Ali and Steve on the summit of the Zumsteinspitze – Italian 4000m Peaks Traverse, aka ‘The Pasta Tour’!
Company directors Al and Rich have over 40 years of guiding experience between them and have been climbing partners and friends since the early 90’s. They first met at Leeds University where there was plenty of time for climbing on the local gritstone, Scottish winter weekends and Alpine summer trips – all leading to their first Himalayan expeditions together in their early 20’s, to mountains including the Ogre in Pakistans Karakorum range. Home of the first dedicated climbing wall in the UK (the famous brick edge corridor…) Leeds University has always had a strong climbing scene, and this time was no different. Around five IFMGA guides eventually emerged from the ranks, after a lot of time climbing, skiing and experimenting with other careers… and eventually deciding that nothing else comes close to being in the mountains!
Al and Rich founded Alpine Guides together in 2004 and over the years have developed particular areas of expertise: in the winter time, Al is a dedicated ski guide with a huge breadth of touring experience, whilst Rich guides on some of our more adventurous ski trips and specialises in alpine, ice and rock guiding. This breadth of knowledge provides a sound base for all of our skiing and climbing programs.
Rich is very well organised and a great communicator, so deals with enquiries, bookings and pre trip planning and will be your main point of contact for help and support in the run up to your trip. Al deals with our website and marketing, as well as planning and directing many of the teaching courses we run each summer.
This allows us to give you a personalised service with a regular and knowledgeable contact point, as well as providing day to day logistical support to our guides on the hill, so they can concentrate on guiding, instructing and keeping you safe and enjoying your trip.
Rich (Left) and Al (Right) guiding together in Finnmark, Arctic Norway
Excellent Pre Trip Organisation and Advice – from an Alpine Guide
For the best quality pre trip information and advice, we believe it’s essential for you to speak with an experienced Guide – which is why your initial enquiry, discussion and ongoing planning and support for your upcoming trip will be with an IFMGA guide.
This means that we always maintain a clear oversight of every trip and course that we run, you always know who to contact and you’ll receive a quick, accurate and informative reply from a fully qualified Guide who has actually climbed the routes, used the equipment and knows the logistics first hand.
“I highly recommend Alpine Guides as a company, the service end to end was fantastic. Our contact Rich, was always there to answer any questions I had leading up to the trip. I will 100% be back next year!” – Alex Nisbet, Alpine Intro Course
Enjoying the classic Cosmiques Arete above Chamonix
Adventurous Trips, with Safety Focused Guiding
We are committed to giving you an adventurous and enjoyable holiday with the best possible climbing, but at the same time, our number one priority is always team safety.
Our meticulous approach to planning and safety is built around minimising risk and avoiding exposing you to unnecessary hazards. This starts well before any new itinerary ever goes on the program; carefully considering the routes and terrain, assessing different options and planning safe alternatives and logistics for a range of weather and mountain conditions, so that our guides have plenty of options to deliver a great weeks’ climbing whilst minimizing your exposure to mountain hazards.
In the run up to your trip and during the week, our Guides constantly monitor current mountain conditions, weather forecasts and the group, in order to choose the best time to make summit bids, so you can enjoy a great weeks’ climbing. If conditions aren’t right for a particular route or climb however, we’ll always have several good alternatives.
If it comes to a choice between completing an itinerary and keeping you safe in light of adverse weather or conditions, we’ll keep you safe and go for a better alternative. As a result of this approach, we maintain an excellent safety record and have a great team of loyal, longstanding customers. Climbing with a guide means that you can often complete a route in less than perfect weather or conditions, but if you’re the kind of climber who wants to ‘push on’ despite unsafe conditions – then you need to look elsewhere, as we are not the guiding company for you!
“We had an amazing time, achieving things that were completely new challenges to us and we really loved the week. Just the right balance of challenge, learning, recovery and practice. The chalet in Les Bossons was fab, very comfortable and great food and staff. Lori was great. Clearly very experienced and made us feel very safe and well looked after. He was good at getting to know you and a very good communicator, both in terms of what to do and learning new skills.” – Alexa Briggs, Mont Blanc Week
Being Inspired by Dave, on a teaching day on our Tech Alpine Course
Our Guides – safe, professional and fun to climb with
Our brilliant team of IFMGA Guides bring a vast wealth of experience, technical skills and their warm personalities to every trip. The professionalism, dedication and enthusiasm they have are key to you enjoying a safe, fun and memorable trip to the mountains.
We know that having a good Guide makes the biggest difference to any trip – so we choose our team very carefully. You won’t find big egos here – but you will find experienced, expert climbers with fun and interesting personalities, who are keen to share their knowledge and the mountains with you.
“Without a doubt the best guides in the Alps. They are both exceptionally friendly and incredibly professional – it really doesn’t get any better!” – Will Kernick, Alpine Mountaineering
Taking a breather on the Aiguille D’Entreves
Our Guests – a shared love of the mountains
We are incredibly lucky to have such a loyal and devoted team of climbers who we enjoy the mountains with each year. Coming from a wide and diverse range of backgrounds, everyone enjoys the same common love of climbing and mountaineering. New team members are always welcome and as a result, we’ve seen many strong (and sometimes unlikely!) friendships built up over the years.
We are a small outfit with high levels of repeat custom, so we get to know our guests really well. This helps us a lot when putting together groups and planning and tailoring itineraries. Please check out our Feedback Page and Facebook Reviews to see what people have to say about their time with us.
Evening light on the Matterhorn
Flexible Itineraries, Good Summiting Rates and Inspiring Alternatives
All of our itineraries are planned with flexibility in mind, which means choosing meeting points, accommodation and transport to give us as many options as possible. We do this in order to make the best use of weather windows and mountain conditions, in order to make successful summit bids and ascents. It’s a strategy that works extremely well and means we get higher summiting rates throughout the season.
