Explore 360

Expedition Skills Course

Pyrenees

  • Where?

    France

  • Altitude

    3,032m

  • Duration

    7 days

  • Weather

  • Physical

    P3

  • Technical

    T3

  • P3 - This trip is physically tough. Frequent exercise is necessary to prepare properly for this expedition. Regular walking mixed with training at the gym to build up endurance and cardiovascular fitness is key. Expect to be able to do 8 hour days in hilly and often steep train, carrying a pack of 6-10kg in weight with the occasional extra long day.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • T3 - May involve harder scrambling or some trekking and climbing with ropes. If snow is encountered then glacier travel with ropes, ice axes and crampons will be necessary. Basic climbing skills are ideal, but these will also be taught (and certainly practiced) during the expedition and pre-summit phase.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • Overview

  • Date & Prices

  • Pics & Vids

  • Itinerary

  • Kit List

  • FAQs

Overview

360’s comprehensive and fun expedition skills course in the French Pyrenees offers a wonderful alternative to the Alps or Scottish Highlands for the aspiring trekker and mountaineer. Whether you’re aiming to trek and climb in winter mountain environments at home or have your sights on Himalayan peaks, there’s no better playground to learn the basic skills for winter mountain travel.

Learning as you undertake a supervised mountain journey, this course increases your understanding and appreciation of this fantastic environment, while building your confidence to be able to move in winter conditions safely and independently. Skills covered include: snowshoeing, self-arrest techniques, avalanche hazards, navigation basics, ice axe and crampon work on varying terrain, building snow and ice anchors and belays, moving together over snow and ice, construction of snow holes, basic ice climbing techniques and more, culminating in a mountain ascent. This course will also enhance your ability to ‘read’ mountain weather and the geographic conditions around you, and you will also gain valuable insight into expedition nutrition, clothing and winter camp craft. This is an intense, affordable course run by expedition leaders with vast experience, designed to prep you for your next great adventure or just as a week of fun!

Find out more
Expedition Skills Course, Pyrenees Expedition Skills Course, Pyrenees

Date & Prices

For private trips or bespoke itineraries inc. different dates, please contact the 360 office on 0207 1834 360.
A monthly payment plan is possible, please contact the office to chat through the options.

For private trips or bespoke itineraries inc. different dates, please contact the 360 office on 0207 1834 360.
A monthly payment plan is possible, please contact the office to chat through the options.

Departure & Return

Duration

Price (excl. flight)

Price (incl. flight UK-UK)

