Mountaineering and Ecology - An Alpine Journey

Ecology Trip In the West, most of us live indoor lives, insulated from the elemental realities of sun, moon, stars, wind, frost and rain. Going to the mountains is a reminder that we are still a part of the natural world. Yet even mountaineers can be woefully ignorant about the mountains they climb and they are the poorer for it. The nature and origins of the rocks we climb, the forces that have shaped those rocks into mountains, the moist clouds that swirl about their summits, the plants that grow on them even above the snow-line, the insects, birds and mammals that feed on those plants and in turn provide food for other species, all these can be a source of wonder and delight, yet so often they are not even noticed.

A six-day journey through the Swiss Alps, in the company of an ecologist and a mountain guide, is an opportunity to re-awaken our curiosity and use our sense of hearing, smell, taste and touch as well as sight, alerting us to the teeming activity of the present, evidence of the past and intimations of the future. Above all, the study of ecology leads us to the realization that we, too, are a part of the food chain. Ultimately, we are just one species among millions, and the gift of consciousness carries with it responsibilities rather than rights. The planet as a whole is in such a parlous state precisely because we have lost sight of those responsibilities and regard it simply as a resource provided for our benefit.

This course does not pretend to be saving the planet, however. It does aim to expand the mountain awareness of experienced hill-goers while giving them the technical skills needed to travel in glaciated terrain. It will be run by two highly experienced professionals who climb together regularly in North Wales. Dr Rod Gritten is a freelance consultant who was Senior Ecologist for the Snowdonia National Park for over thirty years. Rob Collister is an IFMGA guide who has climbed and skied all over the world though nowadays he works mainly in Switzerland.

Ecology trip 2 The Journey takes place from the 2-9th July 2016 and will start in the deep glacier-gouged trench of the Lauterbrunnen valley from where we will make our way through forests and flower-strewn meadows with spectacular views of the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau to a mountain hut. Subsequent days take us round the mighty Gspaltenhorn and over a high pass to the Mutthorn hut, surrounded by snow and ice, before descending into the valley, coming back to earth, as it were!

For more information or to book a place next year, contact:

Rob Collister

01492 582448

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