If the weather and conditions aren’t right for a particular ascent however, we also have a very broad knowledge of different climbing regions across the Alps and the UK, so we are happy to move to other areas during the week in order to keep climbing – rather than being tied to a particular place and having to make the best of it.
As anyone who’s spent any amount of time in the mountains knows, it can be very frustrating being stuck in the wrong place during poor weather, rather than doing what you came to do! Sometimes this means jumping in a car for an hour or two, but as a result we always manage to go climbing and give you the best holiday we can, with the weather and conditions during your trip.
“I’ve been using Alpine Guides ever since my first forays into alpine and ice climbing and without fail I’ve been 100% happy. Their knowledge and approach means that when others are sitting in the valley waiting for a break in the weather, we’ve shifted objectives and carried on climbing – so my hard earned holiday time isn’t wasted. Can’t fault my experiences with Alpine Guides and will always go back to them, as its as close as you can get in the mountains to a guarantee of a successful trip. Cheers guys!” – Nik Bertholdt, Alpine Mountaineering
Traversing the Col de la Brenva en route to Mont Blanc
Great Value Inclusive Holidays, with an ABTOT Member
To make your trip easier and more enjoyable, the majority of our regular mountaineering holidays and courses include accommodation, so you don’t have to worry about extra logistics such as where to stay. Most trips also include transport during the week (please see individual trip pages for details). However, if you prefer to arrange your own accommodation to suit your personal budget, then that’s fine as well: you can book with a ‘course only’ price for any of our trips and courses.
We are also proud to be a member of ABTOT, the leading trade organisation for specialist travel companies throughout the UK and as a package holiday organiser, we are fully compliant with all Uk and EU Package Travel Regulations. This gives you the reassurance that you are in safe hands, booking with a well established company that’s a member of a well respected national travel trade organisation – please visit our Financial Protection Page for more information.
“Alpine Guides took care of all of the logistics for us and made it super easy. Great accommodation, excellent food and a fantastic guide, all at an unbeatable price.” – Jon Dejong, Tech Alpine Course
Topping out on the Cosmiques Arete at the end of a Tech Alpine week
Well Balanced Groups
We all know that climbing in a group with similar fitness and experience is more enjoyable than when people have widely differing abilities and aspirations, so that’s why we set out clearly the fitness, experience and ability pre requirements for each trip on our program and carry out pre trip screening for all of our courses and holidays.
This is a crucial part of our planning and safety process and must be done by an experienced Guide, so we make a big effort to ask the right questions and advise people honestly. If in doubt, we’ll ask for a reference from another guide or instructor that you’ve climbed with before and if we think that a particular trip isn’t the best choice, then we’ll suggest a good alternative to fit with your future plans and aspirations. This makes things as safe as can be and also the best possible fun for you, and us!
Climbing the Pointe de Bricola on our Alpine Intro Course
High Quality Training and a Progressive Program
We are extremely proud of our training courses, which are very popular and highly regarded, having been developed and refined over many years of instructional and guiding experience. Whether you want to climb in the Alps for the first time, prepare for a specific trip, or improve your skills and technique – we have a course that will help you develop the skills and experience you need to achieve your long term goals.
All of our courses are designed to maximise climbing time, blending skills training into quality mountain days, so that you get the widest range of experiences during the week and learn how to operate independently. This is why all of our Alpine courses are based in Chamonix, as the extensive network of uplift there offers quick access to mountain terrain, minimising hut approaches that otherwise cut into learning time.
We are used to working with groups who have a range of experience and ability levels – so tailor each of our courses accordingly. We regularly differentiate teaching content and vary the challenges on the hill each day for individual course members. This allows stronger climbers to push themselves further and less experienced, or less confident, climbers to learn skills appropriate for their level and receive extra support when they need it.
Finally, our program of holidays and courses are carefully designed to allow progression from first steps, onto more challenging objectives as your skills and experience develop. If you have a particular long term objective in mind, but currently lack the experience to do it, then let us know and we’ll plan a suitable route to achieving it!
“I would just like to say a big thanks to you and Al for the Tech alpine course. Every thing from inquiring about the course to getting home was faultless. Al’s instruction and guiding was amazing. The course was beyond my expectations and I took away plenty of skills. You will no doubt here from me again in the future. Best regards, Andy” – Andy Haines, Tech Alpine Course
Traversing Castor on a bespoke alpine mountaineering week
Private Guiding and Custom Itineraries
Hiring your own private guide is the most flexible way to enjoy the guided climbing experience. With no rigid itineraries and other team members to worry about, our Guides are experts in selecting inspiring venues and objectives to suit the weather, mountain conditions and your personal ability and aspirations.
We offer 2 types of private trip to suit your requirements. You can hire your own private guide and pay for accommodation separately – or alternatively, we can arrange a bespoke package including all accommodation and guiding on the trip, for a hassle free holiday.
“Just back from the ‘Longest, Hardest & Finest rock ridge in the whole of the European Alps’ – The West Ridge of the Salbitschijen, with Rich. Mind blowing climbing & abseils, over 30+ pitches, 1000m climbing in just over 12 hours… Happy (but tired)!” – Chris Hague, Private Guiding Week
Happy Days – enjoying a great day in the mountains
A Personal Service and a Trip To Remember
We and many of our guides are very keen on taking photos, which we are happy to share with you at the end of the trip, to leave you with some great memories and inspiration for your next visit to the mountains.
All of the images you see on our website were taken by Guides and team members on our climbing trips and courses and a large number of our regulars social media profiles were taken on our trips as well, which always makes our day!