Swiss 4000m Classics

Fitness level
Tech level
Number of guiding days
6
Guiding ratio
1:3

Enjoy a Swiss 4000m Peaks climbing holiday! Climbing 4000m peaks is one of the classic challenges of alpine mountaineering. On this guided climbing week, flexibility is the key – as we climb different objectives each year, allowing people to build up their tally of 4000ers.

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£1595

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We just wanted to send this email to thank both you and Phil for an excellent week in the mountains! Even though we had some issues with the weather, Phil provided us just the kind of week we were hoping for! Excellent guiding on the mountains and at least as good company off the mountains. So all in all a really succesfull week, and we are sure to ask for Phil or other Alpine-Guides if we need one in the future!

Jokinen Pentti

Trip overview

Enjoy a Swiss 4000m Peaks climbing holiday! Climbing 4000m peaks is one of the classic challenges of alpine mountaineering. On this guided climbing week, flexibility is the key – as we climb different objectives each year, allowing people to build up their tally of 4000ers.

A varied week of 4000m peak climbing in the Swiss Alps, based in Saas and Zermatt. Routes are selected to allow access to 4000m summits without undue technical difficulty. Please tell us of any 4000m peaks you have already climbed, so we can plan accordingly. Typically grades are in the range F to PD+ depending on the mountain.

Recent Trip Reports:

Need further information? enquire about this trip.


Suitability

This is an intermediate level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3 and Tech Level 2 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines). You need to be competent in the use of ice axe and crampons. Scottish winter climbing or an Alpine Intro course are suitable preparation. A good level of general fitness is required to enjoy the week, as summit days involve 5-9 hours climbing at altitude, so we advise you to prepare well in advance with days out in the UK hills, or other regular exercise.


Guiding ratio

One UIAGM guide climbing with 3 clients.


Included in price

  • 6 days of guiding
  • All guides expenses
  • 3 nights accommodation in the Saas Valley, including breakfast and evening meals
  • 4 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

  • Trains and cable cars
  • Lunches and drinks
  • Travel to resort
  • Insurance
  • Equipment hire

Hotels

Our usual hotel base is the comfortable and convenient Hotel Roby, situated in the centre of Saas Grund. The Roby is a popular hotel amongst mountaineers and guided groups, with friendly staff, good food and within walking distance of the main Saas Grund cable car.  Rooms are provided on a twin (or occasionally triple) sharing basis, but if you prefer a single room please book online and we will confirm availability asap. Storage facilities are available, so any extra luggage can be left in the accommodation during your time spent in huts. 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.

Detailed Itinerary

Saturday

You should arrange outward travel to Saas Grund 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

Climbing Days – ascents of classic 4000m peaks in the Swiss Alps:

Day 1 is normally a warm up/acclimatisation day in order to find your feet on alpine terrain again and get used to the altitude. Typical outings might include a mid altitude rock peak such as the Jegihorn, Riffelhorn or Dri Horlini. 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 an easier 4000er such as the Allalinhorn.

Days 2 + 3 are spent climbing 4000ers, before descending to the valley on Tuesday night. Various peaks lend themselves to either one day or two day ascents and some can be climbed as link ups, staying in a hut overnight between summits – so there are numerous options for the week. Various examples are shown below:

1 Day Ascents:

  • Weissmies
  • Allalinhorn
  • Breithorn

2 Day Ascents:

  • Lagginhorn
  • Alphubel
  • Nadelhorn
  • Strahlhorn
  • Castor
  • Dom
  • Bishorn

Link Ups:

  • Weissmies – Lagginhorn – 3 Days
  • Allalinhorn – Alphubel – 2 Days
  • Allalinhorn – Strahlhorn – 2 Days
  • Breithorn – Castor – 2 days

Wednesday to Friday

Climbing Days – ascents of classic 4000m peaks in the Swiss Alps:

Choice of peaks to be determined by current climbing conditions and what you have climbed before. Please tell us of any 4000m peaks you have already climbed when booking and you’re 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.


Saturday

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 after 9-10pm.

Location and Travel

Your course starts and finishes in Saas Grund.

Arrival/Departure

The most common way to reach Saas Grund (SG) is fly into Geneva, then take a train along the Rhone Valley, then onward bus service to SG. Alternatively fly into Zurich or Basel.


Flights 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.
  • Train and Post Bus from Geneva airport to SG: https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html (integrated Swiss travel website, displays all connecting bus and train services).
  • Alternatively fly to Basel or Zurich then take the train, as above.
  • If you plan to arrive by train, then purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass (details on website above) could save you some money on this course, as you get half fare on the cable cars in many resorts, as well as on the trains and buses. If you purchase a Swiss card the journey from the airport to Saas Grund and back will be included.
  • Alternatively hire a car at any airport (all 3-4 hours driving time).

Other travel options

  • Driving from UK, take the ferry or Eurotunnel to Calais/Dunkerque, then 10-11 hours driving.
  • Eurostar train from the UK to Geneva, then onward train service to Saas (excellent fast service): www.eurostar.com/uk-en

Further information and travel links can be found on our Travel Planning page.

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 a stone overweight (7-8kg/15lb) , then you will find the trip a lot harder and if you don’t have a solid background in endurance sports, you are likely to struggle. In our experience, if you are more than 12kg/25lb overweight, you may manage some shorter climbs or easier routes with less time pressure, but you stand almost no chance of completing a major alpine summit where speed of ascent is critical for safety. So if you know you need to lose a bit of weight, then start right away and you’ll reap the rewards!

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.

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

£1595