High Mountain Guides / What we do / Mountaineering in Chamonix / Becoming An Alpinist

Becoming An Alpinist

Becoming an Alpinist Team On The Summit Of Pointe Lachenal (3613m), Chamonix After A Fine Ascent Of The North Face By A Series Of Fun & Technical Snow, Ice & Mixed Pitches.

On this progressive alpine training course we aim to tackle some of Chamonix's classic moderate alpine routes in a style that will offer you high quality mountaineering training along the way. This course is ideally suited to those with some existing rock climbing and winter mountaineering experience and who would like to develop these existing skills and become independent 'Alpinists'.

2018 Dates & Prices

Previous Course Reports

With a maximum ratio of 1 Mountain Guide to 3 students this course aims to deliver high quality practical training whilst tackling some interesting alpine terrain (up to C. AD-) and practicing new skills in a high alpine context along the way. Training & development is the emphasis of this course thus we generally won't be tackling long & hard Grande Courses...during the course....but hopefully in the future having done it!

Course Aims

  • Develop your existing mountaineering & rock climbing skill & experience with a view to progressing as an Alpinist
  • Spend 5 enjoyable days climbing, mountaineering & training around the Mont Blanc Massif
  • Visit a good variety of the classic mountain venues of the Chamonix Valley
  • Meet some other like minded alpine mountaineers
  • Have a fun & sociable week with 1 night spent in a high mountain hut

Below we have outlined both the alpine training elements and suggested alpine routes (up to around alpine grade PD+) for this course which will be led by a fully qualified IFMGA Mountain Guide

There are four cornerstones to Alpine Mountaineering which even good climbers experienced in smaller and non-glaciated hills may not be familiar with. These four themes will drive the content of the training throughout the week. They are:

  • Good 'movement skills' on all terrain from rough walking to steep climbing and from rock to mixed & ice
  • Always roping together members of the team on a snow covered glacier
  • Sticking to guide book time for the route - the need to be efficient and how to achieve this
  • An awareness of objective hazards and how to mitigate against them

Skills Covered During the Course

  • A refresher of crampon and ice axe skills, with an emphasis on secure but efficient progression
  • Ice climbing techniques with 1 and 2 tools
  • Secure and efficient movement skills on rock, ice and mixed ground.
  • Being swift yet secure and saving energy on long alpine routes
  • Glacier travel techniques
  • Managing the rope on alpine ridges
  • Multi Pitch Alpine Abseil Descents
  • Crevasse rescue techniques, keeping it simple and effective
  • Selecting appropriate equipment, light and effective
  • Using mountain huts
  • The use of alpine maps and guide books and selecting appropriate routes
  • Alpine navigation including altimeter, GPS and mobile phone applications

Course Programme - Sample Itinerary, (Flexible According to Weather, Conditions & Team Aspirations).

See some actual itineraries from previous courses below for more detail about the type of routes / areas / styles of climbing experienced during this great course.

  • Pre Course - Arrive in Chamonix, arrange any hire equipment. Check in to Hotel / campsite etc. Any previous time spent in the valley warming up / acclimatising / training will be beneficial but is not essential.
  • Day 1 - Easy / big boot scrambling & rock climbing in the Chamonix Valley. This is an important training day and gives the opportunity to start developing your alpine & rock movement skills & climbing rope work whilst sampling some of the superb alpine rock in the Aiguilles Rouges / middle mountains.
  • Day 2 - Starting from the village of Argentiere we use the first of the big 3 alpine lifts in the Mont Blanc range Les Grands Montets (3275m). This gives us immediate access to glacial and high alpine mixed terrain where we can start to cover some of the alpine elements of the training themes described above and do some good easy mixed climbing in the process.
  • Day 3 - Ascend Chamonix's famous high mountain lift, the Aiguille du Midi (3842m) to access the remarkable area of rock, ice and mixed climbs around the col du Midi. This day gives us the chance to develop more high mountain alpine techniques with a variety of possible route options including easy multi pitch mixed climbing or traversing classic alpine PD ridge terrain. Check out some of the options on our 'Midi Variations' gallery below:
  • Days 4 & 5 - Drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel to access the superb Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif via the high Hellbroner lift (3462m). After a glacial journey tackle a superb 'Chamonix Granite' Alpine ridge traverse like the Aiguille Marbrees. The journey back to the high 'Torino' Hut provides an ideal opportunity for some Glacier travel and crevasse rescue training. Dinner and an overnight at the Torino always involves plenty of pasta and classic Italian café.
  • An early start on Day 5 from the Torino Hut (3329m) usually provides the classic pre-dawn experience of an 'alpine start' crunching across the frozen glacier in crampons. Few other huts in the Alps have more route choices than the Torino. Check out our 'Hellbronner Variations' gallery below for some final route options which can be blended with any remaining training issues to be covered at the end of this action & coaching packed week of mountaineering. We finish the week with the final descent to Courmayeur / Chamonix for drinks, a course debrief and some ideas about suitable future climbs on the progression towardsBecoming an Alpinist.

