Applications for Young Alpinist Group Open

Applications for Young Alpinist Group Open

The 2023-2025 Programme of the Young Alpinist Group opened to applications on 01 November 2022 and will close on 30 November.

The 2020-2022 YAG Participants

The group, set up by AC member Tom Livingstone, has a mission "“to improve the safety and knowledge of young alpine climbers, giving them the skills to climb - in alpine-style - in the Greater Ranges" and aims "to advance the next generation of world-leading young UK alpinists via a three-year, elite-level programme featuring courses, trips, expeditions and mentorship.”

Applications are open to all climbers, regardless of background, who meet the below criteria:

  • Between 19 and 30 years old
  • UK based or UK/Irish nationality
  • Plenty of UK trad and winter experience
  • Alpine experience in both summer and winter, in a variety of countries/areas/ranges, climbing technical routes
  • Able to travel through the mountains on skis, or at least able to ski by the time of any winter YAG meets (such as potentially March 2023).

10 places are available.

It is important for applicants to note that The YAG is not an instructional or guided programme, and is specifically targeted at those who already have alpine experience.

Further details and a link to the application form can be found via the YAG Website.




Up Close with Nick Colton

Nick Colton is an accomplished alpinist with numerous expeditions to some of the world’s most famous peaks under his belt. He’s also Lead Safeguarding Officer of The British Mountaineering Council and has been a key cog in the BMC machine for many decades. We caught up with him to discuss his famous first ascents, changes at the BMC and his future plans.

Nick Colton climbing on the SE ridge of Annapurna III in 1981, a rocky face falling away beneath him to the glacier belowNick on the SE Pillar of Annapurna III in 1981 by Tim Leach

How did you start climbing?

I started climbing with my dad in the mid-1960s. I was quite a lively child, forever climbing trees and smaller features on buildings. Our local park even had, still has, a mounted medium-sized erratic that I bouldered on from a very young age. I think he thought it would channel my energies positively.


When and why did you join the Alpine Club?

I first joined the Alpine Club in 1976 at an ACG event at a pub in Buxton. Alex MacIntyre was also there and I think he joined the ACG at that time. Tut Braithwaite said that a new route on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses merited joining the ACG. Sometime later I received a letter requesting payment of subs. Being out of work at the time I had no money. I wrote back to say that, and don’t recall whether I got a response back or not. However, I eventually did join the AC in the mid-2000s.

A black and white photo of Nick and the late Alex MacIntyreNick and the late Alex MacIntyre by Bernard Newman

You mentioned your route on the Grandes Jorasses. You've given your name to two very famous alpine routes. How does it feel to have a route you climbed so early in your climbing career become a lodestar for climbers today, something that appears on ticklists and news reports? Do you still feel you have a relationship with a route like the Colton-MacIntyre or is it now just something you once did?

It’s pretty flattering, especially as the routes have become popular. In a way they were things I did a long time ago when I was young and clearly I’ve moved on. Although people do still ask me about the routes, as you have, and I get invited to give slide shows on the strength of the ascents. So, although it was a long time ago, it’s not quite as simple as saying it’s just something I once did. Because, in a variety of ways, people still associate me with the climbs and some people do see that as part of who I am. Which I’m comfortable with.


Could you tell us a little about your work for the BMC and any projects that you're currently excited to be working on there?

I was the Deputy CEO at [the] BMC for 16 or so years. I’ve done a number of things in that time. Most visibly, I suppose, I’ve been the BMC’s Lead Safeguarding Officer for much of that time and also secretary of the BMC’s International Committee for a number of years. I also helped set up GB Climbing and was their Lead Officer for the first year of operations. As retirement comes into view, I’m now downsizing my time commitments and currently work 3 days a week.

Some things that excite me are: the possibility of working with the AC and MEF on proposed expedition planning symposia – one specifically for women; and the coming appointment of a full-time Safeguarding Manager at the BMC funded by Sport England.  I’m also excited by the work the BMC does on environmental and climate issues. For the most part unsung, but no less important for all that.

Nick Colton in Alaska in 1981 wearing a large blue crash helmet and staring into the camnera as he deals with the ropes.
Climbing in Alaska in 1981 by Tim Leach
The Team of 3 from the Annapurna III expedition stand in red jumpers with the mountain in the background
The Annapurna III Team by Tim Leach

We're just entering another Olympic cycle. As someone who saw the process closer at hand than many of us, what did you take away from climbing's first Olympics last year in Tokyo?

I think the Olympics was an amazing spectacle that has done a number of things. Firstly, it was very exciting to watch. I mention this because some people I know in the climbing world have long said that competition climbing would never catch on because it’s so boring to watch. They said it was like watching paint dry. The Olympics proved that wrong.  For me it comes down to the belief that different people get different things from different facets of climbing. 

Secondly, the Olympics have inspired more people to accept climbing as something reasonable to do. It’s shown that climbing is amazing but it’s also shown that climbers are not all odd-balls doing some crazy, outlandish activity. Which, in turn has inspired more people, from all ages, backgrounds, etc to try it and have a go. Which will bring a fresh crop of people into these activities with all their enthusiasm and passion. In turn will eventually help with succession and refreshment in all parts of climbing and mountaineering and keep our passion healthy and vibrant for the future.

