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Will Carroll, August 2007

Grant recipient(s): 
Will Carroll
Course description: 
Student Alpine Ascents course run by International School of Mountaineering, Leysin
Grant awarded: 

Please outline what you have learned:

The course centred upon techniques used to reach Alpine peaks of difficulty up to PD. The aspect most relevant to UK hillwalking was practising rope techniques to improve security on steep ground, with minimum sacrifice of speed. This could be useful when undertaking more challenging UK scramble routes were walking group members to appreciate the reassurance of a properly used rope. Alternatively, in the absence of a rope, such experience will assist the difficult decision to abort a route that is overly demanding, or out of condition.

Crampon use was practised extensively during glacier traverse. This skill is occasionally applicable in UK hills.

It is noteworthy that both of these relevant skills require equipment not routinely provided by CUHWC. Although I would not suggest that ropes and/or crampons were acquired by the club, it may be advantageous to officially determine who amongst the membership owns such kit, and is competent in its use.

Good points about the course:

  • The course was run by a single guide who was dedicated to a group of 6 people for the entire week. The program was extremely flexible - tailored to our specific expectations and skills at the time of the evening briefing at the start of the course.

Bad points about the course:

  • The weather deteriorated during the second half of the course which required the plans to be modified at short notice. This meant that the first mountain ascent was also the last. We were, however, able to practice some additional technical rope skills in a valley location. Although I was broadly familiar with these techniques it was helpful to be "taught" that what I understood was indeed good practice!

Would you recommend this course to others?

Yes. You ordinarily need to do the "Student Alpine Week" beforehand, or at least (as in my case) have a commensurate level of skill and experience.

Have you any suggestions about the Andy Gibson Training Fund?

I only made application as a result of directed encouragement in a conversation at the pub. Maybe more extensive official publicity would help applications. Perhaps the club committee could seek out and advertise to the membership the kind of courses whose CUHWC participants would likely succeed in an application to the fund.

The process is certainly efficient by my experience - whether the internal arrangements are efficient, I could hardly pass comment...