Sunday, Jul 14, 2024

Duncan Bush Article

The Truth of Climbing Mt Blanc as a complete but fit novice, by Duncan Bush – June 2011.

Firstly we failed our attempt to reach the summit despite our fitness, strength of mind or equipment.  Initially we thought the weather would prevent us from reaching the top, however in the end it was altitude, just 350 odd meters vertically from the summit, perhaps another 1-1.5 hours of walking, therefore don’t under estimate this challenge!

In reflection of our attempt I hope the following helps any aspiring accent of Mt Blanc, my intention isn’t to put you off, perversely my intention is to inspire you as Mt Blanc is beautiful mountain, as with the experience, a genuine life tick, however there is so much crap on the internet that both makes the ascent seem easy, “a long walk” for instants.

You’ll no doubt be spending hard earned money on this trip, therefore spend it wisely by putting in the training as with genuinely understanding the risks and the effort needed.

To anyone considering the climb of Mt Blanc from a novice perspective I have the following 5 points to consider:

  1. What are you looking to achieve and are you truly comfortable with the risk, there is NO escape route or quick exit, once you commit you commit and the dangers ARE REAL regardless of statistics and stories, it can happen and it could happen to you. We witnessed this first hand.
  2. Are you prepared, don’t pretend a walk each morning with the dog for 30 mins is enough, this is a tough climb, you might think your mentally strong enough to push on through and the body will follow, I also believe everyone can run 20 miles tomorrow regardless of training, however what will be the damage to your body the following day….take fitness seriously, if anything if you’re a few pounds lighter it’s less to carry which doesn’t seem a big deal, but just trust me on this, less is more!.
  3. Can you cope with long long days of methodically, monotonous and arduous walking.  Make sure you prepare, although the likes for Ben Nevis or Sca Fell Pike are babies in comparison do them with a heavy 20-30lb pack, in your chosen boots, don’t just put this off and have the “it will be alright on the night” attitude.
  4. Take a training course in Scotland or Wales.  In fact I’d say this is one of the most important points.  You use SO much energy concentrating on just walking and climbing, it’s no different to roller skating if you’ve never done it and you wouldn’t just put skates on without practice and take to the M1 would you!  Do a course, it will not only give you some of the skills needed, it will also help prepare you mentally for the isolation, risk and height!
  5. Employ a recommended guide, safety is paramount, a kamikaze approach is fine if you are that way inclined, however there are much better ways to die, so take it seriously.  It’s clear many companies out there capitalize on the commercials over the experience, therefore spend the extra with someone who instils trust and safety, more so actually offers more chance of achieving your goal in a safe way.  You’ll be spending a lot of time with your guide so my advice is to treat it as finding a friend.

Good luck, might even see you up there!


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