Winter is over.
We've certainly had some awesome days skiing, boarding and ice climbing - and some fabulous nights out too - visiting some famous and some less famous areas all over the Alps and into Bavaria as well. We've caught up with friends, we've met other climbers and even at rare times had some solitude on a climb. We've both now much more confident on ice than before, knowing the ice, our ability and our gear better (and perhaps being more than a little interested in upgrading!). Jen's even started to enjoy black runs on her skis - quite a change in attitude! - and Mark's had loads of fun off-piste (and has the black patch scars on his board to prove it).
But ... to be honest, it's not been much of a winter. It's been quite depressing at times in the Alps, with all those sunny skies and warm days, chasing away the fresh snow and melting the ice. We've had to stick to north-facing routes, as most south-facing ice routes never formed properly, and we were extremely surprised (and overjoyed, too - don't get me wrong!) to have had three such great snow days in Val Thorens with the Ambers after almost six weeks without fresh snow.
This means that we're just going to have to spend another winter in the Alps before we can contemplate leaving Europe. It's a hard life, but we'll manage!
And in the meantime? Summer awaits! So, in preparation for the change in season, we're back at Rhona and Brett's place in Munich. We've emptied Fred out, and are busy cleaning and sorting gear - in between hanging out, long games of Carcassone, cooking, eating and drinking, of course. All the winter stuff is being left behind, as is the UltraBox, and no doubt this will make life in the van a lot more comfortable. No more skis, snowboard or multiple axes to shift every time we need to eat or sleep or drive! No more drying ropes, harnesses and sharps each day! Hurray!
Fred is also having some minor repairs tomorrow (apparently that funny noise and occasional smoke isn't normal or good, but is at least easily fixed) - and then he will get new tyres on Thursday too... and by the end of the week, we'll be ready for summer.
Bulgaria? Turkey? Greece? Here we come.