Saturday, 10 August 2013

Moscow July 2013 – 3rd to 7th

The spiritual, political and economic capital of the world’s largest country.  In recent years Moscow has blossomed into a culinary capital so that restaurant lovers have unlimited opportunities to enjoy diverse and delicious cuisine in elaborate and exotic surroundings.  There is also a wealth and variety of architecture to be seen.  There are over 80 museums offering a fascinating insight into the history and culture of the people of Russia.  The city has the largest and most efficient metro in the world.  We got totally lost in our attempt to get to our hotel! Over 3 million cars clog the city’s streets and all of these move at very fast speed.  There are upwards of 11 million people living in Moscow, making it the world’s 17th largest city by population.  16% of the population live below the poverty line.

The good news is that Moscow is no longer the most expensive city in the world; the bad news is that it is still pretty close!  Drinking in particular is expensive as all bars sell foreign beers and we found local beer difficult to find.

Most of the city’s sights are situated in the city centre.  Moscow’s suburbs are generally rather bleak; thus a city centre hotel was our choice and in choosing Arbat House Hotel, located at 13 Skatertny, Pereulok - (M) Arbatskaya - we found a good ordinary hotel in an excellent location with nice and helpful staff.  We also enjoyed breakfasts each morning.

The weather was very hot and one afternoon there was a violent thunder storm lasting a couple of hours.  As we were leaving the airport to fly home there was another thunderstorm and our flight was on the runway for a period of two hours.

In July many Muscovites retreat to their Dachas. 

Inner City
The inner city is broken into 7 areas:
  • Arbatskaya  “Arbat” & Khamovniki
  • Red Square, Kremlin and Kitay Gorod – ancient part of the city.
  • Zamoskvoreche – south of the river and a very beautiful area.
  • Tverskoy
  • Presnya
  • Basmanny & Taganka
  • Dorogomilovo & Sparrow Hills.

Key Attractions
  • Kremlin (Fortress).  This ancient fortress is the founding site in Moscow and the ultimate symbol of political power in Russia.  Only certain parts of the residence of the Russian President can be seen so early arrival is needed:
    • State Armoury
    • Cathedral of the Assumption
    • Ivan the Great’s Bell Tower.
  • Red Square – a vast expanse that accommodated huge military parades during the Soviet area.  Electrifying is perhaps the best word to describe the Sq. and it is also essential to view at night when lit up.  What attractions should you visit?
    • Historical Museum
    • St Basil’s Cathedral – a wonderful building.  Entrance fee 250rr.
    • Resurrection Gate ( most impressive at night when lit up)
    • Lenin Mausoleum ( Leader of Russia’s Historic 1917 Revolution) (Free)
    • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
  • Moscow River Cruise – the Moskva Mockba winds through the heart of the city.  Main pick up point is opposite Kievskey station.  Moscow River Line is the main company running these cruises.  We did the full river cruise and very much enjoyed it.
  • Tretyakov Gallery (World Class) – art gallery.  ( Go to Tretya- Kovskaya Metro)
  • Explore Old Arbat – lively pedestrianised area
  • Red October – now refurbished as the City’s hottest art and entertainment centre.
  • Shopping at Izmailovo.  The Kremlin in Izmailovo is a Disney-like medieval village.  Wander among the stalls of the sprawling market (The Vernisage Market).
  • Visit an “Old Circus” performance
  • Gorky Park (297 acres) – the city’s most famous park.  An alternative is Alexander Gardens.
  • Former KGB HQ at Lubyanka Sq.  We visited the building and took photographs.
  • Peter the Great monument – a 95 metre-high, monstrously kitsch waterfront homage to the founder of the Russian navy.  You pass by it on the river cruise.
  • Bolshoy Theatre  Teatralnaya Metro or buses 2,12,33 or trolley bus K
  • GUM – largest Department Store – this is a fascinating place.
  • Sanduny Baths.  Moscow’s oldest bathhouse.  The BANYA is a uniquely Russian experience – a hot steam bath, while gaining a beating with birch branches helps to improve circulation.  Alas we did not have the time to do this.
  • Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.  On our first visit we had shorts on and were not allowed in so when we returned next day we had our trousers on and enjoyed our visit.  The building is impressive and is one of the most prominent features of Moscow’s skyline.
  • Revolution Sq
  • Cycle – only safe leisurely routes are along the Mosskva and Yauza rivers.  The car is king in Moscow but there are plans to increase cycling and this is happening.  Bike hire at Gorky Park or from Oliver Bikes –
  • Day trip from Moscow to visit Suzdal.  This medieval capital is well worth seeing – described as a fairy-tale setting.  There is an abundance of ancient architecture gems and a decidedly rural atmosphere.  Again alas we did not make it.