Start: 16 January 2023
End: 22 January 2023

Price without flights:  £965

Leader: Rolfe Oostra

16 January 2023

22 January 2023

7 days

£965

N/A

Leader: Rolfe Oostra

Start: 13 February 2023
End: 19 February 2023

Price without flights:  £965

Leader: Rolfe Oostra

13 February 2023

19 February 2023

7 days

£965

N/A

Leader: Rolfe Oostra

Start: 20 February 2023
End: 26 February 2023

Price without flights:  £965

leader: Rolfe Oostra

20 February 2023

26 February 2023

7 days

£965

N/A

leader: Rolfe Oostra

Start: 27 February 2023
End: 05 March 2023

Price without flights:  £965

Adventure 999
Leader: Rolfe Oostra / Jamie Ironmonger

27 February 2023

05 March 2023

7 days

£965

N/A

Adventure 999
Leader: Rolfe Oostra / Jamie Ironmonger

Start: 06 March 2023
End: 12 March 2023

Price without flights:  £965

Leader: Rolfe Oostra
In partnership with Cotswold Outdoor / Snow+Rock

06 March 2023

12 March 2023

7 days

£965

N/A

Leader: Rolfe Oostra
In partnership with Cotswold Outdoor / Snow+Rock

Start: 12 February 2024
End: 18 February 2024

Price without flights:  £980

Leader:TBC
Group organizer: James Kent

12 February 2024

18 February 2024

7 days

£980

N/A

Leader:TBC
Group organizer: James Kent

Included

  • Airport transfers to and from Toulouse
  • Tuition from one of our highly experienced guides for the whole week
  • Transfers to and from the mountain base
  • Some technical equipment (ice axe, harness, crampons and snow shoes)
  • Food while on the mountain – breakfast, rustic 3 course dinners in the Renclusa Refuge, and packed lunches
  • 2 nights of accommodation based on 2 sharing in a Luchon hotel or guesthouse, with breakfast
  • 4 nights of accommodation in the dormitory-style rooms (with hot showers!) at the cosy Renclusa Refuge
  • 1 town meal on arrival
  • Mountain accommodation
  • 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor
  • Monthly payment plan, on request

Not Included

  • Flights* (please see the FAQ’s for the pick-up / drop-off times in Toulouse)
  • Additional kit
  • Insurance
  • Any additional town accommodation due to bad weather
  • Lunch when in town and final dinner
  • Alcohol
  • Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early

Pics & Vids

Itinerary

DAY 1 : Arrive Luchon

We’ll collect you from Toulouse airport and transfer to the spa town of Luchon, where you’ll have time to settle into your Luchon guest house. Your guide will assist with pick up of any rental equipment, if required. Times depending, we’ll fit in a fun afternoon rock-climbing session, along with basic climbing and abseiling techniques. An evening briefing will cover essential information for the following days including talks on food, personal and group equipment and weather forecasting.

(D)

DAY 2 : Transfer to the mountains!

It’s an early start this morning, after breakfast we jump into the minibus and will transfer to our drop-off point for our trek! We snowshoe up into the mountains – the venue is always be spectacular but might vary according to the snowfall in recent days, local weather and the conditions forecast. In the past, we have snowshoed in areas including  they have included the Hospice de France, Valle de Benasque and the Vignemale areas. Today we concentrate on learning the art of snow-shoeing and snow safety, and make our way upwards to our lodgings for the night, one of the cosy and welcoming mountain refuges in the Aneto region. With plenty of space to leave snowy equipment, and log burners to sit around with a welcome glass of wine, we’ll enjoy a hearty three course dinner and spend the evening either outside enjoying the starry skies, or inside playing most likely a raucous game of cards!

(BLD)

 

DAY 3 : Technical mountain skills

Today we focus on learning and developing our mountain skills. There’s a plethora of things to learn, but they will include self-arresting, ice axe and crampon work on varying terrain and conditions, and moving together over snow and ice. We will learn how to build snow and ice anchors and belays, and cover crevasse rescue too – and your qualified and experienced guide is on hand throughout!

(BLD)

DAY 4 : Mountain skills

It’s not just about the ability to perform the mountain skills, but your confidence and proficiency too, and so we follow on from our day of learning yesterday by refreshing our skills and practicing, again and again!

We’ll also have a go at constructing snow holes, and develop an understanding about varying snow conditions and avalanche risk assessment along with weather forecasting.

(BLD)

DAY 5 : Mountain ascent in winter conditions

Today we begin to consolidate our freshly learned mountain skills by using them to ascend a small peak. You will be closely supervised by your instructors but the focus will be on your own decision-making processes.  We have options to which summit we choose, though generally we climb Le Mulleres (3,010m). The leader will assess snow and weather conditions and any avalanche risk and the peak will be decided in situ.

It will be a long and challenging day, but a fun one, putting into practice all of our skills! An early start will give us plenty of time to complete the ascent, and we will return to our cosy refuge for a well-earned meal!

We will spend the night at the refuge, though for those who wish there is the opportunity to sleep out in the snow hole we dug and created in the previous days!

(BLD)

DAY 6 : Return to Luchon

This morning we prepare for some more snowshoeing! We bid our farewells to the hospitable refuge and snow shoe out and back down the mountain. If we didn’t fit in rock climbing on our first day, we’ll sometimes head to the crags for a bit this afternoon, and then there is time to freshen up at the guesthouse before we gather for an evening celebration meal in Luchon.

