Bespoke Alpine Mountaineering Trips

Fitness level
Tech level
Number of guiding days
2+
Guiding ratio
1:1+

Our bespoke alpine climbing holidays offer guiding services and accommodation, packaged together for a hassle free holiday. We can offer tailored versions of our standard trips just for you and your team, with your own guide, on dates of your choice. Or if you would like a fully bespoke trip to a venue of your choice, focussed on skills training, cruising some classic climbs, a long standing dream route, or any combination of activities, we can help.

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I’m very pleased to say that once again, I had an amazing experience in the Alps… Not sure what to ask for next, but if you’ll have me, I’ll be coming back.

Tim Coburn

I can only heap massive praise on both you and Gav in particular for a fantastic weekend. Everything was seamlessly done, And Gav was both the perfect guide and a great host for the weekend in every other way. Both Jo and I got a huge amount out of it, and the learning experience was everything we hoped for. Point Lachenal was indeed entertaining and provided exactly what I hoped it would! Thanks again for everything. Next time I come to Chamonix, which I hope will be soon, you will get my booking again.

Chris Powell

Just wanted to echo Chris’s comments – Gav was an excellent guide. I really enjoyed the weekend and felt that Gav tailored it well to our level and aspirations. I would definitely use Alpine Guides again. Kind regards.

Jo Tomlinson

We had a great time and were lucky with the weather for sure! Please pass on our thanks again to Klemen – we covered so much and learnt loads as well as having fun and an unforgettable day out… I’ve never taken so many photos in 1 day!! The day was set at just the right level for us and was a great introduction. We will be back for more – the Arête des Cosmiques looked like it could be fun too! Thanks again and hope to be in touch again when we can get someone to look after our kids for the full day/weekend…

Anthony Ellison

Yes, the weather was not ideal over the weekend but still we managed to do quite a few things in the mountains. I had great three days and enjoyed every minute. Neil is an excellent guide who is superb not only at guiding but also at teaching stuff. Hope you’re having a great weekend.

Katya Kharitonova

Back at my desk in the UK now. Yes I had a very worthwhile and enjoyable time on both days, despite the slightly challenging weather. Rock Climbing with Dave on Saturday was great as it got me pushing myself in terms of outdoor grade… Aguille du Marbrees with Jon on Sunday was also a great alpine intro in terms of crossing glaciated terrain/crevasses and an enjoyable ridge. So please pass on my thanks to both Dave and Jon for their time and great company and advice.

David Sampson

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve had another great week. As you know, my objective was an Eiger ascent, but the snow put paid to that. In its place, I’ve had a 5 star experience of a broader range of alpine climbing including:
Aiguille Croux, Rochefort Arete and Aiguille de Rochefort, Chapelle de Gliere, Pyramide du Tacul and Arete des Cosmiques. My big thanks to Dave… for his patience, encouragement and creativity in finding routes to match my ability and aspirations.

Tim Coburn

Hi Rich and Jon. Thanks for the amazing holiday. It was great to hang out in the chilly mountains and have the whole glacier for ourself. The weather couldn’t have been any better. Scaling the three peaks was challenging yet rewarding. Who needs a warm bed anyway 😉 Rich, thanks for organizing the trip. Everyhing went smoothly and we managed to stick to your plan. Big thanks for your help. Jon, it was a lot of fun to hang out with you. You are an amazing and very trustworthy guide, and a great guy to spend time with. Thanks for keeping me safe. I hope to come back again and spend more time in the mountains, climb more peaks and just enjoy the landscape. Take care and all the best.

Hendrikje

Homeward bound after an amazing week in Chamonix with Rich. Kicked off with a bang, climbing the Frendo Spur in very wintery conditions, a rest day(!) rock climbing at Gietroz, back up to the Refuge des Cosmiques for a day of mixed climbing followed by the Contamine-Mazeaud on the Tacul. Then an another rock day swinging leads on the Vipere au Pied, Barberine. Cheers!

Chris Hague

Trip overview

Our bespoke alpine climbing holidays offer guiding services and accommodation, packaged together for a hassle free holiday. We can offer tailored versions of our standard trips just for you and your team, with your own guide, on dates of your choice. Or if you would like a fully bespoke trip to a venue of your choice, focussed on skills training, cruising some classic climbs, a long standing dream route, or any combination of activities, we can help.

Looking for a scheduled trip? take a look at our alpine mountaineering holidays.

Please contact us to discuss your plans and by return we will provide an itinerary and quote (with no obligation).

Recent Trip reports:


Suitability

Bespoke alpine climbong trips are suitable for any fitness/experience level (see Fitness and Experience guidelines). Ideally, your group should be well matched in terms of fitness and ability, so everyone can make the most of their holiday.


