Adventures, Courses — 26 October 2022 at 8:40 am

Endeavour Medical Expedition Medicine and Leadership Summer Course, Morzine France- Review

Claire Hall/ FY2 Doctor/ North West London
Lucy Longbottom/ Final Year Medical Student/ Plymouth University

Founded in 2021, Endeavour Medical is a new provider of wilderness and expedition medical training. Their large team of faculty boasts decades of experience in multiple extreme environments including mountain, jungle, polar, and desert with countless teaching and academic accolades to their name. Endeavour Medical delivers an array of courses, including global health and sports medicine courses as well as wilderness, expedition, and leadership offerings. The Expedition Medicine and Leadership course runs twice yearly; in Summer and Winter in Morzine, France. Led by Lucy Obolensky (Founder of Endeavour Medical) and co-directed by Dr Nics Wetherill (Army Medic and Leader of the Ice Maiden expedition) and Dr Alex Reid (currently an FY4 Doctor working in Intensive Care). Together they bring a huge array of experience in global health and expedition medicine both in civilian and military life, as well as holding qualifications from diplomas in tropical medicine to winter mountaineering climbing instructor and many in-between!

Key Facts:

Duration: Five days in total; one-day lecture-based (online learning) and four practical days in Morzine of scenarios, workshops, and discussions

Dates: Late June (Next date 18th-23rd June 2023)

Location: Chalet Beziere (Treeline Chalets), Morzine, France

Cost: £895 GBP Inclusive of luxury chalet accommodation (exclusive of travel). Discount available to students.

Qualification/Accreditation: Course attendance certificate, worth 40 CPD points. Plus, the opportunity to complete Supervised Learning Events (including case-based discussions and clinical evaluation exercises).

Delegates: 9 Delegates (medics and non-medics welcome)

Prerequisites: A moderate level of fitness and keenness to learn about expedition medicine and global health

The Course

Based in the centre of Morzine, in the French Alps, this alpine village is easily accessible from the UK. Just a 1-hour drive from Geneva airport and a 9-hour drive from Calais (for those wanting to drive from the UK). It’s a perfect gateway to explore the mountains and lakes of the Swiss-France Alps with a variety of activities right on the doorstep; mountain biking, road cycling, climbing, and swimming to name but a few.

Most delegates arrived on Sunday, ahead of the course starting on Monday morning. We were all warmly welcomed by the course leaders at the Chalet that evening where we had the opportunity to ask any burning questions about the week ahead.

Example Course Contents

Lectures Include:

  • Expedition preparation, nutrition, and mental health
  • Leadership in Practice
  • Medical Kits
  • Environmental lectures: Altitude, Cold and Heat illness, Tropical and Dive medicine
  • Expedition Sustainability

Practical Content:

  • Trauma and Primary surveys
  • Packaging casualties
  • Expedition orthopaedics
  • Radio communications
  • Rope skills and Basic navigation
  • Sports medicine and taping

Monday morning started with a dip (or 2k swim) in Lake Montriond and a picnic breakfast to finish. As we were tucking into our pain au chocolat, scenario-based training kicked off with the rescue of a struggling swimmer and treatment of suspected hypothermia; putting the “burrito wrap” into practice. Throughout the rest of the day, there was a mix of indoor and outdoor brilliant teaching covering a multitude of topics. The evening was free for socialising in the local microbrewery.

