Report: 13 January 2022

Some news in this anticyclonic period!

The lifts are open. The snow cover is overall OK. The cold has returned. There is some fog in the plains. An almost "normal" situation for a month of January!

The main activity remains ski touring. Even if the snow cover is good, you have to be careful below 1,600m as here you can easily touch the ground or frozen avalanche debris. Since the last snowfall last weekend, there has been quite a lot of NE wind but in a very localised way. Some areas are trashed while others have remained protected. This is where you have to be good at choosing your route!

As a consequence, you have to be wary of the presence of wind slab here and there. Similarly, the quality of the snow varies greatly from one sector to another (from powder to sastruggi and everything in between)! The southern slopes are starting to warm up. Watch out for the isotherm rising from tomorrow!

All the classic sectors are frequented but we are struggling to get precise feedback, especially on the lower parts of routes (whether you need to carry skis...).

Very good conditions are reported around Les Contamines (around Lac Jovets and Cols Fenêtre, Cicle and Chasseurs). The Roman road is ok and you can ski to the car park. The new refuge des Près is open.


Pointe Noire de Pormenaz from Plaine Joux: The Chorde couloir is ok, wind affected snow above the lac de Pormenaz.


Aiguilles Rouges: The classics are getting tracked.

The traverse between the Col des Crochues and the Col de Bérard is again reserved for good skiers (alternating frozen snow and wind affected snow).


Generally speaking, the Bérard valley remains fairly protected from the wind except at the top: the further down you go, the better it is. On the steep slopes, we were told that there was a lot of ice, which was not recommended according to the feedback we got. The bottom of the valley is relatively easy even if the snow cover is quite poor.

Crampons are useful to access the Pointe Alphonse Favre. The top of the glacier du Mort has very hard snow, 50m side slip necessary; packed powder below.

Quite a lot of tracks at the col and at the brèche de Bérard (very good snow).

Le Buet is tracked without more information.

The col de Beugeant was tracked today. Tracks also on the N side of the Belvedere pass.

The Lac Blanc sector (Col des Dards, Col du Belvédère) and the Col de l'Encrenaz were very affected by the wind.


Loriaz: You can ski from Le Couteray, either by the 4x4 road or the summer path. Pointe des Charmoz and Col de la Terrasse are tracked, good ski conditions.


Bel Oiseau sector: some portage in the forest, good conditions above in the sector. Carraye, croix de Prelaye, pointe Ronde: OK


Bassin d'Argentière sector: Col du Passon tracked, better skiability by going back the same way (lots of wind damage on the Le Tour side even if the snow cover is good).

Col du Tour Noir and Argentière have been tracked.

No activity yet to our knowledge on the Col du Chardonnet/Trois cols.

No one back on the N faces either (Col des Cristaux etc...).


Vallée Blanche: Arête still not equipped (expected early February, to be confirmed) but in fairly good condition (no ice; however, reserved for ski mountaineers). All routes except the "vraie vallée" have been tracked. The snow quality was good at the beginning of the week, the upper part was a bit windy between yesterday and today but it was still quite good. The salle à manger is ok.


One team has been to the Brèche du Tacul with a descent on the Mont Mallet glacier which went quite well on 12/01. Brèche Puiseux tracked today without more information.

The mer de glace is quite dry, you have to be careful not to scratch your skis too much. You can stop at the grotto or continue to Les Mottets (there too there is still a lack of snow). The refreshment bar is open! The descent to Chamonix is OK except for the few turns before the farm where you have to go slowly due to a lack of snow.


A bit of activity on the glacier Rond and the couloir des Cosmiques but only for the elite.


You will scrape your skis on the lower part of the Pré du Rocher.


Concerning the gullies: Regular activity on the side of the Aiguille du Midi (Jottnar; Vent du Dragon), the Triangle du Tacul (Chéré), the E face of the Tacul (Gabarrou-Albinoni/Modica- Noury: be careful with the rimaye which collapsed in part ten days ago), Pointes Lachenal (Pellissier), the Petit Capucin (Valeria gully). Probably some lines formed in the Combe Maudite (Filo D'Arianna...).

Nothing heard from the Argentière basin but there will be soon because of the good weather that is coming!

The return of cold weather has meant that ice falls have reformed! No detailed information but there must be scope on both the rive gauche and the rive droite of the Argentière glacier.


Snow shoeing routes are accessible. The more experienced can go up to the chalets de Chailloux and to the Loriaz refuge (unmarked routes).


Report translated from La Chamoniarde.




Piero Nava

We have recently received from his son the sad news of the death last September of Piero Nava.  He joined in 1973 and became an ACG member in 1986.

Members can log in to submit their tributes or send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that they can be posted on the website. 



Report: 31 December 2021

A brief overview of conditions: the last one of the year!

As expected, the heavy rain (it rained up to at least 2,700m, on top of wet snow) and the wind did some damage.

The quality of the snow for off-piste and ski touring is generally irregular and not very good, sometimes dangerous (breakable crust: for the knees, hard: watch out for injuries). There have been many avalanches which have ravaged cwms (“combes”) and couloirs. The snow cover is still good for the season, you can still skin from the valley floor.

On the northern slopes, the snow is crusty (will it break, won't it?), which hardens as you go up in altitude. Above 2,000m, there is icy snow in places, be careful when it's steep or exposed. It is better above 2,700 m (wind blown, compacted snow, sometimes powdery), with for example some good turns at the top of the Vallée Blanche. The latter is more than ever suitable only for very good skiers in these conditions (sometimes very hard snow) and with mountaineering skills (Midi arete still not equipped, early season glacial conditions).

On sunny slopes, you can find a little spring snow that softens in the sun but you have to aim right (the right time, the right altitude). Otherwise it's “croute” (crust) but without the “fromage” :) which is tough on body and soul. The refreeze is limited to the surface of the snowpack and you must not be too late (wet snow slides).

In short, ski touring and off-piste skiing at the moment are for good skiers and those who know how to find the best conditions. And don't forget your “couteaux” (ski crampons)!

For the rest, you can always go up by the marked routes and go down by the pistes!

Everyone will find a way to enjoy the good weather and the mountains!

Reagarding the goulottes, we don't have any feedback yet, you will have to take advantage of the good weather forecast and the lack of wind to go and see this weekend. It is possible that you will find even on steep ground crust, fresh snow etc.

