Expedition medical training for laypeople & doctors Skip to content

Wilderness Medical Training

Expedition Medicine in Chamonix (winter) 17.5 CPD, 18-22 January 2016

What WMT says

Chamonix in winter is a fantastic setting in which to bring together WMT’s expert resources for a five day course to explore the rich and varied field of expedition and wilderness medicine. Now in its 16th year, this is WMT’s most popular Medics’ event that is packed with inspiration, practical advice on how to join an expedition and expert medical training. We have an expert team who’ll share their expertise with great passion, be it in the fields of mountain or jungle medicine, extreme expedition adventures, remote clinical and humanitarian work, mountain rescue or research. Four out of five days begin at 3pm for indoor practical sessions, lectures and case study discussions. A half day is spent outside practicing medicine in the cold and learning useful field skills like using a rope on steep ground, GPS use and about avalanche safety tools. Each day has 4-5 hours course time which leaves the best part of the day free for snowsport activities. Every day concludes with a special “insight” talk. As far as learning from experts, career destabilising inspiration and snow time in the Alps, attending this course is a no-brainer in terms of being a great choice! Organisations that “employ” expedition medics increasingly expect candidates to have done a course of this breadth and standard.

What students say

WMT has been absolutely inspirational!
Course content was excellent…
Amazing wealth of experience and stories…
All (instructors) were outstanding.
Great range of expertise and personal experience.
Excellent team. Very inspiring.
All sessions worthwhile.
Perfect mix of speakers and topics.
Interesting and inspiring week in a brilliant setting.
This has been a career, and possibly life changing course for me! Went beyond expectations.
Excellent lectures and practical sessions.
Inspirational! Great course. Enjoyed the structure, flow and content.

Feedback quote

“… the result was a really high standard of teaching, far and above most other medical courses I have attended. I think when other medics hear of a course in expedition medicine they think “junket,” and yet I feel I can return to my training scheme that granted the study leave and proudly boast as to the standard of teaching I have received.” Cathal O’Sullivan

Who’s invited?

Doctors of all grades, nurses, medical students or anyone else with an interest in expedition and wilderness medicine are welcome to attend. No prior expedition experience is required. Naturally many people come to this course to combine snow sports with the educational opportunity. Delegates range from experienced expedition medics who attend to ensure their knowledge is up to date and to get formal training under their belt, to younger medics who are fascinated and curious about this field of medicine and are exploring alternative career paths. This is our most well attended Medic’s course due to the stunning location, diverse faculty, rich programme and snow sport fun! We are proud that our faculty and delegate mix reflects a diversity of healthcare professionals and is inter-disciplinary.

Course fees

The tuition only course fee is £495.

2016 Course Director & Teaching Team

WMT’s Medical Director will be the course director. Read more about Harvey and his recent feature article TOP TEN SKILLS TO MASTER FOR THE EXPEDITION MEDIC online at The Adventure Medic.
We will confirm the 2016 teaching team in due course but to give you a flavour of our team, our 2015 teaching team included:

– Dr Harvey Pynn, EM Consultant, climber, endurance athlete and WMT Medical Director
– Barry Roberts, skier, climber, diver & paragliders pilot, WMT Commercial Director with 25+ expeditions under the sea, to the highest mountains and in the air
– Dr Daniel Morris, consultant ophthalmologist and world authority on “the eye at altitude”
– Dr Zoe Smith, multi-faceted adventure lover with a tropical med & mountain med background
– Dr Pete Davis, EM consultant, high altitude expert, alpinist, back country skier, conflict zone & polar experienced
– Dr Rose Drew, recent British Antarctic Survey base doctor, ex-Raleigh medic
– Dr Lucy Obolensky GP, passionate global health advocate and Kenya medical project founder
– Tim Burton, veteran polar explorer
– Carron Scrimgeour, local Chamoinx EM consultant and frostbite expert
– special guest speaker Harriet Tuckey, author of the award winning book Everest – The First Ascent: The untold story of Griffith Pugh, the man who made it possible

2015 programme

Here is a flavour of the course content and structure delivered in 2015. There is approximately 4.5 hours of teaching time per day, indoors 4/5 and outdoors 1/5 Monday to Friday. The 2016 programme will follow a similar format with some lectures still to be confirmed.