Thirdly, the Olympics really have cranked up standards, particularly in bouldering and rock climbing, both indoors and outdoors. It’s amazing to see what some of the kids and even some of the newer older starters can do within a relatively short space of time since starting these days.


What was the last big trip or expedition you went on? 

I’m not sure whether I’ve ever been on a big trip. However, if one could be described as “big” in some sense I guess that might be an attempt on the SE pillar of Annapurna III that I went on in 1981. A route which has only recently had its first ascent, by a Ukrainian team, alpine style and over 18 days!

Having said that I do still go to West Nepal exploring remote valleys where there’s no record of mountaineers having been and trying to climb unclimbed peaks. In fact, I’m going in September with Julian Freeman-Attwood, Ed Douglas and Jim Fotheringham for more of the same. However, I wouldn’t describe such trips as big. They’re purposely small and uncommercial with a leave no trace ethic and consideration for local people. 




Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers - Additional Resources

Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers - Additional Resources

Many thanks for attending Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers. We hope that the event was useful to you. For this inaugural event we had 45 delegates in attendance along with a further 20 staff, speakers and sponsors. It was a wonderful demonstration of the passion that so many women have for exploratory climbing, skiing and endurance sports. 

Photo: Helen Farley

We very much hope that the weekend was the beginning rather than the end of a process that will see more women taking part in and organising their own expeditions. The post-event WhatsApp group is already extremely active and many of you, we're sure, have made connections that will lead to some fantastic adventures in the future. In the spirit of EE4WE being the start rather than the end, below are a selection of resources to assist you with the planning and running of expeditions.


Speaker Slides

Firstly, here are the presentations from our EE4WE speakers in case you need to look up some of the points from the weekend:

EE4WE Speaker Biographies
Introduction to Expeditions | Susan Jensen & Iona Pawson
The Female Aspect of Expeditions | Susan Jensen & Iona Pawson
Resources for Staying Safe on Expeditions | Sarah Wysling & Isla Wormald
Psychology for Expedition Success | Dr Rebecca Williams
Nutrition Essentials for Women Explorers | Rebecca Dent
Fundraising | Paul Ramsden
Planning an Expedition on Skis | Iona Pawson
MEF Funding | Duncan Sperry
Tips for Expeditions Workshop | Paul Ramsden
Planning Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Expeditions | Marta Mills


Expedition Reports

Reports from past expeditions are a fantastic source of information. They can help you generate ideas for objectives, offer advice on access to specific areas or even give you a detailed breakdown of a route you'd like to repeat. The best places to find english-language expedition reports are:

The Mount Everest Foundation Expedition Reports Archive
Alpine Club Expedition Reports Archive
The Alpine Journal
The American Alpine Journal
Alpine Club Library Catalogue
BMC Expedition Reports


Photo: Helen Farley


Expedition Advice

There are lots of individuals who will be able to offer you specific advice on expeditions, but it's also useful to read pieces that cover all aspects of expeditions so you know everything you need to consider. Some of the best examples are listed below:

RGS-IBG Expedition Handbook
The Alpine Club Expedition Information Centre
UIAA - Women at Altitude (2018)
UIAA - Medical Advice for Women at Altitude (2023)
Expedition and Alpine Climbing - Information and Beta | Tom Livingstone


Mountain Databases

Finding a mountaineering objective can be one of the most challenging parts of expedition planning. That is, if you don't know where to start. Mountain databases list peaks along with associated information like if they've been climbed, by who and by what route. They're a great way to find unclimbed peaks/routes and they may also direct you to past expeditions where you can find more information. The main databases for the Himalaya are:

The Himalayan Index
The Himalayan Database
Nepal Himal Peak Profile



The grants you can apply for will depend on the type of expedition you plan to undertake. While most grants place limitations on the composition or purpose of expeditions, there are so many grant-giving bodies out there that you'll almost certainly be able to find some funding. The most important UK grants are listed below along with a link to a further list of grants which may be less relevant to UK mountaineers, but which are worth checking out in case you happen to qualify for them:

The Mount Everest Foundation (Including the Alison Chadwick Memorial Grant)
Grit & Rock (A video with tips on G&R applications is included below).
The Montane Alpine Club Climbing Fund
BMC Grants (Including the Julie Tullis Memorial Grant)
List of Other Grants





AC Members Climb New Route on Barnaj II East (6303m)

AC Members Climb New Route on Barnaj II East (6303m)

Callum Johnson and Matt Glenn (both AC members) alongside Tom Seccombe have successfully climbed a new line on Barnaj II East (6303m) in the Indian Himalaya. The team's original objective for the expedition was Barnaj II North, a summit that still remains unclimbed.

Further details are unavailable at present, but Matt has indicated in a post on Instagram that he will have more to say once he has completed the expedition report.

The expedition was supported by The BMC, The Mount Everest Foundation and the Alpine Club.




