/ Mt Blanc

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larko29 on 02 Jan 2013 -
Hello All

Planning my first trip to alps between august 10th and 25th, at the minute im going by myseelf because none of my mates realy enjoy the outdoors. Ive experience at altitude from the himalayas and im always out on the hills in ireland. Looking for a bit of advice on chamonix, will i need to learn french? Any suggestions for cheap flights. The aim of the trip is to summit Mt Blanc and as many other mountains as i can including some of the austrian alps. looking to hopefully meet up with likeminded people that can speak english lol and possibly learn something but most importantly have a laugh.
highclimber - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to larko29: you most definitely don't need to learn french though the basics go a long way towards being polite! please, thank you, goodbye etc will suffice.
Edradour - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to larko29:

So many threads about this on here. Have a search.

Look into the Conville course as a means of learning the basics of alpine mountaineering - it's a completely different ball game to the 'hills in Ireland'!

It really is worth trying to find someone to show you the ropes (!) because I doubt you'll meet many volunteers willing to take out a complete novice in the campsites/hostels etc. I certainly wouldn't spend my annual alpine trip teaching a stranger without getting paid for it in some way. I'd be quite happy, however, to tag a beginner onto our rope if they knew the basics...
tistimetogo on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to larko29:

Good luck Larko. But I second the view that Irish hills (even the glorious mournes) are a different game entirely to Alpine adventures and it def pays in the long term to learn gradually.

For Mount Blanc I would recommend being well acclimatsed, fit, able to nav in a whiteout, competent with all forms of roped climbing (soloing this early in your alpine career is inadvisable)and teamed up with someone similiar. Both good rope skills and climbing skills can suddenly become very important if something goes wrong so maybe consider getting someone from hotrock to head out or maybe a trip to Scotland if it gets cold again. 10th to the 25th in France (and Austria? Really) doesn't give you much time to build up experience.

Acclimatise well or you will be another of those people throwing up in the Vallot if not before. I only tried (and succeeded) on her on my 3rd trip to the Alps and I had the benefit of numerous knowledgable mates teachng me/catching me.

It is quite possible to learn all the skills you will need in Ireland but I suggest you start now. To start off I suggest you either find or pay somoene to teach you moving together over easy ground and how to lead easy grades VDiffs and Severes.

larko29 on 02 Jan 2013 -
In reply to larko29: Thankyou for all your replies. Ideally i should have done winter training in scotland but couldnt get away. Fitness has never been a problem did a lot of survival courses, been navigating since i was 14. Lead groups in the mournes, loved snowdonia. I agree with a lot of the points you have made as i am only too aware of the inherent dangers of alpine mountaineering and especially mt blanc. The 12th of july last year sadly a prime example. Been doing indoor climbing for a year. Teaching myself alpine techniques, glissading, snow holes, self arrest, crevasse rescue, and basic movement on snow and ice. ive no intention of going in blind or without practice before im any where near bosses ridge. As for altitude lol learnt that lesson the hard way. Took myself off into the hymalayas n ascended 3500m in one day and got a serious bollocking when i got back. I do appreciate peoples advice and your sensible approach to mountaineering safely.
Simon4 - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to larko29:

> ... will i need to learn french?

The most important French you will need is "Deux grande bierres s'il vous plait"!

Good advice offered here, but personally I would suggest that you don't get too fixated on Mont Blanc as your objective, particularly by the Bosses ridge. It is really seriously high, and altitude normally tends to be associated with suffering and unpleasantness, rather than any sort of enjoyable route. On the other hand there are all sorts of Alpine routes that are lower down that can be worthwhile as routes, rather than just a named tick, this will give you the chance to get Alpine experience and find out what the big mountains are all about. Actually the Bosses ridge is not a wonderful route to eventually climb Mont Blanc by, there are much better routes when you have aquired enough experience to go for them. In any case, you should have lower level objectives in case the weather high up is too bad to go for the Blanc, lower level peaks can still be perfectly doable in that case.

Chamonix is not necessarily the best place to go, especially not for a first Alpine trip - it is crowded, busy and gets quite a lot of bad weather. Lots of threads about where is best to go for a first trip, worth searching for them.

Finally I wouldn't worry too much about not having a partner, rather advertise for one closer to the time. Obviously the more experience you have gained, e.g. Winter in Scotland, not that that is any way trivial in itself, by then, the better you will appear to potential partners.
Chesher cat on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to larko29: Depends which route you intend on going. The Gouter route is busy but can be done solo. The 3MB route is best done by a group roped up due to crevasses.

For cheap flights try Fleasy Jet.
Solaris - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to larko29:
> Hello All
> The aim of the trip is to summit Mt Blanc and as many other mountains as i can including some of the austrian alps ... and possibly learn something but most importantly have a laugh.

Looks to me like you've got 4 or 5 worthwhile objectives here, one of which is to climb MB. I wonder what order you'd put them in?

Simon4's advice seems sound to me.

Attempting to speak French, rather than assuming that they will speak English, can work wonders.
Mitch4808 on 03 Jan 2013 -
In reply to larko29: In a life before kids i had the fortune to visit Chamonix 7 time. It is a great place to start your alpine adventures. It's nice to find your own way and not be told too much but a few pointers 1/ Look at The Mont Blanc Massif, 100 finest climbs. (some great climbs for all conditions) 2/ Let the weather and conditions dictate the itinerary. 3/ Use the High Altitude Huts, they a cheap, have great food and allow you to travel light. 4/ A good place to stay in the Valley is Gite Le Vagabond. Great climbers place. 5/ Travel Light, Most Fast on easy ground and respect the mountains as when it goes wrong in the alps it goes very wrong.
larko29 on 21 Jan 2013 -
In reply to larko29: Cheers guys for the friendly advice. Must get a look at that 100 finest climbs and plan a few lower level climbs aswel. Spent the weekend camping in the snow covered mournes with mates. Definately makes you feel alive. Lol a million miles away from the alps and the inherent danger of altitude and glaciers but a lot of fun. I think as mentioned above a few winters in scotland would be a good start to building a worthwhile skillset. Has anyone here climbed ama dablam and how would they rate it in relation to mt blanc?
tistimetogo on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to larko29:

Just curious, was that you guys in the tents beside the wall at the col of Donard on Sat night?

Never been near Ama Dablam.
Tom G - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to larko29:

Not sure flexible your dates are, but if you are looking for like minded individuals, you could join the MCI and go on the annual MCI summer meet

Great way to network and get to know folks and join up for either guided trips or independent trips up various alpine peaks. Mont Blanc is a snow plod with crowded huts and no sleep. You might enjoy other areas more!
Tom G - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Tom G:

As for Chamonix - full of English speakers. Definitely not very representative of France as a whole
larko29 on 25 Jan 2013 -
Lol no wanted to stay well away from donard, ended up beside a snow covered stream low down near eagle. The lads i were with didnt feel comfortable out in the snow or navigating in cloud cover. Will look into joining the mountaineering association, unfortunately my dates are set in stone by good old work but at least it allows me to plan ahead. Def would be good to get involved with the mountaineering association, if nothing else to network and maybe learn a few tricks of the trade.

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