The Grange Team faced its toughest challenge yet, when an avalanche struck on day one of their Haute Route ski tour, possibly the most famous and coveted ski tour in the world. Despite the set back they all managed to return safely with five completing the tour in just five days instead of the anticipated seven.
The Team of six negotiated their way across 13 glaciers and climbed 14 Cols (Mountain Passes) and successfully summated two notable peaks the Rosablanche at 3336m (10945ft) and the Pigne d'Arolla 3796m (12526ft).
The team on this challenge were: - John Houghton owner of the Grange Garden Centre and Alpine Restaurant at Asfordby Hill; Roger Hobill a Melton based farmer, Adam Carter and Nick Bowles who where part of the Grange teams successful summit of Mont Blanc last year and Dorian Ricardo owner of the famous 'Farmhouse' hotel in the French Alps. All lead by a qualified IFMGA high Mountain Guide.
The tour involved using high mountain huts to allow the skiers to stay at altitude and cover substantial distances; it winds through the highest most dramatic peaks of the Alps from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. Requiring good weather, favourable snow conditions and immense effort to complete, only 50% of the skiers who begin the tour go on to finish.
John Houghton, born in Oakham who grew up in Langham and farmed locally before establishing Grange Garden Centre at Asfordby Hill near Melton Mowbray, explained the type of skiing they were undertaking: -
'Known as ski touring or ski mountaineering, it is a form of backcountry or off piste skiing. It involves travelling over winter terrain on skis under human power, without the use of ski lifts. It can take place on perfectly flat or extremely steep slopes, in either case, unlike Alpine Skiing; the skier's heel must be free to allow a natural walking motion. Other tools the ski tourer needs to carry include ice axe, crampons, harness and they also need all the necessary skills to use all the