The icefalls have been very affected by the rain and the thaw. The managers of the artificial site of Bérard has asked that nobody climbs there until further notice (for safety reasons and to preserve the remaining ice). At the Crémerie, there was already no ice before! Bad conditions also reported on the left bank (Mini Couloir: all dry; Déferlante: a big shower, 1 dry passage...); to be continued!

The marked routes for snowshoeing at the bottom of the valley remain practicable, those at altitude (access via the lifts) will be more pleasant (less icy snow, more open landscapes).

Report translated from La Chamoniarde.




Report: 23 December 2021

Some feedback after this period of good weather.

The main activity has been ski touring. The last snowfall was a while ago. The sun and the wind have had a big effect on the quality of the snow, you will have to be crafty to have a good descent! All the classic itineraries are being done, from les Contamines to the Pointe Ronde. Reasonable snow cover but not always optimal skiability! The only important information is that the crossing between the Crochue and Bérard cols is bullet hard and very exposed. It is therefore reserved for excellent skiers with sharp edges.

As far as the glaciers go, the Aiguille du Midi opened last weekend. The Midi arete is beautiful but very thin, steep and icy, you will need the feet of a mountaineer! Good conditions (here too, variable snow quality, still quite good at the last news on the slopes of Rognon and Petit Envers) on the whole on the Vallée Blanche even if it is reserved for experienced skiers on the glacier (knowledge of the terrain). At the Salle à Manger level, take the lower track which is safer. The descent to Chamonix via the Mottets (refreshment bar open!) is fine. Some skiers have been towards the Brèche Puiseux but bad snow conditions are reported. A bit of activity also on the Argentière side: Col du Passon (bad snow quality on the descent towards the Tour : sastrugi, breakable crust!!!); col du Tour Noir, col d'Argentière.

Some resumption of activity in the gullies. Teams in the Chéré couloir and on the S face of the Pointes Lachenal (no more information), in the Modica-Noury and the Gabarrou- Albinoni (good general conditions but sometimes thin ice, take short ice screws) or on Valéria (last two pitches quite dry). No news from the N face of the Aiguille du Midi (Fil à Plomb, Vent du Dragon...) or the N faces of the Argentière basin. Don't hesitate to give us your feedback!

Ice climbing: You can climb on the left bank (rive gauche) of the Argentière glacier (Mur des Dents de la Mer/Déferlante sector). Crémerie (no ice), EMHM and Ressac in bad conditions. Teams seen on the right bank (rive droite) but no more information (except Mer de Rêve is said to be in good nick). By eye, the cascade des Pétoudes (Trient) could go (not the case for the Loriaz cascades (no refreeze at the hut for a week!).

Report translated from La Chamoniarde.




Polish Team Climb Hard New Route on Uli Biaho Gallery

Polish mountaineers Marcin Tomaszewski and Damian Bielecki have climbed a new route, 'Frozen Fight Club' (A3, M7, 780m), on Uli Baho Gallery in the Pakistan Karakoram, enduring temperatures as low as -32°C over the 11 days of ascent.

Planet Mountain have the full report.





Christmas at Camp II - Holiday Tales from the Mountains

Christmas at Camp II - Holiday Tales from the Mountains

Christmas is a time of year traditionally associated with family and with the process of returning home to warmth and comfort. It is a festival that alleviates the loneliness and the darkness of the cold winter months. What then should we make of those who choose to spend their Christmases away from home in the world’s wild places, where the days may be even shorter and colder than they were at home?

To get an idea of the motivations for heading to the mountains in the holiday season and to discover how mountaineers have marked the festival when far from home, we dug into the Alpine Journal Archive to bring you a series of extracts from Christmas expeditions past. We eat Christmas cake from a helmet, share marzipan on summits and deal with a common Christmas problem; unwanted gifts.

Deciding to Go

Finding partners to join you over Christmas can be challenging. Particularly when you decide to go last minute. This was certainly the case for Michael Binnie when, at the end of December 1990, he made the sudden decision to climb Chimborazo:

“None of my old climbing friends could make it ('if only you'd thought of it earlier'), but nothing was going to stop me - dammit, I would solo Chimborazo if need be - and then I thought of Will Gault. He is 20 years my junior, a City man and, crucially, a bachelor. I rang him at work.
'Doing anything at Christmas?'
'Not really. Anything on?'
'Want to climb a mountain in Ecuador?'
And, after a very short pause, 'Yes, OK.'

Michael was not only successful in securing a partner, but he and Will also made a successful ascent of Chimborazo via the Whymper route. You can read a full account of that trip, including their search for fuel so as to avoid a cold Christmas dinner, here.

And speaking of Christmas dinner…



The weight of equipment and supplies on expeditions is often a matter of great concern. In a 1991 piece, Stephen Venables recalls how an expedition to the island of South Georgia was hampered by its lack of robust equipment:

“Our strategy was to establish a secure base at the Ross pass and from there eventually attempt some climbing. If we had had sufficient sea or air back-up, we would have done better to use heavy pyramid tents and sledges, enabling us to move as a self-contained unit over the glaciers. However, because of limited funds and uncertain transport arrangements, we had opted for a compromise, carrying only lightweight tents and no sledges.”

But this poverty of supplies apparently did not extend to Christmas dinner, for which they appear to have been better supplied than some restaurants:

“We now had to build a new cave, higher up the wall of the wind-scoop. First, down at Royal Bay, we had a late Christmas dinner on 28 December. Marks and Spencer provisions, supplemented by some supplies from Fortnum and Mason, ensured a decent meal of stuffed eggs with caviar, Parma ham and champagne; game soup; goose quenelles with a passable Cabernet Sauvignon; Christmas pudding and whisky butter; port, brandy and Dutch cigars.”

Well-fueled by this, Stephen and team went on to make an ascent of Mount Carse where, appropriately for the Christmas season, they shared a block of marzipan on the summit. You can read the full account of their time on the ‘Islands at the edge of the World’ here.


But a full Christmas dinner is not always so easy to come by, particularly when you are on the mountain, as Paul Fatti and Richard Smithers discovered during their ascent of the East Face of the Central Tower of Paine:

“Bumping across the corner in their cocoons, Paul and Richard were cold, disconsolate and too tired and cramped to cook. It was Christmas Eve and Paul munched Christmas dinner - cold mouthfuls of a squashed pudding. He then plopped it into his crash helmet which he lowered on a piece of string to Richard, hanging below him. The radio call that night from base to the 2 climbers got an understandably poor-humoured response to all the cheery, bleary and well-fed good wishes!”