Day 1
2.30 – 3.00 Registration
3.00 – 3.15 Welcome & introductions
3.15 – 4.00 Expedition medical planning
4.00 – 4.30 Aero-medical evacuation & helicopter safety
4.30 – 4.45 Tea/coffee break
4.45 – 5.30 Avalanche risks
5.30 – 6.15 Hypothermia & frostbite
6.15 – 6.30 Wine & nibbles
6.30 – 7.30 1st Insight lecture – tbc
Evening meeting point – tbc

Day 2
3.00 – 3.30 Research on expeditions
3.30 – 3.45 Don’t get sued – legal liability & insurance
3.45 – 4.15 Medical kits – discussion groups
4.15 – 4.30 GPS – need to know
4.30 – 4.45 Tea/coffee break
4.45 – 5.30 Altitude illness – theory & management
5.30 – 6.15 Trauma & orthopaedic problems
6.15 – 6.30 Wine & nibbles
6.30 – 7.30 Spirit of Scott – the British Services Antarctica Expedition 2012 – Pete Davis
Evening meeting point – tbc

Day 3 Outdoor workshops 1/2 day
9-12.30 OR 1.30 – 5.00 – to be allocated
GPS navigation
Trauma scenario
Practical fracture management
Safety on steep terrain – rope skills
Avalanche transceivers & tools
6.00 – 7.00 Everest My Way – Barry Roberts
Evening meeting point – tbc

Day 4
3.00 – 4.00 Emergency dentistry
4.00 – 4.30 Abdominal pain and diarrhoea
4.30 – 4.45 Tea/coffee break
4.45 – 5.15 Hyperthermia
5.15 – 6.00 The eye at altitude & other eye problems
6.00 – 6.30 TBC
6.30 – 6.45 Wine & nibbles
6.45 – 7.30 A medical path less travelled – Zoe Smith
Evening meeting point – tbc

Day 5
3.00 – 3.45 Human dynamics in the field
3.45 – 4.30 Tropical problems – part 1
4.30 – 4.45 Tea/coffee break
4.45 – 5.30 TBC
5.30 – 6.15 Tropical problems – part 2
6.15 – 6.30 Wine & nibbles – complete course evaluation
6.30 – 6.45 Joining an expedition – what next?
6.45 – 7.30 An adventurous career: personal case study – Dan Morris
7.30 Close
End of course party – tbc

Day 6 Optional glacier trekking experience

Insight Lectures

A very personal insight lecture at the end of each day are a real highlight for many delegates so it’s worth saying more about them. Firstly, they are always accompanied by first-class images and often other media. Secondly, it is the highly personal, often intimate, nature of these presentations that delegates love. You will be laughing, and crying, as our team tell you about their exploits, hardships, successes and failures in the jungles, high on Everest, conducting life-changing eye operations in the Kenyan bush or running the Marathon du Sable. Often heart warming, inspirational, humbling, humble, honest, revealing, frank, frightening and occasionally cringeworthy, it’s no surprise these talks are so highly rated. We don’t promise all of these talks on a single course but we’ll have 5 such talks on the winter Chamonix course.


We estimate that this programme is valid for approximately 17.5 CPD hours.


Fees include tuition, refreshments, materials and the lecture and outdoor programme only.

What about travel, accommodation, ski pass costs etc?

Download the more info file (below) and see the pre-course Welcome Note you receive when you book. This extensive Welcome Note details the answers to every conceivable question you could ask about getting to Chamonix, where to stay, what to bring, what’s happening and many more top tips to make it easy to join us including apartment rental discounts, airport transfer discount codes, ski pass prices and more.

This course on Facebook

Join in the pre-course chatter, apartment sharing options and course updates and info from WMT at the WMT Facebook event page.

Download more information

Download this file for more general information, accommodation and travel advice about this great course in Chamonix.

RGS Expedition Health Research

A Royal Geographical Society study of 1263 medical complaints on expedition found that more than half (51%) were classified either as gastrointestinal upsets (30%) or medical problems (21% – infections, headache, malaria etc.). 8% of complaints were fauna related. Not surprisingly, 4% of problems were feet related. Orthopaedic problems accounted for 19% of complaints, closely followed by environmental problems at 14%. Even minor illnesses left untreated, such as diarrhoea, blisters or sunburn, can slow a whole team down, reduce productivity and enjoyment and threaten the success of an expedition. More serious illness or injury can derail the expedition’s plans and result in evacuation that can be difficult and protracted. There is much for the expedition medic to consider and prepare for.

Course Images