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Thread: Preparation course for Mont Blanc

  1. #1
    Mini Goon jrm jrm's Avatar
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    Hi guys. I've heard that there are alpine preparation courses in Lake District, UK. Anyone here with experience from such a course? web-sites, prices, recommended companies etc? Other places in UK with suitable courses? Thinking about going to Mont Blanc later this summer, or possibly next year. Would like to learn a bit more about walking on glaciers, rope work, mountain rescue etc first. /Jarl.

  2. #2
    Goon Giles Thurston's Avatar
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    You could consider doing a course out there, got to be a lot more relalistic actually being on glaciers that than in a sunny field in the Lakes?

    I know Plas-y-brenin and Jagged Globe do such courses and I am sure there are others.

  3. #3
    Mini Goon Heidi Jones's Avatar
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    Go out early and do the one day course on glacier/self rescue, available from the local guide bureau. It?s not cheap but as Giles said, it?s a lot more use than hanging on a bit of rope in the Lakes.
    Just make sure that you pre-book before you go as its popular.

    If you are going with a British tour company up Mt. Blanc they will almost certainly run there own course before you go. If you are hiring a guide in France, then you could get him/her to do the extra day before you start the climb.

    The best bit of preparation would just get as hill fit as possible before you go.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Jon Doran's Avatar
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    If you find yourself in Huaraz, Peru in July, you can do a four-day rescue course including all food and instruction from UIGM-affiliated Peruvian guides for $50... Bargain, but you do have to get to Peru first.

    You'd be amazed what a palaver it is trying to hold a crevasse fall while sorting out anchors etc. Yep, they let us throw each other in crevasses for real.

    Sorry. An all time useless bit of advice there I know. PyB and Jagged Globe as has already been said, but I'd second Heid in her suggestion that the best way of learning about glacier travel / crevasse rescue is on a glacier.

  5. #5
    Mini Goon jrm jrm's Avatar
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    So there are no glaciers in the Lake District? Not even a small one? :-)

  6. #6
    Mini Goon jrm jrm's Avatar
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    ...But more seriously, we may well do a 1-day course in Chamonix, as we'd be there for more than 7 days, but why not do something useful & fun in June or July while waiting? Can't eat icecream and skate in Hyde Park every weekend.




  7. #7
    ‹bermensch AlisonS's Avatar
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    I think the best preparation you can do is to make sure you are very fit before you go, so do lots of hillwalking and scrambling, and rock-climbing if you intend to climb. In the Alps it helps to be confident moving together quickly, so it's worth getting your general scrambling and climbing ropework quite slick. As the others have said, it's difficult to practise glacier travel in the UK.
    I don't know about any UK courses, but if there are a few of you, try contacting a British UIAGM Guide, ideally in North Wales, Scotland or the Lakes and explain what you're planning to do. They are often happy to tailor a day or two to suit your needs.
    You could always get up at 3:00 a.m. and go for a scramble, but some people consider this foolhardy behaviour in the UK, even though it is often necessary for safety in the Alps.

  8. #8
    ‹bermensch joan collins's Avatar
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    If you're planning to do this without a guide and you have absolutely no climbing experience, you really need to get a grasp of basic ropework, safety and movement skills before you move on to glacier travel and self rescue. I really think the whole lot would be too much to take in and retain in one day, and I doubt if anyone responsible would take you on on that basis. The one day courses are intended for experienced climbers wo are new to the Alps.

    As for UK courses, Plas y Brenin do a two day alpine skills weekend course, which covers the alpine-specific basics, though they require that you know basic ropework first (something you can do with them or other organisations on a separate course).

    If you have no winter mountaineering experience, you will additionally need to learn stuff like axe and snow belays and dealing with cornices. It's too late in the season to learn these in the UK, but a couple of days (absolute minimum) in the Alps would be a start. Again, PyB and a number of other organisations run courses in the Alps. If you do have winter mountaineering experience, you could probably get away without the additional Alps-based instruction.

    If you're doing the climb with a qualified guide though, a day spent with him prior to the climb should suffice.

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