I started my 2016 summer alpine season nice and early, with a five day visit from friend and client Andy.

Andy came with a very open “lets se what the weather brings” attitude, but we were pretty keen to get up into the high mountains and give Andy some mixed climbing practice and training. So day 1, we set off for the Aiguille du Midi to have a look around and perhaps climb the Chere couloir as a warmup route.

As soon as we were walking across the glacier though, we could see the other teams heading to the same route and so changed our plans to a traverse of Pointe Lachenel, talking through some alpine climbing techniques and trying various direct (harder) lines that were basically soft powdery snow on rock. I was glad we hadn’t tried anything harder!

The weather turned quite unstable after that and we were making plans on a day by day basis. We had a good session recapping some self rescue techniques for multi-pitch climbing and an entertaining morning dangling on steep ground aid climbing.

Apart from those sessions we were out rock climbing, with Andy leading me up many, many pitches of quality climbs with me chucking in the odd technical tip. We talked a lot about mental preparation for leading hard routes, and Andy threw himself at various tricky climbs, taking some falls and ticking some classics along the way.

Andy leading the way to Pointe Lachenel

Andy leading the way to Pointe Lachenel

Just before trying some soggy technical climbing

Just before trying some soggy technical climbing

Nice mixed mountaineering ground on Pointe Lachenel

Nice mixed mountaineering ground on Pointe Lachenel

Italian rock climbing

Italian rock climbing

Bolted crack climbing - a superb route in the Aosta Valley

Bolted crack climbing – a superb route in the Aosta Valley

Seven pitches at Macaby, Aosta valley.

Seven pitches at Macaby, Aosta valley.

Andy leading on the final picthes.

Andy leading on the final picthes.

Aid climbing practice

Aid climbing practice

Retrieving gear via prussiking

Retrieving gear via prussiking