The second day began with some free time to enjoy the mountains. Part of the team took off for some mountain biking up the Super-Morzine, whilst others ventured out on road bikes for a ride up Col de la Joux Verte, both finishing off with a slice of cake. Teaching then began with a sports medicine and taping session led by Physiotherapist Louise Paley. The session was practical and covered the key concepts required for effective taping. The session was so engaging that no one smelt the chickens roasting in the kitchen next door which lead us to our next scenario. The management of hyperthermia. We were split into two groups and raced to cool down our respective chickens who were found outside with internal temperatures of 42°C. This example highlights the creativity of the teaching by the Endeavour Medical team.
That evening we had an inspirational talk by Dr Alex Reid covering his vast experience in winter sports and expeditions. He holds the highest UK instructional qualifications in winter climbing, mountaineering, and ski mountaineering and has undertaken clinical work and personal challenges across the world. After we finished teaching, we began packing up our bags for our overnight hike to Refuge de Bostan. A few of us also managed to squeeze in a short run along La Dranse de la Manche, a river running through the centre of Morzine town, to a small waterfall where you could swim. Opportunities for exercise were not sparse and it was wonderful to be surrounded by like-minded outdoor lovers.

Hike to Refuge and Summit of Tête de Bostan:

Wednesday morning marked the start of our expedition. The group was joined by Neil, an international mountain leader (IML) who holds a wealth of knowledge and experience. Before we set off there was peer-to-peer navigation teaching, allowing the course delegates that held their mountain leader qualifications to share their knowledge and experience.

Throughout the hike up to Refuge de Bostan, Neil paused the group regularly for bite-size teaches on flora and fauna, geology, and history as well as taking time to answer a wide array of questions.  After a picnic break with a group exercise on sustainable development goals (SDGs), we were quickly put to work with another scenario. A storm had struck suddenly and we needed to care for a group of children in our storm shelter before evacuating them to the refuge using confidence roping and reassurance. This certainly put our rope-work skills to the test!

After arriving at the refuge we had a quick pit stop to enjoy the views with a refreshing beverage before hiking a little further. This time we were treated with a practical trauma and orthopaedics workshop packed with skills including key tips and tricks for relocating joints in a remote environment. Our skills were quickly tested with a team race to manage a casualty with a lower limb injury requiring traction (our team narrowly won- not that any of us were at all competitive!).

Once back at the refuge Lucy Obolensky led us through her mental health toolkit, building upon what we had learnt from Sophie Redlin in the pre-course lectures. This allowed for great discussions whilst acknowledging the importance of individual mental health needs in the remote environment. A delicious 3-course meal fuelled us through some very engaging and competitive card games!  Meanwhile, alpine foxes and marmots played in the meadows around us.

The final day led us up to the summit of La Tête de Bostan at 2400m in time for lunch. But before we left the refuge we were treated to a passionate and inspirational talk from Lucy Obolensky who spoke openly about her journey through her global health career thus far. This led to many open discussions on our walk to the summit and has inspired many of us to pursue further opportunities in global health.

After lunch, it was time for a long descent back to Morzine. However, we weren’t going to get away with a simple plod down. Mid-afternoon disaster struck as the faculty presented us with a trauma scenario. Two casualties had fallen in a river bed. Everyone got involved and it was amazing how much we had developed as a medical team since the start of the week. The group was faced with challenges from logistical and navigational difficulties to carrying a suspected spinal casualty down a river bed using a makeshift stretcher. After a thorough debrief and final descent the course came to a completion with a final workshop on expedition nutrition, including some tasters too! This again built on brilliantly from the pre-course lectures and fuelled us for the final goodbyes.

The Verdict

We would highly recommend this course to both medics, trainees, and non-medics. The course was holistic, flexible, and interactive. A large volume of teaching was covered in the pre-course learning which enabled shorter refresher sessions in person and scope to go further in-depth into delegates’ interests and needs. Wider skills such as leadership and human factors were inbuilt during the course.

There were numerous opportunities to discuss with both the leaders and other delegates future plans and career aspirations. Through this many networks and friendships were built that we will hopefully maintain beyond the course.

Top tips:

Arrive early to make the most of the Alps!
A moderate level of fitness will make the hike/exercise more enjoyable.
Take time to watch the pre-course lectures, they are very informative.
Complete a reflection and supervised learning event to add to your portfolio along with your course certificate.

To find out more about Endeavour’s Altitude in Practice  course in Morzine, see Endeavour’s website

Photos courtesy of Dr Lucy Longbottom and Dr Claire Hall