The week long snowshoe trip in the Valais region of Switzerland is in full swing. We have had the best week of the winter so far in terms of weather; absolutely scorching sunshine, blue skies, and very little wind. Our team have had some great days in the mountains with trips so far this week to Vicheres, Swiss Val Ferret, Mont de l'Arpille, and the Grand St Bernard Monastery. The Monastery was, as always, a wonderful experience and a real haven of peace and reflection in the mountains. For nearly a thousand years the monks of the world famous hospice have offered hospitality and respite to weary travellers, and our team was no exception! The sweet tea served by Brother Frederick on arrival was especially welcome after the long climb and the heat of the day. I think the views we have had this week have been just incredible with some wonderful ascents of Cols and summits offering Mont Blanc, Mont Velan, the Grand Combin, the Grand Jorasses, and the Gran Paradiso to name just a few. With a day still to go the team are already looking to return next year. If you are interested in joining us get in touch!
It's just a few days before Julia heads back to the UK for Christmas and leaves behind the snowy alpine landscape, so off we set for a girls ski tour along with friend Cathy O'Dowd. We piled into the car with a selection of maps and a general plan to get some fresh air and exercise. Heading down into the Rhone Valley from our wee mountain village we swung right and in the direction of Bourg St Piere in the Swiss Valais region with the intention of heading up to the world famous Grand St Bernard Monastery. This is where the St Bernard dog has its roots and where the breed was first associated with mountain rescue. The monks at the monastery, which is on a high col at over 2,400m, were fundamental to the establishment of the St Bernard as a rescue dog. It all began with Barry who seemed to be very good at sniffing out bodies buried in the snow by avalanches, and sort of grew from there....if you want the full story you need to join us for a night at the monastery!! We can snowshoe up via a col or summit and then spend the night in this historic hospice and snowshoe back the next morning.
Anyway, I digress! Today we were not so lucky with the weather as on the way up the conditions were decidedly 'Scottish' though not enough to put the three of us off. After a couple of hours the welcome sight of the monastery came into view. For over a thousand years the monks here on the pass have welcomed weary travellers and today was no exception! In winter the only way to reach the monastery is on ski touring skis or snowshoes which gives it a wonderfully isolated feel. I must say that the cold was soon banished with a bowl of soup prepared by the 'Brothers'. We were then greeted with blue skies and sunshine as a small weather miracle seemed to have occurred while we were enjoying the soup! We finished our day with a ski down to the car, enjoying wonderful views and a very atmospheric afternoon with mist still drifting around the tops.