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One subject and four helpers during Wilderness medical in front of the Mont Blanc Massif from the Italien site
Tahoe Wilderness Medicine Coming to Chamonix

Tahoe Wilderness Medicine Coming to Chamonix

Feb 8, 2020

This summer we’re psyched to welcome Tahoe Wilderness Medicine to Chamonix for a special Run the Alps trip. This unique experience combines wilderness medicine continuing education with the an introduction to trail running in one of the best places in the world to try it out– Chamonix, France and Courmayeur, Italy.

So what’s it like?

What better way, we thought, than to talk to a few guests who have experienced it? Here’s what Run the Alps friends and past guests Dr. David Lipman and Dr. Suzanne Hiramatsu shared with us. David is a medical doctor, trail running coach, and runner. He lives in Amsterdam, but escapes to the mountains whenever possible. Suzanne is Director of Emergency Medicine at the Pacific Redwood Medical Group in Ukiah, California. She is also a proficient alpinist, having climbed in the US, Europe and elsewhere around the world.

Wilderness medical, Italy, trail
The group practicing patient assessment with the Mont Blanc massif as backdrop. (Photo: David Lipman).

Run the Alps: What did you get out of the program?

Suzanne: It was a great way to learn while also enjoying the Chamonix area. Rather than attending a conference in a fun area that you can’t really explore, this felt much more immersive. The group was a perfect size to feel comfortable and inclusive. There were providers from different countries and with different experiences, which added to the discussions. I enjoyed the discussions with new friends, while running through jaw-dropping landscapes.

David: Aside from a great week, the program helped fill gaps in my knowledge and add more formal paradigms to my understanding of wilderness medical issues. In particular, I developed the thinking processes required when deciding between moving a patient or staying to wait for support. John Anderson’s experience and guidance was excellent. (Editor’s note: John is the course leader.) For example, his advice on what to put in a first aid kit, and why and how to use it, is the sort of information that’s often overlooked, but I found it to be invaluable.

Wilderness medical, Italy, trail
The group moving along the iconic Tour du Mont-Blanc, above Courmayeur, Italy. (Photo: David Lipman)

Run the Alps: What sort of guest would enjoy this week-long program?

David: To be honest, anyone spending time in dangerous situations outdoors. Of course, the more medicine you practice, or the more event medical coverage you do, the more applicable some of this information becomes. But, ultimately, anyone can benefit from this course. As trail running has become more popular, it’s become increasingly obvious to me that many people assume that simply because the trail exists, it’s a safe environment. However, things can suddenly get quite dangerous for any number of reasons. This is particularly a concern in alpine regions.

Suzanne: I would recommend this program for anyone in the medical field — physicians or non-physician providers — who has an interest in combining wilderness medicine, alpine trail running, great food and camaraderie. The material was appropriate for anyone who works in primary care, emergency medicine, or sports medicine and also has an interest in wilderness medicine.

Chamonix will be our base for much of the course. (Run the Alps video by Max Romey.)

Run the Alps: And tell us about the trail running!

Suzanne: The Run the Alps program provided a great way to see the Alps without the hassles of trip planning or map checking. The staff was entertaining, and knew all the best places for mid-trail treats and post-run beers. They were able to pick the best trails and daily agenda based on our range of abilities. We were treated to various trails and scenic runs all over the Chamonix valley – from grassy fields, to rocky, high trails overlooking glaciers, and wooded, steep climbs. Basically, we got to run and enjoy the views with our awesome guides!

David: The trail running, of course, provided many highlights. Running to the Bonatti hut outside Courmayeur, Italy, and back the following day was great fun. John did an exceptional job of integrating the learning during this overnight stay on the mountain. One of my personal favorite days was climbing to Refuge du Plan de L’Aguille for breakfast, running across the gentle Balcon Nord to the Mer de Glace and then back to Chamonix. The home-baked pies and meeting Belle, the resident dog, were great moments! (Editor’s note: The hut, and the Balcon Nord, are featured in the video below.)

We want to thank David and Suzanne for sharing their experience and insights with us!

Interested in going? Get more information about the trip right here.

Emily Geldard
Emily is an International Mountain Leader, and the Assistant Manager for Run the Alps. She lives in Chamonix, France and is passionate about all mountain sports, all year round.