/ Destination for first Alpine trip

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euanryan on 24 Jul 2013
Hi all!

Heading to the Alps for the first time in a few weeks hopefully. Can anyone suggest a good destination for alpine virgins? Want to try some easier routes with a view to learning the Alpine way.
Had considered Chamonix but that's the only place we could think of, plus it might be dropping us in at the deep-end...

Any advice or help would be much appreciated!

Thanks

Euan
Mr-Cowdrey on 24 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan: most will say the Ecrins, some might say the Sass area in Switzerland. But I went to Chamonix for my first time. And loved it. Lots of easy stuff to grit your teeth on.
dunirie - on 24 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan:i would head to the saas valley, free uplift this season, a few easyish 4000m peaks,have a great time wherever you choose!
blackreaver - on 24 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan: Just had my first alpine season and spent it in Chamonix. See my logbook for the routes I did. They are all easily doable as long as you are fairly competent with rock and snow climbing and you are fully acclimatized.

Ensure you know how to rope up alpine style and crevasse rescue etc.

I camped in Argentière and met some people who I ended up climbing with.

BR
GridNorth - on 24 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan: It depends on what you want and what your background is. A lot of "easy" alpine is essentially a glacier approach, lots of walking and perhaps some scrambling or straightforward ice axe work. Lots of climbers who come to alpine climbing from a walking background find this challenging enough but experienced rock climbers may find it a little boring. I certainly did and after one easy alpine snow plod jumped straight into the technical climbing.

Chamonix is not as hard core as some would have you believe and anyone with experience at trad climbing and ice climbing in the UK will find plenty to keep them going.
MaranaF - on 24 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan: I live in the Ecrins National Park and so I'm going to say come here!! Chamonix is fantastic too but its so busy at this time of year. Both have plenty of easy routes.

Are you going to be camping?
nbonnett - on 24 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan:

Erin's , alfroide
GridNorth - on 24 Jul 2013
In reply to nbonnett: Ecrin, Ailefroide even?
euanryan on 25 Jul 2013
In reply to DemolitionRed: Yeah camping most likely, we're on a tight budget!
MG - on 25 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan: Think about what you want in the valley too. Most locations will have suitable easier routes but the "feel" of the place will be very different between say Chamonix and a small alpine village. Also different countries have different cultures so a small Swiss village will be very different to similar sized place in Italy.
euanryan on 25 Jul 2013
In reply to MG: I think I'd prefer France, I know it better plus I can speak a reasonable amount of French. But I guess we don't really know!

We've both climbed up to grade 4 Scottish winter, E4 trad, and 7c sport. Is the general consensus that we'd find most easier alpine stuff boring?
MG - on 25 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan:
> (In reply to MG) I think I'd prefer France, I know it better plus I can speak a reasonable amount of French. But I guess we don't really know!

Remeber parts of Italy and Switzerland speak French too. It's difficult to describe the differences in cultural feel but they are there. Size-wise Chamonix and Zermatt are very busy with loads of bars, shops etc, while small villages are quiet and normally cheaper.

>
> We've both climbed up to grade 4 Scottish winter, E4 trad, and 7c sport. Is the general consensus that we'd find most easier alpine stuff boring?

It depends if you want mountaineering or climbing. "Classic" alpine mountaineering is more about covering a lot techinically fairly easy but often exposed ground quickly and safely (think Cuillin ridge maybe) than technical climbing. It also involves a lot of mountain walking and there is a lot of judgement needed about weather, dangers, times etc. Only you will know if you will find this boring. If you are after just technical climbing, Chamonix has lots oflifts that get you close very quickly. Of course it is possible to combine the two on routes like the Walker Spur, but you will have to ask others about that sort of thing!



MG - on 25 Jul 2013
In reply to MG:

> It depends if you want mountaineering or climbing. "Classic" alpine mountaineering is more about covering a lot techinically fairly easy but often exposed ground quickly and safely (think Cuillin ridge maybe) than technical climbing.

Perhaps worth adding that if you are not that familiar with alpine grading, it makes something like "VS" look very precise! AD can be anything from a short easy scramble to a hugely long and serious undertaking.
Father Noel Furlong on 25 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan:
> (In reply to MG)

> We've both climbed up to grade 4 Scottish winter, E4 trad, and 7c sport. Is the general consensus that we'd find most easier alpine stuff boring?

Depends what you're after. I spent my first two weeks in Saas and only did easy routes. Best two weeks ever.
d508934 - on 25 Jul 2013
In reply to MG:

anyone have any guidebook suggestions for Ecrins or Saas valley? at the easier end of the spectrum... and in english!! cheers in advance
euanryan on 27 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan: Think we're going to go to Chamonix anyway and just go with it, not plan any routes just get ourselves there and see what we can do. Sound like a reasonable plan?
blurty - on 27 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan:

Yep, just turn up and see what takes your fancy.

You'll make loads of mistakes, (we all did). Hopefully nothing too serious.

Let us know how it went when you get back.
euanryan on 28 Jul 2013
In reply to blurty: Will do! Hope not to make too many mistakes!

On a side note,
Sleeping bags for bivvying on the hill, what kind of comfort rating would I be looking at? And with the possibility of going back in winter, ditto?
Mark / Alps - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to euanryan:
Your profile suggests you have good technical expertise so a trip to Cham should suit. You can always do some of the mid mountain sport routes, or high mountain rock routes as well as the alpine style climbs. Cham has lots of variety of climbing of all grades.
Summer bivvy, I suggest very small and light. PHD Minimus ( rated +5 but ratings are notoriously varied )is what I use. Add silk liner, bivvy bag and hot water bottle. You will also have extra clothing if bivvying higher. Different bag for winter though!

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