Fitness and Experience Pre-Requirements

This course is for people who already have some rock climbing experience, have used crampons and an ice axe before and want to develop alpine mountaineering skills. To get the most out of the training and suggested routes you will be able to second up to F5b (C. UK VS) and you will also need to be physically very fit and able to complete 5 full mountain days (eg. 6-8 hours in duration).


I’m still buzzing after a cracking week. Thanks to you all for the great company and mentoring. Matt - drop me a line when you’re next in London and we can tackle the bullet-hard north face of the Westway!
Once again, it was a pleasure to climb with you all - good luck with all future adventures...

Michael, Becoming An Alpinist Course, June 2015


Equipment List

Please see out Alpine Mountaineering Equipment List below.

Alpine Mountaineering

A summary of technical equipment & clothing required for summer alpine mountaineering. The alpine style involves climbing with a small & light pack that has all the essentials, sufficient emergency equipment, an... more>

In addition to all the items mentioned in that list you will also require the following items which can be cheaply hired from us:

  • X 2 Technical Ice Axes
  • Comfortable rock climbing shoes that you can wear all day with a pair of socks underneath

Suggested Course Progression

Our Chamonix Alpine Introduction would be a great start to building your mountaineering experience and a good onward progression would then be to Climb the Gran Paradiso, followed by the Weissmies. These enjoyable and contrasting Italian & Swiss 4000m peaks would set you up very well for Climbing Mont Blanc. Our Becoming an Alpinist course would fit in well after that and would then logically be followed by Chamonix Alpinist & our Climb the Eiger & Matterhorn courses. Chamonix private guiding is a good choice along the way for harder / longer routes & north faces as well as further specific training. This course progression is often reflected in the dates of our courses so get in touch if you would like to build an excellent longer alpine programme with several different consecutive courses...an alpine 'semester!'


Thanks for a great week in the mountains! Great company, fantastic route choices and quality guiding (cheers Rob!) I'm really inspired to come back next summer, hopefully for 2 weeks this time. And will definitely be getting in as much climbing as I can through the rest of the the year and hopefully a good dose of freezing cold Scottish winter too. The training is already paying off - I was climbing with the club on the Gower last night, and felt secure setting up a good stacked abseil with me and my climbing partner both getting set up on the rope with our cows tails in place, and using all the checks we learned, before ab'ing down to the sea ledge. Thanks again everyone, and hopefully see you next summer or sooner!t

Matt, Becoming An Alpinist Course, June 2015


2018 Course Dates & Prices

Our 2014-2017 courses were a complete sell out - so book early to reserve your place for 2018....

June 25 - 29

5 Days, Monday - Friday Inclusive, 3 / 3 Places Available, (Enquiries: 1)

Night spent in mountain huts on intended itinerary is June 28th.

Opportunity to do a 3 day Weissmies course or Matterhorn Training weekend after this course.

July 23 - 27

5 Days, Monday - Friday Inclusive, 3 / 3 Places Available, (Enquiries: 1)

Night spent in mountain huts on intended itinerary is July 28th

Opportunity to do a Climb The Matterhorn programme the week after this course.

2018 Price


Maximum Group Size - 3 Guests To 1 Guide

What’s Included in the Price?

Our courses are priced on a 'guiding only' basis which means you pay the exact cost price for all other expenses like hotels, mountain huts and lift passes.

  • 5 full days mountain guiding with an IFMGA Mountain Guide
  • Transport during the course including travel in the valley and across to the Italian Vallee d'Aosta
  • Discounted equipment hire prices
  • Management of the trip / itinerary and booking of all mountain huts

What’s Not Included?