Guiding ratio

The maximum guiding ratio for alpine mountaineering trips is 1:4 – ie one UIAGM guide working with 4 clients. If you have a smaller group – no problem. If you have a larger group ie 4+ people, you will need 2 guides for anything involving mountaineering. For basic skills training and glacier trekking we can operate up to 1:6.


Duration

For trips of 2 or more days in length.


Season

The main summer season runs from mid June to mid September, when most of the huts and cablecars are open and weather/conditions are usually best for a wide range of climbing styles. We also operate outside the main summer season in May and October, but conditions are sometimes not ideal for summer alpinism and a lot of the mountain huts and cablecars are closed (Chamonix still has a couple of lifts running outside summer season however). Early/late season is a great time to climb… but be prepared to do some walking, and maybe use bivouac huts rather than guarded huts!


Pricing

The following price inclusions/exclusions typically apply to bespoke trips, but please let us know if you have any special requirements.


Included in price

  • Guides fees and all guides expenses
  • Valley hotel accommodation including breakfast and evening meals
  • Mountain hut accommodation (if required) including breakfast and evening meals
  • Transport during the course

Excluded from price

  • Uplift
  • Lunches and drinks
  • Travel to resort
  • Insurance
  • Equipment hire

Accommodation

We can arrange a hotel to suit your groups requirements, from 2-4* standard in most resorts. Hut accommodation varies in standard from region to region – please let us know your desired ‘comfort level’ and we can advise on the best regions to visit!

Please get in touch to discuss your plans.

Detailed Itinerary

Please get in touch to discuss your aims and objectives, and we will be happy to create an itinerary for you.

Location and Travel

We will provide help with your travel arrangements once final plans are in place.

Fitness and Experience

Alpine Mountaineering is an endurance sport – ie to get to the summit involves climbing uphill for several hours.  Therefore, your fitness and power to weight ratio are very important factors for success.  Another important factor is altitude, which people react to in different ways and finally, you need the appropriate technical climbing ability for the trip – please check that you have the correct fitness and tech levels for your trip using the Tech Level and Fitness Level descriptions below.

Physical fitness
This is a key factor – you must be at the minimum Fitness Level quoted for your course (see descriptions below). However, the fitter you are the more you will enjoy it and the greater your chances of success. Being fit also helps you to recover more quickly between climbs during the week.

Your power to weight ratio
What shape you are has a big impact on your likelihood of success! Eg are you slim and athletic, a normal build, a bit overweight, or 1-2 stone or more overweight? If you are considerably overweight, your chances of making it to the summit are not good, even with reasonable fitness (although the two don’t usually go together), good weather and perfect conditions.  If you are carrying some excess weight, then you need to lose as much as possible before joining the trip.

Your personal acclimatization rate
All of our alpine trips involve an acclimatization climb at the start of the week, but everyone responds to altitude in different ways and personal speeds of acclimatization vary widely between individuals. Past experience is a fair indicator – so if you have coped Ok at altitude before eg. on a previous alpine trip, Kilimanjaro, or on a high altitude trek, then this should be good news. Conversely, if you have had problems or been slow to acclimatize before, then you definitely need to come out early, in order to pre acclimatize before the week starts – please contact us for further advice about this.

Training

If you need to top up your fitness for this trip, please see our training advice page.


Tech Levels

Please make a self assessment against these levels, and refer to the trip suitability requirements.

Tech Level 1
Hillwalker/scrambler. You have UK hillwalking and perhaps summer UK scrambling, or European via ferrata experience – but no rock or ice climbing, or previous alpine mountaineering experience.

Tech level 2
Novice climber. Indoor or outdoor sport climbing experience / seconding traditionally protected climbs at V Diff – Severe standard / winter hillwalking or mountaineering using an ice axe and crampons / alpine glacier treks or alpine peaks to F standard.

Tech Level 3
Intermediate climber. Leading single or multi pitch trad rock climbs at Severe – VS / ice climbing experience seconding routes to Scottish grade 2 – 3 / familiar with multipitch abseil descents / alpine peaks at PD – easy AD standard.

Tech Level 4
Experienced climber. Leading multi pitch trad rock climbs at VS – HVS / multi pitch winter climbs to Scottish grade 4 / alpine peaks at AD – D standard. If you mainly climb with guides or seldom lead climb, you have extensive experience seconding at this standard.

Tech Level 5
Very experienced climber. Regularly lead multipitch E1+ trad rock / ice and mixed routes at Scottish 5+ or WI5 /  alpine routes at grade D and above. If you mainly climb with guides or seldom lead climb, you have very extensive experience climbing at this level.