Cyrillic Alahabet
It would be helpful to understand this, especially on the underground.  On the underground there are no English signs.

Here I linked in restaurants, bars and cafes into our suggested itinerary so that we knew where we could eat and drink.

Drinking is a favourite national pastime in Russia and the city offers venues for every occasion, mood and season.  Moscow arguably is the most dynamic and diverse city for drinking and nightlife in the world.  Pedestrian streets like ul Arbat and Kamergersky per are hot spots for strollers and drinkers. 

There is also a new concept – the Club-Café with “diverse offerings” under one roof.
  • Café Pushkin Tverskoy bul 26a (M) Pushkinskaya (Inner Presnya) meals R1,500-2,000 Exquisite blend of Russian and French cuisines – service and food done to perfection.
  • Bosco Café Krasnaya pl 3 (K&KG) Café within Gum store (1st fl) is the only place to sit right on Red Sq. (Special experience).
  • Stolooaya 57 within Gum store (3rd fl) meals R300-400.  Old style where food is both good and cheap.  Great place to try “herring in a fur coat” – which is herring, beats, carrots and potatoes.

  • Ragout Bolshaya Gruzinskaya ul 69 (M) Belorusskaya meals R800-1,200. Vibe is cool with food choices creative.
  • Petrovich  Myasnitskaya ul 24/1 (M) Chistye Prudy  Popular retro restaurant.  Face control so it is recommended to book a table. Tel 495-923-0082.
  • Bar Strelka Bersenevskaya nab 5 Bldg 14 (M) Kropotkinskaya. (Zamoskvorechie) Roof terrace unbeatable for views of Moscow River with an excellent bar menu.  Nr Red October complex.  We went here on three occasions and enjoyed it.
  • Barashka ul Petrovka 20/1 (M) Teatralnaya meals R1,500-2,000.
  • Stolle  Malaya Pirogovskaya ul 16 (M) Sportivnaya  Full sit down menu but specialises in tasty saxon pies.
  • Genatsvale on Arbat ul Novy Arbat 11 meals R600-1,000. Georgian cuisine.  Good for lamb dishes and cheesy bread – Khachapuri.  We did visit but did not eat but a lovely restaurant inside.
  • Grably  Pyatnitskaya ul 27 (M) Novokuznetskaya. R200-300 Amazing array of fish, poultry and meat. Bar for wine and beer upstairs.  Wonderful setting with tiled floors, wrought-iron rails and chandeliers on two levels.
  • Best Eat Streets:
    • Ulitsa Petrovka (Tverskoy)
    • Spiridonievsky pereulok (Presnya)
    • Kamergersky pereulok (Tverskoy)
    • Tverskaya Ulitsa (Tverskoy)

Tips – 10% is the standard.
Be aware of “Face Control” – common practice of denying entry to clubs and bars based on a person’s appearance.

Beer (Pivo) is the City’s most popular alcoholic drink.  Russky Standard and Stolichnaya are two good brands of vodka.  Vodka shots are popular!! 

Rouble.  5 denominations with face values of 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 roubles.  Coins – 1, 2, and 5 roubles.  1, 5, 10, & 50 kopeks. 

Alfa Bank and Sberbank offer best rates.  The cash dispensers at Alfa Bank take Visa and Mastercard and charge no local commission, making them a popular option with visitors.

GMT + 3hrs. 

Avg July temp 18c (64f).  Each day we had temperatures over 90f.

Filling in the visa application form is some taxing exercise as you are asked which countries you have visited over the last 10 years and a whole lot of other background information that makes no sense as why it is required.  Again it is a costly process costing us in the region of £130 each.  We used the Russian National Tourist Office at 202 Kensington Church Street, London.  Tel: 020 79851234 – website:  The application takes some two weeks + to process.

