/ Bristish national team of young alpinists?

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fred alpi+ski - on 19 Aug 2013
Hi- Is there anything like a british national team for young alpinists or a group in which the best young british alpinists are regularly selected and trained to become even more proficient?

If such a procedure/structure exists at the national level, who is in charge?

Thanks for all info and details.

Fred

Bergvagabunden - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to fred alpi+ski: Hi Fred , whats your specific interest ? Have you looked at the BMC website ?
fred alpi+ski - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to Bergvagabunden:

Yes I did. No info. The closest thing I found was the Int'l meets. But that's not what I'm speaking about,
Flashy - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to fred alpi+ski: There used to the the ACG, but I don't think formal training was part of it as it's not the point really; we're not the Soviet Union. Didn't really fit with UK climbing culture.
jon on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to Flashy:
> (In reply to fred alpi+ski) we're not the Soviet Union.

Or indeed France.
Damo on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to Flashy)
> [...]
>
> Or indeed France.

Or New Zealand.

http://alpineteam.co.nz/about
beardy mike - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to fred alpi+ski: Or germany austria or Italy.
edek_w - on 19 Aug 2013
DigitalSteak - on 19 Aug 2013
matt perks - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to fred alpi+ski:

No.
James S - on 19 Aug 2013
Does anyone know if this is anything that's been discussed by the BMC at all? It seems that a good deal of other countries have something to help young alpinists hone their skills to take onto hard first ascents in the mountains. Personally I think it would be great to see the BMC implement something like this.
jonnie3430 - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to James S:
> Personally I think it would be great to see the BMC implement something like this.

Personally I think that most university mountaineering clubs run trips to the alps. The usually get new members to do the coville course before they join their own trip. Has the OP looked at this?
Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to fred alpi+ski:
> Hi- Is there anything like a british national team for young alpinists or a group in which the best young british alpinists are regularly selected and trained to become even more proficient?

I sincerely hope not.
KiwiPrincess - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to fred alpi+ski:

In NZ a group of motivated people just got together and organised them selves and a few others as Mentors and then asked for applications.

James Thacker - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to fred alpi+ski: No. The UK doesn't have anything like that despite a lot of other European countries doing so, e.g. FFME etc. Maybe you have found yourself a task..?
James S - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: why do you hope not? maybe 'training' is the wrong word as the OP is presumably already talking about accomplished climbers but it would be great to see something like this, even if it's just a way to bring really motivated people together to form strong partnerships. I'd be very interested to hear why you would be against this?
Bruce Hooker - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to fred alpi+ski:

I think you'll find that mostly people who want to become alpinists just decide this for themselves then go and do it... state intervention is hardly considered necessary :-)
nufkin - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to fred alpi+ski:

The Johnathan Conville courses are probably the closest thing to this, aren't they?

Presumably, alpinism is a largely self-selecting activity - imagine most young people's reaction to a hand on their shoulder and a voice asking 'how do you fancy coming to climb marginal routes in places you've never heard of with minimal food and less sleep, for little material gain or even recognition outside of a small group of peers?'
Damo on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to nufkin:
> (In reply to fred alpi+ski)
>
> The Johnathan Conville courses are probably the closest thing to this, aren't they?
>
> Presumably, alpinism is a largely self-selecting activity - imagine most young people's reaction to a hand on their shoulder and a voice asking 'how do you fancy coming to climb marginal routes in places you've never heard of with minimal food and less sleep, for little material gain or even recognition outside of a small group of peers?'

No, your vaguely creepy but generally accurate scenario is missing the point of the 'team' thing. It's for young climbers who already have experience, are already keen alpinists, but are being given help to get better. It's not a training course for beginners.

As for Bruce's 'state intervention' I think the US and NZ programs show that it's an organic and voluntary thing that comes from the proletariat themselves, not a diktat from on high (sigh of disappointment from BMC HQ).

I know it's not in keeping with the bumbling amateur ethos of the British climbing culture, where being seen to make an effort to become your best is sneered at, but if done right it could be a good thing. I wouldn't trust British authorities to do it right though.
James S - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Damo: Exactly this, it's not a case of training people up from scratch, rather bringing already talented young climbers together with more experienced alpinists to help their progression along. I agree that maybe the BMC wouldn't be the best way for this to happen, I think a degree of informality would be the key for it to work well.

