ENSA overhauls guide training following deaths

The French High Mountain Guide training college (ENSA) base in Chamonix is overhauling its guide training program. The new cursus is expected to be published in 2010.

The route list for candidates is less demanding but this will be accompanied by an entrance exam and the initial training period will be one week longer. According to Pierre Oudot, director of the ENSA this will give tutors the chance to evaluate both the technical competence of candidates as well as their approach to the mountains.

The shorter course list should permit guides to start their training younger. Most guides qualify in their thirties and this restricts the length of their career. There will also be a greater focus on career development. According to Oudot, “nowadays you can qualify as a trainee guide very quickly, there is not sufficient progression. We want to increase the competence of trainee guides with a mentor would will confront the candidate with the problems faced in their career.” The ENSA will have to contract professional guides for this task.

There have been eight deaths over the winter (update, 9 with the death of Karine Ruby on the 29th May, 2009) of guides and trainee guides during the 2009 season. A figure comparable with 2004 when 9 guides were killed. Double the long term average.

The ENSA has started using mathematical tools such as the Munter 3x3 method but at the end of the day the the choice of route and whether to go at all is down the guide. Instructions have been issued to guides concerning ice climbing routes with a recommendation of extreme prudence on lines that are suspended and not attached to rock.

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Posted by davidof on Wednesday, 08 April, 2009 at 04:12 PM

Henri Bouillet has become the 11th French guide/or apprentice to be killed this season.

The accident occurred on the Pointe Dufour in Switzeraldn. M. Bouillet was helping a client who was being airlifted 50m below the summit of the 4600 m peak when his belay point gave way. He fell several hundred meters.

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 10 July, 2009  at 04:54 PM

I had the privilege of skiing with Henri and his fiancee, Marie, this past March while in Chamonix. He was a kind, strong and generous man. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

Posted by  on  Thursday, 16 July, 2009  at 03:44 AM
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