Are approx an hour from city centre by train or car.  All three airports are accessible by the convenient Aeroexpress trains –

We took the areoexpress from Domodedovo airport to Paveletskaya the expresses’ terminus costing us 320rr each.  We then went on the underground costing us 30rr each.  On the way back we took a taxi from our hotel to Paveletskaya which cost us 250rr each.  Unless you know what you are doing on the underground I would not recommend as it is an extremely busy place.

Flight time from Manchester 3.5hrs.

Street Names
bul – boulevard
nab – embankment
per – lane or side street
pl – square
pr – avenue
ul – street
sh – highway.
The Arbat –ul Arbat is one of Moscow’s oldest streets dating back to the 15th Century.

Moscow Metro
This is one of the busiest and most efficient metro networks in the world and one of the sprawling city’s great assets.  Stations are tourist attractions where concourses and station platforms resemble miniature palaces with chandeliers, sculptures and lavish mosaics.  Most reliable way of travelling in the city:
·       9,300 trains operate per day carrying 8-9m passengers (more than London and New York systems combined)
·       165 stations and 265kms (155m) of track
·       Construction began in Dec 1931 and is still expanding
·       Pay extra for heavy bags etc
·       Metro lines are colour coded and numbered from 1-10.
·       All signs are in Cyrillic
·       When changing lines at an interchange station it is important to know the name of the station on the other line.
·       Tickets are sold for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, or 60 rides.  The fare for a single journey is a flat rate, whether it is a couple of stops or the length of the network. This is R28 I think. It is possible to change as many times as you wish.
·       Tickets are purchased from a Kacca, the counter being situated just inside the metro station.  A multiride card can be gained for slightly cheaper fares.
·       Can get very crowded at peak travelling times.  Trains run from 6am until 1am.
·       There are extensive bus, trolleybus and tram routes.
·       Tickets must be inserted into the punching machine to be valid.

We were advised that mosquitoes were a problem but we did not find this.  We had no problems at all.

Wi-fi is readily available and is almost always free. – restaurant reviews – exchange rates
Facebook page – Secret Moscow.

Other Information
·       UK Embassy – 495-956-7200  Smolenskaya nab 10 (M) Smolenskaya
·       Universal Emergency No – 112
·       Electricty  220V/50HZ
·       Pharmacies Chain 36.6 uL Novy Arbat 15  (M) Arbatskaya
·       To call internationally from Moscow dial 810 plus the country code (7), the city code (495) and phone no.
·       Publications – Moscow Times, Passport Magazine and Element.
·       Police Officers have the right to stop anyone to check their documents and they do exercise it.  Do not hand over Passport.  Perfectly acceptable to show photocopies of documents.  Again we were never asked for identification.

We enjoyed our few days exploring the centre of the City.  Highlights were the Kremlin and Red Square areas which we visited twice.  We were impressed with so many beautiful and interesting buildings.  Going on the river cruise was another highlight as we saw so much of the city and you are permitted to go off at river stops and come back on again provided you are doing the full trip.

Negatives for us:
·       The complicated visa application form which had to be completed online.
·       The high cost of the visa – totally unnecessary in our opinion.
·       All hotels are costly.
·       Food and drink is also expensive.

Fraser Mackay
31st July, 2013

A fast tour of Europe - 13th to 23rd July 2013

Having successfully undertaken our trek in Nepal in October/November 2012 Paul Hodges and I choose Mont Blanc 4810m as our next challenge and an invite to Tim Blakemore (our Leader in Nepal) to be our guide was despatched as he has intimate knowledge of the Alps, living in Les Houches.  He provided us with a quote for his expert services and this was accepted by us.

Six days of our eleven day break was allocated to our mountain challenge, with acclimatisation firstly on Gran Paradiso 4061m and Becca di Monciair 3544m in Italy before moving back to Chamonix and allocating three days to the ascent/decent.  James Whittaker a friend was to be joining us for the ascent of Gran Paradiso and Becca di Monciair. Tim came up with a suitable agenda for our mountain quest but this was not cast in stone as the ever changing weather patterns in the high mountains would at the end of the day dictate what we would do and this turned out to be the case. 

