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'Alpine Glacier Travel'

Martin Chester, British Mountain Guide

Senior Instructor Martin Chester gives a more indepth view of Alpine Glacier Travel

 

Stunning views from the high alpine pathwaysCutting a swathe through the highest peaks, and the most dramatic scenery, the glaciers really are the highways of the Alps. A slow moving sea of ice, they can provide a relatively tranquil way to walk through the jagged chaos of alpine scenery. Of course, where they dip, accelerate or bend, they can shatter into dramatic crevasses, seracs and icy blue towers that add to the wild beauty of the mountains. As long as you are in the right places, all you need is a basic grasp of crampon technique, to "get to grips" with these icy motorways. Most people can quickly gain the required skill with ice axe and crampons, judging the terrain may require a little help:

The Alpine "Glacier Trek" is the connoisseurs' choice of all our alpine courses. Safe travel on ice and glaciers gives access to a lifetime of journeys amongst the most majestic peaks. Our experienced team of mountain guides have been travelling over glaciers for many years. Making use of these icy corridors between the peaks, to access some of the most inhospitable places in the world. This affinity with the ice, has made us respect and understand the places to savour, and the places to avoid amongst the dramatic surroundings. Far from the loose rock, and the exhausting pace of hard alpine climbs, this is a world of silent travel and inspiring views.

The skills required to travel on glaciers are a fundamental for any alpinist. Whether you intend to continue your career to climb or scramble to the summits, or whether you are content to enjoy the beauty of the glaciers in their own right, these are important skills. The use of crampons, travelling on a rope but more importantly, the respect  for the hidden dangers beneath the snows, and the skills to deal with it. On an Alpine Glacier trek you will learn, and use, all these important fundamentals and more.

a view from a mountain hut on a beautiful sunny alpine day with clear blue skiesTo travel on the glaciers in the early morning is an experience to behold. Leaving the comfort of a hut before dawn; roping up as the first hints of a new day tint the sky. The crisp bite and crunch of crampon points in the firm snow of the morning. Working together as a team, you rely on each other to look after the rope as you make your way - silently with the anticipation of a new day. The sun strikes the highest tops and the steely blue world becomes aflame with warmth and colour.

The snow starts to soften as you make your way through the sun-kissed splendour. Majestic peaks glide by as the view unfolds. Thankful of an early start you reach your journeys end as the early afternoon softens the snow to a hindrance. The comfort of a hut beckons. Not for you the steep descent, the return to the valley, yours is a world of ice and snow, where one can stay in comfort for days at a time. These huts, nestling amongst the peaks, provide a comfy base to savour the afternoon sun, as you relax, re-hydrate and reap the rewards of your efforts. Soon, a hearty meal and an early night will be yours, before doing it all again tomorrow.

 

I have never yet failed to be impressed by the views and the beauty of a glacier trek, and find it a great way to explore new areas. Having devoted many years to exploring the nooks and crannies of the Alps, the best way to explore is on skis in winter, and trekking in the summer. Just when you think you are "crossing an area off your list" you always seem to spy several good reasons to return. Far from getting shorter, the more you see, the longer the "must see" list grows.

 


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