Ice and Mixed Climbing Week

Fitness level
Tech level
Number of guiding days
6
Guiding ratio
1:2

Great quality alpine ice and mixed climbing routes around Chamonix are the focus for this week of technical alpine climbing. With hundreds of routes to go at in the Mont Blanc Range and excellent uplift facilities, Chamonix makes the perfect venue to really test your alpine skills. Routes are chosen to make the best use of current weather and conditions, with 1:2 ratio allowing good flexibility to tailor each week to your particular ambitions, with typical grades in the range AD+ / D.

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£2350

Need further information?

I had a fantastic trip thank you and climbed some fantastic routes – especially on Tacul! Also, Al, Phil and Dave were all great, and all made the 2 weeks I had completely awesome – so please send on my thanks to all of them! Cheers and all the best.

Will Kernick

I had a really good time, thought we got some great routes done. It was certainly the most productive week I have had to date in the alps so far, my ice axes certainly do not look so new! I had a great week, really good to meet you all as well. I am pretty certain I will be in contact next year.

Matt Farr

Trip overview

Great quality alpine ice and mixed climbing routes around Chamonix are the focus for this week of technical alpine climbing. With hundreds of routes to go at in the Mont Blanc Range and excellent uplift facilities, Chamonix makes the perfect venue to really test your alpine skills. Routes are chosen to make the best use of current weather and conditions, with 1:2 ratio allowing good flexibility to tailor each week to your particular ambitions, with typical grades in the range AD+ / D.

Download factsheet (PDF)

Trip Info

The focus of this week is high quality ice and mixed climbing; we plan each week to fit your personal ambitions and make the best use of current climbing conditions. Generally we prioritise classic couloirs and face climbs, although mixed ridge climbs may also be attempted if these are in better condition at the time. Typical grades are in the range AD to D.


Suitability

This is an intermediate level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3 and Tech Level 3+ (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). You should have previous alpine experience and be capable of climbing grade IV rock (Hard Severe) or above and Scottish IV on ice to get the most from this week. We usually make good use of cable cars and routes where abseil descents are common, so although the route requires a reasonable technical level, it isn’t too committing and is therefore suitable as a second alpine trip for those with the UK technical climbing background.


Guiding ratio

One IFMGA guide climbing with 2 clients.


Included in price

  • 6 days of guiding and instruction
  • All guides expenses
  • 4 nights accommodation in the Chamonix valley, including breakfast and evening meals
  • 3 nights accommodation in mountain huts, including breakfast and evening meals
  • Local travel in the guide’s vehicle to complete the course itinerary

Excluded from price (see course factsheet for cost estimates)

  • Cable cars
  • Lunches and drinks
  • Travel to resort
  • Insurance
  • Equipment hire

Hotels

Our base for the week is the Chaumiere Mountain Lodge, in Chamonix. The hotel is well set up for touring, with a comfortable bar, good local food and quick access to the local skiing. Hotel rooms are provided on a twin sharing basis, but if you wish to book a single room please let us know and we will confirm availability.  Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.


Huts

For overnights in the high mountains, we will use mountain huts. For more info please read the Using Alpine Huts article which provides an overview of typical facilities, average costs to help you budget for lunches/drinks, and general info on hut etiquette.


ABTOT Protected

This trip is protected by ABTOT – Alpine Guides Ltd, Membership Number 5394.  For further information, please visit our Financial Protection page.

Detailed Itinerary

Saturday

You should arrange outward travel on Saturday, arriving by 5-6pm latest in time for the briefing at your accommodation. Your guide will run through safety routines and kit checks, as well as hand out any rental equipment, before we go on to discuss everyones ambitions for the week, together with the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect our planning.

We’ll also have maps and guidebooks to show you, so if you’ve any further questions or last minute requests, then this is the ideal time to bring them up before we head on to dinner. PM Overnight in the valley.


Sunday to Tuesday

Day 1 – Acclimatisation Climb. Ascent of a high quality mountain route and brush up on alpine skills.

Typical outings might include a shorter ice or mixed route such as the Toule NW Face, or Cosmiques Arete etc. Where appropriate we may use this day for a hut approach, doing some relevant skills training/refreshment en route.

Acclimatisation routes are chosen with our plans for the rest of the week in mind – so depending on weather and conditions, we may stay in a mountain hut over night or return to the valley. If team members arrive with a few days pre acclimatisation, then we may be able to get straight on to a bigger day route such as one of the Tacul North Face routes.

Days 2 + 3 are spent climbing ice and mixed routes, before descending to the valley on Tuesday night.

Tue PM overnight in valley.


