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Any Alpinists here Mont Blanc ish
the meteo is pretty good (and was 30 years ago too)
That’s why we were up there when we were. However, people were emerging from Vallot as we passed for a reason – mountains have an irritating tendancy to create their own weather. I’ve survived a violent thunderstorm on Balaitous on an otherwise perfect day with nothing but sun forecast. It went from perfect conditions to all hell let loose within about 45 minutes and back to glorious sunshine about an hour later. Out ski touring on my own up Anéou clouds rolled in unexpectedly from Spain and in a few minutes I was in a white out with snow fast covering my tracks. It took me an eternity to get back down descending “en escalier” probing with a ski stick when near the cliffs I didn’t want to fall off. GPS and trackback are great and getting better, it used to be approximate, it’s now really close.
A guide certainly won’t take you up if the weather looks a bit ropey.
The guides I know are human and rely on the same information as the rest of us, they can get caught out by the unexpected too:
Plan of action noiw seems to be taking place. Rather than fly, were going to drive down taking a little longer but as ive done Morzine a few times before its no real problem plus it means ease to get from Chamonix to the Aosta valley . A couple of day in Chamonix hiking to ease into things. Then a guided hike /walk up Grand Paradiso. It give a small insight into 3000+ wandering for us both and as is always said the mountain will be there next time we go 🙂
Sounds good. As Timbog said on the previous page:
also if you’re on a limited time trip a guide makes sure you get best value out of the time you do have
Using a guide for local knowledge and safety rather than just to haul you up something you would otherwise be incapable of. I’m sure Ms stevedoc will approve. 😉
Make sure the hiking in Chamonix isn’t too vertical, long Alpine descents can leave you with sore legs for days and that would compromise enjoyment on Grand Paradiso. I suggest high walks where you can get a cable car down – possible in all four ski sectors of the resort.
I’ve done grand paradiso, it’s probably the easiest 4000m peak in the Alps, it’s just a plod to great height. Just a suggestion, but I think you’d get more alpine experience being guided on something a little bit more challenging, saving something like GP as your first non guided route?. One of my favourite routes is Barre des Ecrin normal route, I’d def recommend something like that as a first guided experience, you’ll get the snow plod / cravase nav experience as well as moving together on a ridge experience. I just think there’s better routes you’ll learn more on from a guide, than GP
The key thing to do beforehand is acclimatisation for a 4000m peak, which means you need to be going as high as possible ie over 2500m preferably 3000m+. I suppose a cheat might be to catch a cable car to great height and spend a few hours up there. That’s assuming you don’t currently know how you’d be affected at those sort of heights, everyone is different.
Just re reading my post, reads a bit negative about GP. Not my intention, it’s a brilliant alpine day out. The point I was trying to make is it’s an ideal peak as your first non guided. And IMO you’d get more from a guided day if you did a peak with more varied terrain.TheDTsFree Member
Stumbled upon a YouTube channel of The Mediocre Amateurs. A bunch of American guys doing some interesting Peaks all over the world. Fit guys, light, fast and flexible planning. Good filming.
@B.A.Nana It didnt come across as negative at all. Any advise and reviews are welcome. Like my original post ive been up as high at 2500m and in fine fettle, but nothing higher. Me and my lad spoke again today about the trip, hes almost at the point where he thinks we should do it un-guided, he has a good climbing back ground on technical stuff and wants to do the crevasse rescue course before hand. For me La Junction as a start hike and a few hours up on the cable to Midi will either kill or cure me .martinhutchFull Member
Me and my lad spoke again today about the trip, hes almost at the point where he thinks we should do it un-guided, he has a good climbing back ground on technical stuff and wants to do the crevasse rescue course before hand.
GP or MB? The main advantage of the guide on GP is not so much to drag you up the technical bits (as there aren’t many), but to reduce any faffing about, set the correct pace, and to make the correct decisons at the right time about roping up, crampons on/off, and weather. It’s not really about his technical skill at this level, it’s your ability to move efficiently and safely as a team.
A crevasse rescue course sounds like fun, as long as he’s done the ‘how not to fall into crevasses in the first place’ course as well. Also, seems to rely on you falling in the crevasse, not him, unless you’re already confident setting up a snow/axe belay and a z-pulley.
Just a suggestion, but I think you’d get more alpine experience being guided on something a little bit more challenging, saving something like GP as your first non guided route?. One of my favourite routes is Barre des Ecrin normal route
Good suggestion – if you’re a competent scrambler with reasonable fitness, being guided on a more technical route to a lower summit, or even not a summit at all, could deliver an outstanding experience.slowolFull Member
If your lad wants some Alpine learning he may be eligible to participate on a Conville course. They aim to give you the skills to climb independently on Alpine terrain rather than guide you up a route.
