Canford CCF triumphs to reach summit of Mont BlancSeptember 2010
On 4th July 2010, twelve cadets and two members of staff from the Canford School CCF began a ten day expedition with the ultimate goal of climbing Mont Blanc, 15,782ft above sea level and the eleventh highest mountain in the world. Before attempting the climb, Canford pupils joined the Italian Alpine Regiment in Perenni Barracks, Courmayeur, Italy for some intensive training. Guided by Bill Billingsley from the Royal Marines and Jerry Dolan along with three Alpini specialists, the group took part in a five day programme to ensure they were equipped with the skills and safety knowledge to attempt the mountain.
The climb began well, gaining 600m in the first ninety minutes as the group scaled the glacier from Mont Blanc de Tacul. The next ridge up Mont Maudit was a steeper climb than any of the party had previously experienced and the help from the Alpini laying ropes and advising on use of the crampons was invaluable in cresting the summit of Mont Maudit at 4,345m. The view was incredible with the sun rising over the Eastern Alps and many peaks now far below.
The altitude began to slow the team but with the summit of Mont Blanc in sight the group pressed on and finally reached an indistinct ridge around fifty metres long at the top of the mountain which marked the summit. The exhilaration felt by both pupils and staff at having achieved such a fantastic goal will be remembered by this group for many years to come.
The climb was partly funded by the Ulysses Trust. Formed in 1992, it provides funds for units and individuals to take part in challenging expeditions mounted by volunteers of the Reserve Forces and Cadets of the United Kingdom. It aims to develop their character, initiative and leadership qualities, to support the morale, recruitment and public esteem of the Reserve Forces and Cadets.
Dan Culley, master in charge of CCF at Canford who organised the trip commented:
“This was an amazing experience for our CCF group and was a huge achievement. We had undertaken preparations for the climb during the summer term at Canford but the expert tuition we received in Courmayeur also proved invaluable. I thank all those involved in helping to make this such a successful and memorable venture which has offered our pupils not only the chance to further their passion for outdoor pursuits but also to develop the leadership, organisational and team building skills which are required in their daily lives.”