Happily, Paul and Richard’s suffering was not in vain, and their team were successful in making the first ascent of the face.




Those who travel over the holidays don’t necessarily plan for gift giving, and Dennis Gray had most certainly not planned for the gift he received from two Berber men he met in Morocco who were determined to see him celebrate Christmas "properly":

“When I came out they were still waiting and insisted I went with them to their father's hotel, which was the barest and cheapest I have yet seen in North Africa. After many glasses of mint tea I was allowed to depart, but only after promising that I would return later that night for a special dinner that they would prepare for me, for they knew the importance to us Christians, us Nazarenes, of Christmas Eve.

Surprisingly, despite the Spartan nature of the hotel, the meal was delicious. Conspiratorially, my young Berber acquaintances insisted at its end that I accompany them upstairs. There, waiting for us in the corridor, was the most evil-looking fellow I have yet set eyes on, one-eyed, unshaven and wearing a turban and djbella. It transpired that he was a Kif dealer from the north of the country. My young Berbers wanted to give me a Christmas present, and from the man they obtained a carrier-bag full of the stuff and handed it over. I had not understood their whispers in French, Arabic and Berber, but now I felt in great danger. I had been told how the Kif dealers set tourists up: they unload a pile of the stuff on to you, then go off and warn the police who jump you. If you are caught in possession, you might be fined a large sum, the drug dealers get a reward and it is rumoured that they get the Kif back to start all over again. 'Je ne fume pas', I stammered as I returned the gift. The two young Berbers looked amazed, then a hurt expression came into their faces and they tried to make me take it, but I refused again. They then became agitated and annoyed and ran off down the stairs, leaving me blocked in the corridor with old one-eye. In a few minutes they were back, this time clutching a much smaller bag; evidently they thought I had refused the Kif because there was too much for me to smoke all on my own! Travelling alone can be quite a trial, and I now realized that they were genuine and that I was not being set up. I accepted their gift with trepidation, thanking them from the bottom of my sinking heart, praying they would not insist that we all start smoking the stuff there and then in the corridor, but even they obviously felt that this was too dangerous for me and let me go back to my hotel where, I assured them, I would get liberally 'stoned' behind locked doors."

Dennis’s travels in Morocco make for wonderful reading and you can find out how, after a few close calls, he eventually managed to disposed of the gift in the full article.




Over-indulgence (of legal substances) is a time-honoured Christmas tradition, even for those spending their Christmas in the mountains. Peter Crew was unlucky to miss out on this aspect of the festivities during his expedition to Cerro Torre:

“Christmas was only a few days away, so Fonrouge decided to use the Shell lorry to spend the holiday in Rio Gallegos in a civilised manner, with one of his numerous girl friends. I walked down to the valley with him, to try and buy a sheep for a change of diet. After spending most of Christmas Eve getting hold of the sheep, I eventually arrived back at Base late at night in the pouring rain, to find that the lads had assumed that I had foregone the expedition for the delights of civilisation with Fonrouge - they had eaten our stock of Christmas goodies and drunk all the remaining spirits. At least I had the satisfaction of enjoying a fresh leg of mutton while they were all feeling ill.”

Nick Kekus fared somewhat better during his winter attempt on Nanga Parbat with an Anglo-Polish team, though the limited supply of alcohol on this expedition was more of an issue for some expedition members than others:

“With Camp 2 finally established just before Christmas, some of us thought we would be justified in taking a break from the mountain to celebrate the festive season; others felt we should stay on the mountain, Christmas or not. In the end the weather decided for us. On 24 December, having improved the tent accommodation and fixed a short section of rope above the camp, we retreated back to Base Camp, with the weather deteriorating as rapidly as we were descending. Christmas was a cheerful and high-spirited occasion, though the small quantities of alcohol available were sadly short of the Poles' capacity. However, a visit from our friend Mohammed Ali Chengasi on Christmas Day renewed our interest in the festivities, as the two aid workers he had in tow produced some more booze and Mohammed himself contributed a wonderful array of fruit, sweetmeats and other delicacies.”


A Final Thought

At first glance, the traditions of Christmas and mountaineering may seem antithetical to one another, isolation and privation contrasting with community and comfort. But this is not so. There is a communal heart to both traditions; the act of sharing time, space and experiences with loved ones. This is not just a Christmas experience, but a mountaineering one; as Andrzej Zawada noted when discussing the first winter ascent of Cho Oyu:

“If someone were to ask me which were the most enjoyable moments to remember in the whole expedition, I would answer without hesitation: the wonderful comradeship at Base Camp and on the wall, and on Christmas Eve round our table.”




Kev Reynolds

We are saddened to learn of the death on 10 December of Kev Reynolds, renowned author of Cicerone guidebooks, and a member since 1979.

Members can log in to submit their tributes or send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that they can be posted on the website. 



Report: 17 December 2021

A few bits of information before the weekend and the holidays.

A high pressure system has replaced the unsettled weather of the first half of December and seems to be set to stay for a while. The weather in the mountains is pleasant, with mild temperatures, especially on the sunny slopes.

The snow cover is very good for the season, at least below 3000m and at the bottom of the valley. Above 3000m, it is generally quite dry.

Most of the slopes and lifts will open tomorrow (18/12). You can find the schedule and information here. As we are at the beginning of the season, please beware of rocks off-piste!

The Loriaz, Lognan and Les Prés (les Contamines) huts also open tomorrow.

Generally conditions are good for ski touring even if the snow quality can be variable due to the effects of wind and sun.
Skinning is possible from car parks thanks to good snow cover at the bottom of the valleys.
There is some activity around les Contamines (lacs Jovets, Chasseurs, Cicle etc), on the Aiguillette des Houches, on the Argentière glacier (col des Rachasses, col du Tour Noir: the descent on the left bank of the Argentière glacier is said to be technical with some bits on ice and slabs), around le Tour (Aiguillette des Posettes), on the col des Montets (col de l'Encrenaz). No news from the Vallon de Bérard or the Bel Oiseau sector but there has probably been some activity. The opening of the Aiguilles Rouges lifts will get the ball rolling in this area.

