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The Alps and Via Ferrata Ladders

Date Posted: 11/11/2014 | Posted In: Latest news

A Level Geology students from QE recently enjoyed a week long field trip to the European Alps. The main purpose of the trip was to study the landscape and geological evolution of one of the world’s great glaciated fold mountain belts. But they also participated in a number of exciting adventure activities, including rock and ice climbing and trekking up a glacier.

The Alps were created by the collision of the European and African continental plates between 35 and 5 million years ago and are the highest mountains in Western Europe. Such provinces are an integral part of the A Level Geology course and students at QE have the opportunity to investigate these landscapes in person.

During the trip the students trekked 1000 metres up a mountain to the famous icefall on Glacier d’ Argentiere in France, travelled on a cable car to the 3842m high summit of the Aiguille du Midi and explored the high mountainous terrain around Lac d’ Emosson in Switzerland. However, the undoubted highlight of the excursion was trekking across the crevassed surface of Mer de Glace, Europe’s longest glacier. Under the supervision of a team of experienced mountaineers led by Stuart McDonald, whose many achievements include an ascent of Mount Everest, the  students and staff were guided down the ‘via ferrata’ ladders that have been bolted onto the 150m high sheer rock cliffs that flank the glacier. Once on the glacier the party, now equipped with crampons and ice axes, engaged in activities such as abseiling down crevasses and climbing vertical sections of ice.

Ed Anderson, Head of Geology at QE, said:

‘The visit not only provided a valuable learning opportunity to study mountains and glaciers at first hand but it was also great fun and created many lifelong memories. I am currently organising next year’s trip and will be sp­eaking to prospective students about it at the forthcoming College Open Evenings.’