Alpine skills courses in/near Chamonix

Hey guys,

Ahead of the summer Ecrins trip, I’m considering doing an alpine skills course beforehand, probably in Chamonix. Does anybody have recommendations regarding companies to use?

I’m looking for reasonable pricing, but also of course willing to pay what’s required to get a good guide(s), be in a small group, and go through a reputable and safe outfit.

@Tom_Blake, am I right I thinking you’re already booked on to a course? If so, which one? Might be cool to be on the same one…

Why not join the Arc’teryx alpine academy? it’s on 5-8 July.

It strikes me as quite gimmicky, and more a marketing exercise than a serious way to learn from a good guide. Also, their guiding ratios are 6:1 and I’d much rather be in something like 3:1.

yeah of course it is marketing, but a friend of mine went last year and said guiding was quite good, he did workshops with Nina Caprez and other cool climbers, not to mention winning lots of goodies including a fancy waterproof. Not everyone would be as lucky I admit! I think @Tom_Blake was thinking of going to the Academy too.
What’s wrong with joining NLMC group on an easy mountain outing there and learning from them?

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OH, I’m more than happy to tag along if people want to teach me, but I thought it might be good to get my skills more fully up to speed so I’m not being carried/am able to do more adventurous routes. I want to learn alpine skills anyway so this just seems like a good way to go, as I’ll literally be in the Alps and was planning to go down before the main meet anyway.

I’m on the Jon Conville course which unfortunately I had to apply for so there are no spaces left.

Ah well!
Think I’m just going to pay for a couple of days guiding in any case - the courses are very expensive and 5-6 days, which is a bit more than I want to do this trip. Hoping I can learn a bit from the guide and then from others in Ailefroide hopefully.

Great to hear that you folks are skilling up.

Ailefroide offers climbing all different styles from bouldering to 4000m alpinism.
If you are thinking of going alpine for the first time, we’d certainly recommend doing some training. If you use a mountain guide, it’s a good idea to establish your desire for training over being led up routes. Some guides are up for it, some just seem to want to short rope you.

A few years ago, 4 of us hired James Thacker in Chamonix to train us. I’d recommend him: he certainly “got” the fact that we wanted to learn. I’d also recommend reading “Alpine Mountaineering” by Bruce Goodlad. I have a copy that I can loan if anyone wants.

One other thing about the Ecrins trip is to make sure you’re paired up before you go. It’s not as if being in a 3 is necessarily an issue, but it’s much easier to work around a weaker (or stronger) team member on a cragging trip to Stanage. Not so easy on a 10 pitch sport route: you can’t drop out for a bit when you need a rest.

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Thanks Khalid! That’s super helpful.

I pretty much swore I would never do a route of more than 3 pitches in a group of three ever again - I’d rather go bouldering than sit around at belays for hours at a time!

@Tutu, I’m guessing you’d be up for some slightly more challenging multipitches? You can lead all the crux pitches :slight_smile:

(11 pitches is my longest route to date - and I learned the hard way that 6a single pitch is not the same as 6a when you’re 200meters up, the sun is hitting, and the equippers decided to get stingy with the bolting!)

@PaulSagar you are a gentleman! I’m up for a challenge, the biggest multipitch I’ve climbed was only 7 pitches but keen to do something bigger.

I’d also like to try quite a few hard-ish single pitches. I’d be keen on alpine stuff if only I haven’t sold my winter gear (and the majority of my possessions) to suit my lightweight bikepacking plans. I haven’t got a home so nowhere to keep stuff when I leave the UK!

Btw have you decided on the date you’d be heading to the Ecrins?

Not decided on dates yet, as a friend might come with me before the main club meet, and if not I’m thinking I’ll do a couple of days in Chamonix. I’ll get to Ailefroide on the 5th or 6th probably.