The opening of the Aiguille du Midi cable car and the mild temperatures should also allow a resumption of activity in the high mountains. The arete is said to be “narrow, steep, smooth and icy" and there is no handrail in place.
The north face of the aiguille du Midi, looks relatively dry (Mallory-Porter, Fil à Plomb: they should go but only just, see photo). There might be a bit more on the East side of the Tacul or on the North side of the Argentière basin: you'll have to go and see and let us know!
The glaciers are relatively well filled in but we remind you that we are at the start of the season and crevasse bridges are fragile. The Vallée Blanche, like the other glacier routes, is very technical at this time of year. Good experience in reading the terrain is essential.

As far as ice climbing goes, it's possible to climb on the left bank of the Argentière (as a reminder, access is only possible on skis as pedestrians are not allowed on the Plan Joran cable car).

The snowshoe and walking routes are all practicable and marked (info here). For the more independent amongst you, you can go for a walk near the chalets de Chailloux or Loriaz by the forest track (unmarked and unsecured off-piste itineraries) as long as the avalanche risk does not increase.
All the pistes of the three Nordic areas (Chamonix, Argentière, Servoz) are open. Note that in Les Houches and Servoz, the multi-activity areas (cross-country skiing/hiking/snowshoeing) are also groomed and (soon) marked out, and access to these is free!

Report translated from La Chamoniarde.




Emilio Comici: Angel of the Dolomites | Review

In a review from the 2021 Alpine Journal, (on sale now via Cordee), Ed Douglas examines the 2021 Boardman Tasker winner; 'Emilio Comici: Angel of the Dolomites' by David Smart. He discovers not only a well-researched and considered portrait of Comici, a man whose identity was bound up in the muscularity of Italian nationalism, but also a book with a contemporary resonance and huge value for an English-speaking audience who have rarely been given much insight into this period of Italian climbing. 

Emilio Comici
Angel of the Dolomites
David Smart
RMB, 2020, pp248, £31

On 7 August 1915, as the summer sun bleached the fields of northern Italy, the poet and proto-fascist Gabriele D’Annunzio arrived over the port of Trieste in a flimsy biplane piloted by his friend Giuseppe Miraglia. The white city, D’Annunzio noted, shone against the backdrop of the Carso, the limestone plateau that traditionally divided Italians from Slovenes and offered Triestino climbers a training ground for the challenges of the Dolomites.

From his cockpit, D’Annunzio, then in his early fifties, released bombs on Austrian submarines floating in the harbour and also threw packets of messages – garnished with green, white and red ribbons bought from a Venetian haberdashery – to the people below who were watching the air raid from Trieste’s main piazza. Written in D’Annunzio’s florid style, they promised that soon the Italian tricolour would fly over the castle of San Giusto, the city’s heart. Irredentists, desperate to be free of Austrian rule and part of a reunified Italy, stood in the streets and cheered during later bombing raids, despite the risks.

There’s no evidence that Emilio Comici watched this first air sortie over his city, but it’s safe to say that if he didn’t then he would have heard all about it, and would have revelled in its daring. In this fascinating biography, improbably the first for such a titan of 1930s climbing, David Smart makes it clear that news of Italian success left Comici exhilarated. How could it not? Italians in the city had chafed for centuries under rule from Vienna, whose brutality they blamed for the war. Plus, he was 14 years old and already vulnerable to the romance of adventure. Italian boys’ clubs were shut down by the authorities so they had more time on their hands to dream of freedom. Always a bit of a mammone, a mummy’s boy, he would strum the family’s mandolin as she made his dinner and sing about their beloved city, and how it fretted under the Austrian heel.

Among the names that would have thrilled the teenage Comici was Napoleone Cozzi, a brilliant pre-war climber who made the Val Rosandra just outside Trieste a training ground, a palestra, where a young alpinist could perfect the skills required for the hard new climbs being put up in the Dolomites by such great names as Paul Preuss, Angelo Dibona and Tita Piaz, the so-called ‘devil of the Dolomites’. And it was in the Val Rosandra that Comici would start on his path to fame, if not fortune. But as Smart makes clear, Cozzi was also an irredentist, famous for his arrest in 1904 and subsequent trial in Vienna after Austrian secret police discovered what are now called IEDs hidden under the floorboards of the Trieste Gymnastics Society. Years later, during the war, when Comici walked those same floorboards, notions of climbing and adventure were inextricably fused in his mind with the nationalist, irredentist cause that so inspired him.

Emilio Comici in his signature climbing jacket and basketball shoes at Val Rosandra outside Trieste.
With journalist and occasional benefactor Severino Casara and good friend Emmy Hartwich-Brioschi, who had been Paul Preuss’ lover, at Lake Misurina in 1935

Politics, however, was moving on rapidly. The colourful, ludicrous extravagance of Gabriele D’Annunzio had morphed into something new and darker. In October 1922, while Comici was doing his national service, Mussolini’s fascists levered their way to power. Already a member of the Associazione XXX Ottobre, the date news of Austria’s defeat reached Trieste, Comici joined Mussolini’s party and became one of the squadristi, a black shirt. Something in the fascist aesthetic appealed to Comici, a climber who would have understood very well how to use Instagram: it was modern, clean and seemingly progressive, and well dressed, like he was: so unlike the well-heeled romanticism of Mitteleuropan alpinists like Julius Klugy, long a mentor to successive generations of alpinists in Trieste, including Cozzi. For a working-class climber like Comici, the future seemed elsewhere. After he climbed his eponymous route on the Cima Grande, one of the most striking landmarks in the history of alpinism, he wrote in the hut book: ‘By the same light that illuminates the value and tenacity of the Italians of Mussolini, we have opened the path to the north face of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.’

There is a great deal to recommend this book, not least David Smart’s ability to paint a broad canvas without exhausting the reader’s attention. All this historical perspective is not only fascinating and rich with detail, but also necessary, because of the equivocal place Comici holds in the climbing firmament, the glamorous risk-taker adding sheen to Mussolini’s project. At times, Smart strains a little too hard to excuse Comici’s political allegiances, although I think mostly he gets it right. I would like to have heard more from Comici’s near-contemporaries on this; Fosco Maraini famously tore up his fascist party membership card when his father enrolled him. Comici, on the other hand, averted his gaze. Towards the end of the book, Smart writes:

Even after the Trieste section of the CAI hung signs forbidding Jews in its huts, Emilio had fretted over the predicament of his Jewish friends, not as if racism was a core program of his beloved party (which, after 1938, it was), but as if it was some kind of unintended oversight by a regime he saw as benevolent.

