Live the Mountain Adventure with ClimbNow!
Euan Whittaker has been climbing for 22 years and instructing for over 18 years. He is a fully qualified IFGMA Mountain Guide, full MIC and Technical Advisor for a number of local councils and other organisations. We had the chance to have a chat with him about his amazing experience and personal opinions about mountain’s sports; curious to know more? Read the full interview!
1) You have been a climbing coach for over 18 years: how did you start this career and why?
I began climbing at School and hill walking with the Boys Brigade and then at university I began working in a climbing wall and discovered that I really enjoyed teaching. From there, I started working in the mountains with all age groups. Working in the mountains has given me lots of opportunities to meet different people from different backgrounds, to take groups out into amazing environments and the opportunity to pass on skills that allow people to go out into the mountains ‘under their own steam’.
2) What’s the best thing about your job?
Spending time in stunning locations with lots of different and interesting people.
3) Did you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation in one of your expeditions?
In the process of becoming an IFMGA Guide, we have to climb large numbers of routes in difficult locations and we have to ski in wild places. This meant that I have been in some difficult situations over the years, for example, running away from gullies where rocks have started flying down. These experiences before qualifying make for safer Guides once qualified.
4) You will be delivering the ‘Fundamentals of Climbing Courses’ on behalf of the MCofS: what are the fundamentals of climbing in few words?
Understanding your centre of gravity, weight transfer and economy of movement.
5) Let’s talk about winter sport: what’s the best resort for ski touring? And what’s the best one for off piste?
For intro ski touring courses Val d’Isere is excellent. It has a large number of easy peaks which are accessible from the lift system for half day and full day ski tours and excellent huts nearby for overnight tours. Also, access to the Gran Paradiso National Park and its wealth of ski touring is possible. For off piste skiing a week based out of Saint Gervais Les Bains can be excellent as quick access is possible to the brilliant Les Contamines ski area and Megeve as well as the world famous Chamonix off piste.
6) Best après-ski in the French Alps?
7) Tell us a bit more about your last expedition between Val d’Isere and Aosta: what are the highlights?
Starting in one country with its own culture and finishing in a different country with a different culture feels very special. The huts on the way are very friendly serving excellent food. Every day we made fresh tracks in excellent snow, powder up high and spring snow lower down.
8) What do you think about the recent ban of English hosts in the French Alps?
For the past five weeks I have been in mountain huts so unfortunately haven’t had a chance to research this topic and come up with my final opinion. I am sure there are arguments which are valid on both sides.
9) What’s your favourite climbing route ever and why is it so good?
Difficult question as there are so many different styles of climbing from rock to mixed climbing to pure ice. A route such as Sombre Hero’s at Ceillac in France stands out. It is a beautiful free standing icicle which is a real pleasure to climb.
10) Best activities/excursions to do in the Alps in summer? What would you suggest to a family with kids?
For a family with kids I would suggest going to Les Ecrins. The area benefits from excellent weather and has a huge range of activities to suit all abilities; Via Ferratas of all grades, family rock climbing areas, easy mountains as well as difficult peaks, swimming ponds and good trails for mountain biking. The other excellent excursion for all abilities in summer is the Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route; 7 days of walking on glaciers, over high mountain passes and summiting nice peaks.
11) Could you please share with us the top 3 safety tips when approaching mountain’s sports?
In the ski season; always check the weather forecast, always study the avalanche forecast and be prepared and willing to turn back if things are not right.