/ Recommended guide book for the alps +

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the ant hill mob - on 05 Jan 2013
Hi,

Planning on a summer trip to the alps for a month or so, will be looking for a guide book with preferably lower grades f-ad. Will be living out the back of the van, but chamonix will be the initial destination, but more than willing to travel to other locations for routes.

Also might be looking at some sport/trad climbing routes on days off. Any recommendations for a guide book for this too. looking at lowish grades again, around 4-6 sport, vs trad.

Finally will want to practice skills such as crampon use and ice axe recoveries etc, on a safe enough glacier, as 2 of the group have no experience on snow and ice. so any recommendations?

Thanks,

Ant
CurlyStevo - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to the ant hill mob:
we found these two pretty good Mont Blanc classic and plaisir by Rock and Ice. Crag climbs in Chamonix by Vamos.

Some of the other guides can tend to either be a bit old fashioned (in particular alpine club guides ) or not including pure rock routes (snow ice and mixed guides). I also think both the alpine club guides and the snow ice and mixed guides are in general a bit light on info and better for more experienced climbers.
GridNorth - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to the ant hill mob: If you wait until you get to Chamonix you find that there is plenty of choice of guides for both sport and alpine climbs, even a few in English.

The Mer du Glace is a good place to practice being easy access. Catch the Montenvers train and descend the ladders to the glacier. You may need to walk up it for several hundred yards to get to the crevasses but this is straightforward and can usually be done without crampons. When you set up a belay make sure that you scrape away the surface ice to get to the solid stuff beneath and cover the heads of the ice screws with snow/ice to protect them from the sun.
cannichoutdoors - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo: I think the Alpine Club guide to the 4000m peaks by Martin Moran gives a good overview to many areas of the alps and some good advice in one book. Bit short on training peaks though for obvious reasons, so other guides will be required anyway...
cagm - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to the ant hill mob:
You could try the "Chamonix Climbs" link, bottom left-hand corner of the Alpine Club site. Alternatively, get there directly on www.funalps.com. This gives you access to selected routes in the "easier" grades around Chamonix on the wiki type camptocamp.org site. You can set it up so that you have English as your default interface language. By next summer there will be a folder of all the selected routes in the Office de Haute Montagne (OHM) in the centre of Chamonix, available for photocopying.
Sam_in_Leeds - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to the ant hill mob:

I've got the earlier version of this book.

I've got a copy you can have for a fiver?

http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Books-Maps-DVDs/Foreign-Climbing-Guides/Europe/France/Mt-Blanc...

CurlyStevo - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to cannichoutdoors: ok i meant the mont blanc massif alpine club guides. They do have a lot of routes in but they have less information in for the novice as well as being light on diagrams. They are also a bit outdated for likely changes in summer alpine conditions....
cannichoutdoors - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo: I agree. All the other AC guides (MB, Valais, Bernina) are out of date and due for an update of both content and format. It's very interesting seeing lots TD and ED routes, especially landmark routes like Walker and the 1938 route, but realistically they are out of reach for most of us even when they are in condition.
Captain Gear - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to cannichoutdoors:
> It's very interesting seeing lots TD and ED routes, especially landmark routes like Walker and the 1938 route, but realistically they are out of reach for most of us even when they are in condition.

Speak for yourself.

That's a bit like saying there is no point putting Margins on the Mind, Authentic Desire and the Indian Face in the Cloggy guide as they're rarely in condition and far too hard for most of us.

In real terms the Walker and 1938 are far easier than the routes I've suggested above.
the ant hill mob - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to grid north - Want to have a look at the routes before we go, so I can loosely plan the trip as nothing ever goes perfectly to plan, but i remember last time i was there seeing plenty in the shops, so things like maps etc, i will get when im there.

cannichoutdoors - I had a look at this online, as i plan to do a few of the higher routes, as after a week or two we should be comfortably acclimatised and working well together. so will consider this as well.

cagm - will have a look at the site now cheers for the link.

