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 this action packed week we aim to make the most of the remarkable infra structure of high mountain lifts in the Chamonix valley and do as much high quality alpine climbing as possible…
This course is designed for mountaineers who already have some alpine climbing experience and want to focus on enjoying the outstanding quality of the routes available here in the Chamonix Valley. We aim to tackle technically interesting mountaineering routes, rock, ice & mixed, all in a stunning high mountain setting. Thus whilst all our courses have a training element, so that you are always developing as a climber, this course is more focused on maximum climbing time. Those looking for more structured training should look at our Becoming an Alpinist course or arrange some Chamonix private guiding.
This course is run at a ratio of 1 International Mountain Guide (IFMGA) to 2 guests and the routes undertaken are usually in the PD to D- Alpine grade range. With the exception of the rock climbing on day 1, and if the weather allows, most of the climbing will be at an elevation of between 2500 & 4000m. Inspiring stuff!
Our inspiring ‘Plan A’ programme for the week is described below. However flexibility is always retained until the start of the week when conditions and weather will be discussed alongside clients specific aims, experience, ability and fitness. Our knowledge of Chamonix mountaineering will ensure just the right level of challenge, fun and a suitable progression in terms of the difficulty, length and style of climbing.
The week starts with an alpine multi-pitch rock climbing day which helps kick start the week ahead in terms of technical climbing, moving together, rope work training & acclimatisation. The course then usually takes the form of two overnight hut trips, each giving two fine days of high altitude alpine climbing on both the North & South side of the Mt Blanc Massif. There are also very fine options for climbing on the East & West side of Mont Blanc if weather & conditions dictate this is preferable.
- Pre Course – Arrive in Chamonix, arrange any hire equipment. Check in to Hotel / campsite etc. Any previous time spent in the valley climbing / warming up / acclimatising / training will be beneficial but is not essential.
- Day 1 – Multi-pitch Chamonix rock climbing training day. This often gives a great start to the week as a technical and ropework ‘shakedown’ day. There is some superb alpine rock to be experienced on both the granitic Mont Blanc side of the valley and the rough gneiss of the Aiguilles Rouges.
- Days 2 & 3 – Alpine Climbing on The Italian Side of the Mont Blanc Range. The famous Italian high mountain ‘Torino Hut’ forms our base camp for 2 days of quality alpine mountaineering or high altitude granite rock climbing. The choice of routes here is impressive and ranges from classic alpine ridge traverses like the Entreves & Tour Ronde, awesome steep 4000m rock spires like the Dent du Geant or brilliant high alpine rock like the Pyramide du Tacul. Day 2 allows a later finish thanks to the Italian dinner time in the hut & day 3 allows a pre-dawn alpine start to optimise climbing time.
- Days 4 & 5 – Classic Chamonix Alpinism. From a ‘café & croissant’ alpine start in Chamonix we take the spectacular Aiguille du Midi lift and are very soon out on the high glaciers of the Col du Midi. Now we are getting well acclimatised, the famous high ‘Refuge des Cosmiques’ (3613m) provides a stunning Base Camp for another impressive variety of alpine climbs. The local classic is the ‘Arete des Cosmiques’ and sometimes we climb this later on in the afternoon to avoid the queues around lift times. Another world famous local route is the striking ice gully, the Chere Couloir. Mixed climbing on the Triangle du Tacul, rock climbing on the super south facing granite cliffs of the Midi or classic alpinism on the Midi Plan Traverse. The famous rock climbs from the Plan de l’Aiguille can also be included as part of this 2 day alpine adventure expedition . We finish the week with the final descent to Chamonix for drinks, a course debrief and some ideas about other inspiring future climbs…
There are many many more classic Chamonix alpine routes, rock, ice & mixed and we would be delighted to discuss with you your plans should you have any specific routes in mind. Please see our Chamonix galleries and Chamonix mountain reports pages for further inspiration.
Course Fitness and Experience Pre-Requirements
Chamonix Alpinist is designed for climbers with some existing alpine experience who want to do some quality routes with a Mountain Guide. To make themost of this course you should be able to second F5C on rock and have some ice climbing experience. The peaks around Chamonix offer tough physical and technical challenges. Folk preparing for climbing these peaks should be able to complete 8-10 hour days of sustained mountaineering and climb again the next day.. Many of the suggested routes are exacting and exposed alpine challenges and a variety of practiced mountaineering skills are required from neat scrambling, sound easy rock climbing with a pack to accurate and reliable cramponing skills.
Suggested Course Progression
The Chamonix Alpinist course is for climbers who have already experienced some good alpine mountaineering. On our own course progression this would mean they have already done the Alpine Intro, Climbed the Climb the Gran Paradiso, the Weissmies and Mont Blanc. Another important lead in to this course would be Becoming an Alpinist. Chamonix Alpinist would work well alongside some of our other technical alpine courses like Climb the Eiger & Matterhorn. Further progression from this on to longer & harder routes would most likely be on a 1:1 ratio and is best done with Chamonix private guiding
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, both of which can be easily & cheaply hired from us. See our Chamonix Mountaineering Equipment hire page.
- X 2 Technical Ice Axes
- Comfortable rock climbing shoes that you can wear all day with a pair of socks underneath
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?
- Mountain Lifts – Example Day 1, Flegere Return C. 30 euros. Day 2, Hellbronner Return C. 52 euros. Day 4 Midi Return, C. 67 euros.
- Chamonix accommodation. Prices start from camping at C.10 euros per night, Bunkhouse for C.20 euros per night and hotel accommodation from around 40-50 euros upwards. Please see our Chamonix Accommodation notes.
- Mountain Huts for you and the Guide. Allow about 65 euros per night for dinner, bed & breakfast and your part share in the same for the Guide (at a heavily reduced rate). 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.
- Additional snacks, drinks, lunch etc
- Transfers to Chamonix (C. 35 euros for single journey from Geneva Airport)
- Mountaineering equipment. Check the kit list above
- Insurance suitable for alpine mountaineering in Europe