/ beginner stuff in alps

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dremelmaster - on 29 Jul 2013
Hi, I am planning a last minute trip to the alps in a few days. I am a complete novice when it comes to hills although I have toproped in the peak district and climbed indoors. I am reasonably fit. I am interested more in mountaineering and I need to learn the basics but also challenging at the same time.

It is a bit of a last minute thing and I have a 1000 give or take. i have lots of gear clothing/boots/iceaxe/crampons but never used any of it.

Can anyone recommend a resort/course? or should i just rock up in chamonix or the like and figure it out from there? i am a loner and have no climbing friends :-(

thanks
dutybooty - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster:

Its been done, but probably isn't the best idea to jump straight from indoors to the alps, even with a guide.

Save your money, get yourself out climbing on rock a bit more, meet some people and learn basic ropework etc first. Then scottish winter, then move to alpine.

Alternatively, just rock out and crack on. Its what I'd most likely do, but I wouldn't reccommend it.

Finally, I'm calling troll.
dremelmaster - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to dutybooty: i can assure you im no troll,i maybe completely clueless and have just spent 3 hours researching different courses without having a scooby doo what i want to do. Although from re-reading my post i can understand why you think that.

so many places, routes, courses...i need help/suggestions.
dutybooty - on 29 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster: I'd encourage you to go through the normal route, get out cragging with people, move to some multi-pitch, move to scottish winter, then think about the alps next year.

Its the norm for a reason. If you're motivated you'll stick with it for a year, if you're not motivated enough for it, then you'd probably have not made a summit anyway.

dylan_the_fox - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster:

Just to be contrary, I'd say get out to Cham - take a few walks, get on some crags if you can hook up with someone who's willing to teach you - but stay off the white stuff and postpone your dream of soloing the Walker Spur for a while lol.

There's nothing like being there and having a good long look at the mountains to inspire you to put in the work between now and next season :-)

If you've only got 1000 then it might be best not to eat out a lot in Cham though!!
Doug on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to dutybooty: might be normal in the UK but in France (& no doubt elsewhere) its not so unusual to start on easy alpine routes, which are often not much more than high altitude walks with a little scrambling.

If you have no partner, consider a course, plenty on offer from ISM, UCPA etc
auld al on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster: I would say don't go to Chamonix unless you want to be involved in large crowds of sometimes pushy people - go somewhere else where it's a bit more relaxed with more easier stuff - suggest Ailefroide
dremelmaster - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to dylan_the_fox:

yeah ive never seen a bloody mountain before. think its time to do it rather than think about doing it tbh. took me a year to buy loads of gear so dont plan on leaving it in the cupboard for another 6 months.

ive found a guide who suggests an ice day school on the mer de glace, and then the next day traversing vallee blanche... sound like a good idea for 2 days as a complete novice?

punj - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster: sounds like a good idea, a short trip with some instruction in a big mountain environment. could be the best option considering your experience and the short notice.
flying el burro - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster:

I just finished an introductory alpine course. I had a week with Moran Mountain in the Arolla area of Switzerland. We did glacier skills followed by Alphubel and then L'Eveque with a bit of sport climbing in-between. 6 days of stuff with an instructor ratio of 1:3. I can highly recommend both Moran Mountain and the parts of Switzerland we climbed in. The company was very well organised with experienced guides and we well looked after in the chalet. The mountain huts we stayed in were great and there were plenty of suitable routes to do and it was pretty quiet up high.
goose299 - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster:
You've never even seen a mountain? Christ, unlucky!

I'd go along with the majority. Use the money to spend some time doing some cragging. Get a friend interested seeing as you've no climbing friends
Learn rope management, placing gear etc, do some winter stuff this coming season and set your sights on the alps next year
Simon4 - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster: This thread :

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=558139

is of relevance, though it relates to someone who had experience but was limited due to pregnancy rather than lacking it. Personally I would say that it is a good idea at your level of climbing experience (or the lack of it), to plan to walk around the lower level of the Alps, up to huts or known walks to get a feel of what the place is all about, rather than launch into climbing this year which from your own description, you are not ready for.

Where to go? I don't tend to regard Chamomix as a good first trip destination, as it is so crowded, the weather tends to be worse and it is a bit too much like Blackpool with mountains. So the Ecrins is a great place to walk about, with rugged mountains but not as high, while the Engandine region in Switzerland is beautiful and tends to have better weather, while around Zermatt and the parallel Saas valley is also worth thinking about. It is however probably better to avoid Switzerland at first just because it is so expensive.
dylan_the_fox - on 31 Jul 2013
"...plan to walk around the lower level of the Alps, up to huts or known walks to get a feel of what the place is all about, rather than launch into climbing this year which from your own description, you are not ready for."