For much of this book, until its poignant and fatal conclusion, I wondered whether Smart’s considerable talents would have been better deployed writing a history of the whole sixth-grade scene, which for English readers is woefully underexplored and yet forms the basis for the explosion of big-wall climbing in Yosemite and elsewhere after the war. Because Emilio Comici did seem to bob around on the surface of his own unusually interesting era, like a cork on a storm-tossed ocean. The portrayal of his childhood is, presumably through necessity, somewhat hurried. The poor leave little trace. But it’s clear he had little meaningful education. That left him with a sense of inferiority, especially around some of his intellectual clients, and a lack of traction in the wider world.

Music was a comfort and a pleasure throughout his life and there is a wonderful scene towards the end of the book when, now living in the Dolomites, he takes up the piano under the instruction of one of his clients, Rita Palmquist, a Dane who had performed concerts all over Europe. Mussolini had tried to suppress folk songs and mandolin playing because they led to unmanly display of emotion. But Il Duce approved of the piano, which he could play himself. Comici had some natural talent and persevered, but learning the piano in his late thirties was understandably frustrating. After one lesson ended badly, Comici stood up and closed the lid, telling his teacher:

You have witnessed the most splendid symbol of my spiritual life. A closed door. You see, I have worked hard to develop my body, my muscles. I managed to do so, but at the detriment to my inner life. A few years ago, I thought I would be a writer, but it was an illusion. In the spiritual realm, there is a closed door for me.

Palmquist, understandably, was deeply moved at this declaration, the austere man of the mountains revealing briefly the torment beneath the surface, a man ‘who some accused of turning climbing into a mechanical thing, was, in fact, deeply sensitive.’ And the rest. Smart paints a convincing portrait of a man who was if anything hypersensitive, particularly to criticism. Like his beloved home city Trieste, Smart writes, Comici had a certain distacco, an aloofness from the world, and a self-sufficiency, or lontananza, that added to the impression that he was somewhere on a higher plane. ‘There have been few more haunted alpinists,’ Smart writes at one point. He’s speaking of ghosts, but it stands for his character too.

This self-absorption, from an Alpine outsider like Comici, must have come across as arrogance to some, and petulant arrogance when the Dimai brothers were rude about him after the Cima Grande climb. Comici appealed to the fascist authorities for resolution, but they just shrugged and suggested he stand up for himself. Even when he took the initiative and soloed the north face to counter the Dimais’ sniping, he had to spoil the effect by having another sulk. You want to shout at him across the decades: you made your point, Emilio, let it go! Enamoured of press attention but reluctant to engage through a natural shyness, Comici certainly suffered for his art. He wanted to be taken seriously as a man but often ended up as a symbol of something, of a legend that became a trap that slowly compressed him.

Perhaps that was what the piano playing was all about. It was also to please his ageing mother, a kindness the fascists would have frowned on as effeminate. One of the most striking aspects of this book is the ubiquity of women. They’re everywhere in this story, a reminder that women have more often been excluded from the story of climbing, not the actual climbing. There’s the Slovenian Mira ‘Marko’ Pibernik, as Smart calls her, although she preferred her maiden name Debelak, since her first marriage was arranged and soon discarded. A woman familiar to students of Ben Nevis history, she was on the first ascent of Slav Route. She’d also swung leads on the first ascent of the 900m north face of Jôf di Montasio. There’s Riccardo Cassin’s climbing partner Mary Varale, who brought Comici to Lecco to teach them pegging and later quit the CAI because of its blatant misogyny. Comici would take her on another truly great Tre Cime climb, the Spigolo Giallo. Anna Escher, one of his richest and most regular clients. And Emmy Hartwich-Brioschi, Paul Preuss’ lover at the time of his death, introduced to Comici by their mutual friend, the rather flaky journalist Severino Casara. Paula Wiesinger is there, the first woman to climb grade VI in the Dolomites. Trieste itself was home to more women climbing grade VI than anywhere else in the world, in particular Bruna Bernadini, who rarely followed. Finally there was the celebrated poet Antonia Pozzi, another of Comici’s clients, a brilliant young woman who faced her own demons. She took a long cool look at Comici and saw him high on his lonely perch among the mountains where ‘ … you will only see/your rope/encased in ice/and your hard heart/among the pale spires.’ She committed suicide aged 26 but Comici, the ‘sullen, poor, uneducated kid from the docklands of Trieste’, seems not to have noticed.

Towards the end of his short life, Emilio Comici began to grasp more fully his place in the world, how the populism of men like Gabriele D’Annunzio had twisted the urge of all Italians to be free. Comici had gone to the Dolomites so that an Italian might, in his own country, surpass the achievements of the Germans there. Naïve perhaps, even self-regarding, but not I think necessarily malign. The only new route he climbed in the war, during which he served as a minor fascist functionary, was dedicated to Italo Balbo, Mussolini’s great rival who had opposed Italy’s Nazi-style race laws. Smart offers this as an indication that Comici’s fascist ardour was cooling. I’m not so sure. Either way, we shall never know whether Comici would have joined Cassin, who’d had his own flirtation with fascism, in fighting with the partisans against the Nazis. Because shortly after the Angel of the Dolomites was dead.

‘They will only get me in the end,’ Comici wrote of the mountains even as his passion for climbing waned. Ironically, it was the palestra he created in Vallunga that did for him, a place where he could teach but also perform for an audience, a banal accident caused by a rotten rope. Having fallen 30m and struck his head, he stood up again, blood streaming down his face, the broken ends still clutched in his fist, before dropping dead on the ground. David Smart has done the English-speaking climbing world an immense service with this book, capturing all the grandeur and vanity of our sport and the politics that informs it, all trapped in the amber of the 1930s, that turbulent era that looks so much like our own.




Report: 8 December 2021

Winter is here! 

One storm has followed another and there is now good snow cover, even on the floor of the valley. Excellent news then: 

- The ski areas will be able to open up gradually. 

- You can go ski touring, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. 


On the other hand, it snowed a lot and as usual it was windy. The risk of avalanches is high. On the eve of the opening of some of the lifts, we call on you to be very careful. It is also important to follow good habits: 

- Careful preparation of the outing: read the “BERA” (avalanche bulletin) carefully, consult the weather forecast, find out about the conditions, study the route, choose your companions. 

- Once in the field: observe - analyse - discuss - decide - adapt or even give up. 

We are all keen to get out there, but we need to give ourselves time to get back into the swing of things and to get back into shape physically! 


