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In depth Mountaineering course

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In depth Mountaineering course

Postby Strider » Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:41 pm

Hello , thanks for dropping by.

Interested in an Alpine summer mountaineering training course in the alps.
from what i have seen on the web, most of the beginner+ courses are only few days (5+-) and i was more interested in something more in depth and serious.
i found a school that has a 10 days course which sounds pretty serious and the guide is an IFMGA certified guide which is great.

are there any suggestions for me?
what are my options for a mountaineering school in the alps - yes i know that there are hundreds of them, but are there some that are better than the rest?
what is a "sane" fee for a guided day for an IFMGA guide ? (when refereing to a mountaineering training and not regular guiding) is 160 Euro a good price?
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Re: In depth Mountaineering course

Postby pvnisher » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:49 pm

160 EU for a day is pretty good, perhaps even cheap. Probably not 1:1, yes?
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Re: In depth Mountaineering course

Postby Damien Gildea » Wed May 01, 2013 5:30 am

EU160 is pretty cheap, yes, even for instruction, if with a qualified guide. I'd look into the details of it. You may have an Aspirant or other kind of trainee guide, with lesser qualifications than full IFMGA but that need not matter at this stage, for the basics.

For actual guiding you're looking at approx > EU300 a day, if that's any indication.

TBH, courses are not really the best way to learn. If you can find a friend, or similarly inclined stranger, it's much better value to hire a guide just for the two of you and have him/her give you close personal attention, for a shorter period of time than a course. There's less standing around and less pandering to a wide variety of skills. It costs more money, but it's much better value.

If you already have some skills (e.g. rock climbing) then the guide can start at a higher level and go from there at your pace. If you're a nervous beginner, they can go easier. You can get a guide for two or three days and learn the basics, then go away for a couple of days when the weather is bad, ponder on what you've learned, let it sink in, then come back for a few more days when the weather is good for some more instruction, probably involving an ascent.

This kind of approach takes a little more time to organise, you can't just buy a place online, but if you ask around and find a suitable guide, in the right place, it will be better. Some guides will actually prefer this, money aside, as (unless you're an asshole :-) ) they usually enjoy these instructing/guiding setups more than courses. It might be easier to organise such a setup at either end of the summer, rather than high season. i.e. early June or mid-Sept rather than July-Aug.
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Re: In depth Mountaineering course

Postby pvnisher » Wed May 01, 2013 5:55 am

I've done courses as well as private/shared guided trips. As Damien noted, I found the group course most beneficial for basics: knots, belaying, glacier travel, etc.
After that, and a bunch of trips on my own or with friends, it didn't seem like there were any courses that would teach me the skills I wanted. I'd read the descriptions, and they all seemed too basic for me.
So I bucked up and paid more than I would have liked, but gained more knowledge through a few sessions than I would have otherwise.

It is also very useful to invest your own time (free) by reading books and practicing the things that you can by yourself. Show up knowing all the theory. Then you can put it into practice.

Just recently I hired a guide for one day of ice climbing because I wasn't comfortable leading on ice and none of my friends were any better than me.
Since I already had a pretty solid background, I was placing screws and pseudoleading (on top rope) within the hour. You won't get that far, that fast, in any course. They'd still be teaching you how to adjust your crampons and making sure everyone knows how to tie a figure of eight.
Expensive, yes, and I would have loved to get it free from a friend/mentor, but sometimes it doens't work out that way.

FWIW- I paid 160-180 GBP for a day of instruction, which is cheaper than what you'll typically find in the Alps for a day of guiding. He isn't IFMGA, (British Mountain Instructor Certificate) which is fine by me.
http://www.mountain-training.org/award-schemes/mic
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Re: In depth Mountaineering course

Postby Strider » Wed May 01, 2013 3:04 pm

yes the guide is an aspirant guide and the guiding ratio is minimum 1:2 and maximum 1:4.

the thing i liked the most - aside of the pretty good price- is that it's a 10 day course . the longest one of all the other schools i have seen in the alps so far.
so it seems that they have more time to train you and get some hands on experience including few ascents.
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Re: In depth Mountaineering course

Postby Damien Gildea » Wed May 01, 2013 11:23 pm

Strider wrote: the thing i liked the most - aside of the pretty good price- is that it's a 10 day course . ... so it seems that they have more time to train you and get some hands on experience including few ascents.


To add some balance to my previous post, an advantage of doing a course is that you might meet someone of equal experience, in the same place at the same time who you can climb something with after the course. This often happens in the Alps.

Unfortunately, bad weather also often happens in the Alps. So in a 10-day course you're likely to get at least 4 days of bad weather. If those four days come at the start when you're tying knots and practicing prussiking off the hut rafters, that's OK. But if it comes later when you're trying to climb something or get something done, then paying to sit out a storm seems less appealing. But that's mountaineering...
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