Of course alpine climbing is something that individuals will just go do of their own accord but for those who really want to push it then that should be encouraged rather than shunned.
ads.ukclimbing.com
jon on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to fred alpi+ski)
>
> I think you'll find that mostly people who want to become alpinists just decide this for themselves then go and do it... state intervention is hardly considered necessary :-)

Come on Bruce. You more than anyone should have heard of the Groupe d'Excellence CAF...

http://www.info-montagne.com/article.php?actualite=2183
Marek - on 20 Aug 2013
I think what's missing in many contributions to this thread is to state what the point of this would be. It's pretty obvious in a competitive sport since than the objective is to 'win' and a structured approach like this will help. But in something like alpinism I'm stuggling to see what it is trying to acheive. In contrast, the Conville course has a very clear objective - to give youngsters sufficient basic awareness and skill so they don't kill themselves before they can learn from experience. A good, clear objective. So what is the point of an such an elite 'team'? Any objective I try would seem to apply equally well (if not better) to non-elite alpinists. It's left me concerned that it hints at bringing a comptitive element to alpinism which I'm not comfortable with - especially for youngsters.
jon on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Marek:

> So what is the point of an such an elite 'team'?

Ask any Frenchman/woman that and they wouldn't even understand why you're asking!
MG - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Marek:
> I think what's missing in many contributions to this thread is to state So what is the point of an such an elite 'team'? Any objective I try would seem to apply equally well (if not better) to non-elite alpinists.

I think your're right but in fact this "team" exists in some sense in the form of the Alpine Club, that has both elite and non-elite members who exchange ideas etc. and offer funding for expeditions and so on.


It's left me concerned that it hints at bringing a comptitive element to alpinism which I'm not comfortable with - especially for youngsters.

The word "team" left me a bit concerned about that too.

Marek - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to Marek)
>
> [...]
>
> Ask any Frenchman/woman that and they wouldn't even understand why you're asking!

Quite possibly. I'm not saying there isn't a good reason for this - just that I don't currently see it. So what is it? Just 'cos the French do it isn't enough for me.
James S - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Marek: maybe team isn't the right word but the general idea remains.

The idea would be to give young alpinists with heaps of potential the opportunity to build on their skills with the aid of an experienced climber, and climb some amazing routes at the same time. I don't see how anybody could be against this.
jon on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Marek:

No, I agree, the elitism over here is sickening - there has to be an element of competition in a sport to give it any value - I mean, what's the point of doing anything if you're not winning at it?! I mentioned the French in the first place as the OP's personal website in his profile is camptocamp and I'd therefore imagine he's probably French. Just a guess, of course.
Marek - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to James S:
> (In reply to Marek) maybe team isn't the right word but the general idea remains.
>
> The idea would be to give young alpinists with heaps of potential the opportunity to build on their skills with the aid of an experienced climber, and climb some amazing routes at the same time. I don't see how anybody could be against this.

But why just for an elite 'national' squad? Surely your argument applies equally well for any aspiring alpinist, Conville graduate onwards?
James S - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Marek: I'm not talking about an elite squad, more a programme that people could apply for. This sort of thing could only ever work on a small scale so an application process would be needed.
JSTaylor - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to James S:
What... Like the British Mountain Guide scheme?

In reply to the OP, many of us would find the idea of any British national team associated with climbing a complete anathema... thus the mixed reaction to the failure of climbing to gain initial Olympic recognition status. Similarly the mixed reaction to the Piolet D'Or awards.

Climbing IMHO should be intrinsically oriented in terms of recognition and rewards.
Marek - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to James S:
> (In reply to Marek) I'm not talking about an elite squad, more a programme that people could apply for. This sort of thing could only ever work on a small scale so an application process would be needed.

Oh sorry - the OP was about an elite squad.
So this programme - how does it work? Who pays for it? The applicant? You can pay for training now without some new 'programme'. Or do you mean a sort of advanced Conville course? But that's funded (partly) by the guy's parents with a very specific purpose. Still confused.
James S - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Marek: to be honest i have no idea how it would work, i haven't really given it much thought! I just like the general idea of giving young motivated individuals the support they need to turn their potential into the real thing. Mainly by personal advice from some experienced british alpinists if they were kind enough to give a couple of weeks of their time every now and then, but also learning as a result of climbing with each other. Sort of an elaborate partner finding scheme.

James S - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to JSTaylor: far far less formal than the BMG scheme, much more about improving personal climbing and forming partnerships than having to pass tests and build up logbooks.
Robert Durran - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to James S:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) why do you hope not? I'd be very interested to hear why you would be against this?

I find the connotations of nationalism and competition and this particular brand of elitism objectionable. I can just about stomach it in in indoor competition climbing (as long as my BMC subscription is not funding it), but in proper climbing it is totally out of place and not in the spirit of mountaineering. I applaud anyone of any nationality who is psyched enough to get out there and "have it". Leave this sort of nonsense to other countries.

