An unseasonably snowy and wet start to the Alpine summer gave the team at this year's Arc'teryx Academy some challenging conditions in which to deliver their climbing clinics.
The 300 participants, who had booked on to a huge variety of different activities, from Basic Mountaineering Education through to Big Wall Climbing and even High Altitude Medicine, were not going to be put off by mixed weather and snow. The overall feeling of the event was that people were keen to get out in to the mountains with a hunger for knowledge.
Routes and objectives were chosen wisely by the British Mountain Guides, the Compagnie de Guides, and Chamonix Experience, keeping participants not only safe, but maximising learning in the four days of clinics.
Alongside the mountain guides were a whole host of Arc'teryx sponsored climbers. Representing the Brits was boulderer Mina Leslie-Wujastyk who was on hand to deliver some bouldering clinics at the classic venue of the Col du Montets. And whilst the event had a strong Alpine theme, pure rock climbing in all its forms played a strong role, and rock-based clinics covered not only bouldering, but aid climbing, trad climbing as well as advanced sport climbing.
Swiss sport expert Nina Caprez imparted her 3 top tips for better sport climbing:
1: Your partner should speak the same language as you.
"I don't mean French or English, or whatever. I mean the same language of climbing. The way you approach things, your aspirations, they come froma similar place, and they are at the same level. It makes climbing a lot simpler, and a lot more fun."
2: Partner Check
"Before every single route you should do a partner check. Safety is so important, and the more you climb, the more it is important to have systems like this. It is easy to forget something vital. So check your harness, knot, belay device etc, every time. And always have a knot in the end of the rope too, that's really important."
3: It should always be fun.
"Sport climbing should always be fun, it is always safe, and you never need to seriously risk your life. It's a beautiful sport, and if you're getting stressed about it, or feeling anxious, just remember why you are there in the first place - it's all about having fun right?! We're super lucky to be able to go to the cliffs and mountains and enjoy this sport, so always keep that in mind. It will actually help your climbing too."
But the event wasn't all serious learning. For me the most important part of this 'coming-together' was meeting up with old and new friends, sharing a beer and a BBQ and plotting, planning and scheming for the next adventure. Climbing is all about partnerships, and events like this not only give people the skills they need to progress with their climbing, they introduce climbers to one another, different cultures, and in that social networking somewhere along the line, real friendships are formed.
You can read more about the 5th Arc'teryx Alpine Academy on the Arc'teryx Blog
You can see a selection of stunning images on the Arc'teryx FlickR Page