Fitness Levels

Please make a self assessment against these levels, and refer to the trip requirements. These are cardiovascular (CV) fitness and activity levels eg. running, cycling, hillwalking or competitive sports that get your heart and lungs working for extended periods of time (not strength training in the gym!).

Fitness Level 1
You do 1-2 hours of training/cardiovascular sport per week. Eg: you should be able to climb Snowdon from Pen y Pas in around 2 hrs carrying a day sack, or Bow Fell starting from Langdale in the Lake District in about 2 1/2 hrs.

Fitness Level 2
You do 2-3 hours CV training/sport per week. At this level you should be happy doing either a 3-4 hour hillwalk, cycling 30 miles or mountain biking 2-3 hours without being exhausted. Eg: you should be able to walk from Ogwen Cottage in North Wales up Glyder Fach – Glyder Fawr – Y Garn – Ogwen in ~5hrs. Or in the Lake District Langdale – Bowfell – Esk Pike – Angle Tarn – Langdale in ~ 6hrs.

Fitness Level 3
You do 3-4 hours CV training/sport per week. At this level you are happy doing a 5-6 hour hillwalk, 50 mile cycle or 3-4hr mountain bike ride without being totally exhausted. If you are into challenges – then the thought of doing a road sportive, or training to do a 1/2 (or maybe even a full) marathon, wouldn’t seem too ridiculous. Eg: you should be able to do the full Langdale Horseshoe: Langdale – Pike of Stickle – Angle Tarn – Bow Fell – Crinkle Crags – Pike of Blisco – Langdale in a day without finishing up exhausted.

Fitness Level 4
You do 4+ hours CV training/sport per week. A 70+ mile cycle ride, or 20+ mile hillwalk on a weekend would hold no fears. If so inclined, you might be the kind of person who has done longer road sportives/challenge rides, a ~3.30hr marathon or other similar endurance events. Keen hillwalkers who happily knock off 3-4+ munros in a day also have this kind of fitness and endurance.

Fitness Level 5
You do 5-6+ hours training for competitive sport per week, have a background in the same, or you are annoyingly talented! Either way, doing a 100 ml bike ride or about a 3hr marathon wouldn’t be unreasonable.

Equipment

Summer Alpine Kit List

Above all, alpine climbing kit needs to do the job, but be as light as possible. We work with various manufacturers including Arc’teryx, whose products we can thoroughly recommend.

Technical Clothing

  • Waterproof jacket – lightweight breathable model
  • Overtrousers – with long side zips
  • Socks – warm ‘Smartwool’ type, plus thin liner socks and spares
  • Gaiters – made from breathable material (or trim fitting trousers with ankle volume adjuster)
  • Wicking thermal tops – long sleeved and light colour is ideal!
  • Fleece mid layer – or equivalent light insulating layer
  • Mountain trousers – light/mid-weight windproof softshell model
  • Thin gloves – windproof ‘hardfleece’ model is good
  • Warm insulated gloves – wind and waterproof
  • Warm hat – must fit under a helmet
  • Spare warm layer – fleece or lightweight synthetic belay jacket

Personal Items

  • Water Container – at least 1 litre
  • Headtorch and batteries
  • Map, compass and whistle (optional, but a good idea)
  • Personal medications and blister kit – zinc oxide tape, compeed, painkillers etc
  • Sun Glasses – CE rated 3 or 4 with side protection
  • Goggles – for windy/snowy conditions
  • Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
  • Sun hat
  • Shorts
  • Wallet and passport
  • Alpine Club/BMC card (if you are a member) and insurance docs

Hut Overnight Items

  • Small wash kit
  • Spare lightweight t-shirt/socks/pants
  • Silk sheet sleeping bag liner
  • Ear plugs
  • (Hut slippers for indoor use, and blankets/duvets and pillows are provided by the huts)

Technical Equipment

  • Rucsac – 35/45l is perfect for general use
  • Rucsac – superlight 15/20l model, for taking on long multi-pitch rock routes (for technical courses/private guiding)
  • *Rigid mountaineering bootsAxe, Boot and Crampon advice
  • Rock boots – must be comfortable enough to wear for several hours (can be hired in resort if nec)
  • Approach shoes or trainers
  • Trekking poles
  • Harness, locking karabiner and belay device
  • 2 prussik loops + karabiner – if in doubt, bring 3m of 6mm climbing cord!
  • 120cm sling + locking karabiner
  • Climbing helmet
  • Crampons with antiball plates
  • Ice Axe classic type for intro and general mountaineering courses
  • Technical Ice Axe and Hammer – required for parts of the Tech Alpine/Cham Alpinist/Ice and Mixed/North Faces courses

Your guide will have ropes, climbing rack, first aid and survival equipment.