In general - cheers for the info on ac guides, as i had googled these before. but havnt used them before so didnt know of the content. will also look into the crag one by vamos, as after a couple of read ups online looks like the kind of thing im after.

thanks for the help,

Ant
CurlyStevo - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to the ant hill mob: the vamos guide is useable but not perfect. From memory quite a few of the diagrams are drawn rather than photos. But i dont know if there are any better options in English.
Mark / Alps - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to the ant hill mob:
Adding to the list:
easy ascents in the Mot Blanc Range ; Vamos
Michel Piola Guides;Aiguilles Rouges ( very highly recomended )and Envers des Aiguilles if you are going there. His older guides are useful, Mont BlancTopo volume 1. All available in English andyou can buy them all out there.
Mer de Glace is good for dry glacier practice. Another option is to go up to the Albert Premier Hut which is then ten minutes stroll to a wet glacier. Plus lots of easy routes to access from there. Bivvy sites all around if you want to save cash.
Nigel Modern on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to the ant hill mob: This one is excellent as a taster but you can't beat 'Snow, Ice and mixed' (comprehensive in 2 volumes):
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Mont-Blanc-Range-Reflecting/dp/1898573727

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Snow-Ice-Mixed-Anon/dp/2952188122/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=135...

Vallorcine for cragging
jon on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Mark / Alps:
> (In reply to the ant hill mob)
> Adding to the list:

> Michel Piola (...) His older guides are useful, Mont BlancTopo volume 1. All available in English andyou can buy them all out there.

The old Mont Blanc Topo vol 1 (and 2) have been out of print for years and are only to be found on ebay.

Volume 2 of the Aiguilles Rouges came out at the end of September.
cannichoutdoors - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear: I can only speak for myself! I should clarify my statement, which probably wasn't articulated very well. The Walker and 1938 routes are attainable, and i wasn't suggesting omitting them or any other classic mountaineering route. It just sometimes seems a waste to have a plethora of hard routes which are variations on a theme, taking up space in a general guidebook. For instance do we need to know all the rock routes on the Rhot Fluhe (sp)? Could we ditch half of the hard, chossy, unsafe routes that do not see any traffic, in favour of either a lighter guidebook, or better descriptions and phototopos of the rest of the routes? Just a thought.
cannichoutdoors - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Mark / Alps: Agree with du tour glacier - excellent for novices. Also how about the glacier between the torino hut and dent de geant for practice? Or the glacier below the Vignettes hut in Arolla?
Solaris - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to the ant hill mob:

I'm going to put in a vote for the AC books. They might in some circumstances not show just how much the mountains have changed since some of the photos were taken but on the whole, they are adequately reliable in my experience. After all, it's not like they're UK cragging guides describing a climb metre by metre. And they will inspire you and keep you climbing for years - from your first Facile up to and beyond the 1938 route.

Also, I am not sure there are any other guides available in English that do as much so succinctly and informatively, can easily be taken on the hill, and illustrate and describe rock, snow and mixed routes in summer conditions - which is when most Brits are in the Alps. The two books recommended by Nigel Modern are very attractive and inspiring but both have limitations the AC guides don't.

Having said all which - come on AC, Let's have a new series of guidebooks. Meanwhile, thanks to cagm for getting the ball rolling.
CurlyStevo - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Nigel Modern: well i own all the guides you mention. We found the mont blanc range book good but it just doesnt have enough routes in and i think it has no pure rock routes. The snow ice and mixed books have great diagrams but very little text or easy means of descerning which the classic routes are here again there are no pure rock routes listed. A lot of the modern selective guides aimed at novice to intermediate climbers have a lot more info than just the route description also.
CurlyStevo - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Solaris: well im sure the ac guides are functional. We took them on our trip although i dont think we used them on a route although i did study them. ive read reviews of the mont blanc massif guides that said you need to do a lot of extra research (especially as a novice) to do the routes listed in these guides which i think compared to some of the more modern selective guides is a fair assessment.
alasdair19 on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo: that probably is a fair assesment, though you can probably get the info from a conversation in the office de haute montagne.

THe later AC ones are obviously better (Valais E and W, Martin Morans 4000m's). Has anyone used the dolomites one?

For glacier practise the Moiry hut is a good option. Fun dry glacier as an option on the way to hut, mellow peaks and wet glacier above. Also good food and very comfy hut with i think 6 to a room in the modern bit.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Solaris - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I think the thing with any guidebook is to get used to it, and for an alpine novice who starts out (not unreasonably for some people on some routes) on an AD, that is likely to be quite a lot, especially in comparison to British rock guides. (1000m ascent condensed into half a dozen lines!) Interestingly, in your reply to Nigel you seem to be agreeing that some of the more modern books he cited aren't as useful as they appear.