Here is the schedule for the opening of the lifts in the valley: 

- Friday 10 December: Grands Montets ski area open continuously 

- Saturday 11 December: Part of the Les Houches ski area in continuous operation 

- Saturday 11 December: La Flégère ski area only for the weekend (continuous opening from 18 December). 

- Saturday 11 December: Plan de l'Aiguille cable car (second section opens on 18 December) 

- Saturday 18 December: Domaine du Brévent + Balme/Vallorcine. 


The ski areas are currently being prepared. The groomers are working, sometimes using a winch. Be careful with the cables and that you don’t find yourself on a slope with a snow groomer pushing the snow from above. Please respect the work of the operators!  

After a snowfall, PIDAs (Plan d'Intervention de Déclenchement des Avalanches – controlled avalanche release sometimes involving explosives) are put in place (usually in the morning, which sometimes requires delays in opening). Signs prohibiting access for the duration of the operations are put in place. For the "early bird" ski tourers, please respect these prohibitions! 


The marked ski touring itineraries are practicable, (except when there is a high avalanche risk; ask for information!) but they are not necessarily marked yet. You can download this little booklet which includes all the itineraries in the Mont Blanc region, while waiting for the brochure which will be available soon. 



- These marked routes, although close to the slopes, are not secured by the ski patrol. The activity is done under your own responsibility. Remember to equip yourself accordingly (avalanche transceiver/probe/shovel, phone) and to plan your outing (avalanche risk, weather, etc). 

- Although they are not opened or closed by the ski patrol, a ban on access can still be put in place at the start of the route by the commune concerned or the operating company in the event of a high avalanche risk or PIDA. 

- They are not maintained on a daily basis and their technical difficulty varies according to the conditions (icy passages, lack of snow etc.) and the amount of traffic they have had. 

- Although separate from the slopes, they are accessible only during the opening of the ski area as the descent is made via the slopes. 

- Beware of dogs running loose. 


For those who leave the marked routes, we ask you to be extremely careful and to choose your route carefully. 



The Nordic area opens this Saturday 11 December. 

The marked routes for snowshoes and pedestrians can be used, but they are also being marked out. You can find the map here! For those who would like to leave these routes, you will have to wait for better snow conditions. 



What about ice climbing? All this snow isn’t good for ice formation at the Crémerie. On the right and left banks of the Argentière glacier, you will have to go and see once the conditions allow it! 


Report translated from La Chamoniarde.




IMD: Seeing Beauty in Roughness

International Mountain Day: Seeing Beauty in Roughness

The geological processes that shape mountain ranges are staggeringly complex, but understanding them can add a whole new dimension to our appreciation of the mountain environment.

In this article, Chair of the Alpine Club Library Council Philip Meredith and Librarian Beth Hodgett explore how a fresh perspective on geometry can help us think about mountains in a whole new way.

Sgurr Alasdair from Sgurr Dearg by Charles Pilkington

People have been drawn to mountains for centuries, and a large part of their appeal lies in the breathtaking aesthetic qualities of mountain ranges. The Alpine Club holds a globally important collection of paintings and drawings dating back to the earliest days of mountaineering which document this obsession. Many prominent mountaineers have also been notable artists, and this is certainly the case for one of the most famous climbers of the ‘Golden Age’ of Alpinism, Edward Whymper (1840-1911).

While Whymper is most well known for his controversial first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, he also had a promising career as a wood engraver. Whymper came from a family of artists, his father Josiah (1813-1903) was a watercolour painter, and Whymper himself began his artistic apprenticeship at the age of fourteen. Numerous examples of Whymper’s wood engravings can be found in early issues of the Alpine Journal, as well as in his famous publication 'Scrambles Amongst the Alps'.


Further Reading: Whymper's London Diary, January-June 1858 | British History Online ----- Scrambles Amongst the Alps in the Years 1860-69 | Google Books


As climbers and alpinists we are used to examining rock faces and mountain ridges in detail, inspecting them to assess potential lines and the likelihood of protection. As Whymper himself put it, “None but blunderers fail to do so”. The process of preparing a wood engraving requires many of the same techniques of close observation, in order to understand and accurately represent the form and proportions of a mountain. It was this attention to detail that led Whymper to make an astute geological observation. On 25th June 1864 Whymper was part of a party that made the first ascent of the Barre des Écrins. In his account of the climb Whymper wrote:

"According to my custom I bagged a piece from off the highest rock (chlorite slate), and I found afterwards that it had a striking similarity to the final peak of the Ecrins. I have noticed the same thing on other occasions, and it is worthy of remark that not only do fragments of such rock as limestone often present the characteristic forms of the cliffs from which they have been broken, but that morsels of mica slate will represent, in a wonderful manner, the identical shape of the peaks of which they have formed a part. Why should it not be so, if the mountain’s mass is more or less homogeneous? The same causes which produce the small forms fashion the large ones; the same influences are at work; the same frost and rain give shape to the mass as well as to its parts."


Whymper's rock sample from the Barre des Écrins
The Barre des Écrins, photographed by Sue Hare

Whymper’s interest in this more unusual kind of summit bagging is also evident in his account of his infamous first ascent of the Matterhorn, which is illustrated in Scrambles… by an engraving of a rock taken from the summit of the Matterhorn. Once again, the similarity between the fragment and the overall form of the peak is striking. We can see another example of this in the Alpine Club’s collection.


The Matterhorn
A sample of rock from the Matterhorn

Compare this picture of the Matterhorn with the fragment of rock taken from near the Matterhorn’s summit and gifted to the Alpine Club as part of the celebrations commemorating the club’s 150th anniversary, and you can very clearly see Whymper’s point. In fact, recognising that tiny rock fragments and far larger rock structures can look identical in form has led to the universal practice of including a scale-bar in geological photographs. Without the scale it is essentially not possible to tell the size of the object, as demonstrated in the pair of photographs below.


Is this a close-up shot of a rock fragment?
Or a much larger formation?

But is it possible to prove that the piece of rock from the Matterhorn summit doesn’t just look qualitatively similar to the whole mountain but is actually quantitatively identical in structure?

The mathematical theory to describe such structures was developed by the Polish-French-American mathematician, Benoit Mandelbrot. In 1975 Mandelbrot coined the term 'fractal geometry'; drawing on the latin root of the word for ‘fractional’ to describe shapes that maintain their ‘roughness’ or complexity regardless of the level of detail they are examined at. A classic example of this is the Romanesco Broccoli.

