What Are The Differences Between Group Courses & Private Guiding?

A good question relevant to many of our guests trying to decide if they should join one of our open group course teams or hire their own private guide.  Here is a summary of the differences…

Private Guiding Pros & Cons

Private guiding is the best option for guests who want to create a bespoke programme that does not quite fit the dates or itinerary of one of our existing group courses or who want to go at their own pace or do a technical 1:1 itinerary for example.  Whilst this is more expensive than attending a group course as the guiding fee is not shared, it does mean that we can create a tailor made programme for you or your group both in terms of dates and course itinerary.  This means you can go at a slower / faster pace than a set course schedule or do more technical objectives.  This also means you do not have to share your guide with unknown guests for the objectives undertaken during the training and summit phases.  This thus avoids the issue of potentially having to turn around if someone you don’t know in the group has altitude difficulties or needs to abort a planned route for any other reason.

Private guiding guests can be collected and dropped off at their own accommodation as opposed to a communal meeting point for group courses.  Guests on private guiding programmes can also borrow ice axe, crampons, harness, helmet and avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe free of charge but they also have to cover the guides fees and expenses without any other group members to share these costs with.

Group Course Pros & Cons

Group courses often have a great team element which can bring a fun & sociable atmosphere in the huts and hills and a spirit of mutual enjoyment and encouragement.  They are cheaper than private guiding because the guiding fee is being shared with other guests.  However this does also mean that you will be sharing the guide during the training and summit periods and it’s possible you may have to turn around on a summit ascent or another planned itinerary due to another guest struggling with altitude or a multitude of other reasons which occur in the mountains.  An approach which embraces this team spirit is required to join our open courses and if you would rather avoid this, private guiding is the better option.

Guests on group courses usually meet each morning at a communal location so they will have to drive / walk / take public transport to get there unlike private guiding options where guests can be collected from their own accommodation.  It is also generally necessary to either hire or provide your own technical equipment like crampons, axe, harness, helmet, transceiver etc although we can hire these at good value rates.

Group Courses AND Private Guiding Can Be A Good Mix

We often arrange programmes for our guests that include a mixture of both private guiding and group courses.   For example this may include some private guiding for training and acclimatisation prior to a mountaineering or ski course and then, after a rest day after the group course has finished, some more private guiding to climb an additional peak or do a more technical route.  It’s a good mix which blends the sociable and good value option of the open course with the productive private guiding.