Our Long Journey
This started in Capel Curig with Paul picking me up in Chester at 1pm on Saturday 13th July.  We made excellent time and we arrived at our hotel in Ashford at 6pm.  It was an early rise, 2.45am and away at 3.30am next morning as we were on the Euro tunnel Shuttle at Folkestone for the first train at 4.35am, arriving in France at 6.10am.  It was a foggy morning for the first hour or so of our journey and then it cleared up and became a warm sunny day as we made good progress on our way to Geneva (1.30pm) with our end destination being Chamonix.

We arrived in this lovely town at 2.30pm and as we had not booked we stopped at the first hotel we liked - L’Oustalet - and the hotel was able to accommodate us.  This proved to be an excellent choice with good accommodation, food and such friendly and helpful staff.  Breakfasts were so relaxing and enjoyable.  We stayed a total of three separate nights at the hotel.  At 7pm we met up with James, Tim and Tim’s girlfriend Tams to discuss the intended climbs and acclimatisation program.  It was agreed that Tim would meet us at 9am next morning and that we would head for the Valsa Varenche valley in Italy.

Our six days on the mountains begins
Next morning we were away on time and we made a couple of stops for coffee and to get some food for our lunch.  At 12noon we were ready to start our steep climb up to the Rifugio F. Chabod at 2750m (a climb of 916m) and we arrived there at 2.45pm with Tim being pleased with our initial performance.  We spent a relaxing time at this enjoyable refuge with such pleasant staff.  Our pleasing evening meal was at 7pm.

Tuesday morning saw up for breakfast at 4am and we were all geared up and away for 4.45am.  It was dark for the first hour so we had head torches on.  On arriving at the glacier we stopped to put our crampons on and a long steep glacier ascent of 1300m lay ahead of us before we reached the top.  Again our ascent went well and we reached the top at 9.30am in lovely sunny weather conditions.  Today we were returning to a different refuge – Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele at 2732m and we were there for 1.15pm.  Again we spent a relaxing afternoon and evening in the mountain hut.  That evening we experienced a massive thunder storm that lasted most of the evening and into the night.

Paul, James and Tim were up for 5am next morning to climb Becca di Monciair 3544m, reaching the top at 6.30am.  They reached the summit at around 9.30am after a climb of some 822m.  On the way back they altered their route to avoid waist deep snow and had to negotiate a very demanding boulder field together with three river crossings before getting back to the refuge at 12 noon.  It was then a decent down to the valley bottom some 772m below to collect Tim’s car and drive back to Chamonix where Tim was to undertake a detailed check of the weather forecast.  On the way back we passed through a massive landslide which had just had a single track cleared to let cars through.

It was frightening to think about being there when this mass of earth and stones came down from the high mountains above during the thunder storm the night before.

At 4.30pm when we got back to Chamonix it started raining which was followed by thunder and lightening and this lasted for a few hours.  We said our goodbyes to James who wished us all the best of fortunes on Mont Blanc and it was agreed that we would meet up with Tim in Les Houches later in the evening to go over his thoughts as to how we best tackle Mont Blanc with our main aim being to “Summit”.

On meeting up with Tim the weather forecast going forward was not good with thunder and lightening storms forecast particularly on the Friday but forecasting Saturday (the day of our final ascent) to be good.  With this news before him Tim did not want to risk the Pope Route out of Italy and he opted for the Gouter Route starting in Les Houches.

Paul went for an early morning run on Thursday morning as he did most mornings and we went for breakfast at 8am.  I wrote postcards and caught up with e-mails and we vacated the hotel at 11.30am.  We were meeting Tim in Les Houches for 3.30pm and then taking the cable car to Gare de Bellevue and then onto the Mont Blanc Tramway (the highest rack-and-pinion railway in France) and then a short walk to our accommodation for the evening at Le Nid d’Aigle Refuge at 2372m.  Another group of three French men were staying the night in this small hut with us.  Again it was a pleasant stay with good food and a helpful and pleasant gentleman looking after the place with his dog and cat for company.  We could see the Gouter Hut high above us in the cloud.

