Mountaineering or "Alpinism" is an exciting mix of rock climbing, snow and ice techniques and general travelling within the mountains.

Where to go and when


Resort
Best season for trails
 
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Argentiere
                            
  
 Chamonix
                       

​TOP TIPS

1. Be prepared for the weather! The weather in the mountains can change very quickly, so you must be prepared for all weather conditions. Layers are key! Always check the night before and the morning of the climb. If the predicted weather is ​bad, your UCPA instructor and your group will discuss altering plans for the week. 

2. Make sure you have light This is a vital bit of equipment not only for wondering round refuges in the middle of the night, but most mountaineering routes set off extremely early whilst still dark. A head torch will not only help you out at sunrise and sunset, but can also help signal rescue crews if you find yourself lost at any point.

3. Eat a big breakfast It is not always easy to get food out of your back packs, so it is really important to start the day right. We suggest a big bowl of porridge to provide slow releasing energy. Remember to bring along food to keep your energy up throughout the day and plenty of water to keep hydrated.

For Beginners

What kit do you need?

All necessary technical equipment is provided by UCPA and is included in the price of your holiday (e.g harness, ropes, ice axe, backpack, crampons etc). Personal clothing is not provided. You should have clothing suitable for the conditions, e.g. appropriate lightweight, waterproof, windproof outerwear and warm and breathable base and midlayers. For the refuge stay you will need a sleeping bag liner.

How fit do you need to be?

This is an introductory course, so no previous experience is necessary, however, you do need to have a good level of fitness. Previous hill walking experience and/or climbing experience will be very useful.

What will I be able to do by the end of the week?

You will learn to use crampons and ice axes, basic rope work, moving safely on a glacier, snow safety, route planning, navigation and completion of some challenging routes.

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For Improvers/Intermediates

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What skills should I already have?

If you have already attended an alpine course, have walked in crampons with a roped partner across glaciated terrain, been pulled out of a crevasse during rescue training, summited an alpine peak and have an urge to climb more, then this Alpinism course is perfect for you.

Do you have to have rock climbed before? 

You should be familiar with the rope techniques required for mountaineering, but it is not vital on the improver course to have rock climbed much. If you are an experienced climber (sport or trad) this is very beneficial and you will be put in a more advanced group than those with basic skills. 

What will I be able to do by the end of the week?

The goal of this course is to progress your mountaineering techniques and help you develop skills in analysis and decision making to bring you more autonomy. You will begin to feel comfortable to build safe anchors and select good lines.

For the more advanced ​mountaineers

 What skills should I already have?

You should have a good level of fitness and your skills/experience should include; walking with crampons, moving as a roped group on a glacier, using an ice axe, avalanche safety, crevasse rescue, rock climbing. 

What level climber do I need to be? 

UCPA suggests that you should be comfortable on AD level alpine climbs or climbing HVS. You will benefit hugely from this level if you have previously done some ridge routes and have multi pitch experience. If you do not have this experience, drop us an email with the details of the alpine routes that you have completed and we can check your suitability with UCPA. 

What will I be able to do by the end of the week?

The objective of this course is to make you feel confident in safety techniques on glaciated terrain and on mixed or rock routes, and to learn the right considerations in your approach to the mountains. You should feel that from now on you can be much more self reliant and safe in the mountains.

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Am I able to climb Mont Blanc?

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In short, yes you can!

Climbing Mont Blanc is something anyone, young or old, can do with a good level of fitness and strong willpower. However, the days will be long - you will be in the mountains every day for 14 days, climbing for between 6 and 12 hours with only short breaks. If you don't like sport, cold or windy weather and getting up early then don't fool yourself into thinking you can climb Mont Blanc so you can tick the box! 

How do I get to the stage where I can climb Mont Blanc?

Those keen to summit Mont Blanc but short of the required experience should consider completing the Mont Blanc preparation course in advance. It is more important to take your time, experience some of the other summits first such as Mont Rosa or Grand Paradiso otherwise your body will not be used to altitude and often ends in failure to reach the summit.

Is there a summit guarantee?

UCPA can never guarantee that you will summit. There can be many circumstances beyond your control, for example weather, or an individual's fitness or motivation. Remember you are not buying the summit-you are paying for the expertise of the guide, which alongside your own competence and determination will give you the best chance of succeeding. 

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