Most of the mountains I've climbed in the last two years have been done in good weather and good conditions. Either by waiting for the right moment or being lucky with the weather. But being in a mountain resort for 3 months is bound to have at least a few days of bad or, if you like to ski, good weather! Learning about when is, and isn't a good time to be on the mountain becomes very important.
After witnessing and camping nearby to a dozen big avalanches the day after arriving in Chamonix, I decided it would be wise to do an avalanche course to find out more about mountain safety for skiing and climbing. Although it probably isn't such a big factor on Everest, I still need to survive the 3 months here before I even start my attempt on the world's highest mountain.
The High Mountain Office (Maison du Montagne) in Chamonix gives regular free avalanche awareness classes. Unfortunately you need to speak enough French to understand them. Luckily there are many guides/companies in the valley who will instruct you on avalanche training in English too.
The basic safety gear includes transceiver, probe and shovel which can be bought together for about £200-300, but should last you a lifetime in the mountains. Avalanche safety can be a very complex subject, but the basics can easily be taught in a one day course.
I spent the morning in a lecture learning about snow conditions focusing on when and where avalanches are likely to occur. In the afternoon we went outside practising how to use transceivers to locate a victim, probing to find the exact location, then finally digging the victim out of the snow.
Having done the course now, I have a lot more confidence and knowledge to draw from when choosing when and where I should do my mountain training safely in the run up to Everest.
Equipment: Exodus Pant, Latok Jacket, Vapour-rise Top, Ice Gauntlet gloves, Julbo Mountain Explor glasses