The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

BMG Alpine Training

We had a super busy week last week running the BMG Summer Alpine Training course with 4 Aspirant Guides just about to start their Alpine seasons. This week was just the start of 2 seasons where they'll be working alongside fully qualified IFMGA Guides gaining the work experience necessary to pass both their assessment next year & give them confidence & the right skills, to go away once they've passed to work independently as an IFMGA guide.

Mike Brownlow, one of the Aspirants on the training last week

It's a long road going through the guides scheme with an initial induction process & preliminary training in September, Off Piste ski training through the winter & an avalanche course, then our summer rock climbing training here in the Lakes in May, some training & coaching skills down in Wales a couple of weeks later & then a summer rock climbing assessment down in North Wales in September again, after working through the summer. They then head up to Scotland to start the winter phase of training & assessment before linking up with them again at the Alpine stage..........

Like I say, they still have 2 seasons of Aspirancy work but then they start the ski touring training & then days working alongside IFMGA guides gaining work experience. 

Like I say it's a long road, but well worth it in the end!

The guys last week had a day working on a Via Ferrata, before heading up to the Moiry Hut. Up at the hut we concentrated on group work, roping up, glacier travel, short roping & moving together on snowy ridges, crevasse rescue techniques, ecole de glace..........all with the mind set of both being able to do it all perfectly themselves! but also being able to run a structured session & teach it to others confidently & well.

It's a great venue but just super snowy everywhere at the moment & we wanted to get the guys moving on more technical rocky terrain, so we bailed & worked the lower limestone ridges in the pre-alpine terrain which worked perfectly.

 Gastlosen, near Juan & north of Leysin

We first headed to Gastlosen & climbed the classic traverse from the SW to the NE which is great terrain for us to work on their short roping techniques, moving together, short pitching & all the transitions between up & down whether that's short roping up & down or using other techniques such as lowering or abseiling............the terrain couldn't have been better & the routes a long classic!

 One of the many towers on Gastlosen

We then headed to the Gais Alpin just above Montreau as the weather was mixed & worked on much the same, but then on the final day we headed over to Solalex above Villars & traversed the Miroir. This was a very long day working the 2km of rocky mixed terrain but really gave us the chance to pull it all together.

 The start of the Miroir de Argentine traverse

A very long week, but great & very inspiring to be around the guys & involved in their training & seeing some great progression from everyone by the end of the week.
Ended up in Leysin at 10.30pm on the Friday night! 


Back in the UK now for 5 days & enjoying some great weather the Lakes is having at the moment.

Stay safe


Friday, 14 June 2013

Alps last week

I can't believe that I've already worked a week here in the Alps! The winter in the UK seemed to last forever & then after a short spring summer's arrived! The time seems to have flown by.

The same applies for the weather & season here in the Alps. It was only 2 weeks ago that Leysin had another 6 inch dump of snow! Although the switch has been flicked & even though there's buckets of snow around high up the weather here this past week has been fantastic - +30 degrees down in Aosta driving back to Leysin from the Gran Paradiso Wednesday late afternoon!

I had a great week again with the students from Petroc College, which used to have been known as North Devon College. For the last 4 years I've given the students an introduction into Icefall climbing during the winter, but this was the first week we've done together in the Alps during the summer. 

It was great to give the students an introduction into Alpine Mountaineering & they really gave the week 100% - it was great to feed off the students enthusiasm for rock climbing & just being in the mountains learning new skills.

Short roping & moving together techniques up the Leysin Via Ferrata on the Tour D'Ai

The guys enjoying being 'in at the deep end!' high up on the Tour D'Ai Via Ferrata

Tom enjoying the steep ground & exposure, but also leading his rope using simple short roping techniques.

Jamie & Mike high up on the steep headwall in the Leysin Via Ferrata

Rock climbing & teaching leading down at Dorenaz - Jamie doing a great job leading Jackpot grade 5b

Teaching the boys some prussiking down at Dorenaz - Tom & Sam

Jamie leading Arachnophile grade 5b+ down at Dorenaz

Heading into the mountains - buckets of snow still up in the Gran Paradiso

We stayed here a couple of nights in the Refugio Vittorio Emanuelle in the Gran Paradiso

Great conditions on the Ciaforon - the North Face route with a team just topping out & the classic North East Ridge on the left grade AD.

The team heading up to the Col beneath the Becca Di Monciair

Beautiful weather & very snowy conditions made for some fantastic mountaineering which was done in the most part with snow shoes on! incredible snow conditions for the middle of June, but super warm.

The team still all in one piece after a crevasse rescue session!

Ibex in Valsavarenche, Gran Paradiso.

Heading back to Pont after a great, adventurous few days in the mountains.

Coaching rock climbing & leading back in Leysin up on the Leysin Tours.

Perfect views from the Leysin Tours across the valley to Diablerets & the Gran Mouveran & the Mont Blanc massif further right in the photo.

Mike Bazley, the man behind the Outdoor course at Petroc & the driving force behind all their adventures, here enjoying the climbing here in Leysin

Chris enjoying the climbing & weather! here in Leysin

Peter relaxing & enjoying time climbing up at the Leysin Tours, Switzerland.

We all had a great week & I hope to see some new faces this winter Icefall climbing over in Grindelwald in January - Thanks again to Mike for making the trip happen.

The weather continues & I'm off to work on the British Mountain Guides Alpine Training Course this coming week - working with the new Aspirants is always very inspiring & I'm looking forward to a great week.

Safe climbing