UKC

Winter mountaineering - where to start and find partners?

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 Katzina.W 07 Sep 2021

Hi

First of all - apologies if this topic has been discussed already on one of the other forums, I do not want to duplicate but I've searched and could not find anything. 

I would really want to get into winter mountaineering. I have booked myself into a winter skills course in Scotland, after that I am planning to go on a winter meet with my climbing club to consolidate the skills. However, I already wonder what to do afterwards? Where did you find your mountaineering partners especially for Alpine trips? How can I gain more experience? 

Please could you give me some advice? 

 a crap climber 07 Sep 2021
In reply to Katzina.W:

No straightforward answer to this. It basically comes down to climbing with different people and hopefully you'll find someone you gel with who has similar goals etc.

In terms of finding people, you've mentioned joining a club, which is a good idea. You can also try posting for partners on here or various Facebook groups etc.

For alpine climbing specifically an approach that's worked for me and many others I'm sure is to just hang round Chamonix and something will turn up. There's a book in the Chamonix guides office where you can leave contact details for finding partners, or just obviously looking like a climber and being chatty can sort you out. You'll definitely find someone to climb with, although there's no guarantee you'll want to climb with them again... Having said that it's usually pretty easy to tell if you're likely to work well with someone (I've had some really good climbs with people I randomly met there).

Personally the people I climb with the most I just happened to meet by chance, friends of friends etc, though that's probably not very helpful.

 kaiser 07 Sep 2021
In reply to Katzina.W:

OP I think you have taken the correct first steps.  Leave it at for this for this coming season (if any) and review your position at that stage

Too early for you you to be hanging around the chamonix scutters

 LakesWinter 07 Sep 2021
In reply to Katzina.W:

For alpine partners I found a couple of good ones on here. I met potentials for some cragging first. That way you can check you can get on and that their basic climbing skills are ok. 

Otherwise co opt some of your rock climbing partners. Start easy and short in the alps and go somewhere like saas, arolla, zinal or italy first, not chamonix unless you like queues and crowds on the easy intro routes

 Stichtplate 07 Sep 2021
In reply to Kasia.Anna:

Hard to give a definitive answer without knowing what your current level of experience is but here goes.

First off, get out in the hills and make sure your navigation skills are half decent and that you're comfortable with the terrain encountered at least at grade 1 scrambling. Get to know a handful of easy scrambling routes now and you can return to familiar ground when they're covered in white stuff.

Next up, a Scottish winter mountaineering course course will hopefully provide a firm foundation to build on, get you used to the spikey kit involved and give you an idea of what clothing and pack options you prefer. It's an expensive game to get into and it's very easy to buy kit you don't really get on with (a mistake I made and I need to put some barely used gear up for sale on here at some point!).

Once you've got the kit and the basic skills, either get out solo somewhere popular and fairly easy (Lakes and Wales have plenty of options) or find a partner on here or on one of the many mountaineering groups on Facebook.

Hope that helps.

In reply to Katzina.W:

Search womens alpine adventure club on facebook. They do yearly trips and all the women seem to become really close friends. They are building a fantastic network and I’ve watched it grow year on year. I have to admit I’m slightly jealous that I don’t qualify.

 Mouflon 08 Sep 2021
In reply to Katzina.W:

Have you looked at the Austrian Alpine Club UK Branch?

They have loads of meets in the Alps, including courses, and various walking get-togethers in this country.

So a good way of meeting people and gaining Alpine experience of different types.

Finally, included in your membership you get basic Mountain insurance.

 V1k 08 Sep 2021
In reply to Katzina.W:

Hi Katzina, Good timing for this post. As a petite woman, I've been wondering about the same a few weeks ago.

I have done a few weekends of winter climbing in Scotland with my bf, and I really enjoyed it but we cannot do any larger mountain with glacier crossings (safely) together due to the large weight difference between us. I would need a female partner for Alpine climbing.

Maybe if you are keen we can have a chat and start doing outdoor stuff together in the UK (longer hikes/trad climbing) to see if we are compatible/have similar goals and take it from there.

 NottsRich 08 Sep 2021
In reply to Katzina.W:

> I have booked myself into a winter skills course in Scotland, after that I am planning to go on a winter meet with my climbing club to consolidate the skills. However, I already wonder what to do afterwards? Where did you find your mountaineering partners especially for Alpine trips? How can I gain more experience?

You've started in a good place here.

I did winter skills the self taught way, with some like-minded mates and some good books, but knew our limits. I wouldn't recommend that approach (although I'm glad I did it that way) and your idea of a winter skills course in Scotland is a great alternative. Especially to meet people. 

Following that initial Scottish winter intro season or two, I did the alpine Conville course which was frankly amazing. After the course several of us stayed in Chamonix for another week and climbed our own things as a group/pairs and had a great time. And then went back again, and again. 

Experience comes from climbing more. Don't worry too much about getting it, because you'll just acquire it. Just have fun and climb. If you're not having fun then something isn't quite right. 

I've met a few winter climbers on here that I get on really well with. Luck of the draw, but this is a good place to start. As others have said, make sure your basic skills are up to scratch (nav, basic movement on snow/ice, kit choices etc). For me the winter partners also became alpine partners by default. 

You don't mention where you're based. That might help people suggest specific places to look for partners. Although you mention a climbing club already so that's a good start.

By the way, one person's alpine ideas are vastly different to another's. Some think straight away of dry rock in the sunny mountains, others of shady ice gullies, others of long PD routes up 4000m peaks. Have a think about what it is you want to do. Something like this might be useful for dreams/inspiration for longer term goals. Even the beautiful less difficult routes in there. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mont-Blanc-Finest-Philippe-Batoux/dp/1906148643


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