If you want a guide then look up Paul Swail – he’s on FB and can unreservedly recommend. Irish lad, fully qualified guide and now lives just down the valley from Cham. Lovely fella and knows his onions (and glaciers). Took us ski touring one day – only day I’ve needed to ski into a couloir on a rope and probably the most memorable day I’ve had on skis.
Thank you slowol ive just forwards those on to the boy 🙂
And again dashed I will have a look for Paul 🙂
Has anyone mentioned hut bookings? Best to get in there sharpish for MB, from what I can gather the Gouter hut fills up pretty quick.
Me and my lad spoke again today about the trip, hes almost at the point where he thinks we should do it un-guided
My advice for GP (assuming from the Vittorio Emmanuele hut) is to go for a walk to reccy the start approach to the glacier the afternoon/eve before. From memory it’s a massive boulder field that with a reccy will be made much more straightforward when you start early the next morning in the pitch dark knowing exactly where you’re supposed to be heading. It was something we agreed we were glad we did.
For what it is, the GP is physically as well as technically quite easy. A few hours walk to the hut (probably Vittorio Emanuele which is lovely) then a longer but still reasonable day to summit and back down. I actually did it from the valley in a day and this is not uncommon although you need to be fairly fit and I wouldn’t recommend it as a strategy for a first 4000er.
Thanks Spin and Nana . MB is not happening this time we have agreed thats just not practical with the time frame we have. As for GP the plan is leave Chamonix around 10am and drive to Pont (ish) and have some lunch and walk up to the hut, have a relax and reccy then summit the next morning and back to the valley floor. I can see two reasons why the likes of Adventure base take 3 days as part of a MB tour staying another night in the hut. Firstly the acclimatizing and resting and secondly its a business ;). From reading and watching they say around 5 hours up and 2.5 back to the hut and another 2 back down. Thats a doable day in my eyes he says with trepidation 🙂wboFree Member
Sounds like a decent plan, and you should have a good trip, weather allowing of course.
A lot of people talk about acclimitisation, but it takes weeks rather than a few days even to get used to 2000m. My tip for summiting these bigger hills is to try to take it steady the day before, so don’t get carried away recce’ing. But BA Nana has experience on the GP that I don’t have, so take his advice 🙂
It’s a good plod up to the hut on Grand Paradiso and therefore, a good plod down after going to the top. You’ll have a long day and assuming cyclists legs prior, sleep well that night…
The hike a biker in me is so tempted to get my bike to the Hut and leave it there the night .. looks like a right run down to the valley floor.
I took the mrs up grand paradiso as her first 4000m a few years ago. She is very confident with crevasse rescue (she got schooled by me before we went touring if i fall in a slotbi need to get out). Just not climbed a lot with crampons axes etc just the odd bits and bobs scottish ii and classic days like horseshoe in winter etc.
As others have said take time to figure the route from the hut the day before its confusing in the dark. Route is pretty obvious from memory and no great objective risks like the grand couloir on MB. One steep little bit before on ice when we went just before the scramble, but was late August.
Bike down from hut would be brilliant apart from all the people coming up.
Have always intended to head back in the spring to ski it.
One other thing i wouldnt bother with chamonix hate the place, take your bike do some walking, and visit Pila and La Thuile.
Half way up the carpark there is also a great pizza restaurant
And i forgot to say if you know the basics ice axe arrest, moving together etc its a brilliant first alpine route.
One thing i would say is dont be affraid to turn back better sitting in the hut having a beer than a hospital bed.
Dont carry too much, no need for rock gear, scramble at the top obly needs a few slings and krabs, a ice screw and recue kit should be all you need. Sane goes for clothes no need for loads and pointless carrying waterproofs. Abd remember a hat and a small suncream bottle thats can be in a pocket, reapply all the time
One other thing i wouldnt bother with chamonix
2nd that, suggested it up thread.
Have always intended to head back in the spring to ski it.
It’s a great ski mountain. I skied it in April 2015 with pals then went back in summer 2018 and did it on foot.
I like Chamonix a lot, even the low level walking is spectacular.
Whatever else gets chucked out of the rucksac when trying to save weight the waterproofs stay, the down jacket too above 3000m. 1kg to be able to cope with a rapid change in conditions and increase my life expectancy by a few hours if I can’t move for any reason.
I have to admit i have never used waterproofs in the alps in summer if the weather looks bad you stay in town/hut and have some beers and play some cards.
