page answers the questions that we are most frequently
asked by those who have never been on an Icicle course
of the questions would make a White
Press Secretary look for an easier job, whilst others
will probably make you laugh. At least you can learn from
it all, and if you still have any queries after reading
this, then please send us an e-mail, or call.
helicopter approaching Hornli hut to resupply. Matterhorn
my skills be enough
for summit success?
you want percentages and statistics, or to be told you
an excellent chance? Very
few clients like to be told that
they are the greatest variable in the equation, but it
is true. For each course we outline the level of previous
skills or experience that is required for an ascent. If
you approach us stating that you have never worn crampons,
but "are a fast learner", you have definately
lessened your chances of summit success. When anyone comes
to us with a similar statement to this we draw their attention
to these facts, but as long as other competant clients
are not affected in any way, we let each client decide
if they meet the pre-requisites for the course, or choose
to ignore them. The other main personal factor if your
physical condition. This is tackled by another question
on this page. If you are in any doubt as to the level
of your skills, then either consider a longer course,
or perhaps a few days of refresher or acclimatisation
training before the course.
weather window for a summit
our experience there is on average only one week a year
the chosen summit cannot be reached, and other safe objectives
are offered. We know the local weather systems and conditions
so well, that if there is any possibility of an ascent,
we will select the best option. In addition, our local
presence gives us a massive amount of greater flexibility,
in terms of changing hut and cable car bookings. This
is a key factor that gives us better summiting records
than any other operator. In addition we carefully schedule
each course to only operate in the periods of best weather
and conditions and all the
courses have carefully planned itineraries, designed to
build your stamina and skills. Our aim is to make you
achieve your goals in the safest and most enjoyable way.
However nothing in the world of mountaineering is guaranteed,
and our summiting record could never safely be 100%. To
give you an idea of our summiting records, on the Intro
"Summits & Skills" course (objective of
a first 4000m peak), it is very close to 100% with only
one or two people failing each year.
ways will high
altitude affect me?
you knew the answer to this
question, you probably would not need to book onto a course,
but as you are unsure about the effects of altitude, rest
assured that you are in the best qualified and most capable
of an IFMGA mountain guide, who has received specialist
altitude medicine and rescue training. To further put
your mind at rest, mountain rescue helicopters
can fly to any summit in the Alps, so a rescue off Mont
Blanc is possible. Altitude sickness affects people in
different ways. At altitude, you will notice the air is
thinner, though most of the feelings of nausea are due
to the effort of the ascents. Most people sleep very lightly
at altitude, so we try to arrange for alternate nights
to be spent in the valley. For further information our
Alpine Info page contains a detailed section on acclimatisation.
HERE for info.
level of fitness do I need for a course?
fitter you are, the enjoyment you derive from the course
will increase. The particularly demanding courses are
the Extreme, Classics and Summits courses. The Course
Information Pack that you receive upon booking includes
training advice. If you are in any doubt as to the demands
of any course, or your training methods, then look at
following page; Training
information and advice.
Inevitably, some clients, doubting their fitness or ability,
have chosen to pull out from summit attempts. If possible
we offer alternatives.
boots are suitable for my course?
is probably our most commonly asked question, so we have
produced a specific page to answer these queries. The
link is Key
Alpine Kit. The simple
answer to the question above is as follows. On every course
we operate (ignoring ski courses, where ski boots or ski
mountaineering boots are necessary), you will require
fully stiffened mountaineering boots. The ideal boot classification
category is B3, which means that the boot sole unit is
rigid. These types of boots accept all types of crampon,
and do not flex at all. If you are considering buying
boots for mountaineering, they must be B3, and good examples
are the Sportiva Nepal Extreme, the Salomon Pro Thermics,
or the Scarpa Alpha / Vega boots. For expeditions or for
winter climbing plastic boots are generally better due
to their greater waterproof and thermal qualities.
I require a sleeping bag for any nights?
you are staying in mountain huts a sleeping bag is NOT
necessary (except in unguardianned huts in winter - see
itineraries for details), as the guardianned huts all
provide enough blankets and sheets to keep you warm. Some
people opt to carry a sleeping bag liner for hygiene reasons
now require a liner), but realistically you are sleeping
in a t-shirt and trousers as a minimum.
are your environmental & financial standards?
have a strict environmental policy which ensures that
we use the mountains in an ecologically sustainable way.
We carry ALL rubbish off the mountain. We also educate
our clients in the methods in which they can use mountainous
areas. For full details of our policies and our environmental
labels, click onto our Environment
On all our courses and expeditions we follow strict environmental
guidelines, in terms of litter disposal, sanitation, local
economy sensitivity & porter care.
air holidays on this website are ATOL Protected by the
Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is T7228. For
futher information, visit the ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk.
booking is further protected through our bonding with
the Travel Trust Association (membership U3307). This
bonding fully complies with the 1992 Package Travel Regulations,
and guidelines proposed by the Department of Trade and
Industry to protect clients on package holidays. Due
to our TTA and ATOL bondings, Icicle follows a very strict
code of financial practice, and all monies that you pay
to Icicle (by credit card, cheque, etc) are held in trust
until after your course has ended. This protects you in
the highly unlikely event of our insolvency, and furthermore
all monies paid by you are fully insured.
type of insurance do I need for a course?
Booking Conditions require all clients booking on a course
to arrange activities insurance as soon as their booking
has been confirmed (by e-mail or in writing). You must
check that your policy includes cover for the following:
medical expenses, mountain search & rescue, personal
accident, money & documents, any travel delay, personal
liability, legal expenses & cancellation, as well
as other circumstances for which you require cover. We
recommend that you use BMC Alpine & Ski insurance:
www.thebmc.co.uk or 0870 010 48 78. It is
highly unlikely that any non-specialist climbing insurance
will provide this level of cover. Upon arrival on a course,
you will be asked for documentary proof of your activities
insurance. Full details of the cover provided by the BMC
and Snowcard insurance policies are on the insurance
page (click to link).
do previous clients think
about their courses?
best feedback we get is the
level of repeat bookings. Last Summer season saw 37% of
all the clients being previous clients, and last Winter
it was 46%. Several clients have come back over ten times,
and two people booked on five trips in one year. We are
still not content with these
impressive statistics, and are developing new ways of
attracting previous clients to return. To
read more feedback comments from clients, click on the
following page link: Client
you for what has been the most challenging, exhilarating
and enjoyable time of my life. To say you exceeded
all my expectations is an understatement, it was
a dream come true. I would never have imagined
that I would be capable of doing half the things
I did on the course, and I felt a great sense
of achievement" (BG, London, Intro Course
Climbing Mont Blanc by the Trois route was a wonderful
experience at the age of 59, especially climbing
it with my son. Couldn't have done it without
Icicle!" (DC, Bristol, Mont Blanc Summits
the water in the
huts safe to drink?
mountain huts, there is rarely running water (and where
there is, it is generally only suitable for washing in,
not drinking). When you stay in a hut you should take
suitable quantities of drinking water, or at least enough
money to purchase bottled water. Please note that bottled
water costs approximately £3 a bottle, and is so
expensive because it is helicopter delivered. In winter,
even the huts which usually have running water, often
have no running water as the supply is frozen, and so
you must melt snow.