Leo Houlding to Receive Mountaineering Ireland's Lynam Award

Leo Houlding to Receive Mountaineering Ireland's Lynam Award

AC member Leo Houlding has been announced as the 2022 recipient of the Lynam Award. The award is presented annually by Mountaineering Ireland in memory of renowned Irish mountaineer Joss Lynam. Recipients are those who are considered to have a record of outstanding achievement and contributions to mountaineering.

Leo will officially receive the award and present the annual Lynam Lecture in a special event at the Chartered Accountants Ireland Lecture Hall, Dublin on 08 December. Further details on the event are available here

Leo's first book 'Closer to the Edge', an autobiography of his life as a climber, mountaineer and explorer, has recently been released and is already enjoying its second print run.




JD Hooker Illustration Greeting Cards

JD Hooker Illustration Greeting Cards

The Alpine Club are pleased to present a pair of greeting cards featuring illustrations by 19th century British botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker. The illustartions in question feature the Blue Himalayan Poppy and a Magnolia, and are taken from Hooker's 1855 book 'Illustrations of Himalayan Plants'.

The inside of the cards is left blank for your message, making them appropriate for a wide variety of occasions.

They are available in packs of 10, with 5 cards of each design, at a price of £7 plus UK postage of £2 for 1-2 packs and £3 for 3 packs (or each multiple of 3). For international shipping, please contact the Alpine Club Office.

The cards can be purchased using the PayPal checkout below or by cheque made payable to 'Alpine Club' and sent for the attention of The Alpine Club Office Manager, 55 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3QF.  




Alpine Club Tech Talks 2022

Alpine Club Tech Talks 2022

In November 2022, the Alpine Club will present a series of workshops via Zoom focused on contemporary topics in mountain safety. The sessions will run over Zoom and will be open to members of the Alpine Club, Scottish Mountaineering Club and the Eagle Ski Club.


A climber looks into the camera while holding a navigation device and speaking into an earpiece.


The schedule for the Tech Talks is as follows:

03 November 2022 - What Happens When You Call for Rescue? - With Gendarme Francois Gouy of the Chamonix PGHM, we look at what information rescue teams need to best assist us in the mountains and what you should expect from a rescue team.

10 November 2022 - Mountaineering In the Digital Age - Photographer and prolific mountaineer Ben Tibbetts joins us to discuss what climbers need from apps and what products are currently available to assist planning, navigation and rescue in the mountains.

17 November 2022 - The Case for Paper - Following on from our sessions looking at how technology can assist us in the mountains, we host a discussion with Lindsay Griffin and Alex Buisse to examine what benefits paper maps and guidebooks can provide in a tech-focused age.


All of the sessions will begin at 7:30PM and Club members will be sent the Zoom invitation via email ahead of time.

We will conclude each talk with a Q&A as well as a discussion among attendees.


As we head towards the winter, this is the perfect time to refresh our thinking on issues of mountain safety and we hope to provide a useful forum for the sharing of advice and best practice.




Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers 2023

Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers 2023

Have you done Scottish winter climbing or been to the Alps and are yearning for more adventure? Have you been on a commercial expedition and want to do something similar with friends? You might be planning an expedition right now! If any of these apply, or you just want to know more, Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers is for you!


What: An event focused on answering the questions of women climbers who want to take part in expeditions.

When & Where: 28 & 29 January 2023 at The National Outdoor Centre, Plas y Brenin, LL24 0ET.

Cost: £35 for Alpine Club and BMC members; £70 for non-members. (Price includes all lectures and workshops plus lunch and dinner on the Saturday).

Who: The event is sponsored by the Alpine Club, BMC, Mount Everest Foundation and Montane, with sessions delivered by experienced expedition climbers and experts in the field.

Tickets: Book your tickets via the BMC Website. (You will need to create an account to book, but this is straightforward and has no additional cost).

Contact: If you have any concerns or questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A photo showing a female climber stood on a rocky summit looking down at the title: 'Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers'Original Image by Jacob Cook


Tailored specifically for women, this is a fabulous opportunity to learn about the skills, knowledge, mental and physical preparation you need for a successful expedition and how to get that all important grant to help you on your way.

Speakers include experienced expedition skier Iona Pawson, expedition veteran Susan Jensen, four time Piolet d’Or winner Paul Ramsden and the climbing star Fay Manners. Fay, alongside Line van den Berg made the first female ascent of ‘Phantom Direct’ on the huge south face of the Grandes Jorasses in the Mont Blanc massif. We are also pleased to confirm that the line up now also features Montane Ambassador Katy Parrott and Guinness book of records holder Masha Gordon.

Experts on nutrition, menstrual cycles on expeditions, expedition first aid, safety in the mountains and the psychological aspects of expeditioning will be sharing their knowledge in a series of participatory talks and interactive workshops throughout the day.

On Sunday there will be an opportunity for informal discussion over a coffee with many of the speakers. If you are planning an expedition, this is an ideal opportunity to ask searching questions on any aspect of your expedition.

