An introduction to Alpinism

Conville course

Any nervousness I had that alpine climbing might not be ‘for me’ have soon vanished thanks to three friends from home, one friend from Argentina and five big days out in the Chamonix valley.

For the uninitiated, Alpinism is about big mountains, snowy or icy conditions, glaciers and often some level of rock climbing. Or as others describe it, advanced walking with more objective dangers (think crevasses and rock fall!). It’s not a sport of comfort as you’re usually either too hot or too cold; carrying a heavy ruck sack’s worth of spare clothes, food and shelter; wearing very heavy boots; and trying to move as quickly as possible to get up and down before it gets dark.

This week Rosie, Mae and I went on the amazing Conville course – a subsidised introduction to Alpinism aimed at those aged under 30 and organised through the Conville trust and the Plas y Brenin center in Wales. The course covers Glacier rescue techniques, moving together with ropes and other basics of Alpine adventure. I really can’t recommend it enough to anyone new to Alpine climbing, whether you are a Lake District scrambler or a seasoned E5 on-sighter. I’d also recommend our guide, Matt Stygall.

Top tip – €22.50 for annual insurance the French Alpine club is well worth investigating if you’re climbing in Europe for over two months as an alternative to BMC or Austrian Alpine Club. The Chamonix ‘Office de haute Montagne’ also provides daily cover at €5.60.

 Quote of the week – “But guys… what animal even is Piglet?”

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