never have been able to. One local Frenchman who works rescues on the mountain heard what I got to ski just the first day and said; ” Many skiers have spent three years in La Grave and have not gotten to ski those lines”. I was truly lucky to be with Keith, Adrian and Lissa. What I didn’t realize was the first day was just a warm-up.

I know that many people reading this won’t know the area or the names of the lines I skied. I will list them here with short descriptions so you can reference the pictures and understand the nature of the lines.

Day 1

img_0045Chirouze Right: This run starts from the top of the lifts and requires some walking. It begins on a glacier, a beautiful powder run but ends up in a steep narrow and icy gully that requires a rappel. Because of it’s complex finish it holds fresh tracks long after a storm.


Trefide 0





Trefide 0: This run is easy to get to and is reminiscent of a runs on Mount Washington. The best way to describe it is a cross between Left Gully and Dodges Drop.



Traverse into the Pan Rateau


Pan Rateau: Because the upper lifts were closed this was a 30 minute walk to a col. A steep traverse takes you to a 50-55 degree slope with a bergschrund at the bottom Because of this the lower angle glacier below holds fresh tracks long after a storm.

Pan Rateau

Pan Rateau

Day 2 (I did these descents with Keith and Waldo)

Tour to the Breche (Col) de La Meije and down the Enfetchores: This is often done as a two day tour but can be done as a long day. After climbing over two cols you ski down a 35-40 degree glacier run.




Breche (Col) de La Meije

Day 3

Tour to the Breche (Col) de La Meije and ski the Glacier de la Meije: This run is seldom done and Keith was eyeing it for some time!


Glacier de la Meije





For information about guides in La Grave check the Skiers Lodge For more info about Keith check his web site here.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.


Posted by Marc Chauvin in Selected Posts From My Old Site

Northern Presidential Traverse

Thursday Feb 1, 2007

s5000417Yesterday I went for a trail run/hike. I had a few days off and and this week seemed like a good time to do something I have been wanting to do for awhile. I have day hiked pretty long distances above treeline in the winter before but I have always done it in spectacular weather. I had always wondered if light weight fast hiking was possible in real winter weather. What I wanted to do was a winter Presidential Traverse but spotting cars etc. was not possible seeing I would be alone. What I came up with was a loop traversing over the Northern Presidentials including Mount Washington from the AMC Pinkham Notch Camp. I would start on the Old Jackson Road to Madison Gulf Trail across the Osgood Cutoff to the Osgood Trail then across the Gulfside Trail then down from Mount Washington via the Lion’s Head Trail. Here is a pdf map. (This will dowload in a new window and may take awhile.)

Because of the shallow snowpack I was able to run the first 4.7 miles. This brought me to the Osgood Trail about 2.5 miles from the summit of Mount Madison. From there I starting hiking as fast as I could uphill to treeline. At treeline I geared up for the wind took some pictures and started the traverse of the Northern Presidentials. The wind did begin to pick up as I approached Madison and the footing got more difficult. I could tell then that the traverse was going to be a bit slower than I had hoped. When I reached the top of Madison there were two people on the summit. These would be the only people I would see all day except for one person just before Pinkham. 

From Madison I descended quickly to the Madison Hut then continued on the Gulfside Trail to Thunderstorm Junction. At this point I did a quick there and back to summit Adams. On my descent to Edmunds Col I hit some deep snow that was slowing me down and tiring me out. Even a short section of thigh deep snow would nearly halt me. At this point I put my MSR snowshoes on and kept them on all the way to Mount Washington. The footing was icy in most places but those short sections of blown in snow made me keep the snowshoes on. The aggressive points on the MSR shoes handled the ice well and the snowshoes seemed like the best compromise.

The trip up Jefferson was uneventful as was the descent down to Sphinx Col. The climb up Mount Washington was grueling but went reasonably quickly. From the summit of Washington I took off the snowshoes and was able to jog down to the Hermit Lake Shelters. At Hermit Lake I stopped to remove some clothing and then continued my jog to my car at Pinkham.

This was a difficult trip and it helped me get a better understanding of how fitness, mobility and your goal is affected by equipment. I wanted to better understand the difficult balance between equipment, mobility and safety. I have been training by trail running for the last couple of years and wanted to see if it was possible to bring that trail running mindset to the winter. I know the low snow year we are having was critical to a trip like this. 

Safety is an important factor on all mountaineering trips. There is no doubt that with light equipment your ability to wait for a rescue is limited. On the other hand your speed is enhanced, so getting to and descending an escape route is also enhanced. A light pack also decreases the chance of falling or injury in a slip particularly in windy weather. That however does not mean it is impossible to get hurt, just less likely. Therefore it would be foolish not to have some plan. The balance between these things is affected by your fitness as well. One must be fit enough to take advantage of the light gear or the whole system breaks down. This is the balance we all have to make in the mountains, what to carry, and choosing the right trip for your ability is the critical balance we must strike as mountaineers

Here are the statistics;

Trails: Old Jackson Road, Madison Gulf, Osgood Cutoff, Osgood, Gulfside, Lion’s Head 
Type of Trip: Loop
Distance: 18.5
Elevation Gain and Loss: 6870 feet 
Time: 7 hours 53 minutes

To give you an idea of what I carried here is a list;

This is what I wore to treeline

Footwear Garmont Flash XCR with Kold Kutter traction screws
Wool socks
Patagonia Cold Weather Tights
Polertec Tights
Med Weight Long Sleeve Cool Max Shirt
Light Pile Zip Tee
Wild Things Wind Shirt (no hood)
Light Gloves
Buff Headband

This is what I put on for the above treeline section
WildThings EP Hooded Jacket
Dachstein Wool Mittens
Warm Hat
Neck Gaitor
Marmot Precip Pants

This is what I had in my EMS Aqua Day Pack

Patagonia Micro Puff Jacket
Patagonia Micro Puff Pants

Marmot Precip Jacket
Petzl Headlamp
Garmin Geko GPS with the Route and Escape Routes Programed In
National Geographic TOPO Map with the Route and Escapes Routes on it
Cell Phone
Spare Batteries
MSR Denali Snowshoes

Here are the conditions on the summit of Mount Washington during my time above treeline 

4 PM
Jan 31
W 54 mph
blowing snow; freezing fog
3 PM
Jan 31
W 47 mph
freezing fog
2 PM
Jan 31
W 39 mph
freezing fog
1 PM
Jan 31
W 40 mph
freezing fog
Jan 31
W 51 mph
light snow; blowing snow; freezing fog
11 AM Jan 31
W 53 mph
light snow; blowing snow; freezing fog

s5000436 s5000450s5000455s5000460

Posted by Marc Chauvin in Selected Posts From My Old Site