You can view the full programme for the weekend here.

The Plas y Brenin climbing wall will be open for delegates to use free of charge on the Sunday. If you would like to use the wall, please email Helen or Emily at Plas y Brenin on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Three women stare up at the camera from a Patagonian summit.
Photo: Freja Shannon
A woman stares off into the distance across a mountain range with a lake in the background.
Photo: Freja Shanon




Report: 19 October 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 19 October 2022

This Indian summer is pretty good, it is even very hot in the afternoons, but beware of the weather forecast for this weekend.

It's freezing at night at the moment but the glaciers are still very open, and the snow bridges are fragile - be careful!

However, some routes are being done:

On the Aiguille du Midi, the arete is fine. The Cosmiques and Laurence arêtes are still possible. The traverse of the Pointes Lachenal is also possible: it is better to access the 1st point on the left because there is ice straight under the rocks, as well as on the traverse (protection possible on rock), the chimney is in good nick.

There is some activity on the Tacul, but the rimaye on Mont Maudit is not crossable.

Gully activity is starting up: Contamine Mazeaud, the Chéré, the Allemands, and Vent du Dragon, but it’s still thin and not always easy to protect.

From the Helbronner, the Aiguilles Marbrées and the Aiguilles d'Entrèves are being done, despite very crevassed access for the latter. It’s looking white below the Dent du Géant.

The normal route on Mont Blanc, the arête de la Table on the aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche are being done.

For rock climbing, it is quite cold at altitude. “Toussaint (late October holiday) is coming up – get ready for cold hands.


The Planpraz and Flégère cable cars open this weekend for the All Saints' (Toussaint) holiday. The Aiguille du Midi cable car and the Skyway are still open until November 6 inclusive.

There has been a rockfall at Barberine. No information yet on the fixed gear (bolts etc).

The Conscrits footbridge is no longer in place since yesterday!

For hiking, everything is still possible, there is snow from around 2,400m on northerly aspects and from around 2,900m on southerly aspects, but it is not a problem. Tours are still possible for the most motivated (some refuges are still open, and some are equipped with a winter room).

The refuges of Loriaz (from Thursday to Sunday), Lac Blanc, Plan de l'Aiguille, les Prés and Torino still welcome you.

We remind you that the Mont-Blanc tunnel is closed until Monday 7 November.

Have fun! 


Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Silvo Karo to Receive Piolet d'Or Lifetime Achievement Award

Silvo Karo to Receive Piolet d'Or Lifetime Achievement Award

The Piolets d'Or committee have announced that Slovenian alpinist and honorary Alpine Club member Silvo Karo will receive the 14th Walter Bonatti - Piolets d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the 2022 ceremony.

Karo is one of a generation of Slovenian alpinists who, in the 1980s, set a new standard in the greater ranges by pioneering technically difficult new routes on iconic peaks. He is perhaps best known for his 1988 first ascent of the south face of Cerro Torre, but his resumé extends far beyond this singular achievement with many notable ascents in the Himalaya and Karakoram.

Silco Karo, Photo by Lika Krajunk licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

This year's Piolets d'Or ceremony will take place from 18-20 November in Briançon. Further details are available via the Piolet d'Or website.




Loppé Exhibition Opens on Monte Bianco Skyway

Loppé Exhibition Opens on Monte Bianco Skyway

Over 20 scale reproductions of the works of famed mountain artist Gabriel Loppé have gone on display in the Pavillion Station of the Monte Bianco Skyway. The exhibition, 'Gabriel Loppé: A Life on Mont Blanc' is a collaboration between the Skyway, The Association Amis de Gabriel Loppé and AC member William Mitchell.

Loppé was the earliest pioneer of high altitude painting and the first non-Britain to be made a member of the Alpine Club.

His most enduring working relationship was with Mont Blanc, which he was estimated to have climbed some 40 times, painting numerous scenes from its summit. Given his history with the mountain, there is perhaps no better place for an exhibition of Loppé's work than in the panoramic space of the Pavillion Station at 2,200m.

The exhibition will run until the Summer of 2023 and is open to visitors whenever the cable car is operating. Tickets are available to book via the Skyway website.  

AC member William Mitchell, who has curated the exhibition, has produced an accompanying 60-page catalogue which is available in English, French and Italian. French speakers can also enjoy an interview in which William discusses the exhibition on TGR Rai.




Report: 29 September 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 29 September 2022


If you were beginning to wonder: Yes, it’s certainly autumn!

The mountains are starting to change, let's give them some time!

It snowed a decent amount above 2,200m, especially in the centre of the massif. The ground is white from this altitude. Above this altitude, there was 50cm at the Couvercle hut, 60cm at the Torino hut and about 1m at the Aiguille du Midi, but as usual, it was windy.

As a consequence, it has put a stop to rock climbing, except on low-level crags (vive le sud :) ).

Although we have had snow it's a bit early to think about mixed routes. Once the snow has settled, the shorter routes near the Aiguille du Midi or the Punta Helbronner (Cosmiques arête, Lachenal, traverse of the Marbrées or the Aiguilles d'Entrêves ???) will be worth considering. Be careful on glaciers as snow bridges will be weak.

