Hiring your own private guide is the most flexible way to enjoy the guided alpine ice climbing experience. With no fixed costs or rigid itineraries, you can stay super flexible, selecting venues and objectives to suit the weather, conditions and aspirations. Whatever your objectives, from skills training, cruising some classics, a longstanding dream route, or any combination of activities, we can team you up with a great guide to help you achieve your goals.
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.
You simply pay the guides daily fee in advance, then cover the guides and your own expenses as you go during the trip. Hiring a guide is also a great option if you are on a budget and wish to select your own accommodation in resort, or if you live nearby or have your own holiday accommodation. Please contact us to discuss your plans, and by return we will provide an (obligation free) outline itinerary, guiding fee quote, and an estimate of all expenses.
Private guiding is suitable for any fitness/technical level, from 1-5 (see Fitness and Experience guidelines). However, your group should be well matched in terms of fitness and ability, so everyone can make the most of their holiday.
As a rough guideline, these guiding ratios apply:
- Introductory level/skills based trips – 1:3 max
- Training courses/trips involving multipitch climbing – 1:2 max
- Serious/technical/time consuming objectives – 1:1
The main European icefall season runs from Jan to late Feb, but it’s possible to climb valley ice into March in some higher/shady venues. March/April are the best months for climbing ice/mixed in the high mountains (couloir climbing). Norway is great from Jan to April, depending on how far north you want to go (its pretty dark inside the Arctic Circle in Jan…!)
Guide fees (price per day)
- 1 person – £380
- 2 people – £400
- 3 people – £420
The following expenses are payable during your trip (guides receive a discounted rate on cable cars and in mountain huts):
- Hotels (no guide hotels payable if climbing in Chamonix, our seasonal base)
- Mountain huts
- Local travel – fuel and tolls, for use of guides vehicle
- Lunches and drinks
- Your travel to resort
- Your insurance
- Your equipment hire
As a rough estimate, budget £20-30/day for guides expenses in Chamonix, and £70-80/day for guides expenses in other resorts.
Premium Guiding Routes
On these trips it’s also possible to climb longer more involved routes, for which premium guiding rates apply. These are paid as a supplement on a per route basis, based on local guides office rates in resort – please contact us for a quote.
As a guideline, supplements apply to routes that involve one of the following: more than a 10-12hr day, bivouacs, over 500m long, grade TD or above.
Examples would include:
- Classic North Faces: Droites, Verte, Courtes, Grand Jorasses, Matterhorn…
- Classic Couloirs: Eugster Direct, Dru Couloir, Supercouloir and the longer Tacul couloirs…
You are responsible for organising your accommodation in resort – we are happy to make some recommendations to suit your budget. We will book any mountain huts necessary for your trip.
Please get in touch to discuss your aims and objectives and we will be happy to create an outline itinerary for you.
We will provide help with your travel arrangements once final plans are in place.
To view all climbing Technical and Fitness Levels, and for advice on trip preparation and training, please visit our training advice page.
Alpine Ice Kit List
Equipment can take a real hammering in winter-time, so a substantial hardshell is preferred, rather than lightweight summer waterproofs.
- 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!
- 2 fleeces – or equivalent insulating mid-layers
- 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
- 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
- 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 boots – Axe, 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!
Backcountry UK in Ilkley offer an excellent mountain 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.