(BL)

DAY 7 : Fly home

Depending on your flight times you can spend the morning relaxing in Luchon or enjoying any of the outdoor activities this beautiful mountain town offers! Boost your adrenaline and go paragliding (at additional cost – ask us for details!), or enjoy some down time and souvenir shopping, the morning is yours!

We will let you know of the departure timings, and transfer later in the day to Toulouse Airport for our flights home.

(B)

The weather in winter and in the mountains in general is very unpredictable. This is Plan A and we will try and stick to it, however Plans B, C and even D may be deployed dependent on the weather conditions that we have to work with! Be prepared to be flexible.

Kit List

Bags & Packs

Rucksack

Bring a rucksack with a good waist belt. Ideally, bring the biggest rucksack you have, 60-65L is perfect. This will give you enough space to carry all your kit along with your crampons, helmet, ice axe etc.

Waterproof rucksack cover

To protect rucksack from rain

Sleeping Gear

Sleeping Bag 3 season

Nights in the refuge can get cold. Bedding is no longer provided so you will need to bring a 2-3 season sleeping bag rated to -5°C and choose a sleeping bag that functions within the comfort rating of this temperature. A silk sleeping bag liner will enhance this rating on the coldest nights. We’d recommend you bring the lightest bag you can get – remember you’ll be carrying it!

 

Light summer silk liner

For nights spent in the refuge.  The refuge will also provide blankets.

Sleeping mat

Only required if you wish to spend a night in a snow hole.

4 Season sleeping bag (If you wish to spend a night in a snow hole)

If conditions allow us to build a secure snow hole and you wish to spend a night in it, then please bring a 4 season sleeping bag that is rated to -10C. Choose a sleeping bag that functions within the comfort rating of this temperature.

A silk liner will enhance this rating on the coldest nights.

Headwear

Warm headgear

This can be a warm hat, beanie, balaclava, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head

Wide brimmed hat

Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck

Sunglasses

Worth spending money on good UV filters. For glacier work category 4 with side and nose protectors.  Julbo is our preferred supplier

Ski goggles

Category 3 for days when it may be snowing and very windy. Very useful on summit day

Sunblock

Minimum factor 25

Lip salve

Minimum factor 25

Upper Body

Base layer

This is the layer closest to the skin and its principal function is to draw (wick) moisture and sweat away from the skin. You can also get thermal base layers for use at higher altitudes that provide an additional insulative layer while still drawing sweat during times of high exertion

Quantity: 2

Mid layer

These are typically lightweight microfleeces or similar technology that provide varying degrees of warmth and insulation without being overly bulky or heavy to pack

Down jacket

These provide the best insulation and are worth every penny. Ask advice in the shop (or from us) when buying the jacket and mention you want it rated to -10C and the assistant will recommend the correct fill for you

Hard Shell

Waterproof hard shell jacket

Soft Shell

These should be windproof (not all are) and insulative. They are mostly made of soft polyester and sometimes resemble a neoprene finish which makes them very mobile and comfortable to wear. While offering a degree of weather repellence, they are not waterproof

Inner gloves

Ski gloves

Lower Body

Climbing trousers

Soft Shell or fleece lined

Waterproof trousers

As with the waterproof top, a lightweight pair of Goretex/eVent trousers that will act as a great windproof too

Long Johns

Thermal insulation for the lower body

Underwear

Merino or wicking material, not cotton. How many pairs you take is entirely up to you

Feet

Warm walking / ski socks

Walking boots

Crampon compatible 4 season trekking boots

Gaiters

To protect the tops of your footwear from harsh conditions and to provide some added insulation

Climbing shoes

If time permits, we will have the opportunity to get some rock climbing in at the local crag! If you have rock shoes, please do bring your own. If not, your own footwear (trainers or trekking shoes) will suffice for the beginner grade climbs.