Friday 19th July saw us leave the hut at 6.45am after breakfast and our destination for the day was the Gouter Hut some 1445m, very steep above us.  At the Tete Rousse Hut 3167m we fitted our crampons to cross the Tete Rouse glacier and it was then a very quick crossing of the Grand Couloir.  Rocks and ice regularly sweep down this snow and ice gully so it is essential that your way across it is clear and that you look up the gully for falling stones as you rapidly cross. We then took off our crampons and scrambled up the Aiguille du Gouter ridge arriving at the Gouter Hut 3817m at 10:30am.  This was a busy place although not totally full and we took the opportunity to share a large bowl of spaghetti Bolognese, drink plenty of water and rest through the course of the afternoon.  An evening meal was served at 6pm before going to bed at 8pm and once again resting, but like others not sleeping as an early 2am breakfast and thoughts of the ascent/decent tomorrow prominent in all our minds.  There was a storm outside and the earlier rain had turned into snow.

At 1:40am I was out of my bunk (twelve of us were in the room) made sure Paul was awake and we met Tim for breakfast at 2am.  We were all roped up with crampons and head torches on at 2.30am and away in an upwards direction we went, the moon bright above us.  There had been a fresh fall of snow overnight but underfoot conditions were okay.  We ascended up to the top of Aiguille du Gouter 3863m and then steeply up to the top of the Dome du Gouter 4304m.  This went on and on and I thought I was never going to get to the top – thank goodness it was in darkness!  We were then on the top for a short duration and then a welcomed small decline before tackling the ascent to the Abri Vallot Shelter 4362m.  This is a small and very basic bivouac hut generally for use in emergencies.  Here we stopped for some water and something to eat.  Another day was about to dawn and ahead of us we could see the Bosses Ridge and at its base the Dromedary’s Humps.  You firstly go over the Grande Bosse 4513m and then the Petite Bosse 4547m.  This was an “airy” very narrow steep ridge with massive falls on either side so you were very much aware of the exposure and you needed to concentrate very hard.  Paul later informed me that his concerns going up the ridge were that he would be leading the three of us down it in the near future. Tim assured us we were doing well and we were very near the top.  The top 4810m is a massive “whaleback” which has been covered in ice and snow for three million years +. 

At 6am we reached the top just as the sun was rising and casting a red glow and shadow of this massive mountain across the lands to the west.  It was ever so cold but just a magical moment as the photographs taken reveal.  We did not stay too long on the top and stopped for something to eat and drink at the Abri Vallot Shelter.  The enormity of the Dome du Gouter

was seen on our descent.  By 8.15am we were back at the Gouter Hut with our mission successfully accomplished and Tim totally pleased as to our overall performance.

After picking up a few things that we left behind in the hut (to lighten our rucksacks for the climb) we commenced our hard scramble down the route we had taken up and with the overnight fall of snow this made the descent much harder.  However with Tim’s guidance we made it to the Grand Couloir (where small rocks were beginning to fall) and we put on our crampons, had a good look to see that no rocks were falling and that the way was clear – we raced across. 

As we reached the other side we crouched down as we heard a shot from the ridge above warning that stones were again falling but I am pleased to say none came in our direction.  We then passed over a short stretch of rocks before coming to the Tete Rousse glacier and here again small rocks were falling as we made a speedy descent across the glacier.  At the Tete Rousse Hut we removed our crampons and we had near two hours to get to get to our train at e Nid d’Aigle.  We reached the train station at 1.10pm, with our train being at 1:40pm – we had been on the go for a demanding eleven hours.  Leaving the tram we had a final 30 minute steep climb to catch our cable car.

The cable car from Gare de Bellevue took us down to Le Houches and a debriefing session with Tim before we said our goodbyes.  We were back at our hotel for 5pm to change and then to go out on the town for an evening meal and to celebrate.  We went back to Neapolis an Italian restaurant which we had been to before and enjoyed an excellent meal.

Our sightseeing continues
Sunday morning saw us leave for Strasbourg at 11pm.  We were heading through Italy, Switzerland, Germany and back across the border into France again.  From Chamonix we headed North West on the N506 and went over Col de la Forclaz at 1527m. Then we descended spectacularly down to Martigny in Switzerland before taking the E62 north that leads onto the E27 at Montreux on Lake Geneva.  At Bern we took the E25 to Bassel and from Bassel the E35 to Strasbourg and to our hotel, a Novotel, Centre Halles, which proved excellent, in the centre of this lovely city.  It was then out to see the city by the river and canals, Petite France and the area around the cathedral.  The receptionist at the hotel had recommended the Maison Kammerzell by the cathedral and we had a wonderful dinner there and at the same time watched with delight the lighting display to a classical soundtrack on this unique cathedral building.

