Essential Information for the Alps
Where do the courses take place?
All our courses start and finish in the Chamonix valley. Some programmes involve a return trip to Saas or Zermatt in Switzerland. Bespoke guiding can be in any of these venues or anywhere else in the Alps. We choose a venue for each day depending on the aims of the day and the weather forecast.
What previous experience do I need?
Each course is given a grade for fitness level and mountaineering experience.
Fitness level 1: you exercise regularly through the week for short periods, and regularly do more eg a half day walk in the hills at the weekend.
Fitness level 2: you exercise regularly through the week – running, walking, cycling or playing sports. You can sustain a raised heart rate for a 45 minute run or a 2 hour bike ride. You can walk in the mountains or climb all day, but feel tired at the end.
Fitness level 3: you exercise regularly at a higher level, and you are able to push hard for extended periods. You can do a long 15-mile day in the mountains, and you can do this over consecutive days.
Intro: You are a UK hillwalker, and you may have done some of the following: indoor or sport climbing, trad climbing, scrambling, winter walking. You haven’t done any technical snow or ice climbing, and you haven’t been to the Alps.
Intermediate: You are a UK hillwalker, and you have done a good amount of some of the following: indoor or sport climbing, scrambling, winter walking. You have extensive seconding experience up to Severe or VS, and you have done some lead climbing. You have also seconded Scottish winter routes at grade II or III, and some easy Alpine routes up to AD.
Advanced: You are an experienced climber, leading or seconding routes up to VS and having done Scottish winter climbing at grade IV or V, plus Alpine routes at AD/D.
How much will it cost?
1:1 £325 per day
1:2 £345 per day
1:3 £365 per day
1:4 £385 per day
NB The Matterhorn, at 1:1, is charged at £345 per day
This is how the guiding fees will work out at different ratios:
1:1 £325 per person per day
1:2 £172.50 per person per day
1:3 £121.67 per person per day
1:4 £96.25 per person 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 60-85€ per person, with guides being charged a lower rate (around 40-60€). This includes dinner and breakfast, but not drinks and snacks. Some huts do not have running water, so bottled water must be bought. The Reciprocal Rights card gives reduced rates in huts managed by the Alpine Clubs of France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Holland, South Tyrol, Austria and Spain, and is available to BMC members. You have to pay for the card (£45 in 2018, and it runs January to December), but it will pay for itself in just a few hut nights. Members of the Alpine Club will also be given a reduced rate. Hut fees are paid in the local currency, and many huts accept credit cards. Cable cars cost between 25€ and 65€ for a return ticket.
You will also need to pay for travel to the Alps, insurance, and food and accommodation when in the valley. See below for transport costs during the course.
What about transport?
If you don't have your own car we can take you around in our car. Transport around the Chamonix valley in included in your guiding fees. Return trips to Switzerland as part of your course programme are charged at 0.40€/mile.
What do I need to bring?
A detailed equipment list can be downloaded here:
Alpine Mountaineering kit list
What can I do to prepare?
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 Preparation 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
Useful blog posts
Welcome to 1865 and the Golden Age of Mountaineering
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Crampon Review & Comparison: Petzl Vasak Lever Lock, old vs new
Mountaineering boots: La Sportiva Trango S Evo
Crampon Review and Comparison
Top Tips For Choosing An Ice Axe
Managing Risk in the Mountains #2: Heuristics & Mind Sets