Alps Winter Meet 2023
Location: Chamonix, France
Dates: 8th April to 19th April
This was the first trip for the 2023 to 2026 Young Alpinists Group (YAG). 8th April, we meet in Chamonix, we make brief introductions, then Alpinist Tom Livingstone presents the objectives of the YAG and the plan for the next 3 years we will share together. The ice is broken and we launch into a day of avalanche training led by Calum Muskett (BMG). We review basic avalanche theory, then head up the mountain to see first hand the complicated snow pack that has formed over the winter season.
Evening of the 8th April
Official hand over from the previous YAG to the new YAG. The theme is wine and cheese night, a well balanced first meal to kick start 12 days of alpine climbing. The evening is an opportunity to network, with various alpinists from the Chamonix valley passing by to meet the YAG. The outgoing team share stories of their climbs and the lessons they learned, the following prizes are awarded:
Tom Seccombe, Will Lewallen and Tim Exley
For their first ascent on Kapura Central
Off Belay (sending it when not climbing)
9th to 10th April
The team head up the Aiguille du Midi and after warming up on the Cosmiques Arête they head to the Mont Blanc du Tacul to test themselves on some longer mixed lines. Gemma Robertson and Anna Soligo team up with Christelle on the Pellissier Gully whilst Michael Chan, Adam Bowman and Tom Livingstone climb Supercouloir. The teams abseil down and are safely back at their bivouac to enjoy the evening together.
The Aiguille du Midi is hit by 100+km/h winds. No lifts running today. The team enjoy an unplanned bivouac: they savour their diminishing food reserves, play chess with their rack and discuss future climbs.
Time for some R & R. We meet the French Young Alpinists Group (GEAN) and spend the afternoon together.
The weather deteriorates. 1 metre of snow has fallen since our arrival. Rest day, climbing gym, finger boarding and revision for our upcoming medic course. Photographer Hamish Frost gives a talk on mountain photography and Alpinist Joe Brindley talks about ego and ambition in the mountain.
The sun is out. Conditions are uncertain but the team are keen to see what the gullies on the Mont Blanc du Tacul have to offer. Attempts are made on Pinocchio, Le Temps Est Assassin and Goulotte Chéré but all teams retreat after swimming through waist deep snow and shivering in bitter NW winds. They descend the Vallée Blanche in excellent ski conditions.
15th and 16th April
Heavy snowfall. Powder skiing.
Paramedic Owen Samuel and Mountain Medic Dr Dave Hillebrandt give a course on mountain medicine. The team learn to deal with trauma, altitude illnesses and basic pharmacology as well as practising various rescue scenarios. The day is rounded off by an insightful talk on risk in the mountains by Victor Saunders (BMG).
Final day climbing together. Micheal Chan and Tom Livingstone climb Vent du Dragon on the Aiguille du Midi. Adam Bowman, Gemma Robertson, Sinead Thin and Naoise Ò Muircheartaigh head up the Aiguille des Pélerins to climb the Goulotte Rébuffat Terray. They retreat just before the final pitch to abseil before night sets in.
Special Thanks To
Mountain Equipment, Petzl, La Sportiva, FATMAP, William Newson, The Alpine Club, BMC, Hamish Frost, Matt Glenn, Victor Saunders, Tom Livingstone, Owen Samuel, Dr Dave Hillebrandt, Calum Muskett, Joe Brindley, The Carniato Family, Tim Miller and Kilian Sutz.
Without your support this meet would not have been possible.