Classic routes (Mont Blanc by the normal route, Tête Blanche/Petite Fourche...) could become possible again with a long period of good weather.



Things are also getting more complicated for hiking at altitude (above 2,200m) with some routes not really practicable in these conditions (Buet, Albert 1er, Jonction etc).

The same goes for multi-day treks with snowy cols (not to mention that huts are closed) on the Mont Blanc tour (col du Bonhomme, col de la Seigne, Grand Col Ferret) or the Tour des Aiguilles Rouges.

If we get the good weather expected at the beginning of next week this may change!


Huts and Lifts

As far as practicalities go, all the high mountain huts are closed except the Torino hut (open until 01 November). A lot of lower level huts are also closed, but the Plan de l’aiguille, Lac Blanc and Loriaz are still open at the moment.

As for the ski lifts, the Montenvers, the Aiguille du Midi and the Skyway are open!


Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




'Years of Desperation & Charm' - Alex MacIntyre Obituary (1983)

'Years of Desperation & Charm' - Alex MacIntyre Obituary (1983)

Forty years ago, in October 1982, Alex MacIntyre died while attempting a new route on Annapurna. MacIntyre was one of the foremost alpinists of his era and a devout proponent of the 'Fast and Light' ethos. In the following year's Alpine Journal John Porter, who had been on the expedition when Alex was killed, paid tribute to his friend. With unflinching honesty, he recounts their shared journey; from young climbers blaring music across British crags, to the Alps, their diverging life paths and, eventually, to Alex's tragic demise in the Himalaya.

'The fact that many a man who goes his own way ends in ruin means nothing. The only meaningful life is a life that strives for the individual realisation -  absolute and unconditional -  of its own particular law.' Carl Jung

In the first years that I knew Alex, there were always battered Ford Escort vans parked out in front of the hovels we inhabited in Leeds 6, or parked as near as possible to the bottom of the crag so we could hear the music, turned to maximum volume, always loud music wherever we went, and we spent a lot of time in those vans, adding new dents as the weekends went by. Hair was long in those days and our selection of clothes minimal, but Alex's was always the longest and his clothes the dirtiest. I was doing post grad while he was struggling to start, first Economics and, after a year off, Law. It was during the year off that Alex discovered what he wanted to do. He wanted to go climbing.

We were incredibly incompetent at everything we did, bankrupting the climbing club, getting ourselves and the few women who hung around with the Leeds scene into outrageous and hilarious situations, but always getting out of real trouble and managing somehow to make it seem we'd done well in the end, producing The Journal with Bernard, flogging vans in France to get back to university after a season in the Alps, scraping through to get good degrees. On our first Alpine route together, Alex climbed in boots of two different sizes. We created our own epic, complete with horrendous storm, Alex dropping all his gear like a moulting shaggy dog, our worst bivi ever, and endless descent in a white-out, but managing to get back to the Nash to the realisation that we'd learned something. They were years of desperation and charm.

In 1977, Alex had just completed his exams and had a summer in the Alps ahead of him when I phoned to ask him to go to Afghanistan with the Poles. It had been a couple of years since we'd climbed together seriously. He'd done some major Alpine routes by then; the Bonatti Zapelli, the Droites, the Jorasses, and had definitely made his mark in Scotland. In two weeks, he found the money and then we were off by train across the Soviet Union into a series of adventures culminating in 6 major new routes and 7 peaks of more than 6,000m climbed between the eleven of us. When Voytek asked in broken English in the train, 'Would you like Bandaka?', Alex answered, 'Sure, do we eat it hot or cold.' But instead, we discovered a 2,400m, NE face, a real monstrosity up crumbling walls and steep ice to a summit as peaceful as the Ben on a good day. Despite the dangers of the face, everything fell into place, the vibes were good, and as a team, we were in love with each other's company. I remember Alex on the final pitch, tunnelling through the massive cornice, whispering down to us, "I think it's talking to me."

The next year was Changabang, again with Voytek and joined by Krystof Zurek. We spent 8 wonderful days on a superbly steep wall, following the only possible route up the centre of the face, like solving a logics problem - the way had been created just for us. We were more adept than in our early years, and Alex's inventiveness was beginning to show in the nature of the gear; his hammock design, lightweight sleeping bags, modified ruck-sacks, and a just adequate amount of food. But we were also learning the anomaly of the lightweight concept, hauling huge sacks of gear, having to abandon spare ropes and pegs on the summit, knowing the formula could be improved. And once, Alex fell a long way, abseiling on the wrong end of the rope in a blizzard and falling the full distance until the rope came onto the peg. I thought for a while we'd lost him, but when I abseiled down, he was waiting, shrouded in snow, a bit shaken, and he smiled, "I don't want to play this game just to have a rucksack named after me."