  • Chamonix accommodation. Prices start from camping at C.12 euros per night, Bunkhouse for C.25 euros per night and hotel accommodation from around 40-50 euros upwards. Please see our Chamonix Accommodation notes.
  • Mountain huts. Allow about 65 euros per person for your hut night (dinner, bed & breakfast) and share in the Guides hut night also (double this for the Gouter Hut, including several bottles of drinking water).
  • Mountain lift passes. Allow 30 euros for the return trip during the training phase and about the same for the telecabine / tramway during the summit period.
  • The guides expenses are split between the group members and are discounted in huts and on lifts. The best way to deal with these expenses is to make a communal group 'kitty' which you contribute to and all expenses are paid out of.
  • Flights
  • Transfer from the airport to Chamonix, around 30 euros each in way in 2014
  • Lunches, extra drinks, snacks etc during the course
  • Mountaineering equipment. Check the kit list below
  • Insurance, this is your responsibility to arrange and ensure that you are covered for alpine mountaineering in the European Alps
  • Any other expenses
  • Approximate total cost of additional essential expenses (based 6 nights staying in the huts and a 2* Hotel in the valley): 450 Euros

Further Details & Booking

For more details on our terms & conditions, to fill in a booking form and make a payment, please visit our booking page via the link below:

Chamonix Alpine Mountaineering / Climbing Reports

Reports and accounts from Alpine Mountaineering & Rock Climbing around the Chamonix Valley.

Chamonix Mountaineering

An impressive collection of galleries giving an insight in to the quality and huge variety of mountaineering within and around the Chamonix Valley. Routes include classic beginners alpine ridges, 1000m+ classic North Faces, winter style Chamonix Goulottes and many more.

Other Relevant Courses

Chamonix Alpine Intro

Whilst Chamonix is the capital of world mountaineering, you do not need to be a great climber to enjoy its vast mountain attractions. On the contrary, one of Chamonix's real assets is that it has peaks and climbs suitable for all levels of challenge and for every step along the... more>

Chamonix Alpinist

Chamonix is the capital of World Mountaineering. Put simply, it has it all. Rich in alpine history, ripe with hundreds of superb climbs and overlooked by the spectacular presence of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Aiguilles. This, is the domain of the 'Alpinist'. On th... more>

Previous Course Reports


Becoming An Alpinist June 2015

Excellent week with the strong team of Matt, Michael and David forming an impressively well bonded & cohesive team where everyones good preparation resulted in a highly productive 5 days of training & climbing. The week started well in the Aiguilles Rouges with several pitches of multi pitch rock up to 5b on the Voie Gaspard en route to the traverse of the Aiguilles Crochues traverse. This was completed in good style with 2 independent teams before a debrief over tea & cakes at the lovely Refuge Lac Blanc on the way back to Flegere.

Day 2 saw the team practicing good glacier travel techniques traversing the Col du Midi en route to the fine series of snow, ice & mixed pitches on the North Face of Pt Lachenal. Fun climbing and a great insight in to 50 degree + front pointing as well as short technical walls of Chamonix granite mixed climbing. The 2 x 60m ropes then allowed 3 long abseils back down the north face and training for a multi pitch abseil descent and setting up anchors using trad gear and ice screw / threads.

An enjoyable high altitude traverse of the AD- route on the Aiguilles d'Entreves gave the team plenty of opportunity to practice moving together, managing the rope, pitching and a technical descent involving down climbing, abseiling and then easier moving together.

Our final expedition took to the lovely Orny Hut as Base Camp to sample the middle & high mountain granite rock climbing on this Swiss side of the Mont Blanc Range. The hot weather suggested this would be a good venue and luckily a pleasant SW breeze gave great conditions for climbing both routes and becoming efficient at sustained team multi pitch alpine rock climbing & abseil descent....as well as doing some brilliant high altitude Chamonix Granite style rock climbing along the way. A great week, see our Becoming An Alpinist photo gallery via the link on the page above for photos of all these routes.

Becoming An Alpinist Course July 2013

Good varied week of alpine climbing with a team of 3. Climbed at Les Cheserys slabs near the Col des Montets (Aiguilles Rouges) on the first day including multi pitch rock climbing. Big boot climbing and an ascent of the iconic single pitch - The Aiguillette d'Argentiere. On the second day we enjoyed some technical ice skills training on the Mer de Glace as part of the physical ascent up to the lovely Couvercle Hut. From here we had an 0200 breakfast for the long glacial ascent of the Pt Isabella. A great alpine outing and long way back to catch the train back from Montenvers.

The final 2 days included day trips to the Punta Hellbroner for a traverse of the Aiguilles Marbrees with teams operating as independent alpine teams and managing their ropes accordingly for the glacier approach, moving together over easy scrambling, pitching, snow ridges and then abseil descent back on to the glacier.

The last day gave an inspirational insight in to alpine north face mixed climbing & pitching with an ascent of the Pt Lachenal north face via a series of fun technical icy faces and snowy & mixed ramps. Good sport & good training for future ascents.

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