Completely agree!

" Where to go? I don't tend to regard Chamomix as a good first trip destination, as it is so crowded, the weather tends to be worse and it is a bit too much like Blackpool with mountains."

Even Cham itself isn't that crowded as long as you do your shopping early on in the day! I don't suppose many climbers would actually stay in Cham itself though? And be fair, there are some great trails up and down the valley.

Having been to Saas this year for the first time though - I wouldn't call it expensive. Not if you buy your ale and food from the mini-mart and take advantage of the free uplift. Good beer was 75c for a big can in Grund!! If you want to burn some cash it's always possible of course ;-)
dylan_the_fox - on 31 Jul 2013

> ive found a guide who suggests an ice day school on the mer de glace, and then the next day traversing vallee blanche... sound like a good idea for 2 days as a complete novice?

Sounds like an excellent plan! I think you'd love it, and get a lot out of it.

One daft thing I'd recommend doing - take a couple of lengths of cord out with you and use them to commit the knots to your muscle memory! It's incredibly useful if you're a klutz at remembering them (like me)

maryah - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster: UCPA / Action Outdoors (www.action-outdoors.co.uk)have some introductory courses in Chamonix for 640 for everything for the week (accomm, full board, equipment, lift pass and guiding) so you should easily be able to gain an idea of Alpinism within your 1000 budget!
erph - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster:

> ive found a guide who suggests an ice day school on the mer de glace, and then the next day traversing vallee blanche... sound like a good idea for 2 days as a complete novice?

I 'd rather use the private guiding to do beautiful, spectacular climbs, and then learn the technical stuff in a group course.

Have fun!

erik




jcw on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster: I'd take flying al burros suggestion. Cham is not the right place to start.
Bergvagabunden - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to dremelmaster: You've spent a year collecting gear , and never used it , or worn it under intended conditions !? At the very LEAST you need to do N.Wales/Scotland just to see if this stuff is appropriate , if its comfortable etc. , forget the Alps !
dylan_the_fox - on 01 Aug 2013
In reply to Bergvagabunden:

With the greatest respect, you're talking balls!

What is anyone going to find out about a set of crampons in Scotland that they won't find out in the Alps?



tomaszsvd on 01 Aug 2013
In reply to dremelmaster:
If i were u i wouldn't go to Chamonix as it is crazy crowded. Aliefroide is much better choice plenty of sport and alpine climbs and 1000 should last u for a bit if u stay on camp ect.
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dremelmaster - on 04 Aug 2013
In reply to dremelmaster:

thanks people for your ideas. ive just got back from cham. spent 2 days with a guide/3nights total and did the following.

day 1. up the mer de glace(or at least part of it).why do distances seem so close but are so far? with a bit of ice climbing near the "swimming pool" bit.up and down the ice to practice technique...bloody knackering.
downclimbing the ladders to the glacier itself was fun considering on the longest one we werent clipped in...it certainly focusses the mind knowing your life is dependent on your concentration!

day 2. cable car to aguile de midi, down the scary ridge which was fun, across vallee blanche, some kind of detour, up snow slope to italian side.

enjoyed it and i learnt alot about myself.

1. i need to get fitter...although i have determination to keep going when suffering. without pack would have been much easier on the legs.
2. dont carry things you dont need.my pack was twice the weight of mr guide man :-( and i paid with pain!lol.
3. climbing down is nearly as hard as climbing up!
4. dont gulp loads of water in one go, sip slowly
5. have faith in the crampons
6. dont have too many layers and overheat!.
7. resist temptation to smash french guide with ice axe when you are knackered and he says ALLEZ ALLEZ when you are trying to take a breather on a steep snow slope that never seems to end.lol.
8. on a crevassed glacier dont walk over to your mate...keep 10m or so distance

I am glad i went even though i paid alot for the experience. More rock and ice climbing in the next year then up Gran Paradis and maybe MB next summer. now i just need to find a climbing partner or 2...sheffield based and can drive if anyone wants to take a novice out? ;-)

thanks for all the suggestions :-)






StuartCJones - on 04 Aug 2013
In reply to dremelmaster:
Good effort getting involved mate, seems like you did it pretty sensibly. Give me a shout if you're interested in doing more UK mountain routes in practice for next year, I'm always short of a mountain partner when I need one.
dylan_the_fox - on 05 Aug 2013
In reply to dremelmaster:

Glad you enjoyed the experience (even with a French guide - takes some doing that!)

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