I suspect three factors are causing the difficulties for the AC: uncertainty about the future of printed books, the economics of publishing, and finding volunteers to write the "books".
CurlyStevo - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Solaris:
The book I suggested "Mont Blanc classic and plaisir by Rock and Ice" has enough routes to keep most people with novice to intermediate experience entertained in the area in a variety of conditions at different times of the 'summer' alpine season. It includes a lot of information about the routes which is handy for people looking to gain knowledge about Alpine climbing, but I suspect less useful for people that already have that and would just prefer more routes in the book!

As implied in my posts not all 'modern' guide books are created equal and the suitability IMO does somewhat depend on experience. The "The Mont Blanc Range - Classic Snow, Ice and Mixed Climbs" book is very good for the novice (which on the trip we went on we mostly were) on the routes it covers unfortunately it doesn't cover enough routes IMO and doesn't include pure rock routes, which given the changes in the Summer Alpine environment - if you go in late July or August can leave you stuck with very little to do (safely/sensibly) in the book!

The "snow ice and mixed" guides would be great for people who have a reasonable knowledge of the area and are already reasonably experienced with Alpine climbing. Any extra information would likely just waste space which could be better used describing more climbs. I think for these users for snow / ice / mixed routes these guides would likely supersede the AC mont blanc guides (or at least by very beneficial coupled with them)





Nigel Modern on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I agree - Other guides do have more route description but those guides have good photos and in the case of Snow Ice and Mixed very useful panoramics which enable a good overview of the various glacial basins. I like them but I'm quite visual in my processing and I don't go for very hard routes - AD's my self and body-imposed limit. If/when I do I might well get a more detailed, descriptive guide.
CurlyStevo - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Nigel Modern:
Its a shame that pure rock routes are not included in the (Snow Ice and Mixed) guides IMO.
Solaris - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I agree. The Plaisir alpine guides are the best I know of for layout and route selection for people looking to gain knowledge of alpine climbing. And the "Snow, Ice and Mixed" guides are fantastic for getting a sense of the layout of the hills and their routes, but the pictures usually don't show either in summer conditions. So although they can't be beaten for the inspiration they offer, that will quickly turn to disappointment if you visit Cham in July and August - as most of us do.
Nigel Modern on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to Nigel Modern)
> Its a shame that pure rock routes are not included in the (Snow Ice and Mixed) guides IMO.

That's a good point.

As far as the Alpine Club Guides go I don't recommend them because they denied me membership saying I needed more experience...they're an elitist bunch of....Oh! that's the point :O)
Mark / Alps - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to jon:

Yes the old Piola guides are out of print, thanks for clarifying that. Glad I've still got mine! Also, I didn't know a volume 2 of Aiguilles rouges was due - great stuff.
To the OP: Personally I have built up a range of different guidebooks for different Alpine areas and types of climbing over the years. The amount of climbing available is so vast that no one guidebook does it all and different guides have their plus and minus points.
Based on what you say in your original question, thinking of keeping costs down initially and reading what others have said my initial suggestions would be as follows for the Chamonix area:
Vamos: Valley cragging
Piola: Aiguilles Rouges
Vamos: Easy Ascents in Mont Blanc Range ( great ideas for a first season )
Also take lots of photos for future reference
These would be a good starting point IMO

Go and look at different guidebooks / borrow them if you can. Persuade mates to buy them! See what inspires you!

If you decide alpine climbing in the Chamonix area is what you want more of then I would also go for the Damilano guides 'Snow, Ice and Mixed'. Great overview pictures, plenty of routes but obviously all snow, ice and mixed! The Laroche / Lelong guide The Mont Blanc Range has limited routes but great descriptions for your early forays into the area so would also be worthwhile. Bear in mind you can also photocopy route descriptions at the Office de Haute Montagne in Chamonix - within reason.

Having got a season or two under your belt and, if you are anything like me realising there are several lifetimes of routes you want to do, you can expand your collection based on your ambitions. Fancy high altitude rock routes, get the appropriate guides. Want a greater variety of routes to choose from, get the A.C. guides etc.

One other thought, somebody mentioned about the ease of carrying guide books in the mountains. Personally, I often don't so I don't see that as a factor when buying alpine guides. I scan any relevant pages, cut out the bits I want and laminate them. Sometimes I combine info from different guides. Then just take the relevant bits with me. Light, weather proof, easy to read and keep in accessible pocket etc. You can take cards for alternative routes if conditions or weather or bravery dictates. Have fun!!

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