Technical Equipment

Trekking poles with snow baskets

Telescopic ski or trekking poles – make sure they have snow baskets.

These are optional , and are a personal preference, but they help with your stability, especially on uneven ground or rockier sections, and can dampen the pressure on the knees coming downhill.

Crampons (available to borrow from 360)

10 or 12 points. Grivel are recommended. If you have got these already, perfect, it always helps to practice with your own. Do make sure you have boots that are crampon-compatible.

If you do not have, 360 is able to loan you crampons, but please do advise the office team prior to your course!

Ice axe (available to borrow from 360)

A walking ice axe between 55cm and 65cm.  If you have got this already, then this is good as it always helps to practice with your own.  If not 360 will lend you an ice axe if you do not have, but please do advise the office team prior to your course!

Climbing harness (available to borrow from 360)

It’s always good to have your own climbing harness and we recommend Petzl. Cotswold Outdoor have a variety – do ask us if you are thinking of buying one and we will provide the 360 discount code.

Try a variety on in a shop before you buy to ensure a good fit. Legs clips are a good option and avoids having to step into the harness to put it on.

If you do not have your own climbing harness, 360 can provide you with one for the course – but please do advise the office team prior to your course!

Climbing helmet (available to borrow from 360)

A plastic helmet is more suitable rather than the expanded foam helmets available. Make sure you can wear it with a woolly/fleece hat underneath. We would highly recommend having your own helmet. Cotswold Outdoor have a wide range – do ask us if you are thinking of buying one and we will provide the 360 discount code.

If you do not have your own climbing helmet, 360 can provide you with one for the course – but please do advise the office team prior to your arrival.

Prusik loops

You will need to bring 2 prusik loops, or 3 metres of 5mm paracord to make 2 prusik loops – Decathlon sell this, as do many other outdoor shops.

Quantity: 2

Screwgate karabiners

You will need 3 karabiners – you will want ones like this from Cotswold Outdoor or similar.

We do have a 15% discount code for Cotswold Outdoor which we will provide on booking.

Quantity: 3

Sling (80cm -100cm)

You will need to bring an 80-120cm sling – you will want ones like this from Cotswold Outdoor or similar.

We do have a 15% discount code for Cotswold Outdoor which we will provide on booking.

Snow shoes (available to borrow from 360)

Snow shoes are a flat device that attach to the sole of a boot and are used for walking on snow. If you have these already, then this is good to bring your own as it always helps to practice.  If not, 360 is able to lend you snow shoes, but please do advise the office before you arrive.

Hydration

Water bottles

2x 1L water bottles

Evening Wear

Change of clothing for evenings in the refuges

Comfortable clothes for the evening

Toiletries

Wash kit

Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!

Travel towel

Travel towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect

Wet wipes

Alcohol gel

A must have for good camp hygiene

Medications

Personal first aid kit

The 360 med kits are designed to be used in emergencies and akin to an A&E rather than a pharmacy on Expeditions so please come prepared with useful meds for yourself such as painkillers (Ibuprofen if you can take it and a Paracetamol) plus blister plasters, plasters, antiseptic, rehydration sachets and any muscle rubs you wish to use.

Personal medication

Keep in daysack

Miscellaneous

Head torch

We recommend Petzl head torches. Bring spare batteries.

Penknife (optional)

Snacks

You will be fed very well and given snacks each day however we advise bringing a small selection as a little bit of comfort. For summit day it’s always good to have a few extra chunky bars for that extra boost.  Energy gels and protein bars are not suitable.

Plastic mug

Mugs are provided in the refuge at meal times, but it’s handy to have a mug in case of tea-breaks outside!

Documentation

Passport

Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity.  With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.

Travel insurance

Copy of own travel insurance details.  And relevant contact numbers.

