The very nature of alpine rock climbs and what makes them even more exciting is that the rock climbs often have glacier approaches or steep snow slopes, especially early in the summer. With this in mind, one day of the days in the program could be spent on the Mer de Glace covering the basics of crampon and ice axe technique in the context of alpine rock climbing.
Appropriate equipment: for the majority of routes it will be necessary to carry a rucksack with at least water, food and a spare windproof. Choosing the right kit is critical because of the weight issue.
Length of the program: there is no specific length of the program. However if your goal is to climb at high altitude (above 2000 meters), then it is necessary to be well acclimatized; otherwise there is a real chance of being ill: bad headaches, fainting, nausea.
To avoid this then, 4 or 5 days is sensible.
For someone who has never climbed in the Alps the following programme works well. There is an assumption that you are a reasonably fit, keen hill and mountain walker, but with no or very little experience of ropes or rock climbing.
The aim of our time together is to provide you with the necessary skills to ascend a variety of alpine peaks in safety.
Over the last 20 years the conditions on Mont Blanc have deteriorated considerably due to two specific reasons:
Nevertheless it is possible for any fit, determined person to climb Mont Blanc with little previous alpine experience providing they undergo adequate training and are accompanied by a High Mountain Guide. In addition they need to have good, safe conditions and not least, they need to be mentally prepared for what often is the hardest thing they will do in their lives. So often people say “I didn’t think it would be that hard.” Well it is. It is not Disneyland.
Anyone contemplating Mont Blanc should read the official advice from the French Goverment.
The majority of guiding operations which cater for Mont Blanc gloss over these specific facts in an attempt to entice clients to sign up for something that is often way beyond what they expected or wanted.
If you sign up to a packaged Mont Blanc ascent this is what you could be getting into, which is deeply unpleasant. Even “worse” you could go home having to explain to all your friends why you didn’t climb Mont Blanc.
If having read and fully understood the above, you do not want to be part of a “sausage machine style ascent”, then read on. There is an alternative:
Engage a Guide who will tailor-make the program to your individual needs, provide you with training and prepare you mentally so that you are confident to tackle the climb and in addition give you skills which will underpin any mountaineering challenges you want to attempt in the future.
Furthermore, if after the training period you are not likely to make it, he will tell you and help you choose another significant objective. So, either way you should go home having achieved a major alpine climb.
Below is a suggested plan of action that offers the best possible chance of climbing Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in western Europe. The most suitable time to make an attempt is from the middle of June until the beginning of October.
The plan is designed not only to eventually get you to the top of Mont Blanc but to teach you as many mountaineering skills as possible. This is not a just “follow me" programme.
If you have done something like this before then think of it as coaching as there are always different ways of doing things. In addition it gives the Guide the chance to evaluate your ability, because if you are not confident then the Guide is not safe because you are always tied to each other.
Think of the day also as “money in the bank” for all future mountaineering escapades.
Watch Mark's video: "On Mont Blanc with Don Planner".
The Matterhorn is one of the most famous mountains in the world. Climbers and non-climbers alike dream of reaching its summit. An ascent of the Matterhorn is possible for any reasonably fit person providing the following criteria are met:
weather must be good and the mountain in a safe condition for the climb. The snow
must have cleared from the ridge and the rocks must be free of ice and virglass.
The most suitable time of the year to attempt an ascent is between the middle
of July and the middle of September. Nevertheless during some seasons the correct
conditions just do not materialise for a safe ascent. In this case you should
be prepared to change your aspirations to another mountain. Do not contemplate
the Matterhorn unless you are prepared to accept this possibility of disappointment.
You must have a good head for heights. Parts of the climb especially in the top
two-thirds are very exposed. It most definitely is not the place to find yourself
if you suffer from vertigo.
The day we climb the Matterhorn will be
a long one. The ascent will take around five hours. The feeling of elation on
the summit may well be influenced by the realisation that we have to descend by
exactly the same route. This always seems to take longer!
| The Itinerary:
There are many excellent routes on the Eiger. In September, 2007, Mark & Charles Sherwood climbed the infamous Nordwand. This climb capped a many-year adventure & was only the second ascent of this historic route by a British guide & his client, & the first without helicopter assistance which also traversed the peak.
|More common is the ascent of the beautiful Mitteleggi Ridge.||