Great quality alpine ice and mixed climbing routes around Chamonix are the focus for this week of technical alpine climbing. With thousands 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+.
Please visit our Covid-19 Climb Information page for Covid FAQs, details of our new participation requirements, travel advice and what to expect on your trip.
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.
Trip Reports >> Video – Climbing the Chere Couloir
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 III 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.
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
- Equipment hire
Our meeting point and Chamonix valley base is Chalet Tissieres in Les Bossons, just 5 mins by car/bus from Chamonix centre. The chalet stands in its own 2000m2 alpine garden with stunning panoramic views of Mont Blanc and the entire Chamonix valley. It offers simple but comfortable shared rooms, a large lounge/dining area, honesty bar, and a huge balcony for al fresco dining on warm summer evenings: a great place to relax after a big day in the mountains. The chalet serves a buffet breakfast and varied 3-course evening meal, with special diets catered for upon request. Rooms are provided on a twin (or occasionally 4-6 person) sharing basis, but if you prefer a single room please let us know and we will confirm availability. Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.
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.
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:
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.
Fri PM – return to the valley for a debrief, exchange of photos etc and farewells.
Return travel should be arranged on Saturday morning, after your final nights accommodation.
Early departures – if you choose to depart on Friday night, please leave plenty of time for repacking and airport transfer. You will typically be back at the hotel by 4-5pm at the latest, so choose a flight departing Geneva after 9-10pm.
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.
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.
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.
- Wicking thermal top – long sleeved and light colour is ideal!
- Softshell Jacket – mid weight, wind resistant, light insulating layer (or a mid weight fleece jacket)
- Spare warm layer – lightweight synthetic/down jacket or other warm layer
- Waterproof jacket – lightweight breathable model
- Mountain trousers – light/mid-weight windproof softshell 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)
- Thin gloves – windproof ‘hardfleece’ model is good
- Warm insulated gloves – wind and waterproof
- Warm hat – must fit under a helmet
- 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
- 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)
- 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 boots – Axe, Boot and Crampon advice
- Rock climbing shoes – 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!
Backcountry UK in Otley offer an excellent walking boot fitting service and general equipment advice.
Please see our Equipment Hire page for more details.
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.