On this inspirational alpinist training course we aim to tackle some enjoyable alpine terrain 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’.
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 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….but hopefully you might go on to do these in the future having done this course!
Early & Late Summer 2023 Courses Now Booking…
2023 Course Dates & Price
- 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 / nearby Swiss Valais Alps
- Meet some other like minded alpine mountaineers who are motivated to train and improve their alpine skills
- 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).
Starting with rock climbing / training / scrambling day then a Skyway Monte Bianco Day, then a 2 day hut expedition via the Albert Premier Hut or Moiry Hut, then to finish an Aiguille du Midi Day, as per descriptions of what these venues offer below…
- 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 – Rope work revision – Rock climbing & scrambling in the Chamonix Valley. This is an enjoyable and important initial 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, eg from the Brevent or Les Cheserys.
- Day 2 – Glacier Travel – High Altitude Alpine Ridges – Skyway Monte Bianco. Drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel to access the inspiring Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif via the superb Skyway lift (3462m). Glacier travel and crevasse rescue training as part of a journey to climb an easy alpine ridge and moving together terrain. Looking at rappel and descending skills and consolidating from yesterday.
- Days 3 & 4 – Mountain Hut & Peak Expedition. We have visited a variety of huts and peaks in the past with the aim of consolidating skills from earlier in the week and adding using a mountain hut, planning the route, finding the way, making good time. Examples of venues include the lovely Moiry & Trient Huts in the Swiss Valais.
- Day 5 – Chamonix Aiguille du Midi. 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.
- 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 towards Becoming an Alpinist!
Pre-Course Fitness and Experience Levels
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…
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!’
Please see out Alpine Mountaineering Equipment List below.
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 – if required, depends on prevailing conditions
- Comfortable rock climbing shoes that you can wear all day with a pair of socks underneath
Matt, Becoming An Alpinist Course, June 2015
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!
Course Dates & Price
5 days, Monday – Friday
Max guiding ratio 1 guide to 3 guests
£1295 – Course Fee Only, as per inclusions & exclusions below
Book your place by filling in a booking form & making a payment on the course portal via the link above.
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.10 euros per night, Bunkhouse for C.20 euros per night and hotel accommodation from around 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: Brevent/Flegere return 35€; Montenvers return 30€; Aiguille du Midi cable car return 67€; Skyway Monte Bianco cable car return 55€.
- 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.
- Transfer from the airport to Chamonix, around 35 euros each way
- 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
- The approximate total cost of additional essential expenses based on 4 nights 2* hotel accommodation half board single room (approx 110€ per night), 1 hut night and lifts as outlined is approximately 750 Euros. This excludes your share of the guides hut expenses, which can vary depending on the number of participants.