If you look closely at the photograph, you can see that each segment of the broccoli is made up of a number of smaller segments whose shape mimics that of the larger structure. No matter how closely you zoom in, the structure of each segment appears the same. This similarity of structure across different scales is called self-similarity.

One way to prove that a small rock fragment and a mountain are mathematically self-similar rather than merely looking alike is to compare how they both take up space. However this is easier said than done. While some shapes are relatively straightforward to measure, others are much more challenging. We are all used to thinking in one, two and three dimensions; that is dimensions of whole integers. For example we know that a cube fills a three dimensional volume, but how do we measure the volume of something more complex like a tree or an alpine ridge, which only partially fills its surrounding volume?

The tree will not perfectly fill the surrounding space, but we can measure what fraction of the space it fills. 

Mandelbrot’s great insight was the theory of fractal geometry. Within this concept, the tree is less than three-dimensional but more than two-dimensional; it has a fractal (or fractional) dimension between 2 and 3. This occurs because natural forms like rock fragments or mountains are not made up of smooth planes, but of complex, rough surfaces that are much harder to measure.

Mandelbrot demonstrated this in a 1967 article in which he posed the question: ‘How Long is the Coastline of Britain?’ The problem with solving such questions, Mandelbrot argued, is that when trying to measure a ‘rough’ shape like a coastline, you get a different answer depending on the unit of measurement that you use. Much like the example of the Romanesco Broccoli, the more you zoom in to look at the coastline, the more complex the shape becomes, with ever-decreasing wrinkles in the rock continuously adding to the overall length to the extent that the problem becomes intractable and an accurate measurement simply cannot be made.

One of the main insights of Mandelbrot’s theories of fractal geometry was his proposal of mathematical ways of measuring this roughness. Using these methods, we can determine the fractal geometry of a mountain ridge and of a piece of rock that comes from it and see that commonly they are quantitatively the same.

Over 100 years after Whymper first observed the relationship between the fragments of rock he collected and the peaks he climbed, Mandelbrot’s theories enable us to move from Whymper’s qualitative observation about the aesthetic similarity between rock samples and peaks, to being able to describe and quantify the relationship between rock samples. In doing so, it is possible to show that Whymper was right, small rock fragments really do fracture in ways that are self similar to the shape of the peaks that they come from! 

Glacial structure
A map displaying the distribution of mountain ridges

Being able to measure variations in roughness opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for understanding the formation of mountains. For example, being able to measure and quantify the microstructural geometry of a rock at the crystallographic scale can help us to understand the mechanics of where, when and how it might fracture. Understanding details like this can help us work backwards from the form that mountains take in the present to reconstruct the processes that formed the mountain many millions of years ago. The mathematics of fractal geometry can also explain the distribution of crevasses in a glacier, the arrangement of mountain ridges, or even the distribution of boulders on a scree slope.

The beauty of Mandlebrot’s work is that it helps us understand and describe the patterns that underlie the seeming chaos of the natural world, giving us new ways to appreciate not only the complexity of the natural world, but the skilled perception of artists like Whymper who study it.

So next time you're on the hill and you notice a loose piece of rock, take a longer look. There's a whole mountain hidden in its geometry.




Video: 'Everest - East Side Story'

The video of Stephen Venables's lecture; 'Everest - East Side Story,' given at the opening of the 2021 Everest Centenary Exhibition is now available to watch in full via the Alpine Club's YouTube channel or by clicking on the player below.






Report: 17 November 2021

It’s still inter-season in the valley.

Ski lifts are closed except for the Flégère gondola (access to Lac Blanc and the Chéserys lakes OK but a little snow on the top and signposts not in place; Via Ferrata des Evettes OK).

You can find the opening dates of the lifts and ski areas on this page of the Mont Blanc Natural Resort website.

The snow that fell at the beginning of the month quickly melted in the “moyenne montagne”. So at the moment no skiing, but let's keep our fingers crossed! The fog has been sitting on the valley floor for the last few days but above it's much more pleasant, with nice sun and pleasant temperatures. 

You can hike (on foot!) with no worries below 2200-2300m depending on the orientation. As a reminder, a large part of the signposting is no longer in place. There may be some snow/ice and slippery paths, so it is important to be well shod.

These anti-cyclonic conditions allow for good activity in the high mountains with generally good conditions in the gullies/mixed routes. Some classic routes (Aiguille du Tour, Mont Blanc by the Goûter, Dômes de Miage...) could also be doable but we have no feedback. Snowshoes are still very useful to get around on the glaciers. Beware of snow bridges which remain fragile at this time. 

Many people on the Pélerins side (Rebuffat-Terray, Beyond Good and Evil) or in the Rebell Yell goulotte: the Plan de l'Aiguille winter hut is full every night, think of bringing a sleeping bag and even a mat.

Many people at the Albert 1er (no more wood) and on the Chardonnet. The latest news is that the Charlet-Bettembourg (the rimaye was committing because of variable snow, pitches 1 and 2 are mixed) and the Escarra are in good general conditions, but not the Aureille-Feutren. No news of the Gabarrou 79. The Aiguille du Tour normal route, Tête Blanche or Petite Fourche should be possible for those looking for an adventure!

No news yet from the Argentière basin but no doubt there must be something to do (Lagarde couloir? Ginat?).


Report translated from La Chamoniarde.




Initial Summary of AC Survey on Climate Change

17 November 2021

The Green Group would like to thank the nearly two-hundred AC members who contributed to our recent survey on climate change. As well as helping us to establish the position of the membership on this issue, your many suggestions and details of your personal environmental projects have given us an excellent starting point as we decide where to focus our work in the coming years.

You can read a summary report of the results here and we will feedback a more in-depth analysis in the coming months.




Stephen Venables - 'Everest: East Side Story' YouTube Premiere

At 19:00 on Thursday 18 November, the Alpine Club will premiere a short film of a lecture given by Stephen Venables at the opening of the 2021 Everest Centenary Exhibition via our YouTube channel

The lecture, entitled 'Everest: East Side Story', intertwines Stephen's personal experience of Everest, (he climbed the mountain via a new route and without the use of supplemental Oxygen in 1988), with the larger story of the mountain itself. The talk is packed with humour and histoy, offering a unique insight into the mountaineering community's relationship with Everest over more than a century.

By subscribing to the Alpine Club YouTube channel, you will receive a notification when the film goes live. You can watch it on the channel as it goes out on November 18 or catch up any time thereafter.