1979 in South America, Alex and I got in wrong in more ways than one. Some spark had gone from our banter. We made some big mistakes, underestimating the seriousness of routes, going ultra light without sleeping bags or stoves, suffering, muddling through somehow, but feeling the dangers of the sport too close. We argued about stupid things, politics, the ways of the world, the things we would never be able to change. We even got our nights in the bars out of sync so that one or the other of us would be suffering when we set out on the next climb. Looking back, our first unhappy trip together I put down to me getting older and following a more conventional path while Alex by this time was totally committed to the world he could make for himself climbing. While I became more conservative, he was becoming ever more deeply involved in his radical approach to climbing and life.

Apart from the occasional weekend climbing or boozing, I saw little of Alex for the next 3 years. He invited me on both the Makalu and Dhaulagiri trips, but they did not fit in with my plans or my job. He tried to talk me out of the winter Everest trip, and nearly succeeded, but I went, while he went off to experiment with new ideas on bigger faces. I began to admire him not only for his big climbs but also for his lucid life style. Unconventional and trimmed of pretence, he lived as he felt was best for him, and knew that in the end, that was also best for everyone else, being himself. It was take him or leave him, but he did not necessarily judge people on their reaction to him. Most took to him, accepting his honesty of character. Diplomacy was no replacement for the truth in Alex's eyes. For this reason he made an effective National Officer during his years with the BMC. Yet he admired people who stuck to their own arguments, as long as their thinking was clear and their case recognizable as an alternative. On the other hand, he hated banding together or acceptance of ideas without mental conviction.

We had talked about Annapurna for some time. For Alex, it was another date in his calendar of big climbs, a filler-in between Xixabangma pre-monsoon '82 and his plans for four 8000'ers in 1983. Neither of us were able to spend much time organising the trip. He was writing his book while I was scrambling at work to get everything in some sort of order before I left. We had an inevitable last minute rush to sort out details, wondering if René would ever contact us from France with news of the equipment he was slated to provide. We booked a flight only 3 days before departure. We were in our element, confusion followed by laughter, knowing it didn't matter how you got there as long as you did. We had a theory that plans are made only to be unmade. That way, we always felt immune to Murphy's law, fate was not for us. As we settled back with a drink somewhere over Turkey, Alex brought out his folder on Annapurna and we studied the innocuous looking ramp that cut through the vertical lower half of the face and left us focused at half height beneath a tiny dollop of rock, the only major problem before the massive ice slopes beneath the East Peak.

"We should be able to climb the route in 3 or 4 days, and we'll leave Base Camp not later than the 13th of October, after we acclimatize." Alex knew the face as if he had climbed all over it in his dreams. He knew the weather, the walk in, what to expect at Base Camp, and the peaks we would climb to acclimatize. He explained it carefully and in detail. As I looked and listened, I knew that I was merely an apprentice of the kid I had once looked after like a younger brother. I made a note in my diary, and felt sad for reasons I could not explain.

Alex died on 17 October. I was not with him. I watched through binoculars from Base Camp as two tiny dots appeared at the bottom of that innocuous ramp that in September had been like Niagara Falls with boulders tumbling down instead of barrels. We'd prepared well for the face, 14 days of climbing in the first 18 in Base Camp. Alex consoled me in my exhaustion and sickness with the words: "Well, it was a heavy­ duty acclimatization programme". I was more than sick when they set off for the face on the 13th. I watched them reach that insignificant dollop of rock and fail to get through, the way to the summit only a few feet above them. I followed their thoughts through my binoculars as they descended that night to a bivouac at the top of the ramp. In a break in the clouds, the lens suddenly seemed to fill with blood. I looked closer in disbelief and realised I had only witnessed the bright red bivi sack being pulled from the sack, shaken out and hung up.

On that morning of the 17th, I lowered the binoculars to clean them and when I looked back, there was only one climber. I instinctively knew it was René. Alex had fallen. I searched for another 10 minutes, then hastily filled two rucksacks with medical and emergency equipment and set off for the face with our sirdar. We met René coming down alone at about 5000m. He stopped 30m above us and waved his iceaxe above his head, then stumbled down to where we stood frozen to our souls. Alex had been killed by a single stone falling from unknown heights. His time had come and had rushed him upward to meet his fate. Little was said as we returned to Base. René had lost his closest climbing partner. I had lost a friend who was also my link to the freedom of years gone by. "We must not think about it but we must not forget" said René, "If we do either, we may not climb again".




Report: 16 September 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 16 September 2022

Autumn is here!

The weather is getting colder, and there is snow on the highest summits. A lot of wind but only about ten centimetres of snow at the Cosmiques hut. The risk of avalanche will have to be considered.  

The Albert 1er hut will close this Sunday. No other changes in this area.


The Couvercle hut is hanging on until the end as the last hut open in the Mer de Glace basin (the Envers closed on 15/09). No other changes in the area. A rockfall has damaged the aids on the path which crosses the river below the Moine. This bit is not easy and requires care (not recommended for hikers).


