What WMT says
Now in its 4th year in 2018 and including 5 days of ski training Mountain Medicine on Skis in Chamonix is a response to repeated requests for something “more”. This course combines medical training and professional ski tuition and mountain training over 5 days into one brilliant package. Aimed at medics (10 maximum) who are “good” skiers, this is a hybrid technical ski and mountain skills course combined with 12 hours in-depth tuition in selected mountain and wilderness medicine topics, both theoretical and practical. This course does not aim to turn you into a “ski tour leader”, rather it’s about developing personal competence so that, initially, you might have the skills to join a ski touring party off piste, look after yourself, and be able to provide better emergency medical care in the mountains. To join WMT’s most demanding course, no climbing or mountaineering experience required BUT you must ski to the minimum standard outlined below and be ski fit (see the Health Warning below). Please carefully read all the notes below and conditions of participation before you book. 12 CPD points
What students say
Thank you for such an excellent course.
Feel my skiing has really improved.
I really enjoyed the course. It pushed me out of my comfort zone.
I feel more confident and learnt a lot.
Useful to have (in-resort) transport provided and all be in one chalet.
All very useful and interesting.
I loved this course. It was intense but I was expecting it.
Medical teaching was excellent.
All useful and relevant. Really interesting sessions.
Lovely to have everyone together (in one chalet).
Amazing intro to ski touring. Lectures extremely well delivered and evidence based.
All 3 instructors had good individual styles – good to have a mix.
Who should attend?
This is much more than a “ski junket” and will appeal to medics wanting to push their skiing standard, get a taste of ski touring and prepare for a mountain oriented expedition medic role. We welcome doctors and OHPs of all grades and ages who meet the skiing standard (see How well do delegates need to ski? below), and accept the obligatory accommodation arrangements and the dynamic, fluid nature of this course. This course especially appeals to WMT alumni who have experienced the high standard of WMT teaching and events but for many, this is their first WMT course – welcome! We now have alumni attending the ski course for a second time. Suitably motivated lay people with a strong wilderness medicine background are also welcomed but be aware the majority of students are doctors, hence the level of medical instruction is geared to this level. The course is limited to 10 participants. (We are unable to accept telemarkers or snowboarders, even on split boards. Sorry!)
Booking and availability?
Firstly, please don’t book unless you have study leave/holiday approved. It’s a deservedly popular course so we’re running two courses in 2018 as we did in ’17. The message is book EARLY (and only if you have leave approved). There’s a counter below each set of dates indicating how many places are available.
2018 Timings & dates – arrival & departure
WMT books shared apartment or non catered chalet accommodation for 7 nights on student’s behalf, Saturday to Saturday, with the first course skiing day on Sunday. The course concludes on Day 5 (Thursday) after skiing, enabling students to catch late flights home if necessary (9pm earliest to allow transfer time). In terms of flight times to book, the accommodation is normally available from 5pm and departure is by 10am on the last day (with no guarantee of early check-in or left luggage if you arrive early or leave later).
Ski & mountain outline programme
Day 1 – Morning meeting and ski warm up, mountain safety training/avalanche awareness & transceiver use, 6-8pm formal lecture kick off – evening welcome chat, intros and avalanche/medical lecture.
Day 2 – Polishing piste skiing skills; learning to flow, edge, ski with less effort, more grace, efficiency, speed and control, medical training (see the Medical Programme)
Day 3 – Transitioning to off piste skiing; techniques and tricks, choosing a safe line back-country, route planning, navigation, using GPS, rope-work, snow anchors, medical training
Day 4 – More skiing AM and medical training then collecting rental touring skis and practising putting skins on, learning about “kick turn”, practising skiing on the piste and skiing down on touring skis.
Day 5 – Final day – putting it all together – a longer ski tour, off piste and or glacier skiing depending on conditions and group ability, more student responsibility for trip planning and execution, teaching and coaching en route, medical training
Day 1 – Evening tutorial; scene safety, triage and management of the injured casualty in the remote winter environment. We’ll delve into the physiology of trauma and the effect of the cold on the human body and techniques for mitigation will be discussed. Best practice pre-hospital and in hospital will be discussed.