Downy again not a fan if weather is bad down is shit synthetics rule in my world, spent a long cold night in January in a belay jacket feet in a bag on top of les droites as a young cocky aspiring alpinist when i found out we weren’t fit enough to do it valley to valley in a day. Makes a good pub story for a old man.
Who ever mentioned the Conville course further up the thread do this 100% we are lucky in the uk with things lime this or grants for expeditions.
One thing is for certain where ever you go it will be amazing mountains and your lad cant wait for my young ones to be old enough.
Thing is a lot of people have died in similar circumstances, ffati, a few kmh more of windchill on les droites and you might not have survived.
Nothing beats down for warmth/weight and it only takes a 250gm gortex to keep it dry.
Beautiful day today (January), wall to wall sunshine, but it was -8°C on the balcony at 1370m this morning and somewhat colder on my touring skis at >2000m which with windchill made it biting cold. Just inactive the time to get the skins off and I was shivering. Being cold and or wet is really unpleasant and dangerous.
The average death rate in the Alps and Pyrenees is about 120 a year. The Winter season alone was 39 in 2021. Most of those people were experienced.
The thread is about the OP and his son having the best possible time and getting son back to Ms Stevedoc in one piece. You can’t eliminate all the risk in the mountains but that doesn’t mean one should take unecessary risks or make optimistic assumptions about the weather and gear required.
I think you should go well equipped even if it means a couple of extra kgs in the rucksac and consequently moving a bit slower, Stevedoc.
I for one will be taking the right levels of layering up with me. We were both out in the worst of conditions in Scotland 3 weeks ago , crampons axes poles , gortex my down and softshell both in the backpack. Im happy to wear t shirts and shorts almost every day of the year and get warm easily, but know how quickly things can go south so will pack accordingly. Hes away at Uni at the moment so the odd call and message while hes studying and other things no doubt, but hes getting excited already. He had a face on him while we were in Morzine last year 😉
Edukator i have no wish to die and view and respect your outlook on storm gear i just think we are looming at it from two different system view points? Im definitely a soft shell and synthetic type if person and i hate waterproofs just view them as boil in the bag sweat fest get cold etc. I also respect your outlook on a few more kph wind and would have been diffrent,can take the outlook on many walk of our lives. We have to draw a personal line somewhere where we are comfortable. Im lucky i run very warm to the point of being redicilous but i suffer in summer heat.
In envious of your day out skiing i had a day of decorating and fitting a new door.
Stevedoc if your lad is in uni he will definitely qualify for a conville course https://www.jcmt.org.uk/
And a again dont take my words as a ego trip etc. A day in the moubtains is a wonderful thing and spending it with your lad will be the best thing. My kids in a way cant grow up quick enough
As others have said take time to figure the route from the hut the day before its confusing in the dark.
I’m glad it wasn’t just me. As ffati says, from there on it’s all straightforward on the glacier. Re clothing, bearing in mind you’ll only be doing it if the forecast is good, early morning think in terms of a nice cold Scottish winter day with no wind chill (so not actually that cold), mid day onwards sun hat and striped down to your baselayer is a distinct possibility. One recommendation is I always use cheap work wear gloves (those partially rubberised finger ones) constantly handling the rope quickly wears out the fingers on most general outdoorsy gloves (unless you buy expensive Alpine specific gloves). High factor sun cream as you’ll quickly get burnt from the glare off the glacier.
@ffati . Ive already sent the boy that link for the courses im sure hes already been in touch with them but thank you. We are simple Northern folk and he feels like his legs have been removed walking round flat Oxford. He will be back up here in a few weeks for the rain and wind and elevation again. Hes hoping for snow on Crib.
Cheers Nana for all the imput too.. looking forward to being back in the Alps .
This option has just occurred to me.
Drive to Cervinia, catch the early morning cable car to Testa Grigia (3500m), walk up the piste to summit of Breithorn (4164m). This is def. the easiest 4000m peak in the alps and only about 3hrs round trip. you can walk most of it unroped up the side of the piste ski runs. You cross a couple of piste and then rope up and do the final summit slope. I’ve done it with 4 others as acclimatisation and we were back in Cervinia before any of us got altitude headaches, so I’m pretty confident the same in your case. Don’t make any plans for the afternoon as you’ll probably not feel great. BUT, you get to tick off a 4000m peak (assuming you’re not a purest) and you should be acclimatised to go up Grand Paradiso a few days later. It’s 1hr45mins between cervinia and Pont according to googlemaps. This is probably what I’d do if I was taking a novice on a first alpine experience, short on time, needed to acclimatise quickly, get a couple of 4000m peaks in.
Aye I remember waddling up the Breithhorn whilst my chums had a leisurely lunch. It’s a nice easy one to tick off.
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