Monday morning saw us going out for breakfast and another walk around the centre of the city.  At 11am we were away once again bound for the Moselle (Mosel) Valley, where Paul had bought wine a few years before and wanted to find the same vineyards once again.  Our route by passed Frankfurt before entering the Mosel valley at Koblenz.  We travelled up this lovely and scenic valley to Treis-Karden where wine was purchased from two separate growers, both of whom Paul had purchased wine from back in 2004.  It was a very hot day and we had lunch at the hotel – restaurant, Moselblick in the same town.  We took great delight in watching large and heavy barges go up and down the river.

At around 5.30pm we drew up at a residence in Piesporter, where Paul had stayed before, but alas the place was closed.  We did try several other hotels and residences taking in quests but we were out of luck as all the places we tried were full.  The valley is so popular with cyclists, we saw them everywhere.  What a wonderful holiday sampling wines the length of this long valley on your bike with no fear of being breathalysed!

Eventually we found a hotel in Trittenheim, not the best bedrooms we stayed in, but the breakfast was good with attentive staff.  The guy who showed us round and took our bookings was totally abrupt.  Had we not been tired we might have found accommodation elsewhere!

We were all packed up and away at 9am as we had a long journey home.  This would take us out of Germany, through Luxembourg, Belgium, by passing Brussels and into France and on to Calais.  We were booked on the 16.20pm shuttle back to Folkestone but in arriving at 2:00pm we were allotted a space on the 2:52pm train but alas it was delayed and we left at 3.47pm getting into Folkestone at 4.22pm (UK time).  Thus when we reached the M25 it was busy and with a broken down vehicle there were long queues.  Once gaining the M40 we made good progress and stopped at Oxford for a short break.  It was a drop off for me in Chester at 8.30pm with Paul then travelling to Dolgellau and getting home at 10pm.

We had done a massive 2,150 miles in all and 36 hours in driving time.  With Paul’s excellent driving we never went wrong once. 

Our massive adventure was over with total success.  A massive thank you to Tim for successfully getting us to the tops of the mountains, just a massive achievement for both of us. Like our trek in Nepal this was a great shared experience.  It was good to meet up with James again and see him perform well on the two mountains he climbed.

Fraser Mackay
31st July 2013    

Mont Blanc & Gran Paradiso - Kit and other issues

We put a lot of effort into getting our kit right and gaining knowledge of what lay before us in attempting to acclimatise on Gran Paradiso 4061m and Becca di Monciair 3544m and then undertake a three day assault of Mont Blanc at 4810m.  We read various articles and books on the Alps to make us best prepared for the massive challenge that lay ahead.

Having got to the top with guidance from our ace guide -Tim Blakemore - we can reflect and realise why many fail in their attempts:
  • The ever changing weather
  • The difficulties of the climbs which ever route to the top
  • Very icy and narrow ridges
  • Not adequate acclimatisation.

 The weather is a major factor as we found out and we had to change our routes due to prevailing weather conditions.  Mont Blanc can be blanketed by cloud know as “the donkey” (l’ane).  Thus extreme winter conditions may be raging around the summit with violent winds, when below this the sun could be shinning.  Even on a sunny day a strong northerly wind can bar excess to these high and steep narrow summit ridges.

Key to success is having an experienced guide with an intimate knowledge of the mountain.

A listing is attached.  This took into account that we might encounter bad weather and just because it was the month of July this did not mean we were guaranteed sunshine.

Coming all the way from the north of England it was important that we got our kit right.  We did this by splitting our kit into three parts:
  • A kit bag
  • Rucksack for our mountain gear
  • Separate bag for casual clothes/toilet bag.

It is essential that you keep your rucksack as light as possible for the ascent day.  While on Mont Blanc we were returning to the same mountain refuge so we were able to leave items we did not need on the day behind in a plastic box and collect this on our decent.  Kit is very personal and what is right for one may differ for another.

