/ NEW ARTICLE: Your First Alpine Grande Course

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UKC Articles - on 19 Jan 2011
Charlie enjoying "the highest pleasures" after finally getting off the glacier, 4 kbCharlie Boscoe shares his first Alpine 'Grande Course'...

"You're entering a world inhabited by people you see in magazines and staring out at you from posters, a huge drop falling away beneath them. You could never be like them....could you?"

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=3364

jon on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

Excellent. A Grande Course indeed. I enjoyed that.
samrad - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

good article!! very interesting and i like the way it was written. i like the message that talking is one thing but actually doing it is another- very true. makes me want to go back out to the Alps again and have some more awesome experiences:)!!
cheers
sam
F@bien - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

Good story! So what was the next challenge after losing your "grande course" virginity?
mattrm - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

One of the better articles on here. Well written and enjoyable.
walts4 - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

Excellent, sums the experience & the pleasure combined with the pain perfectly.
James Oswald - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:
Fantastic article.
Thank you.
James
Paul Crusher R - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles: Not bad for a mong.
remus - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles: What a wonderfully engaging article, brilliant!
liam - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to Paul R:

Boscoe, you are my hero!
damien M - on 19 Jan 2011
Well done Charlie, A well written article from someone who actually gets out....

I especially liked the quote you used of Stevie house, Too true!
J0 - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

"I wanted to commit, to back myself and face the consequences." Well written, very personal, very humble. Really enjoyed reading it.
tatz45 - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:
Excellent article.
Patrick803 - on 19 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles: Thank you, a really enjoyable article for one who dare not quite!
pneame on 20 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:
Fabulous. Speed is safety indeed. You know things are coming unglued when a rope jams or you go off route and have to retrace. And Nic's grin says it all.
Misha - on 20 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:
A well written, honest and interesting article.

Sure, it's easy to talk big in a pub, but sometimes you just go for it, get away with it and end up wiser and stronger, as the author has done. I guess that's called adventure.
jackers - on 20 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

Way to go Charlie! Well-written and unpretentious. I even read it twice!
BALD EAGLE - on 20 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles:

Excellent article Charlie!
Ben Watts - on 22 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles: A very interesting and engaging article. Well done.
francoisecall - on 30 Jan 2011
In reply to UKC Articles: Interesting article but first time I hear that the Traverse of the Drus was a "grande course"!
jon on 31 Jan 2011
In reply to francoisecall:

Hello Francoise. Bit of discussion here: http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=441686 Very differing points of view... It'd be interesting to hear your opinion as an Alpine Club committee member and French alpinist!
sutty on 31 Jan 2011
In reply to francoisecall:

The traverse has always commanded respect, being fairly long with the risk of rockfall and routefinding in bad weather.
francoisecall - on 01 Feb 2011
In reply to sutty:

Not contending that this route commands respect. And well done to the writers of the article. I have no exploits to claim personally as I retreated twice from it myself!

The concept of a "grande course" seems to vary depending who you discuss it with. For me personally, and I stress personally, it is not a "grande course". As I know too well, one can escape relatively easily, the hut is not too far, the grade is not high. It is one of those long routes where route finding is the key.

One little phrase did grate at the biginning of the article when the writers commented that they would not go to the Mont Blanc in order not to meet punters who would not appreciate the hard route they had just done. Interesting motivation!

Punters have as much right to the mountain as the hardcore climbers. Again, a personal opinion.

(the rockfalls are mostly on the West side)
jon on 01 Feb 2011
In reply to sutty and françoise:

I think this is an interesting one. Personally I'd class it as a GC - route finding, difficult retreat (there becomes a point where surely it IS difficult to retreat), notoriously difficult to find descent - how many horror stories do you hear of folks getting lost, enforced bivvies etc. The hut isn't far away from the foot of the mountain but there is an increasingly difficult to cross glacier to get to it.

My next door neighbour Fred Ancey is a guide from the Compagnie who has guided it at least half a dozen times. He proudly announced to me some time back that he knew every inch, and all its secrets. This was before the Bonatti Pillar fell down (the second time). He guided it again some time after and came home with his proud tail between his legs and admitted that there are now sections of it that he didn't recognise at all and that at times he was completely lost and had to retrace his steps! He found it very much looser than previously, which tends to agree with what Charlie found. Interestingly, as an aside, Fred got involved with a project a couple of years ago, to film a base jump from some where just below the summit. The team were helicoptered to the summit and Fred as local expert rapped down with the base jumper to find the best place to jump from. The jump never happened as Sam the jumper got hit by rockfall... They were all helicoptered off again.
francoisecall - on 01 Feb 2011
In reply to jon: I know Fred Ancey. I spent a night outside the Charpoua hut sitting and musing with him. We tried to guide down a party of Austrian aspirants who had got lost on the Traverse! He claimed he could not sleep because I was snoring too much!
jon on 01 Feb 2011
In reply to francoisecall:

Fred is an avid crystal hunter and probably makes more money out of that than guiding. He has a couple of fours in the vague vicinty of the Charpoua and spends a lot of time there. If a party of Austrian aspirants can get lost on the traverse, then I rest my case. As for the snoring, well I'd have thought Fred would have had the upper hand there.
Charlie Boscoe - on 01 Feb 2011
In reply to francoisecall:

Hi, I was interested to read your comments and just wanted to clear a few things up.

Firstly, the route is very long, features climbing around english HVS and although it would be possible to retreat it would involve descending a very dangerous and rockfall prone gully. I can assure you that it feels like a Grande Course!

I was also interested to see you had retreated from it twice. A judgement on it's status as a Grande Course or otherwise might be better left to those who have done it such as the guide Jon mentions. I have opinions on lots of routes, but I wouldn't go on a forum and tell people what a route is all about ("It is one of those long routes where route finding is the key") until I'd experienced it for myself.

"So says the man who hasn't been there".

Secondly, I didn't wish to sound elitist when talking about Mont Blanc, indeed I loved climbing Mont Blanc both times I've done it. I simply meant that the experience of climbing it by a hard route is diluted by the fact that it is so busy on the summit. "Punters" do have as much right to the mountain as "hardcore climbers" (check out my leading level on my profile - you could argue that I fit the punter category more than the hardcore climber category) and I am not bothered who does what in the mountains, it was just an observation about the difference between 2 summits. Furthermore, I can assure you that the appreciation of other climbers is not sufficient motivation to get me on a dangerous or committing route.

Thirdly, the rockfalls might well be mainly on the West side but there was no shortage of them on the south side, as we discovered.

Hope that clears a few things up,

Yours, not an elitist egomaniac,

Charlie
francoisecall - on 01 Feb 2011
In reply to Charlie Boscoe:

I have climbed the Dru via another more technical route.
Charlie Boscoe - on 02 Feb 2011
In reply to francoisecall: So in other words....no, you haven't done the route you're describing!

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