Bruce Hooker - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to jon:

> Come on Bruce. You more than anyone should have heard of the Groupe d'Excellence CAF...

Err, well I haven't actually, even if I was a member once for the hut reduction. It would be a rather French approach to things though... bureaucracy rules, OK?

In reality the results of Olympic games and such like do seem to be largely down to budget though, but I don't think this is anything to encourage. Someone above mentioned the "bumbling amateur" ethic, in a derogatory way, but I don't think it's such a bad way of living. Success isn't everything :-)
Bruce Hooker - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to jon:

> Ask any Frenchman/woman that and they wouldn't even understand why you're asking!

I think you are generalising here, not all French people think like this, quite a few, especially those who push their way into the committees of associations, local government, government etc. may do but there are plenty who don't.. For every Herzog there's a Desmaison, thank goodness.
Bruce Hooker - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to James S:
> (In reply to Marek) maybe team isn't the right word but the general idea remains.
>
> The idea would be to give young alpinists with heaps of potential the opportunity to build on their skills with the aid of an experienced climber, and climb some amazing routes at the same time.

What stops them from doing this already with their usual partner?

> I don't see how anybody could be against this.

I can, in fact I can't see anything in favour of it.


Damo on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to jon)
>
> [...]
>
> Err, well I haven't actually, even if I was a member once for the hut reduction. It would be a rather Fr Someone above mentioned the "bumbling amateur" ethic, in a derogatory way, but I don't think it's such a bad way of living. Success isn't everything :-)

Well said, Captain Scott! How many others you going to take down with you this time?

It was tongue-in-cheek derogatory, but yes, slightly derogatory. The 'amateur' bit is fine and very good, IMO better than many 'professionals' - but the 'bumbling' bit not so much. Around the crag it might not matter so much but in the Alps and elsewhere it brings people unstuck year after year. Incompetence is nothing to be proud of and the line between easygoing bumbling and dangerous ineptitude can be crossed far too easily. Ask the rangers on Denali or those who work in Antarctica or the Alps about the 'bumbling Brits'. Admiration only goes so far, then they become a menace, to themselves and others.

Heaven forbid anyone be seen to make an effort to get better, eh? I've seen 'amateurism' turn nasty and sneering at those who seek a bit more, at no loss to the amateurs, merely a difference in opinion and approach. Like the time when training was 'cheating'. Thank dog those times are gone.

There's nothing stopping anyone going about their own business in alpine climbing completely ignoring any such 'team' and just carrying on as always. Aversion to such elitism or teams or squads or whatever is largely an irrational personal and cultural preference and is no more valid to force on anyone else than plenty of other things people argue about on here. No one is proposing a team of fluro-clad heroes posing for aerial footage. There's plenty of room on the spectrum between Jean Marc Boivin or Ueli Steck and a middle-aged bloke down the crag doing Diffs with his mates.

My main concern would be if the creation, presence and operation of such a 'team' did in fact impact on those who want nothing to do with it. If evidence proved that was the case then I don't think it would be in the interests of climbing, or the climbing community in general.

Encouraging and supporting actual alpinism, at an increasing standard of excellence, rather than passively allowing (and in doing so, encouraging) the proliferation of guided, fixed and blogged celebrity snow plods is to me a positive step. Action, not reaction.
Marek - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Damo:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> <SNIP> Aversion to such elitism or teams or squads or whatever is largely an irrational personal and cultural preference and is no more valid to force on anyone else than plenty of other things people argue about on here.

It not that simple. Apart from that knee-jerk aversion, a 'national elite' squad inevitably involves (or ends up involving) the national body for the sport (else the 'national' bit is laughable), then the government (in the chase for vote-winning 'national honours') and ends up skewing funding and other priorities. That affects everyone - generally adversely. No, I'm not saying it'd be the end of climbing as we know it, but it does encourage a negative (IMO) trend. Now... If you get rid of the 'national' and 'elite' bit and do something which encourages better, safer alpinism across the whole range of players, then I'm all for it. But what?
alasdair19 on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Marek: the alpine climbing group. Tried this once I heard. It kinda consisted of Doug Scott organising a dinner. Howabout a long weekend in the cic in spring. You can take names of everyone keen. Must climb hvs, v and have 2 decent alpine seasons. Who else is volunteering to come along and fret about the young uns..
Bruce Hooker - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Damo:

The term "bumbling amateur" is one I copy from others, I don't really think amateurs have to be bumbling - some of the best mountaineers in history were amateurs and they didn't bumble all the time.

