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Frequently Asked Questions:
How fit do you need to be? All the multi-day treks require a reasonable level of fitness. Regular hill walking experience (i.e. Scottish Munros, 900m+ day ascents etc) will be a plus. In general the trails are good and well maintained so facilitate the trekking experience. With the wide range of altitudes, terrain and options available there is a guaranteed route for everyone. Acclimatisation (see below) will be a focus but is generally not a problem with the maximum heights reached of approx 3000m.
Acclimatisation: Le Chazelet is at an altitude of 1800m - whilst not that high most people notice the thinner air on arrival. Initial activities will start in the valley around 1400m although after a day you will be ready to go higher. Maximum heights will be 3400m but mainly the days range from 1400-3000m.
Equipment: For day trips and summer treks basic lightweight UK hillwalking equipment is sufficient. This includes walking boots (with good ankle support), full waterproof layer, walking trousers/shorts, layered warm clothing i.e. breathable top + fleece, light gloves and warm hat (beanie), day pack/rucksack (25-30l), sun hat, sunglasses, sun protection, walking poles (recommended), water bottle and hill foods, Camera a must! For winter snowshoeing additional warm layers. Snowshoes/poles/avalanche kit will be provided.
Weather: The Ecrins Alpine region experiences a drier and warmer climate than the other more northerly Alpine regions. Summer temperatures can be fairly hot in the valleys (high 20oCs) but much cooler at altitude and afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon in july/aug. Winter is often clear and cold although the ample sunshine makes for pleasant walking conditions.
Other activities: In addition to walking and snowshoeing there are opportunities to rock climb, via ferrata, raft, kayak, mountain bike, horse ride, ski/snowbaord, ski tour, nordic ski, paraglide and ice climb. Any of these activities can be incorporated in to your trip - just ask for details.
Group v Private guiding: Whilst Darren endeavours to provide Group dates for all treks/activities at certain times Private guiding is only available. If you have a definite goal or agenda in mind then Private guiding is the answer.
Alpine (mountain) Huts: There are numerous mountain huts and refuges in the area. They come in all shapes, sizes and comforts but usually provide meals and sleeping kit although you will need a personal sleeping liner/bag. Hut costs are included in the trek price (except for beer/wine extra food etc).
Getting to La Grave: see Travel information on Booking page.
Flora and Fauna: The Ecrins National Park and Cerces/Queyras regional parks are host to many rare animals, birds and plant life. Common encounters include marmot, chamois, bouqueton(ibex), golden eagle, vultures, chough and crossbill. The alpine flowers are best seen in late June and July.
Insurance Cover: Safety is the primary concern on any activity. To ensure this all clients must agree to act upon any request or action that Darren believes appropriate. Clients must accept that mountain activities are potentially hazardous and thereby acknowledge some risk. All under 18s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Darren accepts no liability for loss, personal injury or accident caused by any person (or personal equipment) during the activities or resultant of them. It is strongly recommended that you take out your own insurance cover for accident/medical recovery, equipment and cancellation. Details of insurers can be provided as required.
Bad weather and fitness disclaimer: In the (very rare) event of extreme weather every effort will be made to continue with the planned itinerary. Clients must therefore be prepared to go out in cold, wet and windy conditions and carry/wear suitable clothing for any such conditions. However, if the weather conditions are deemed to jeopardise safety on any planned activity an alternative will be offered. If conditions are so bad as to make any planned trip unsafe (or unenjoyable) and no alternative is available then a full credit day will be offered.
If at any time Darren (or any other guide/activity leader) feels that safety is a concern due to fitness of a client, the activity will be amended to suit. This ensures that safety is preserved whilst maintaining full enjoyment of the Alpine arena.
If you are in any doubt regarding fitness, equipment or general conditions please do not hesitate to ask!