The Torino and Cosmiques huts also remain open as do the lifts. No major changes in this area either. The rock and the cracks can be plastered with snow or icy. The Tacul can be considered once the snowpack has stabilised. Concerning the Trois Monts, we are repeating this well phrased message from the Cosmiques hut (no apologies for repeating it):

"Tuesday September 13th, at 12pm...We have had two rescues on the Trois Monts traverse since this morning. It's windy at altitude, and the clouds are at the top of Mt Blanc. In the evening at the refuge, we keep repeating the same thing lately:

  • No, the Trois Monts are not in good condition!
  • Yes it's more technical than usual on the you have two ice axes? A sufficient length of rope?
  • Turn back before the Maudit rimaye, if you don't have sufficient expertise, because then the retreat will be another matter...

Repeat, repeat...and yet!

The mountain rescue teams are picking up the pieces today in poor conditions.

So YES to “liberté en montagne"! But let's stop this irresponsible stubbornness for the glory of a summit, which puts the lives of the rescuers in danger. Better conditions will eventually return, patience. Thank you!"


Over on the Aiguille du Goûter, the huts are still open.

The conditions are becoming rather good again on the route.
Good news, the Tramway du Mont Blanc will remain open one more week until September 25th inclusive with two departures from Le Fayet at 7:00 am and 3:25 pm and two returns from Le Nid d'Aigle at 8:15 am and 4:40 pm. Access for mountaineers (with a reservation in a refuge) and hikers. Service offered free of charge depending on the number of places available. Reservations for the ascent on the website. Reservations for the descent at the Fayet ticket office.

The Conscrits refuge will remain open until 24 September, Monzino will close on Sunday 18 September.


Last days of opening for the lifts (TC de Planpraz and de la Flégère) which will close this Sunday (18). The refuges are also gradually closing (info here). Some hikes are therefore less accessible and less frequented.

We are no longer in summer, it is very cool in the morning and it can also be cold during the day depending on the weather (wind etc). The paths can be slippery. Remember to be properly equipped.


Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Pritchard and Porter Nominated in Banff Mountain Book Competition

Pritchard and Porter Nominated in Banff Mountain Book Competition

Alpine Club members John Porter and Paul Pritchard are among the nominees in this year's Banff Mountain Book Competition.

John is nominated in the Mountain Fiction and Poetry category for his new book 'A Path of Shadows' which brings together poems and essays from over 50 years of writing. Meanwhile, Paul's new autobiographical work 'The Mountain Path' is nominated in the Mountain Literature category. Paul's book has also been shortlisted for this year's Boardman Tasker Award.

A full list of the category nominees and details of the competition can be found here.




The Death of HM Queen Elizabeth II

The Death of HM Queen Elizabeth II

The Alpine Club Committee was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. For seventy years she had been a rare constant in the life of our nation, serving as a source of comfort and pride to many. With the news of Hillary’s and Tenzing’s ascent of Everest reaching the streets of London on the morning of her coronation, 2nd June 1953, she had a special place in the hearts of mountaineers. 

With her husband HRH The Prince Philip, who was an honorary member of the Club, she attended a number of Alpine Club events, including our 1957 centenary celebrations (pictured). She was also a regular attendee at anniversary celebrations for the first ascent of Mount Everest adding, in the words of former AC President Stephen Venables, "lustre" to those occasions. 

Her steady, engaged presence in so many aspects of British public life, even one as esoteric as ours, is a testament to the work ethic, sense of duty and abiding curiosity for her people that defined her reign.
Her absence will be keenly felt, not least by her family, to whom we wish to convey our deepest condolences.

AC Members Make 2022 Boardman Tasker Shortlist

AC Members Make 2022 Boardman Tasker Shortlist

The 2022 shortlist for the Boardman Tasker Mountain Literature Award has been announced. Among the six shortlisted authors are two Alpine Club members; Paul Pritchard and Brian Hall. 

A graphic displaying the six shortlisted titles accompanied by the Boardman Tasker and Mountain Equipment logos.

Paul has been nominated for his book 'The Mountain Path', published by Vertebrate, which explores his continuing adventure journey following his life-altering accident on Tasmania's Totem Pole. Paul is due to embark on a speaking tour of the UK this November and December in support of the book.

Brian received his nomination for 'High Risk' his book exploring the cutting-edge of high altitude climbing in the 1970s and '80s. The book focuses on Brian's close friends from this time, including those who lost their lives on the small, lightweight and technically difficult expeditions that defined the era. 'High Risk' is published by Sandstone Press.

Paul and Brian are nominated alongside Kieran Cunningham, Anna Fleming, Robert Charles Lee and Helen Mort. The winner will be announced on the 18 November during a special event at Kendal Mountain Festival.




Report: 07 September 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 07 September 2022

The summer season is gradually coming to an end. Huts are beginning to close. Most of the lifts are still open.

The nights are now longer and cooler and the refreeze is good. Recent storms have deposited some snow at altitude without significantly improving overall conditions.

Rock climbing remains a safe bet.


Le Tour

The hut is open until September 18th. The Vallorcine cable car will close on the 11th.

From the hut, you now need to go down to the glacier and then climb back up (on ice) because the route by the Signal Reilly is unstable and even dangerous (slope with blocks on the ice).

