Alpine Guiding in France & Switzerland

The French town of Chamonix is a mecca for all kinds of climbers and skiers. It sits at the foot of Mont Blanc, at 4807m the highest mountain in Western Europe. The ascent of Mont Blanc is one of the most popular guided routes in the Alps, but the Chamonix valley offers many other amazing challenges too. We also work in various parts of Switzerland, and the Ecrins region of France. We specialise in bespoke guiding - we design a programme to suit your aspirations, your group size, and the time you have available.

Looking towards Italy from the summit of the Weissmies

Looking towards Italy from the summit of the Weissmies

Routes and Ratios

The size of your group will determine the challenges you can undertake:

1:4 – limited to glacier treks and straightforward trekking peaks, such as Aiguille de Tour, Bishorn, Allalinhorn, Breithorn, Pigne d’Arolla, and the Haute Route

1:3 – all the above, plus slightly more demanding peaks such as Weissmies and Gran Paradiso

1:2 – all the above, plus more technical mountains such as Mont Blanc, MonteRosa, Dent Blanche, Jungfrau, Petit Aiguille Vert, , Dent de Geant

1:1 – no limits! Some peaks can only be done at 1:1, eg the Matterhorn, the Eiger via the Mittelegi Ridge

We design each programme individually, but here are some example itineraries to inspire you. Please note: these are examples only. We often have to adjust an itinerary because of weather, snow conditions, fitness, lack of acclimatisation, etc. You can mix and match from the programmes, for example we can design a longer itinerary for you that includes in Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.

Useful blog posts

Welcome to 1865 and the Golden Age of Mountaineering
5 Things To Think About For Your First Alpine Season
Do You Recognise The 10 Early Warning Signs Of Hypothermia?

Alps intro programme

This introductory six day course will include a number of peaks and will give training in the skills needed to travel confidently over glaciated mountains, including the use of crampons & ice axe; roped glacier travel and crevasse rescue techniques; ridge scrambling and moving roped together; advice on acclimatisation and fitness; use of huts and cable cars. All ascents will be via simple routes, the only requirement being a good level of fitness. Participants should have hill walking experience in Britain, with some on snow and ice experience preferred (but not essential, as this will be covered in full during the course). 

Download a detailed programme

Useful blog post: Traverse of the Aiguilles Crochues, 8th August 2015

On the summit of Mont Blanc

On the summit of Mont Blanc

Ascent of Mont Blanc

This programme includes an attempt on one of the best-known peaks in the European Alps. A couple of additional peaks above 3,500m will be attempted in the process of gradual acclimatisation, and some nights will be spent in high mountain huts. The course is not of a technical nature, but a good level of fitness is required - it is aimed at strong hillwalkers/scramblers. No previous alpine experience is necessary, but experience on snow/ice is preferred, although not essential as these skills are taught during the course. The four acclimatisation days can be done at 1:4, with the two Mont Blanc days done at 1:2. For a group bigger than two, extra Guides will be brought in as needed to maintain the 1:2 ratio on Mont Blanc.

Download a detailed programme

Alpine 4000ers

4000 is the magic number in the Alps, and we will attempt several 4000m peaks during the week. Several nights in high mountain huts will help the acclimatisation process and set us up for success. The programme is not of a technical nature, but a good level of fitness is required - it is aimed at strong hillwalkers/scramblers. No previous alpine experience is necessary, but experience on snow/ice is preferred, although not essential as these skills are taught during the course. The programme is based from the Saas valley in Switzerland.

Download a detailed programme

Useful blog posts
Swiss, French & Italian peaks, August 2015
Alpine 4000ers, 8th-19th July 2017

The Matterhorn

What is the appeal of the Matterhorn? It is one of the world’s most recognisable mountains, and it has an amazing history, starting with the first ascent in 1865 by Edward Whymper et al. This programme is for fit people, who can scramble and rock climb for extended periods at altitude. Also essential are the ability to concentrate for long periods and to move smoothly over serious ground of a technical nature. Relevant previous experience would include climbing at altitude, technical routes on other 4000m peaks, the Cuillin Ridge on Skye, and/or Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis in summer or winter. The first three days include rock climbing and mixed climbing in the Chamonix valley, before driving round to Zermatt for the final three days. Whilst the preparation days can be done at 2:1, the Matterhorn is always done at 1:1, and if extra guides are needed, they will join us for the three days.

Download a detailed programme

Useful blog posts
Video: Climbing the Matterhorn
How to climb the Matterhorn
Cosmiques Arête, 24th July 2015
Cosmiques Arête, 24th August 2015

Ascending the Aiguille du Tour

Ascending the Aiguille du Tour

Dates

Dates for all our courses and guiding are listed on the calendar

Guiding Fees

1:1 £290 per day
1:2 £310 per day
1:3 £330 per day
1:4 £350 per day
NB The Matterhorn, at 1:1, is charged at £310 per day

In addition to the guiding fees, you will need to pay for cable cars and overnights in mountain huts, and you will pay these same expenses for Chris. Prices in each hut vary, but bed and half board is usually 55-65€ per person, with guides being charged a lower rate. Cable cars cost between 26€ and 55€ for a return ticket. See our booking conditions for more info on this. You will also need to pay for travel to the Alps, insurance, and food and accommodation when in the valley.

Preparation

The fitter you are, the more you will get out of your time with us, as all Alpine activities require considerable physical effort. Swimming, cycling, and hill-walking are all good preparation. We offer Alpine Dreamers days in the Lake District, which offer training including crevasse rescue and essential ropework, or a few days rock climbing in the Lakes would give the opportunity to introduce some techniques and to chat through your aspirations for the Alps

Travel & Accommodation

Lots of useful ideas can be downloaded here:
Chamonix accommodation & travel
Switzerland accommodation & travel

Equipment

A detailed equipment list can be downloaded here:
Alpine Summers Chamonix & Switzerland Kit list - PDF version

Useful blog posts about equipment:
Mountaineering boots: La Sportiva Trango S Evo
Crampon Review and Comparison
Top Tips For Choosing An Ice Axe

Photo Gallery