Report: 3 November 2021

The first real snowy episode in our mountains this week! It even snowed at the valley floor.
There is a dusting on the ground from 1400m.
In the "moyenne montagne", there is between 20 and 30 cm depending on the sector and the altitude (20-25cm at Planpraz; 20cm at la Flégère, 25cm at Lognan; 30cm at Montenvers). The webcams of the valley can help you to get an idea (be careful with the dates of the pictures).
We're going to disappoint you but it's still too early to get out your skis or snowshoes!
On the other hand, this complicates things for hiking. It is now reserved for those with a good experience of the mountain (absence of markers...) and correctly equipped (decent boots, warm clothes, poles...). The sectors above 2000m are to be avoided for the moment in our opinion. On the other hand, low level walks such as the lower balconies or the access to the various buvettes (Floria, Chapeau, Cerro, Bérard and Dard waterfalls etc) is all fine.
Little information concerning the high mountains, we note about 50-60 cm at the Aiguille du Midi and there was a lot of wind.
Beware of the risk of avalanche (the first avalanche reports of the year are already out).

Skis or snowshoes will be useful for the approaches and it will be necessary to dig out the gullies!


Report translated from La Chamoniarde.




David John Ford

We are saddened to report the death of David John Ford, a member since 1975

Members can log in to submit their tributes or send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that they can be posted on the website. 

Christmas Cards

Moonlight, Chamouni


This year's Christmas cards feature a John Ruskin painting

The cards do not carry a date and have a simple seasonal greeting.                   

They are available in packs of ten. Each pack costs £8.00. P&P of £2 for 1 or 2 packs and £3 for 3 (or each multiple of 3).

Overseas postage – please contact the Office Manager via e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To buy online click here 


'Everest from Pang La, 45 miles away' - Howard Somervell
To buy online click here

Sunlight on Hinchuli
To buy online click here

To buy online click here

Cards with designs from previous years (shown above) are also available for purchase at the lower price of £5 per pack, with the same rates for postage and packing. 


All queries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to 020 7613 0755




Report: 25 October 2021

At last some information but still not enough considering the activity at the weekend! To be continued...

Thanks to all the contributors who feed the information chain.

Watch out, the glacier approaches are laborious when you have to break trail (breakable snow crust) and remain delicate (crevasses and snow bridges only just covered).


Albert 1er Sector

- Chardonnet: teams on the Migot - the Escarra goulotte. The normal descent route from the top of the Chardonnet and the Col Adams Reilly are tricky. Beware that there is a false track too far to the right on the way down from the summit and many climbers get lost. The Charlet-Bettembourg is tracked without more information.

- Aiguille du Tour is being done by the normal route and the SW ridge of the Table de Roc only has a bit of snow on it. The Table de Roc couloir is not very attractive: a little more patience is needed.


Aiguille du Midi Sector

- South face of Aiguille du Midi : you can climb the Rébuffat : 1 snow patch on the 1st pitch.
- Sightings of teams on Vent du Dragon: no information.
- Arête des Cosmiques, Lachenal traverse and traverse of the vallée Blanche are being done.
- Triangle du Tacul: Chéré couloir is in good condition (abseiling down the route) - a team has been seen on the Contamine Mazeaud.
- One track of a descent on the normal route of Tacul: ??? No info.
- East face of Tacul : A team has been seen on the Super Couloir - Valéria goulotte on the Petit Capucin: Good conditions.
- Rognon du Plan: Some people on Pas d'Agonie I: Good conditions. It looks like Pas d'Agonie II is also possible.


Torino Sector

- Traverse of the Aiguilles Marbrées: In good condition
- Tour Ronde - north face / grand Flambeau : see our route page


Aiguilles Rouges

The rock is dry on routes with the right aspect. Be careful with the aspect: it is autumn and the sun is "dropping" quickly in some areas, even in the south and it gets cold quickly! (Example: Frison Roche route at Le Brévent).



This is the magic time of autumn! Paths with the right aspect are dry but be careful with the aspect because a covering of snow and/or ice (from about 2200m) can make some passages tricky even at medium altitude.

Equipment and markings have already been removed in many areas, so you will need to be independent in terms of navigation. Some footpaths are currently closed for work; a list of current closures is available on The Chamoniarde website.




Women With Altitude - Joint Exhibition to Highlight Female Alpinists of the Last 100 Years

Women With Altitude - Joint Exhibition to Highlight Female Alpinists of the Last 100 Years

2021 marks 100 years since the foundation of The Pinnacle Club, one of the UK’s only all-women climbing clubs. As part of their centenary celebrations, the Pinnacle Club have partnered with the Alpine Club to host ‘Women with Altitude’, an interactive exhibition that profiles ground-breaking female alpinists from the last 100 years of both clubs.

As in so many areas of history, the lives and accomplishments of female climbers have often been overlooked, forgotten or diminished. This exhibition seeks to rebalance that narrative by making the biographical details of these women’s lives accessible and by foregrounding their stories with the use of their own words and possessions.

Alongside biographical displays for the 12 featured climbers, visitors will also be able to listen to audio recordings via QR codes, (a smartphone will be necessary for this element of the exhibition), and view a number of films featuring the profiled climbers. It is our hope that a combination of traditional exhibition materials, such as artefacts and displays, alongside these interactive elements will bring these women to life for a modern audience and allow us all to more fully engage with their stories.


Micheline Morin, Nea Morin & Alice Damesme at the Aigle Hut after completing the Meije Traverse
Dorothy Pilley

The exhibition will link these historic stories to the present using a timeline of women's achievements that runs up to the present day and shorter profiles of contemporary female mountaineers.

The exhibition is located at the Alpine Club’s premises of 55 Charlotte Road, London, EC2A 3QF and will run from 8 November to 8 January with closures on the 9 November, 14 December and for the Christmas period of 20 December to 5 January.

It is open 10AM – 5PM Monday to Friday, with extended opening to 9PM on Thursdays.

Entry is free and on a drop-in basis, but we do ask that larger groups of 8 or more visitors make a booking in advance by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ensure we can accommodate you. 

As part of the exhibition, the Pinnacle Club and Alpine Club have commissioned the production of teaching materials to be used by visiting school groups. The materials are linked to the national curriculum and are designed to accommodate children from KS2 to KS4 (11-16 years of age). If you are aware of any schools or youth organisations who may be interested in arranging a visit to the exhibition, please get in touch with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details.