Cosley and Houston Alpine Guides - May 2014>

Winter of 2013-14: Lots of exploration

While it was a little warmer than average, this winter dropped plenty of snow up at the higher elevations. As a result this season's weather and conditions were very good for high level touring and ski mountaineering of the kind we most enjoy. We put in a long season with plenty of great tours, excellent snow, and lots of exploration in new (to us) corners of the Alps.

The snow came a bit late this year, so the snowpack from late November until the end of the Christmas holiday season was shallow and uneven. A resulting unstable layer was gradually buried and settled down as January and February saw more frequent and more copious snowfall events.

Val Maira
February 12, 2014

Last winter's trips
Sue and Rachel, Chamonix
Valle Maira, Italy
Albula, St Moritz to Davos
Ortler ski tour
Another Silvretta, Dulutians
Chamonix to Zermatt
Vanoise Haute Route
Berner Oberland

March 11, 2014

Speaking of you...
We like to mention folks by name and feature them personally as much as possible. However we also wish to respect everyone's privacy, so if you have done a trip with us and would prefer we not share the particulars in our e-newsletter, we perfectly understand. Please let us know!

March 27, 2014
Sue and Rachel, Lac Blanc, Chamonix. February 1, 2014

Winter highlights

Our touring season began rather early, with a February trip to the Val Maira, a relatively undeveloped valley in the Piedmonte region of Italy. Our lodging for the week, in the high village of Marmora, occupies a cluster of old and interconnected buildings. The place has an "organic" aesthetic, as if it had grown up naturally over time, expanding as need arose, as indeed it probably did. Individual apartments have been modernized into charming and comfortable rooms, the hospitality and organization are top notch, and the kitchen is exceptional! Despite active days on skis, we all gained a couple of pounds after 5 days of 7 course meals and a really good wine list. This area received a particularly "fat" snowpack early in the season, and we found some fantastic powder especially in the sparse woods near treeline.

Skiing on the Bric Boscasso, Valle Maira. February 12, 2014

Next up, we headed over to the Albula Pass region, for a repeat of our St. Mortiz to Davos tour. This year's conditions were excellent, with a good cover of high quality light powder and pretty decent weather too! It was very interesting to see how the snowpack differed from south to north in this area; our trajectory was all within very well-covered terrain, but just north and east of us the conditions were very different and much drier.

Descending to the Flüelapass near Davos, Albula, March 7, 2014

From there we were off to the Ortler for 5 days with a group of friends from Norway. Good fun in quite firm, more spring-like snow conditions.

Following on the Ortler we had two Silvretta trips this year. This particular region of the Alps had a very thin snowpack... until we arrived that is! A series of storms laid down a layer of softness just in time for us to enjoy some good fresh tracks and even powder runs, after a first day of ... we must admit this ... really grim snow conditions! It was all uphill from there, so to speak. Our second tour began after a storm that dropped almost too much snow to battle through. What a contrast during two short weeks!

Summit of Piz Buin, Silvretta, March 28, 2014

We then completed one successful Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route via Verbier, again experiencing very firm and cold conditions early on, but ending with great skiing in new snow as we neared Zermatt.

We took a short break to explore a new tour, the Haute Route de la Vanoise. Though conditions were uncommonly thin down low, up high we found the terrain and conditions fantastic. We will offer this tour beginning in 2015.

Col de la Grande Casse, April 14, 2014

Finally, we ended the season as we often do, with a trip to the Bernese Oberland. Here again, we brought our own weather with us! This region suffered a very long dry spell during the month of March, when normally the weather is quite stormy, so we were expecting firm and bony conditions. But a snowfall of almost a meter on the night before we started our tour, set the tone for the week! Deep, though not particularly light, snow posed a challenge that fortunately our group of expert skiers was equal to! We did manage some good descents, and our exit day, in bad weather, included a "bonus prize" of an impromptu exploration of Swiss underground infrastructure. Long story, check out the trip report for more details!

Finsteraarhorn, Berner Oberland, April 29, 2014
Silvretta, March 26, 2014
Coming up in 2014
Alps summer treks and climbs

This year's summer guiding schedule is already virtually all booked up! Each of us has a few remaining days, however. See our availability page for details.

Kathy has space available on her Chamonix to Zermatt Glacier Trek July 24—30 (4 spaces available). Let her know right away if you are interested in this great trek!

Finally, we’d love to see you in the Calanques in October, if you want a Fall get-away that includes Mediterranean sea-cliff climbing in the sun and great French cuisine!

Sormiou, Les Calanques, France
2015 Winter in the Alps
Albula - St Moritz to Davos.
March 3, 2014

Chamonix off-piste

We will be back from our yearly U.S. visit and available for off-piste or ice guiding around the end of January. Let us know if you would like to come over and discover what our part of the Alps has to offer. More info.

Waterfall ice

Join us for waterfall ice climbing in Cogne or on the cliffs surrounding the Argentière Glacier. And if conditions are good, the high peaks near the Aiguille du Midi and the Grands Montets can also offer some chilly fun. Info here.

Ski Tours for the 2015 spring season

Valle Maira, Italy - Fine touring and dining, February 8—12. See photos from this years trip.
Queyras - France's answer to Colorado, February 14—19. See photos from our previous trips: 2012, 2011, and 2010.
Silvretta - Switzerland March 23—28.
Ortler - Italy, March 3—9.
Vanoise Haute Route, France, March 13—17.
Albula - Saint Moritz to Davos March 21—27. Photos from this year's trip.

Our Verbier Haute Route will run April 1—8.

A second Haute Route, via the Plateau du Couloir. Dates are April 15—22.
Berner Oberland will run April 27—May 2.
Private trip dates available. If you have a group of friends, or simply want a smaller team, any of the dates above can be switched to a private trip, as long as we have no current sign-ups for them. If you would like to discuss a private trip, be in touch, wed love to hear your ideas.

Keep in touch!

As always we love to hear from you. Let us know if you have any plans, hopes or ideas for a future climb, trek or ski tour, or if you would like to book some quality mountain time in 2014. Thank you as always for your interest and your participation in these far-flung endeavors, and we hope to see you in the hills.

Best Wishes for 2014

Kathy and Mark

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Cosley & Houston Alpine Guides | 151 Route de Lausenaz | 74310 Les Houches | France