  • Before the climb
Absorb as much carbohydrate (pasta, rice, etc) as you can the evening before the climb.  The storage of glycogen is more efficient in the recovery phase after exercise.  Eat lightly before the strenuous effort of the climb itself.
  • During the climb
Top up your energy levels at every opportunity.  We had one litre of water, SIS energy gels, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, sweets (jelly babies) and sandwiches.  Wear the right clothes and move at the right speed to limit water loss due to sweating.
  • After the climb
Eat a lot of carbohydrates during the evening meal.  Drink a lot.
  • Snack Foods (for the climbs and huts)
Take snack foods you like eating.  When the effects of altitude are combined with tiredness, it is much easier and comforting to eat something you like.
Refuge Huts
We stayed in four of these huts which provide mattresses, blankets and pillows.  They also provide meals, drinks, crockery and cutlery.  We found the food good although breakfasts are very basic.  On arriving you take of your boots and use a pair of slippers provided.  Take your ice axe, walking poles and helmet and place these in a box in the locker room.  Some leave their rucksacks here as well but we took ours to be beside our bunks.  The two refuge huts we stayed in Italy did have showers.

What are the risks?
  • Lack of stamina – you need to work hard to gain mountain fitness before the challenge.
  • Insufficient acclimatisation – we climbed two mountains before Mont Blanc.
  • Cold.  When the wind is strong especially on the summit ridges, cases of frostbite to the face are quite common.  Thus every bit of skin must be covered.  Neck buff and balaclava.  Appropriate gloves and boots are needed.  Superficial frostbite to the cornea, which is caused by strong side winds and leads to blurred vision, will be prevented by wearing ski goggles.
  • Sunburn.   It is essential to wear category IV sunglasses with side pieces.  The skin and lips must be protected with high protection factor sun cream (at least SPF 30) applied say every two hours.
  • Eyes.  If wearing lenses make sure these are the best possible for oxygen flow and apply suitable eye lotion to keep them moist.

Insurance Cover
Make sure you have adequate insurance cover in place encase something goes wrong and you need to be rescued

Kit Listing

Waterproof Jacket with hood
Soft Shell Jacket
700 fill packable down jacket
Summer Fleece
1 Merino Base Layer L/Sleeve
Merino Base Layer S/Sleeve
Waterproof over-trousers
2 x Trekking Trousers
1 x Shorts
1 x Warm Longjohns
3 x Underpants/Compression Pants
2 Pairs Thick Walking Socks
2 Pairs Liner Socks
1 Pair Mid Thickness Socks (for Plastic Boots)
Buff & balaclava
Inner Gloves
Outer Gloves
Black Diamond Double Mitts
Plastic Climbing Boots/La Sportiva/Scarpas
or mountaineering boots - warm and suitable for crampons
Trail Shoes
Mountaineering Equipment

Ice Axe

Crampons with anti-balling


Walking Poles with Snow Feet


2 X Screw Gate Caribiners


Guide will have the rope etc. to

ensure you are safe

Sleeping Kit

Silk Liner

Head Torch & Spare batteries

Kit Bags & Contents

40/50/60L Ruck Sack

Kit Bag

Hand Luggage



Assortment of Dry Bags



First Aid Kit

Spare Laces

Hand & Feet Warmers

2 x I Litre Water Bottles

Multi tool knife or pen knife

Camera, Batteries & Charger

Mobile Phone, Batteries & Charger

Plastic Rubbish Bags


Waterproof Note Pad & Pencil

Hygiene & Medicinal

Sun Cream- at least SPF30

Lip Salve

Compeed Plasters


Cleansing Gel

Toiletery Bag etc.

Toilet Roll/Paper

Wet Wipes

Diamox Tablets


Imodium or similar

Spare eye lenses

Eye lotion

Hand Mirror

Optional Items



31st July 2013

Asturian House

Remote Emergancy Care

Henry Garcia Tours Madeira

Henry Garcia Tours Madeira
Henry at your Service

Homestay at Evans Bay New Zealand

Rachid Imerhane

Rachid Imerhane
Guide & Organizer of Treks - Mountain - Coast - Desert & Imperial Cities

Clashview Kinlochbervie

Clashview Kinlochbervie
Clashview Kinlochbervie





Bayhead Self Catering, Isle of Harris

Bayhead Self Catering, Isle of Harris