We have a partnership with True Traveller and would recommend that you contact them when looking for travel insurance for your trip with 360. However, it is vital that you ensure that the insurance cover they offer is suitable for you, taking your personal circumstances (items to be insured, cancellation cover, medical history) into account. Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip.  To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.

Dental check up

We recommend you have a dental check-up before your trip. New fillings can be an issue at altitude if there is an air pocket left in the gap

EH1C (formerly E111)

If you are eligible and it is available, as the trip is based in France it is also worth having a UK Global Health Insurance Card or GHIC (which replaces what was the European Health Insurance Card / EHIC). If you don’t already have one, details to apply for one are here.

Do check with your insurance whether your medical costs would be paid, in the unlikely event that you need medical treatment whilst you are away, if you are not covered by a GHIC.

FAQs

Food and Water

Where do we get drinking water from?

All drinking water is from the refuge or can be bought at various stops for the first day’s walking. We pass streams in various places that you can top up from if you should run out, so take purification to add to it in the form of silver chloride or chlorine.

What is the food like in the refuge?

The food in the refuges is plentiful and of very good quality, often using locally sourced ingredients. Breakfasts consist of pastries, fresh bread and jams and you can expect hearty meals in the evenings.

Do you provide snacks during this expedition? Or do you recommend that we bring our own?

360 provides some snacks for your days on the mountain, however do bring some of your favourite snacks from home, a range of fast and slow release energy snacks. The pure ‘energy’ style bars which are solid are quite tough to eat on the mountain so go with simple things. Flapjacks, shortbread, sweets, nuts and chocolate are great, snacks that you’re going to really look forward to eating and which will give you energy.

Accommodation

What are the guesthouse and refuge like?

The hotels and guesthouses we use in Luchon are comfortable and in a central location, with twin or double en-suite rooms. (Chat to us for info on single options.)

The Refuge is dormitory style accommodation but each person will have their own bunk bed.

Can you get a hot shower there?

Yes, hot showers are available. There may be a small supplement for hot water.

Health and Safety

What happens if there is an issue on the trek with a client – a fall or an illness?

360 Expeditions have conducted detailed risk assessments and put the necessary plans in place to cope with any accidents or illness whilst out on the trek. Our expedition leaders are highly qualified and experienced mountain leaders who hold expedition first aid qualifications and are used to working in remote environments. Their training allows them to deal with situations quickly and safely.

Should someone find themselves requiring further medical attention,the leader will organise for that individual to be taken from the trail and transferred to the nearest hospital. The leader and the 360 office team will also be on hand to offer guidance and support for insurance claims and contacting next-of-kin.

Is there any risk of altitude sickness?

There is minimal risk of altitude sickness on this trek.

Kit

What sleeping bag do I need?

The idea is to be as comfortable and warm as possible for the night and henceforth to ensure plenty of sleep for the arduous days ahead. We recommend a three season sleeping bag as we generally spend the nights in the winter quarters where it can get cold.

If conditions allow us to build a snow hole and you wish to spend a night in it, then please bring a 4 season sleeping bag rated to -10C.

What clothing do we need?

Think about how much of the kit you are likely to use again and what sort of expeditions you are likely to do in the future. The cost of equipment is usually a major deterrent for people coming onto trips in the first place. If you think you will reuse your gear, then it is worth starting to invest in good gear. The old adage often applies – you get what you pay for.

Think about the time of year, and how high you are going. While you may swelter at the bottom of the mountains, it can get surprisingly nippy at altitude. Both long sleeve tops and trekking trousers are recommended rather than shorts. Long sleeves and trousers are recommended as a deterrent to insects, scratches from bushes and to act as sun protection.

Equally, if you wish to bring short sleeve tops or shorts, that is fine, just be careful. Keep an eye on sunburn. The prevailing conditions of the day on the mountain will dictate what you feel like wearing. And the layering system never fails. If you are cold, put a layer on, if you are hot, take one off. If this is a taster into the world of climbing and trekking, borrow kit from friends, alternatively you can hire it from our partners at Outdoorhire.co.uk at a fraction of the cost of buying kit new.