*Boots: These are VERY important to the success of your trip! Its best to have your own boots and break them in well before the start of the trip – see advice below.


Recommendations and Advice
Visit the Knowledge Base section of our website or our blog for equipment advice. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch!

Purchasing Equipment
Backcountry UK in Ilkley offer an excellent mountain boot fitting service and general equipment advice.

Hiring Equipment
Please see our Equipment Hire page for more details.


Insurance

For this trip you must have specialist travel insurance providing medical, emergency search/rescue and repatriation cover for the following activities: rock climbing and mountaineering in glaciated areas requiring the use of ropes, up to 5000m altitude. We also strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury.

Please arrange your insurance as soon as your trip is confirmed to run.


Insurance for UK residents

British Mountaineering Council. The gold standard in insurance for UK residents. Very competitive single trip or annual cover for all climbing activities. Use this link to book your BMC insurance.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This gives you reciprocal health care in European countries. You can apply for an EHIC card online here or from most Post Offices. You need an EHIC in addition to your travel insurance.


European residents (non-UK)
Austrian Alpine Club. Available to all European residents. AAC insurance is cheap and works ok for minor accidents and rescues, but is not as comprehensive as many other insurance providers. The medical cover included would not be enough for complex treatment or a prolonged stay in hospital. It also doesn’t include cancellation cover. If you choose to use AAC we recommend you take out extra medical cover with another provider, to ‘top up’ the AAC medical limit, as well as a separate cancellation policy.


USA residents

Travelex. For US citizens – a range of policies with comprehensive cover.


For any nationality

Global Rescue. Cover offered to all nationalities via a combination of GR membership and their separate insurance policy.


If you choose an alternative provider, or if there is any doubt about the scope of your chosen policy we recommend that you send your insurer the link to the relevant Alpine Guides trip webpage, and ask them if cover extends to those activities and has the required components (search/rescue, medical, repatriation and cancellation). It’s worth mentioning that rescue and medical expenses in Switzerland can be significantly more expensive than in other countries, so a decent level of cover is required for Swiss tours.

We recommend that you send us your insurance details before the trip commences, and they must be brought to the course briefing at the start of your trip. However, we cannot check the detail of every individual policy, and it is your own responsibility to ensure you are adequately insured.

FAQ's

What happens to my deposit if I book a trip, but it isn’t confirmed to run due to insufficient bookings?

You may transfer your booking to different dates, a different course, or choose a full refund.

See our terms and conditions


Does Alpine Guides climb with customers from overseas, including the USA and Canada?

Yes!

See our info for overseas customers


How do I book a climbing trip?

For scheduled climbing trips it’s easy to book online, directly from your course page. For hire a guide/bespoke courses please get in touch for a quote.

More booking information


Can I book a single room on my climbing trip?

Yes – this can be done during the online booking process. Please add the single room option to your order, and we will confirm availability asap.

More hotel information


How do I rent mountaineering equipment?

You can rent certain items of specialist equipment from us, and the rest can usually be hired in resort.

Climbing equipment rental info


What happens about accommodation, if the weather is very poor and we end up spending extra nights in the valley instead of in huts?

We will make any necessary last minute bookings for the team. On trips taking place outside the Chamonix valley, any extra valley hotel nights will be on a BnB basis rather than half board.

See our accommodation page for more details


What happens to our plans if the weather is bad, or climbing conditions are poor?

We will make every effort to stick to the itinerary, but sometimes its necessary to change plans and select different objectives more suited to the prevailing conditions, or travel to a neighbouring area or sometimes even further afield.

A sound mountaineering decision - running away....!


Who goes on our trips?

We climb and ski with a broad range of ages and experience levels, and a large number of our customers come back year after year. We’ve guided 10 year old Ollie up the Old Man of Hoy in Scotland – now the youngest person to climb it. And 70 year old David has climbed the Matterhorn with us, as well as out-skiing people half his age!

The Matterhorn at 70 yrs young


What happens if I need to cancel my course?

If you wish to cancel you must notify us in writing, where upon the following charges will be applied from the date we receive your notice of cancellation:

  • More than 8 weeks (56 days) before start date – loss of deposit.
  • Between 4 and 8 weeks (28-56 days) before start date – 50% of course fee or loss of deposit, whichever amount is greater.
  • Less than 4 weeks (28 days) before start date – full course fee.

See our terms and conditions


Book Now

Contact us for prices