Alpine Training

Thinking of heading out to the Alps? Then booking onto an Alpine Training course is the right plan of attack.  These can be one or multiple days to suit you, covering the essential skills needed to move and operate in an Alpine environment.

We work throughout the UK, so the venue can be changed to suit your requirements and or location. We are based in the Lake District, which is a perfect playground to practice essential Alpine skills. That said we often work in Snowdonia, and the Scottish highlands/Cairngorms, which equally have their fare share of quality terrain!

Rock n Ridge works with British Mountain Guides (BMG) to be able to deliver these sorts of programs. After your training has finished with us here in the UK, we will put you in touch with our head Mountain Guide – Neil Mackay who splits his time between the UK and Chamonix.

Skills covered:

Depending on the course duration, expertise, and fitness level then we will look at some of the following techniques:

  • Rope work used in the Alps
  • Moving together
  • General rope maintenance/Taking rope coils
  • Body belays/Selecting and using direct belays
  • Rock protection
  • Route finding/navigation
  • Descending
  • How to prusik
  • Crevasse rescue training
  • Ice axe and crampon techniques/movement (winter only)
  • Abseiling – easy – serious terrain

You may have an Alpine trip in mind? (see below for suggestions) or we would be happy to run through some ideas for you.

Classic Alpine trips include:

Gran Paradiso – An iconic mountain rising to 4,061m, and is the only mountain whose summit reaches over 4,000m that is entirely in Italian soil. See more

Mont Blanc 4,808m – Needs no introductions, being the highest summit in the Alps – Not to be underestimated a high level of fitness, and proper acclimatisation is needed. Usually combined in the trip with climbing Gran Paradiso first. See more

Cosmiques Arete – AD – A technical ridge climb situated in an amazing location/situation. Not far from the drop off point of Aiguille du Midi cable car. The route itself is a mixed terrain climb and incorporates rock climbing, snow and ice techniques, rope techniques and route finding. See more

Aig D’Entreve traverse – For an Alpine route this isn’t a particulary ‘big day’ but none the less it’s a spectacular ridge climb with plenty of interest. Short rock pitches and exposed knife edge ridges make this a day out to remember! See more

Fitness levels

Fitness levels are subjective. Some people’s perceived ‘high level’ of fitness is actually quite different when out in the mountains…
To get the best out of our Alpine training days you should be ideally between Silver and Platinum. Although if your in the Bronze category then depending on the day you’ve requested can be fit around your current fitness level. For example a day looking at Crevasse rescue isn’t as demanding say as a day’s scrambling on a big ridge. That said if your concerned about your fitness, get in touch and a ‘pre Alps’ training schedule can be arranged.

The Alps are physically demanding on the body, and mind, and therefore you can never be ‘over fit’ for the Alps. That said a rest period before you go is essential to give your body chance to recuperate and get itself ready for the ‘main event’. The saying “train hard fight easy” applies.  Here are a few guidelines to fitness levels; this will help check your current level.

Bronze

You’re participating between 1-2 cardiovascular activity per week. Running, cycling, circuit training etc. As a rule of thumb you should be able to get to the top of Snowdon from Pen y Pas in about 2 hours, or Scafell Pike from Wasdale in 2hours 15 minutes.

Silver

3-4 hours of cardio per week. A longer hill walk is undertaken reasonably regular, and your not phased with being out for 4 – 5 hours out on the hill, stopping infrequently. Or you mountain bike for 4 hours and not feel totally knackered on your return.

Thinking of hill accomplishments, the Langdale horseshoe 20k’s of walking starting your first peak on Pavey Ark and ending on Pike O’Blisco should take you around 8-9 hours. You should feel like you’ve ‘had a day out’ but still have a bit of juice left in the tank.

Gold

As a rule of thumb you should be training around 4-5 hours per week, again CV work. So running, cycling, swimming cross training. You should be walking bigger hills/rounds at a weekend, so a 15+ mile hike isn’t out of the question. Maybe you’ve competed in or training towards a marathon or a triathlon. Looking at the hill side of things, bigger Scottish Munro days appeal, taking in 3-4 peaks in one go, or even 2 solitary and separate Munro peaks are attainable.

Platinum

5-6+ hours of training per week. Marathon’s or Tri’s are on the calendar regularly. The same hill walking as Gold is applied to Platinum, but maybe your jogging some of the peaks as you go having reserves left in your tank when returning to your vehicle.

Technical level

Like the Fitness levels, we’d like you to be operating around the Silver mark, but don’t fret if not, we all have to learn and every day’s a school day, even for us guiding and teaching brings up different situations/circumstances. The key thing here is to be keen, and come with a willingness to learn new techniques and principles.

Bronze

You’re solely a hill walker, and you’ve been out once or twice with ice axe and crampons. Maybe you enjoy jogging and the mentioned cardio in the ‘Fitness level’s’ category. You’ve no rock/Alpine experience but fancy having a go at Scrambling and a friend has mentioned an Alpine trip that has sparked your interest and so you’ve started the first steps looking into it.

Silver

At Silver level, again you’re a hill walker and have been scrambling and generally look for this type of terrain when your out in the hills. Exposure still hits you, but you enjoy it and although apprehensive you love the thrill of it! You’ve been to your local wall climbing, and have basic belaying and rope work skills. Maybe you’ve tried Via Ferrata and have a few days under your belt using ice axe and crampons, and have wild camped in the mountains occasionally.

Gold

At Gold technical level, you’d class yourself as a competent scrambler and keen hill walker (stating you’re a scrambler before a hill walker!) You’ve tried Rock Climbing, have a small rack of equipment, no how to set a belay up, have abseiled and enjoy the sport. You’ve probably been to the Alps and done some 4,000m peaks and have dozens more that you want to tick off before it’s too late! You know how to use ice axe and crampons, possibly seconded or led some ice routes, but you still feel apprehensive going solo into the mountains in a winter environment.

Platinum

You love the hills walking, scrambling etc, but climbing is at the forefront of your passion. Whether that’s rock or ice you just want to do more! You lead rock climbs comfortably between HS – VS and have seconded into the early E grades. Your climbing rope work is reasonably slick, competent at setting up and using outdoor ‘real life’ abseils. You move around in crampons well and have practiced and maybe used for real ice axe braking! You’ve been to the Alps on Via Ferrata and or Alpine excursions, again have climbed with a friend some 4,000m peaks, have had a couple of ‘epics’ under your belt and have been caught out in a lightning storm before now. Basically you have a few stories to tell the grand kids.

Working together to find solutions that’ll overcome obstacles