Still a lot of people on the Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche.

Little or no activity on the Aiguille du Tour, the rimaye is still very delicate. You need to cross via the Col du Tour. One team has climbed the arête de la Table intégrale. On the descent, a 40m abseil is necessary to pass the rimaye safely.

The Chardonnet is still not an option.



The Plan Joran gondola and the refuge have been closed since 4 September. The winter room of the refuge remains accessible.

Climbers and crystal hunters can now share things!



The Montenvers train is open until 2 October.

The Charpoua refuge has been closed since 25 August. Building work has started and there will be no refuge or winter accommodation until next summer.

The Couvercle refuge is open until the end of the month if all goes well (water, weather).

No big changes in the sector.

All good on the Moine (Normal Route, S Ridge, Contamine, Miss Tique).

It's a bit less good on the Nonne-Evêque traverse (complicated rimaye, very dry descent couloir).

The Moine Arête on the Verte ridge is still not recommended: Not very inviting.

The Leschaux refuge closed on 5 September.


Envers des Aiguilles/Requin

The Envers hut is normally open until 15 September. The rimaye for the République is no longer crossable and you will have to use the fixed ropes installed last year (technical and physical, bring a jumar).

The Requin refuge closed 26 August.



The hut is normally open until 1 November.

There is still some activity on the Marbrées and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves. A few teams on the Dent du Géant. The access to the Salle à Manger is still very dry. The Courmayeur guide company will soon re-evaluate the conditions to see if they are acceptable to bring clients there.

The starts of the routes on the Clocher du Tacul have been cleaned and belays added following the drop in height of the glacier. The rimaye of the Grand Capucin is still in use, as is the rimaye of the Gervasutti route on the Pointe Salluard.


Aiguille du Midi

The hut is open until 25 September if the weather permits.

Small snowfalls have covered the ice on the Pointes Lachenal. The latter is once again being done especially the first summit. Rockfalls have affected the chimney on the 3rd summit (blocks at the foot) but not recently.

The arête Laurence (“Lolo”) is still being climbed. For the Cosmiques arete, you have probably seen the pictures of the rockfall. The main collapse (500m3) took place below the traverse under the Digital Crack gendarme. It's still very dry and not very inviting. (See photo below).

A diagram laying out where the fall on the Cosmiques took place, showing the space left by the rockfall near to 'Digital Crack'

Mont Blanc du Tacul remains in fairly good condition. The slope before the rimaye is becoming steeper. The rimaye is crossed by a turn to the left. Of course, you need to be comfortable with cramponing to be able to do this route. Beware of the risk of avalanche after snowfall.

There has been no activity on the Trois Monts for a long time. A team made an attempt last weekend but stopped at the rimaye of the col du Mont Maudit after a lot of trail breaking (40cm of new snow). Concerning this rimaye, it is possible to cross it but a steep wall of snow/ice (80°) is waiting for you on the other side: you need two technical ice axes per person, you can use ice screws but the quality of the ice is not good.

There is still climbing on the S side of the Aiguille du Midi. Not much activity on the S side of the Lachenal because you have to abseil.


Plan de l'aiguille

No changes, the refuge is open until 31 October.


Mont Blanc by the Aiguille du Goûter

The Bellevue cable car and the Mont Blanc Tramway are open until 18 September.

The refuges remain open until the beginning of October.

The couloir remains dry but the cool nights guarantee a good refreeze. Crossing the couloir at the right time will reduce rockfall risk.

The glacial parts are in reasonable condition (beware of snow bridges). 


Dômes de Miage/Bionnassay

The Durier refuge closed on 31 August. The Aiguille de Bionnassay and back is not too bad. The E ridge is very narrow, sometimes “a cheval".

The Plan Glacier hut closes on Saturday 10 September.

The Conscrits hut is open until 24 September.

No one on the Dômes de Miage but still some activity on the Aiguille de la Bérangère and back.


Italian side of Mont Blanc

The Monzino refuge closes on 18 September. From Monday 12, access may be disrupted due to work on the Freney bridge and it may be necessary to leave from the Peuterey campsite.

A major landslide/ice fall makes access to the Boccalate hut complicated. (See photo below).

A photo-diagram showing the ice fall and how it has made access to the Boccalate hut more difficult.


Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




2022 Albert Mountain Award Winners Announced

2022 Albert Mountain Award Winners Announced

The King Albert I Memorial Foundation have announced that the recipients of the Albert Mountain Award for 2022 are German climber Bernd Arnold, Belgian alpinist Sophie Lenaerts, long-distance hiker Nam Nan-hee from South Korea and The Society for Ecological Research in Munich.

The foundation, registered in Zurich, honours people or institutions that have achieved outstanding and lasting merit through their achievements in an area related to the mountains. The Albert Mountain Award is presented every two years.

The ceremony for the 2022 awards will take place on 23 September in the Swiss Alpine Museum in Bern where there will also be the opportunity for attendees to view the current Korean exhibit: 'Let's Talk About Mountains'.


Nam Nan-hee

Bernd Arnold

Sophie Lenaerts