When speaking about mountaineering, many people immediately think of extreme adventurers or top athletes, mainly men, hanging on a cliff or battling in the middle of a snow storm. But that’s not always the case. In the past years women are also breaking through in the mountaineering world. Some of them achieving daring challenges, but also some others, who maybe never thought before of being part of that formerly ‘man’s world’, making their first steps in the mountains.
So even for people who have no previous experience, there’s always an entry gate to this fascinating activity: Marine, from France, climbed Castore peak (4228m) in the Monte Rosa range, guided by Andrea, a local IFMGA mountain guide. She had never climbed before, and ended up thrilled with the experience!
– What are the reasons why you decided to go 2 days on a mountaineering trip?
Until last spring, I thought climbing any summit was like climbing the Everest or going to Mars: don’t even think about it. Until the day my trail-addict-mountain-climber boyfriend told me I could do it. So I figured, if he thinks I am capable, shouldn’t I give it a try and check how it looks from up there? Then I guess the idea of sharing such an experience with him seduced me.
– How was your preparation for the trip?
Physically speaking, I try to run and swim regularly, so I am a little trained. But mostly, we’ve been bivouacking in the mountains for a few days before the ascent. I’m sure this made the difference. Because we got used to the altitude and because walking from 4 to 6 hours a day trains your body and endurance. Then, technically speaking, I got very concerned about the equipment! For instance, I made an excellent investment buying my first for-real-walking shoes. They quickly became my best friends up there!
– Why did you decide to climb Punta Castore?
We thought we could combine beautiful mountains and good food in the Italian Alps. So we tried Monte Rosa on Explore-Share and got in touch with Andrea, our guide, who recommended Punta Castore as the perfect first climb: no major difficulties, no rock climbing, no experience required.
– Which are your best memories of the ascent?
The first steps on the ice in the dark: It really felt like walking on the moon… although the moon was right above us, full and beautifully enlightening the silent glacier. Then the emotion we shared arriving on the top, the sun shining on Mont Blanc and Matterhorn. And finally the well-deserved beer and sandwich we swallowed when we got down!
– Which were the difficulties and challenges during these 2 days?
The unknown is the challenge. And the big question is: am I capable of climbing up there? But in practice, going down was probably the toughest part. That’s because you get quite tired and you’re not that motivated anymore as you’ve already seen the most beautiful part of the run. I hadn’t really thought about the descent while preparing the trip. In fact, the summit was my only goal. Now I realize getting to the top is only a small part of a whole. The real challenge is to get back down the big mountain!
– What’s the added value of going with a guide? How was your experience with Andrea?
Andrea was great. He’s slightly younger than I and yet I quickly got completely confident that we were in safe hands with him. Of course he runs in the mountains as a young chamois, but he’s also very professional and careful. And he’s a child of the valley, so he has all kinds of fantastic stories to tell about it! Last but not least, he’s fond of Georges Brassens and makes his own honey!
Marine’s story is the perfect example of what we like to promote in Explore-Share: that mountains are accessible for all, and offer multiple activities for everyone to enjoy. So, if you still have doubts, you can follow the 3 tips she shared for anyone who wants to do mountaineering but never did before: “You can do it! Anticipate the descent! Talk to Explore-share!”.
Feeling inspired? Here you can check out all our mountain ascent trips in Monte Rosa!