What boots do we need?

Due to the variety of terrain encountered when ascending these mountains it is very important to wear the right footwear. Boots should be sturdy, waterproof, insulated against cold temperatures and offer adequate ankle support. In addition, it is highly recommended that your boots are well worn- in, to prevent the formation of blisters.

A wide range of suitable boots are on the market and further advice as to which brand names are available can be found online or at your local outdoor store. The leather / Gore-tex combinations are endless and each with their merits. Our best advice is to try them on – if you think they’re comfortable, and will be for several hours a day, go for it.

Do we need crampons and ice-axes?

These are necessary for the climb above 3,000m. The ice and snow conditions vary according to the time of the year but crampons and ice-axes may be necessary for the ascent – and you will need them for the skills practice. For crampons, non-technical strap-on types will do. If you are using crampons with the more modern heel clip make sure you have boots that are compatible. We recommend the Grivel 10 point walking crampons. A general walking ice-axe is ideal. These can be borrowed locally, please let us know in advance and we can arrange it.

What other technical equipment do I need? Am I able to rent from 360?

Have a look at the kitlist to see what you’ll need – if you’re planning on more mountains in the future then it’s always great to have your own equipment, but if this is a trial run we definitely advocate the ‘beg, borrow or steal’ method for trips like these!

While we can loan crampons, ice axe, harness, helmet and snowshoes (please let us know before you arrive and we will arrange for you), we don’t have enough of everything else, so would ask you to bring your own walking poles, karabiners, slings and some rope to make prusik loops…

Cotswold Outdoor have some reasonably priced slings and karabiners (and we’ll send you a 15% discount code when you book for use online and in-store!) otherwise you’ll find also in most outdoors stores. For the prusik loops you need about 3m of 5mm cord – also widely available online or in outdoors shops – chat to the 360 office team if you need any advice.

How much weight will I be carrying in my rucksack?

If you are borrowing or buying a rucksack, ask someone to help you adjust it to fit your back. And ensure you are making these adjustments with weight inside it, not empty. Generally it should sit reasonably high on your back so that the weight is acting vertically downwards, not forcing your shoulders back or drooping past your backside. Again, it is about how you feel comfortable wearing it, so it is important to get it right. Make sure too that it is either waterproof or you have a waterproof cover for your rucksack.

It is also advisable to pack your kit in plastic bags/bin liners or waterproof bags before placing them in your rucksack. You should bring a rucksack with you of approximately 40-60L. The idea on this expedition is to mimic as closely as possible conditions on some of the bigger mountain expeditions. Although we will not be camping, you will be carrying (or wearing) your snow-shoes, ice-axe, crampons, sleeping bag, spare clothes, water, cameras etc. Although this is just for the walk in and out, it is good to prepare for this!

Do I need a down jacket?

A down jacket is not essential, a good thick fleece or jumper will suffice for the evenings.

The Course

How tough is this course?

Just because we’re in Europe and reasonably close to home, doesn’t mean that you’re undertaking a gentle walk in the hills! This is a fairly challenging trek with significant altitude gain and some long days, learning techniques that may be new to you, like the use of crampons. The fitter you are, the more enjoyment you will get from the week.

What is the course content?

The following is included:

Snowshoeing, safety in the winter environment, self arrest techniques, assessing avalanche hazard, basic navigation, ice-axe and crampon work on varying terrain and conditions, building snow and ice anchors and belays, and moving together over snow and ice. We’ll also cover construction of snow holes, weather forecasting, basic ice climbing techniques and finish up with an ascent of a mountain in winter conditions

A greater understanding of expedition travel will be gained, and further skills such as expedition nutrition, clothing and winter camp-craft will be discussed or demonstrated on the journey phase of the course.

The Weather

What is the weather like?

