Guided Adventure in the Verdon Gorge

Escaping the August Heatwave - Swiss Granite!

Posted on 2012-08-20 - filed under news

Photo: Pure Gold - 600m Granite dome of Eldorado
Pure Gold - 600m Granite dome of Eldorado

Just back from lush Alpine meadows, high level camping, and the awesome granite of the Grimsel and Furka passes in the Swiss Bernese Oberland. The Verdon  roasts under 40c + temperatures, while at 2700m, conditions are perfect with cool nights, bluebird days, and some of the best granite climbing in Europe...
I'll have a full trip report up soon.

'The Fish' Marmolada

Posted on 2012-07-18 - filed under news

Photo: Pitch 17 'The Fish' 7b+
Pitch 17 'The Fish' 7b+

Still buzzing from a flying visit to the 1000m high south face of Marmolada in the Italian Dolomites.

This alpine wall is truly awe inspiring with hundreds of historic climbs traced along its several kilometre length. Among these, the
legendary 37 pitch 'Fish' route has been on my hit list for a few years now but has always evaded me due to the delicate balance of finding the right partner, a window in the notoriously capricious weather, and good form for such a challenge.

Having recently spent some time up at Ceuse climbing and preparing with Australian strongman Logan Barber, I'm happy this objective has at least been partially realised. I say partially, as we didn't go as far as the summit but descended to the Falier hut after 20 pitches on day 2 being low on food and water. I'd not wanted to underestimate the route but even so some of the harder pitches were a  humbling challenge and required several shots to unlock complex sequences of slab moves up to 7b++! 

Arriving by headlamp in the famous niche after which the route is named we settled into a spartan bivouac, feet hanging above the 500m void,our emotions having been seriously tested on the 7b 'open dihedral' pitch. This involved beautifully sequential and precise moves on limestone with the most perfect texture I have ever experienced and a scary runout above the paper thin tat of a fixed 30 year old tricam backed up with a skyhook!

Day 2 dawned beautiful with dizzying views down the wall but stiff from a semi sitting bivvy with a breakfast of cold water and power bars meant a rather slow start to the day. Above the niche the rock, texture and exposure is more than incredible. All hanging belays, 'big air', and with 2 particularly memorable pitches. The 7b+ 'boulder' pitch, well protected with in – situ pins, but with a very tricky sequence of moves to work out before arriving at the anchor. Then the end of the day gave what we both felt was the most testing pitch of the whole route, the famous 'pendulum' pitch. Barely visible smears lead with a bizarre cross through or minimal mono pockets for the hands into the base of a pumpy layback crack. Several swinging falls were taken before unlocking this desperate sequence of moves and we both felt the grade was closer to 7b/c than the 7a shown on the topo.

Another 6c pitch took us to within spitting distance of the large bivvy ledge and the start of the easier chimmneys that lead to the summit but now after 2 days, very tired, with no remaining food or water and with deteriorating weather predicted the following day, we opted for a cautious descent in 12 long abseils back to the comfort of hot food and beer at the refuge. It was a wise decision as the following day clouds quickly rolled in followed by one of those famously electric dolomite storms.

Although feeling very privileged to have finally had the opportunity to tackle the main difficulties and best pitches of this climb, the summit of Marmolada still beckons, so we're already planning to get back there in September.

Check out more photos of The Fish in the photo galleries and for a more detailed description of our adventure, Logan's blog at:


Posted on 2012-06-10 - filed under testimonials

If you are considering scratching the itch that is the thought of Verdon- DO IT!

And if you go climbing with Alan, you'll be rewarded with a world of knowledge and passion that he has for this place and for climbing.

I have never climbed with a guide before having always just gone climbing with friends of friends and strangers whenever travelling to new places. I chose to this time as I was pressed for time (being there for work, I only had two weekends) and having not really climbed much in the time leading up, I was concerned committing myself to something above my ability. As a result, not only did I get an opportunity to climb in one of the most mindblowing places in the world (and i've been climbing over 8 years now in Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, US, Sweden, UK, Germany), I now have amazing memories of climbing with one of the coolest people i've met in my travels.

Alan, besides being a VERY talented climber is also a great coach with a wealth of experience; moreover, he is just a fascinating person that you can spend hours and hours talking with and listening to. And watching him climb, too, is a pleasure.

I'm looking forward to the next time I get a chance to look up at 200+ m of that magnificent limestone and also catch up on all the adventures.

Thanks again, Alan! 

Olga Poberezovska (Australia)

Hi Alan

Posted on 2012-05-20 - filed under testimonials

Hi Alan, 
Just thought i'd drop you a quick mail to thank you for the last 5 days. It was truly awesome and i dont think i'll top it for a while. 
Your tuition was spot on and i think i've learnt enough to keep me practising knots etc for the next 6 months! 

Also i'd really like to thank you for being so motivated as it just made the learning process effortless. You're climbing is something to aspire to and you are a true 'rope gun'!! 
Although i'd never abseiled before especially into a gorge with a one way ticket i felt completely confident knowing you could get us out if necessary. 

Back in the big smoke now, keep in touch and have a great time in Yosemite 


Tom Mackenzie (London UK)