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Alpine preparation course

This course is ideally suited to those planning to book a first Alpine trip with a guide, but have little or no experience of the use of ice axe, crampons or moving together. The course is designed to give a UK based introduction to some of these essential skills as well as practical advice on equipment, fitness etc.

Most courses are scheduled for the UK winter season ( December to April ) and are based in Snowdonia - North Wales, the Cairngorms and Ben Nevis - Scotland.

A typical course starts with a brief introduction and discussion of the course aims, and after an equipment check the emphasis is on practical sessions during a mountain day.
This course is usually run at a ratio of 1:4 and is tailored to meet individual ability and aspirations.

Alpine preparation course information

This course is designed as a UK based introduction to alpine mountaineering techniques and are usually scheduled for the winter season. The hard skills are covered, such as - ice axe and crampon technique, equipment, moving together etc, as well as assessing conditions, route choice etc.

Venues:

Courses are based in Snowdonia in North Wales or in Scotland - Aviemore, with easy access to the Cairngorms mountains, or in Fort William, within easy reach of Ben Nevis and Lochaber, Glencoe and Creag Mheagaidh.

A flexible approach is required in winter to make the most of the weather and snow conditions and so transport to the different venues from either Aviemore or Fort William is included in the course fee. See below for transport options.

Course Itinerary:

It is preferable to meet informally on the evening before the start of the course if possible, to discuss past experience, aspirations, equipment, plan for next day etc., this maximises our time out in the mountains and allows a relaxed preparation for the days objectives. All time spent in preparation will pay dividends and the planning process will be more formally discussed on the morning of the first day, starting at 08.45 hrs.

Mountain days: will focus on a gradual progression of the necessary skills, and with low ratios, this can be closely tailored to individual requirements.

Typical itineraries start with: Weather and conditions evaluation, route choice, equipment, safety briefing.

Moving onto: Practical assessment of conditions ( and avalanche awareness ) ice axe and crampons skills, practical route choice, security on steep ground, introduction moving together and simple rope techniques.

We should be off the mountains by 16.30 hrs on most days, with further time to review the day’s topics during informal evening sessions, time will be allocated for this on the afternoon of the last day, with courses finishing at 16.00 hrs.

Transport links:

For North Wales ( Betws-y-Coed ):
http://www.directrail.com/train_tickets.aspx
and coach services via : http://www.nationalexpress.com

For Scotland ( Aviemore and Fort William ):
http://www.directrail.com/trains_to_aviemore.html
http://www.directrail.com/trains_to_fort_william.html
and coach travel to Fort William via:
http://www.nationalexpress.com
http://www.citylink.co.uk/index.php

Accommodation:

As popular tourist destinations, the venues have many options for accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets including good campsites, chalets, bunkhouses, Youth Hostels, B&B’s, self catering cottages and hotels – please note, winter camping can be hard ! – all to be found on :
http://www.visitscotland.com/guide/where-to-stay
http://www.visitwales.co.uk/holiday-accommodation-in-wales

You will need:

Waterproof Jacket - full weight breathable model preferred 
Base Layer 
Light fleece top + warm fleece jacket or softshell or insulated jacket 
Trousers and waterproof overtrousers or salopettes  
Hat or Balaclava - must fit under a helmet 
Warm Ski Gloves – Spare pair just in case one gets wet and / or:
Spare Mittens - especially if you suffer from cold hands.
Socks 
Gaiters 
Ski goggles ( can be supplied )
Sunglasses 
Suncream 
Rucsac 30-35 litres 
Waterbottle and / or thermos flask 
Headtorch 
Personal medications + blister kit 
Camera
Packed lunch for the mountain days.

Technical equipment ( can be supplied at no extra cost )

Winter Mountaineering “B2 /B3” Boots – crampon compatible
Harness
Climbing Helmet 
C2 / C3 Crampons (preferably with anti-balling plates) 
Ice Axe / axes 
Long sling + locking karabiner

If you already have any personal equipment, bring it along - this will help with familiarity with your gear and give us the opportunity to discuss the pro's and con's of different equipment.

Although I have Public Liability insurance to the value of £ 5M, you may wish to purchase personal accident, and travel insurance as you think necessary ! Packages which include insurance for climbing and other mountain activities are available from:
www.thebmc.co.uk

What is included:

Technical equipment – harness, helmet, ice axes, crampons, B3 boots.
I have a selection of other equipment available – Please let me know if you need anything else e.g rucksack  etc. – especially if you are intending to buy any equipment for the course.

Boot hire is also available from :
http://www.mountainspirit.co.uk ( Aviemore ) 
http://www.ellis-brigham.com/fort-william.htm


Course aims:

You will gain the most from the course by being comfortable, relaxed and receptive to the training and experience , an open mind and open, questioning approach to your training will help achieve this.

Further Information:

There a great many sources of information for the topics covered on the course, I would recommend the following:

Scotlands Winter Mountains – Martin Moran – ISBN 0715307940
Winterskills – Andy Cunnignham / Allen Fyffe – ISBN 0954151135
Chance in a million – Bob Barton / Blyth Wright – ISBN 0907521592
Winter climbing + by Neil Gresham / Ian Parnell – ISBN 9781873341964
Alpine Climbing by Alun Richardson - ISBN-10: 0713686855
Avalanche! - Robert Bolognesi - ISBN-10: 1852844736

Online sources include :
http://www.ukclimbing.com

or drop me a line if you have any queries alec@guidedmountain.co.uk

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or to book using a booking form and cheque / bank transfer, please contact me on :-  alec@guidedmountain.co.uk

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