Meet Alpinehikers Guide: Bruno Yates

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We understand that it’s nice to know who you will be exploring the trails with during your Alpinehikers tour. My name is Eryka Thorley and I work in the Alpinehikers office as well as guide in the Alps. Each month we will be introducing you to another member of our fantastic guide staff in Europe and the Southwest. We look forward to hitting the trails with you soon.  Enjoy!

Bruno grew up in Jersey, although he will likely not fit your stereotype of a Jersey native.  He grew up on Jersey, an island in the British Isles.  Here he learned the value of nature and a deep appreciation for it, which led him to a career in guiding over 12 year ago.  He is one of the most polite people you will ever meet — you have to pry something negative out of this man, and you are sure to hear some of his classic hiking wisdom along the trail like “Be brave, start cold” or cheesy jokes.  Let me introduce to you, Bruno Yates.

Canoeing on the River Wye along the English – Welsh border.

Eryka: How and where did you first begin guiding?

Bruno: My appreciation for the outdoors began as a teenager on Adventure Training courses in school. These training’s quickly became my favorite week of the academic year (although not so academic!) as we traveled to wild and mountainous areas in the UK such as Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons and Dartmoor. For the next 10 years or so I visited mountain ranges and National Parks in the UK and abroad whenever possible to enjoy the natural environment and find the feeling of open space and wilderness. This was always in my free-time until about 12 years ago when I decided to switch professions and pursue my dream of becoming a guide. I started with UK based qualifications and worked for the Outward Bound Trust for a number of years before becoming an International Mountain Leader and moving to France.  Besides guiding local beauties like the Tour du Mont Blanc or the Haute Route, I’ve been lucky enough to also take groups trekking in Greenland, Japan, the Indian Himalaya, Morocco, Iceland, Norway and Namibia.

Ski touring in the Aiguilles Rouges. This photo is looking across at the Aiguille Verte in the French Alps.

Eryka: Tell us about your childhood years…

Bruno: I grew up on the lovely island of Jersey, part of the British Isles but actually closer to France than England. In fact, from my parents house we can see the coast of Normandy on a clear day. There was not many mountains on such a small island (9 miles by 5) but plenty of nice beaches (the granite bedrock makes for golden sand) and endless water sports to enjoy. Being the youngest of five kids, it was tough at times to stake my fair share at the dinner table but my older brothers and sister looked after me (pretty well) and my parents encouraged us all to be active and outside as much as possible. I joined the local swimming club and canoe club, and represented my school at rugby, cross country and shooting. The Adventure Training courses in my school years took us to mainland England and Wales where I first discovered mountains. These trips opened my eyes to the huge amount of opportunities and adventures that is available in the big world!

Eryka: When you’re not guiding for Alpinehikers in the Alps, where can we find you?

Bruno: I live in Annecy on the western edge of the French Alps. I happily spend most of my free days here as there is a beautiful lake for swimming, a dedicated cycle track around the lake and plenty of trails in the surrounding mountains for walking and running. The town itself has a medieval center packed full of cafes, bars and restaurants and there are plenty of festivals and events going on throughout the year to keep me busy.

Summit of the Aiguilles du Rochefort on the Mont Blanc massif.

Eryka: What’s your favorite part about guiding in the Alps?

Bruno: My favorite part I think would have to be the variety. There is variety in everything including the flora and fauna depending on which area you’re trekking through. This can be influenced by other things such as the change in geology or the altitude or how the land has been used by humans. There is variety in cuisine depending on which region or country you’re in. Variety in the places we stay, from bustling little towns with charming hotels to remote and traditional mountain refuges. And of course there is great variety in the spectacular views around every corner. Last but not least, I really enjoy the variety in the great people that I get to meet and am lucky enough to hike with.

Eryka: What’s your go to training activity to prepare for the guiding season in the Alps?

Bruno: I love trail running and it’s great preparation for a summer season of guiding for several reasons. Although it’s higher intensity than trekking, you are similarly covering many miles in a day and it tends to involve a lot of elevation gain and loss. While running you are working the same muscle groups that you use for trekking and in particular strengthening the muscles around the knees and ankles.  This enables your body to better cope with the rigors of back to back multi-day treks in peak season! You can also use trail running to relatively quickly recce new sections of trail or unfamiliar areas that you might guide in the future. And of course with trail running, you are outside enjoying the great scenery.

Trail running on the Grand Balcon du Nord above Chamonix.

Eryka: Are you a live to eat or an eat to live person? What’s your favorite meal in the Alps?

Bruno: I’m definitely a live to eat person and I sometimes wonder if I eat heartily because I do a lot of exercise, or if I do a lot of exercise so I can eat heartily! There’s no shortage of delicious cuisine in the Alps and it’s lucky that cheese is one of my favorite foods as it is featured in so many local dishes. Tartiflette is one of the classics with a locally produced cheese, Reblochon, melted over layers of potatoes, onions and lardons. It has to be one of my favorites…

Eryka: What’s your best joke?

Bruno: I think it would have to be a small series of jokes related to cheese…

Did you hear about the explosion at the cheese factory? All that was left was de brie.

What did the cheese say when it looked at himself in the mirror? Halloumi.

I could go on but I need to save a few jokes for the trail….

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