The Alps: Skiing, Climbing, and Crazy Clouds

A roundup of happenings in the Alps during the last days of fall and the first days of winter…

The late Hansjorg Auer on the second pitch of Marmolada’s ‘Last Tango’. Photo: Much Mayr

The last tango…

In the Dolomites’ Marmolada, Much Mayr has completed ‘Last Tango’, a route he started in 2018 with Hansjorg Auer, who perished in an avalanche in Canada a year later. This time, he climbed the nine-pitch route, with difficulties up to 7C+, with partners Guido Unterwurzacher, Peter Muehlburger, and Alex Blumel. Mayr reported on the climb to PlanetMountain.

… and some early ice

Rebel Yell, marked in red, on the West Face of the Aiguille de Blaitière. Photo: Montagnes Magazine


While it is too soon and too warm for ice climbing in most places, if you go high enough, there’s always ice. During a paragliding flight, Philippe Batoux and Minna Riihimaki spotted a beautiful mixed line up the West Face of the Aiguille de Blaitiere, in the Mont Blanc Massif.

The pair quickly changed the foils for ice axes and climbed the route via a corner to the left of Blaitier’s West Face couloir. They named the five-pitch route Rebel Yell, as a tribute to Billy Idol. More in Montagnes Magazine.

Damian Bielecki (left) and Marcin Tomaszewski prepare for the winter Karakorum at the Grandes Jorasses. Photo: Marcin Tomaszewski


Marcin Tomaszewski and Damian Bielecki of Poland are also looking for ice in the Alps, not as a goal but for training. In a month, they travel to Pakistan for a winter attempt on Shipton Spire. They eventually found ice after getting high on the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses (4,208m), near Chamonix. Conditions were good, but the place was quite crowded, Tomaszewski observed.

Light magic

Italian guide Marco Confortola, who attempted Gasherbrum I earlier this year, was recently on the Grand Zebru (in German, Königspitze) in the Ortler Alps. The twilight hit the clouds in an extraordinary way, below. His picture went viral and has attracted meteorologists and physicists from around Europe, who are trying to explain the phenomenon. There are several theories, but all agree that it was not the aurora borealis, which have also been active of late.

The strange lights witnessed at dawn by Marco Confortola. Photo: Marco Confortola


Only 30 out of 758 ski resorts are open in Europe as of Friday, according to, but the season will be in full swing by the beginning of December. To whet your appetite for skiing, check this astonishing video by Markus Eder. It has taken YouTube by storm, racking up over 400,000 views in a couple of days. The ice cave sequence beginning at 2:12 is a show stopper.