Wednesday to Friday

Ice and Mixed Climbing. Our guides select some of the highest quality climbs in the range, to make best use of weather and conditions. Typical objectives might include:

Ice Climbs

  • Chere Couloir
  • Tour Ronde North Face
  • Volgler Couloir – Aiguille du Midi NW Face
  • Calotte de Brenva/Cirque Maudit ice climbs

Mixed Routes

  • Mont Blanc du Tacul North Face Routes
  • Pellisier Gully – Point Lachenal
  • Aiguilles Marbrees mixed routes

Climbing Conditions on Ice and Mixed Routes – please note that for ice and mixed climbing (especially in couloirs and on face routes) cooler weather and good climbing conditions are essential. If face routes are not possible, then we can usually climb good quality mixed ridge routes or other good alternatives.

Choice of peaks to be determined by current climbing conditions and what you have climbed before. Please tell us of any routes you have already climbed when booking and your ambitions for the trip, so that we can plan accordingly.

The snowpack and underfoot conditions will also determine the scope of the trip/which routes are possible within the time frame of each day. With an excellent firm spring snowpack, approaches can often be made on foot to the most accessible objectives (distance from hut or cablecar stations). If the snowpack is deeper/softer, snowshoes will be required (these can be hired locally). For the best scope, ski touring equipment is the best option. For this you must be an excellent off piste skier with solid ski touring experience – please contact us for details.

Fri PM – return to the valley for a debrief, exchange of photos etc and farewells.


Saturday

Return travel should be arranged on Saturday morning, after your final nights accommodation.

Location and Travel

We base ourselves for the week in the famous French resort of Chamonix, in the shadow of Mont Blanc. Chamonix is one of the most famous Alpine centres in the world, with an unparalleled range of quality climbing across all grades and styles, and much of it with convenient cablecar access. The most common way to reach Chamonix is fly to Geneva, then take a shared taxi transfer to the Chamonix valley – transfers will drop off at the destination of your choice, but must be booked in advance.


Flight and transfers

  • Fly to Geneva with numerous budget airlines: for an overview of the best options check out the excellent Sky Scanner flight comparison website.
  • Airport transfer from Geneva to Chamonix: Mountain Drop-offs offer the best all round service, with regular reliable transfers through the season. They offer a shared minibus taxi service which meets you in the airport and drops you off at the door of your hotel. Book your transfer here and use promo code ALPGUID to receive a discount on your journey.
  • Alternatively hire a car at Geneva airport (1.2 hrs drive to Cham): www.arguscarhire.com / www.holidayautos.co.uk

For flights and other travel options, including train, coach and driving, visit our Travel Planning page.


Fitness and Experience

To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 3, and Tech Level 3 (as appropriate for the style of climbing on this trip ie Alpine, rock climbing or ice climbing).

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, 40-50 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.


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.

To view all climbing Technical and Fitness Levels, and for advice on trip preparation and training, please visit our training advice page.

Equipment

Alpine Ice Kit List

Equipment can take a real hammering in winter-time, so a substantial hardshell is preferred, rather than lightweight summer waterproofs.

Technical Clothing

  • Waterproof Jacket – full weight breathable model preferred
  • Waterproof trousers – durable model with 3/4 or full length side zips
  • Socks – warm ‘Smartwool’ type, plus thin liner socks and spares
  • Gaiters – made from breathable material
  • Wicking thermal baselayer tops – synthetic not cotton!
  • Softshell Jacket – mid weight, wind resistant, light insulating layer (or a mid weight fleece jacket)
  • 2nd fleece – or equivalent insulating mid-layer
  • Belay jacket – down or synthetic insulation
  • Powerstretch tights or warm mountain trousers – should fit comfortably under your waterproof trousers
  • Thin inner gloves
  • Warm mountain gloves – Goretex or equivalent water/windproof model
  • Second pair of mountain gloves as above – one pair will often get wet
  • Hat or balaclava – must fit under a helmet.
  • Spare mittens – especially if you suffer from cold hands

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+
  • Wallet and passport
  • Alpine Club/BMC card (if you are a member) and insurance docs

Technical Equipment

  • Rucsac 40-50l – to handle extra winter kit
  • Rucsac – superlight 15/20l model, for taking on long multi-pitch icefall routes (optional)
  • *Rigid 4 season mountaineering bootsAxe, Boot and Crampon advice
  • Harness, locking karabiner and belay device
  • 120cm sling and locking karabiner
  • Climbing helmet
  • Technical ice axe and ice hammer
  • Crampons – vertically orientated front points are best, or sharp new mountaineering crampons are also fine
  • Snowshoes or ski mountaineering equipment for Winter Couloirs/Norwegian ice climbing trips – please contact us for advice

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 Otley 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 climbing and mountaineering activities as outlined in the course itinerary. 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.

Please find further details on our insurance info page.

Book Now

£2350