Day 2 – Mountain session; we will put the learning of the previous evening into practice with a medical scenario in the ‘field’
Evening; frost nip, frostbite and non-freezing cold injury seminar covering the latest research that has informed the most up to date medical practices and reduced the need for early surgery. Case studies will illuminate and reinforce the theory.
Day 3 – Mountain session; triage practical in the avalanche setting
Evening; altitude seminar delving into the pathophysiology of Acute Mountain Sickness, High Altitude Cerebral Oedema and High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema. Review of treatments and discussion of ascent profiles and risk mitigation. Practical use and demonstration of the portable hyperbaric chamber.
Day 4 – Mountain session; femoral and pelvic fracture management, moving, lifting and carrying a seriously injured casualty improvising with the kit one would carry in the mountains
Evening; hypothermia seminar in which we interrogate the ICAR guidelines and discuss the role of techniques such as ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation)
Day 5 – Mountain session; we will combine mountain and medical skills to practically demonstrate how to care for a casualty for a more prolonged period in a hostile environment. Discuss snow shelters.
The course handbook covers many other topics and we are happy add informal tutorials over coffee on the slopes as interest and time permits. With a smaller, more intimate course group, the instructors are available throughout to discuss anything of interest on the chairlift, slopes, “classroom” or after hours in the pub.
Three experts will teach each course. Luc Bellon is our long-time Chamonix colleague, an IFMGA international mountain guide, an international ski instructor and former PGHM (Chamonix mountain rescue policeman). Luc takes charge on the mountain on both courses. The lead medical instructor on the February course is ED Consultant Duncan Gray who is a widely travelled mountain man and ski mountaineer based in Aviemore, Scotland. Dr Harvey Pynn, WMT’s Medical Director/ ED Consultant is the lead medical instructor on the March course. Barry Roberts, WMT’s Commercial Director, long time Chamonix part-time resident, BASI Ski Instructor and Greenland ski guide will support both courses. Read more about the team at this WMT faculty webpage or in the trip dossier. Read their recently published Avalanche Safety article.
The skiing standard that is required
As a minimum, delegates need to be “good” intermediate level skiers. This means that;
• On groomed red runs, you consistently ski parallel turns and can control your speed and line down the mountain
• You can probably ski some black runs with a “I can get down anything” attitude but with less control and style
• If you have some off-piste experience (even if it’s just playing about on untracked snow between groomed runs) that would be useful
• You are ski fit and able to ski a full day in any weather, love skiing and are very motivated to improve
• You have probably skied one or two weeks a year for the last five years and have taken professional instruction along the way.
Other experience & attitude!
NO climbing or mountaineering experience is required. This is an intensive course with a small group so you do need to be a socialble person to enjoy this course and embrace the shared accommodation option which is obligatory. We normally eat out together or there’s the option to self-cater. Your choice.
A very clear “health warning”
Be realistic about your ski level and don’t hesitate to consult WMT to discuss your suitability for this course BEFORE you book. Be assured though that this is not a ski racing, extreme skiing or steep skiing course and all ages are welcome. We must state that if you attend and once in Chamonix it is clear that you don’t meet the skiing standard or are not ski fit and able to keep up, we do not have the resources to offer 1 to 1 training so you will need to do your own thing (or hire a private ski instructor at your cost). It is not possible to dip in and out of each training day if, for example, you sign up but aren’t fit enough to ski a full day or want to join in later in the day. This is just not practical. If you feel you are an expert skier, you may be frustrated with the pace as we teach/coach those of a lower standard. This is also NOT a ski club “safari” or Crystal ski holiday with late starts, lots of coffee stops and faffing. There’s much to cover and although getting in a lot of ski miles is really important (and something we always achieve), that’s not all there is to the course. This is an intense and fun group experience; if that’s not appealing to you, please consider alternate options such as 1 to 1 guiding/training instead. If you only just meet the skiing standard then you need to be extra fit to cope with the physical demands of this course. Be sure your aims and objectives align with what we’re offering!
What is ski mountaineering?