During the day temperatures can be warm and can even reach to the mid teens C. In the evening higher up, it could drop to below freezing and with a distinct chill in the air. For early spring or late autumn ascents there can be snow from the refuge up and the temperatures on the summit well below freezing. As you will be trekking in a mountain environment, the weather can rapidly change for the worse so you need to be prepared for all conditions. Even in good weather it is not uncommon to have short heavy downpours or snowstorms

Travel

Flights aren’t included - what time should I arrive and depart to/from Toulouse?

We haven’t included flights as this gives you options from the UK. There are many flights that come to Toulouse daily from many different airports.

We will be at the airport at midday on day one of the itinerary for pick-up, and on the day you leave we will be dropping the team off at Toulouse airport for midday also. Please therefore find flights that work for these timings, or plan to have the night before or after the trip in Toulouse.

If there are any issues with this please let us know and we will also try and help however it might mean in getting a hire car/train or taxi to your start / finish point.

Bagneres de Luchon is 1h 40 mins drive away.

Insurance

Do I need special travel insurance for the course?

You must carry individual travel insurance to take part in the expedition. We cannot take you on the mountain without proof of insurance.

Our team are insured through True Traveller, and we are part of their affiliate programme. Other recommendations can be found on our links page.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip, to include (at a minimum) medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.

Your insurance details are requested on the booking form; however this can be arranged at a later date if you wish, though we would always suggest having at least insurance to cover you for cancellation in place at the time of booking. 360 Expeditions will be requesting your insurance details 8 weeks before your departure if we have not received them prior to this.

Do I need an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for this expedition?

If you are eligible and it is available, as the trip is based in France it is also worth having a UK Global Health Insurance Card or GHIC (which replaces what was the European Health Insurance Card / EHIC). If you don’t already have one, details to apply for one are here.

Do check with your insurance whether your medical costs would be paid, in the unlikely event that you need medical treatment whilst you are away, if you are not covered by a GHIC.

Training

What training do we need to do?

Being trekking fit before coming to the mountain is of great importance not only to maximise your chances of reaching the summit but much more importantly to enhance your overall enjoyment of the expedition: if you are struggling from day one then you will not enjoy the rest of the trip.

Physical preparation does not have to be Herculean: concentrate on cardio vascular exercise during the week by taking short runs when time allows and try to spend at least 2 weekends a month going on good long walks (longer than 6 hrs) carrying a rucksack of around 10kg, and head for the hills.

This kind of regime will not only prepare your body for carrying minor loads but will harden your body against the big days on the mountain itself. In addition it will help break in your boots and get used to your equipment. This will pay dividends when you reach the mountains.

Several excellent training plans can also be found online to prepare you for this ascent. Check the thorough advice offered by UpHill Athlete.

Electronics

Will I be able to get WiFi along the way?

The refuge doesn’t have WiFi due to its remoteness, but you will be able to get it at the guest house at the start and finish of the expedition.

Is there mobile reception?

Mobiles tend to work fine once you get to 3,000m but not at the refuge.

Can I charge my camera / iPod in the mountains?

The refuge does have electricity so you will be able to plug things in to charge, but depending how busy the refuge is, you might find yourself competing for a socket with other guests. A power bank or solar charger is a handy addition to your packing list – we use PowerTraveller for our power packs and solar chargers and would highly recommend them!

General

Additional info

For more information on what to expect, check out our YouTube video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnkTAAeYkCE

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everybody at 360 for a totally awesome expedition skills course last week. The week did exactly what it said on the tin plus much more, from the discussions around weather and avalanches, to self arresting, rock climbing and abseiling and then putting it all together to summit the Maladeta on a gorgeous day everything was great! The instruction from Rolfe and support from Jamie alongside a great team bond helped everybody learn new skills and overcome fears (abseiling for me). I feel I now have both the confidence and the tools for whatever Kang Yatse II throws at me later in the year!

Marian McMichael - Winter Expedition Skills Course Pyrenees
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