Choosing an Alpine Climbing Course

Choosing an Alpine Climbing Course

First of all – a few words on how we organise our training courses.  Our range of Alpine Skills Training courses are designed to be progressive, running at levels 1, 2 and 3.  All courses follow a core training program, but each course is then tailored by the course director to meet the aspirations and ability of the team members – so every course is a little different.  It’s not, ‘Tuesday, so we do X’ each week etc –  this is a small group, low ratio, high quality service and we tailor each course!

Our philosophy is to blend skills training into real mountain days, so you build experience during the week and learn how to operate independently, whilst climbing some classic Alpine summits.  To help you get the most from your time in the mountains, we base ourselves in Chamonix – as it has an unrivaled selection of high-quality objectives across all grades and an extensive network of uplift, offering rapid access to climbs.  This means that you get to spend as much time climbing and training as possible during each course.

NB if you are interested in an alpine climbing holiday focusing on particular mountains or objectives, then please check out our alpine mountaineering holidays.

Which course is best for me?

Level 1 – Alpine Mountaineering Course – This is a level 1 (introductory level) skills course, so it’s suitable for beginners.  If you haven’t used an ice axe and crampons before, or you haven’t done any belaying before, then choose this course!  We cover all of the basics, so you just need good fitness and plenty of enthusiasm to learn – ie good general fitness and some experience in UK mountains (summer or winter).  The course offers a full 6 days of training and builds to making an ascent of a classic first alpine 4000m peak, the Gran Paradiso, which makes a perfect climax to the week.

If you want to progress onto more technical terrain during the week, then some scrambling or indoor/outdoor climbing experience is also useful.


Level 2 – Alpine Apprenticeship Course – This is a level 2 (intermediate level) skills course.  It’s suitable if you have rock climbing and belaying experience and have also used an ice axe and crampons before.  On this course we will develop your current mountaineering skills and adapt them to the alpine environment – so you need good general fitness and previous experience using an axe/crampons (eg Scottish grade I/II climbs, alpine climbs), and also some rock climbing experience to V Diff standard, gained in either the UK or on a previous Alpine trip.  During the week we climb in two contrasting areas of the Alps – Chamonix and Saas Valley in Switzerland, finishing the week with a classic Swiss 4000er.

Climbing at a low 3:1 ratio all week allows us to tackle more technical terrain and opens up a range of exciting summits.


Level 3 – Alpine Essentials Course – This is a short and intensive 3-day course for experienced Uk trad leaders, covering the essential skills needed to operate as an independent team in the Alps.  It’s designed for uk trad climbers who already have rock or ice leading experience.  It is a level 3 (intermediate/advanced level) course, so you need good general fitness and previous experience using an ice axe and crampons (eg Scottish grade I/II climbs, alpine climbs) and also multi pitch trad leading experience at Uk Severe/VS standard.

For suitably experienced climbers, this course makes an ideal start to an independent alpine climbing holiday.


Level 3 – Technical Alpine Climbing Course – This is a level 3 (advanced level) skills course, where we will develop your existing skills to allow you to step it up a gear (or two!) and climb quickly and efficiently on longer alpine routes and more technical terrain. You either need to have prior alpine experience, or have climbed at least Scottish II/III in winter and Severe/VS on rock in the UK (or equivalent). The week combines a mixture of student lead days, where you are encouraged to work as an independent team with the guide supervising and guide lead days, which allow you to gain valuable experience on longer and more involved alpine climbs.

This course makes an ideal follow on to our level 2 courses and intermediate level alpine climbing holidays.  A low 2:1 ratio all week gives flexibility to tailor each course to suit ability, aspirations and prevailing mountain conditions.


If you are not sure which course to choose – just drop us a line and we’ll give you some advice!  The summary table below allows you to compare our range of Alpine Skills Courses, to help find the most suitable course.