/ Recommended guide book for the alps +
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?
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.
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.
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.
I've got the earlier version of this book.
I've got a copy you can have for a fiver?
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.
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,
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.
Vallorcine for cragging
> Adding to the list:
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.
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.
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.
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".
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)
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.
Its a shame that pure rock routes are not included in the (Snow Ice and Mixed) guides IMO.
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.
> 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)
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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