Ski touring, ski mountaineering, ski randonee are all fairly interchangeable terms that describe using special bindings and skins stuck on the base of the skis to enable one to climb – slide uphill essentially. This enables us to reach areas inaccessible just by ski lifts so by definition we’re going off piste or back-country where the snow is not groomed or avalanche controlled. To be a competent “ski mountaineer” requires a broad skill set and is a wonderful pursuit that opens up vast spaces unavailable to the piste skier. Barry Roberts says – “I have had my most fun and rewarding wilderness adventures on skis. From my first ski touring expedition to the Karakoram in 1985, to skiing at 7,000m on Shishapangma in Tibet, around the Alps including from the summit of Mont Blanc to more recent Greenland ski expeditions x 3, a combination of mountain skills and skiing ability has been the ticket to many brilliant adventures. Professional tuition along the way has been key to my skill development.” We don’t promise to turn you into a back-country ski guru in 5 days but we’ll get you started.
How is this course different to the normal Chamonix winter course?
Good question! Quick answer – more depth, less breadth. It’s a much smaller group, requires a minimum skiing standard, a high level of fitness and includes 5 days of guided ski tuition and guiding in addition to 12 hours medical training, on and off the slopes. See details of our broader Chamonix Expedition Medicine course 22-26 January 2018.
Group accommodation – obligatory
WMT will organise shared room, self-catering apartment or chalet accommodation for 7 nights for all students and charge this at cost (budget £200 – £300 per head for 7 nights). It is obligatory to join in on the accommodation arrangements due to the social and dynamic nature and logistical challenges of running this course. Realistically you’ll be asked to equally split the cost of the weekly rental with other house mates even if you don’t stay for the full week.
Course fee – what’s included?
The course fee is £895 (Feb) or £896 (March) and this includes:
• Pre-travel and kit advice
• Co-ordination of shared accommodation by WMT
• All instruction/tuition/lectures – 5 days of skiing (previously 4) and 4 days with medical input
• Loan of avalanche safety equipment as required; avalanche transceiver, shovel & probe
• WMT Medic Course Notes (A5 200+ page book)
• In-resort transportation to/from the slopes
• Anything else not expressly mentioned above is excluded.
What’s not included in the fee?
• Ski equipment – some days you’ll require touring skis which you can rent if you don’t have your own*
• Ski passes – everyone must buy a Chamonix Rapid Card in advance (25 to 50 euros depending on when you get it). This is a pay as you go ski pass linked to a debit card so there is no queing for ski passes each day (applies only in the Chamonix resort area and Megeve). It will save you money and everyone the hassle of queing.
• Meals, drinks, cost of shared accommodation, flights, insurance, airport transfers
(*our ski shop partners in Chamonix will offer delegates highly competitive rental rates on all skis)
Cheap UK Flights – Geneva/Chamonix transfers
Easyjet, Swiss, British Airways and Jet2 all fly to Geneva from the UK. From Geneva it’s just over an hour by minibus transfer to Chamonix and Easybus offers cheap rides. Use Skyscanner to search for flights. The trip dossier has more information about flights and local transfers.
We estimate that this programme is valid for at least 12 CPD hours.
This course on Facebook
Join in the pre-course chatter, read course updates and posts or ask questions about this course on Facebook – to be updated for the 2018 dates.
More information – 2017 dossier (2018 version to be finalised)
Download the pre-trip dossier.
Delegates will receive WMT’s comprehensive 200+ page WMT Medic Course manual which covers all the medical topics above plus mountain safety topics such as avalanche, navigation and GPS use.
The outdoor component and ski plans will always be flexible to take account of the snow conditions, weather and abilities of the group. A mountain programme cannot be written in stone and participants need to appreciate that this isn’t a normal “course” with a set timetable and structure. Rest assured we’ll pack in as much learning, skiing and medical training as circumstances, safety and the overall group level permits.
Considering joining us?
If you’re certain you meet the skiing standard please book online. If you’re uncertain or have any questions please email wmt AT wildernessmedicaltraining.co.uk or call Barry on +44 (0)7967 032930.