As for the dangers involved, there have been numerous accidents in the Alps involving professionally guided parties and many amateurs went though their entire life without an accident, I think self teaching can produce just as much competence as formal learning, and in many ways a higher level of self awareness and awareness of danger plus the humility to turn back - which I think is the key skill required for survival in big mountains.

Coming back to the subject though it seems to me that the most accomplished alpinists have reached their level and broken new ground by their own efforts: which "experts" could teach people to innovate? As the old joke goes, "Those who can, do. Those who can't do teach others to do."

rogerwebb - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Damo:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> Well said, Captain Scott! >>
>

Too much Roland Huntford?!
nufkin - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to James S:

I'd object to a 'national team' of young alpinists, though largely because I'm too old, fat and scared to be part of it.

What Damo said
> Encouraging and supporting actual alpinism, at an increasing standard of excellence, rather than passively allowing (and in doing so, encouraging) the proliferation of guided, fixed and blogged celebrity snow plods is to me a positive step. Action, not reaction.
makes a lot sense to me. I quite like the idea of mentoring, like the Steve House scheme etc, by and for those who are interested and show promise, but not in a sort of official, standardised way.

A problem, I think, and as has been touched on above, is that there isn't really a clear-cut point to alpinism beyond the satisfaction of doing it. Being first up something is probably regarded as an achievement, but otherwise how do you measure it, and those doing it? Speed? Degree of difficulty? Then, at what point do you introduce concepts like ethics, and whose ethics should they be? All these things should be considered by the young bucks who'd be in line for making up any team, but I think they'd have to make up their own minds as they go along
Damo on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to nufkin:
> (In reply to James S)
>
> I'd object to a 'national team' of young alpinists, though largely because I'm too old, fat and scared to be part of it.
>
Me too


> Being first up something is probably regarded as an achievement, but otherwise how do you measure it, and those doing it? Speed? Degree of difficulty? Then, at what point do you introduce concepts like ethics, and whose ethics should they be?

Easy. The UIAA publishes the list of unclimbed mountains down to 6500m that have a prominence of at least 8%, and says 'go for it'. No fixed ropes, no porters above base camp, only alpine-style allowed, one team per route per season, weighted points system for altitude/tech/speed, fines and lost points for failure to remove rubbish, lost digits, lies and deaths. There's a B-List of unclimbed routes on previously climbed mountains that attract a 25% points reduction.

Teams have 2014 for selection then begin in 2015, go through to end of 2019 and the team with the most points wins the 2020 Vision d'Extrem Super Piolet d'Oh award of individually engraved curved-shaft ice axes made of golden cheese, a book deal with Vertebrate, a jury seat at Banff and a presenter's gig at Kendal. Losers have to moderate the Rocktalk forum for one year.
jon on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to Damo:

> ... Extrem Super Piolet d'Oh award...

Excellent! Please tell me that's not a typo!
jcw on 22 Aug 2013
In reply to Damo: Well said. It's not a question of teams but the potential to access a scheme whereby talented amateurs can learn from each other and teachers the techniques, skills and efficiency of high level mountaineering. Of course we can all pick it up as we go along, but the opportunity for enthusiastic and already competent youngsters who have already proved themselves to learn from those who have the experience without great financial cost seems to me an eminently sensible idea that ought to be encouraged inI the UK as it is in some other countries.
Bruce Hooker - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to jcw:

> to access a scheme whereby talented amateurs can learn from each other...

Such a nifty system already exists, it's called going climbing with your mates :-)
jon on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to jcw)

> Such a nifty system already exists, it's called going climbing with your mates :-)

Or cannon fodder, as it's often known...

Taurig - on 23 Aug 2013
Nationalism and competition aren't in the spirit of mountaineering? I need to do a bit more reading, I've obviously got the wrong end of the stick about the first ascent of Everest, Eiger Nordwand etc....

jon on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Taurig:
> Nationalism and competition aren't in the spirit of mountaineering?(...) the wrong end of the stick about the first ascent of Everest, Eiger Nordwand etc....

No, I think you have to see that in the spirit of snatching a big unclimbed prize. Climbing things that have already been climbed just doesn't generate the same (or any?) competitiveness.
nufkin - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to Taurig:

> Nationalism and competition aren't in the spirit of mountaineering?

They may have been a factor for those involved, but I'd wager that just doing the route was more important to climbers - the nationalism was probably more something for the watching masses to get excited about
Bruce Hooker - on 23 Aug 2013
In reply to nufkin:

Have you read the accounts of the first ascent of Annapurna or K2? Nationalism seemed have played something more than a minor role! As for Everest the fuss about the relative merits of Hilary or Tensing sold quite a few miles of newsprint too. Things have improved since though.... apparently.

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