Mountain Medicine on Skis, Chamonix 2020

Course outline & essential info

WMT’s most demanding course combines mountain medicine training with professional ski tuition and guiding in one brilliant package. Includes 5 days of skiing and 10 hours medical tuition (on/off slope). We’ll develop your personal skiing competence so that, initially, you might have the skills to join a ski touring party off piste, ski all terrain and be able to provide better emergency medical care in the mountains. No climbing or mountaineering experience required. You must ski to the minimum standard outlined below and be ski fit. 10 max per course with 3 instructors. Delegates are accommodated together (at additional cost). Up to 20 CPD hours. Normally held twice – early February and early March. 2020 dates TBC. Details below are for 2019 and will be updated/revised once 2020 dates are announced.

Delegate feedback

The best course I have ever been on.
It was intense but I was expecting it.
Feel my skiing has really improved.
….excellent course
Medical lectures extremely well delivered and evidence based.
I loved this course.

Target audience

This is much more than a “ski junket” and appeals to mountain mad medics wanting to push their skiing standard, try 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 and accept the obligatory accommodation arrangements and the dynamic, fluid nature of this course. The course is limited to 10 participants.

2019 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 about 5pm on Day 5 (Thursday) after skiing, enabling students to catch late flights home if necessary though time can be tight (9pm earliest to allow transfer time) though most people stay until Saturday and ski together Friday. In terms of flight times to book, the accommodation is normally available from 5pm Saturday and the latest departure is by 10am the following Saturday.

Ski & mountain outline programme

Day 1 – Morning meeting and ski warm up, mountain safety training/avalanche awareness & transceiver use, 6-7pm 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, medical training

Day 4 – More skiing AM and medical training then collecting rental touring skis and practising putting skins on, learning to “kick turn”, practising skiing on the piste and skiing on touring skis/boots.

Day 5 – Final day – putting it all together – *ski touring, 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

*Ski touring describes 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 by ski lifts so by definition we’re going off piste or back-country where the snow is not groomed or avalanche controlled. We don’t promise to turn you into a back-country ski guru in five days but we’ll get you started.

Medical programme

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 to 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.

Teaching Teams 2019

Ski instructor and international mountain guide Luc Bellon and WMT’s ski addict Barry Roberts will deliver both courses. Medical Director Dr Harvey Pynn (ED consultant, dip. mountain medicine) will be teach on the February course. Dr Charlotte Verney (anaesthetist, dip. mountain medicine) will deliver the medical teaching on the March course. See the dossier (under Downloads) for the team’s full biographies.

Ski standard required

As a minimum, delegates need to be “good” intermediate level skiers, meaning;
• 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.
• 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 or more and have taken professional instruction along the way.

Other experience & health warning

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. Only ski fit, team players that meet the minimum ski standard are welcomed on the most physically demanding course WMT offers. Be realistic about your ski level and don’t hesitate to consult WMT to discuss your suitability for this course BEFORE you book. This is not a ski racing, extreme skiing or steep skiing course and all ages are welcome but if you attend and 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 be free to ski independently. It is not possible to dip in and out of each training day to join in when you feel like it. This is just not logistically practical. If 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 “safari” with late starts, lots of coffee stops and faffing. This is an intense and fun group experience with a lot of ski time though we always need to remain flexible due to weather, avalanche risks and other factors beyond WMT’s control.

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. 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. We are unlikely to offer single rooms.

What’s included – not included

• Pre-travel & kit advice
• Co-ordination of shared accommodation by WMT
• All instruction/tuition/lectures – 5 days of skiing and 4 days with medical input

• WMT Medic Course Notes (A5 200+ page book)
• In-resort mini-van transportation to/from the slopes

What’s not included?

• Ski & avalalanche safety equipment – some days you’ll require touring skis which you can rent. Rental of avalanche safety equipment as required costs about 50 euro (avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe).
• 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 your credit card so there is no queing for ski passes each day (applies only in the Chamonix resort area, Les Houches and Megeve). It will normally save you money and everyone the hassle of queing.
• Meals, drinks, cost of shared accommodation, flights, insurance, airport transfers
• Anything not expressly mentioned is not included


We estimate that this programme and pre-reading is valid for up to 20 CPD hours.

Alternative Chamonix winter course

For a course with more medical breadth and no organised skiing or tuition (but plenty of free time to ski) see details of WMT’s bigger Chamonix Expedition Medicine course.


This 2019 Pre-trip dossier is essential reading for up to date info, staffing details, travel advice and much more.
WMT Mountain Medicine on Skis pre trip dossier 2019 v2
WMT Mountain Medicine on Skis Administration Form (and please bring a completed paper copy with you – don’t send by email)

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