Alpine Climbing & 4000m Skills

This course is designed to give a profound and pleasant introduction to alpine mountaineering, hone your skills with blending instruction in a supervised learning environment and to climb mountains you would never try without a professional UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guide. Moreover, all the learned skills give a firm foundation and chance to tackle a 4000m summit at the end of the course. The areas we use for this course are based in the north-western part of the Alps, from Switzerland in the north to Italy in the south, to provide the best possibilities for you to practice and develop your mountaineering skills.

We start the week with basic rope and climbing technique on rock where you will learn and practice belaying, lead climbing and abseiling. Thereafter we introduce crampon and ice axe techniques to travel safe on ice and glacial terrain together with route planning, analyzing weather conditions and basic mountain rescue techniques. Most important, depending on your level of mountaineering interest, we can choose to practice on mountains routes to involve more or less snow and ice. A fundamental way to learn, to quote the Greek philosopher Aristotle, is by “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”, i.e. there is an active participation in a direct and practical way so you will learn fast and acquire skills useful in all aspects for your future alpine mountaineering.

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Prerequisite skills
The course is suitable for beginners to alpine mountaineering and even for people with some experience from classical summer alpinism or in the crags/climbing walls. A good level of general fitness is required, gained from hill walking or other aerobic exercise, in order to be able to cope with long days out in the mountains, both approach and climbing wise.

Of course if you feel you lack some of those experiences or uncertain of your own level, please feel free to contact us. We will do our best to give you the best experience possible.

Course Description
The focus in this course is aimed for beginners to alpine mountaineering and we will start the alpine education where your former skills ends, including:

  • Presentation of basic climbing equipment.
  • Fundamental climbing knots.
  • Basic rock climbing skills.
  • Abseiling and prussiking.
  • Belaying and protection techniques on rock and ice.
  • Use of crampons and ice axe on snow and ice.
  • Short rope techniques for various types of alpine terrain.
  • Safe glacier travel and crevasse rescue.
  • Snow and ice belays and descending on snow and ice.
  • Fundamental navigation and interpretation of maps and guidebooks.
  • Climb routes graded Alpine F to PD.
  • Selection of climbing equipment.
  • Alpine huts and when to start climbing.

You will have the possibility to practice these skills on suited mountain routes with expert coaching and supervision from a UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guide before we try to make an ascent of a final 4000m summit.

This course is suitable for most of the time during the summer season and the best period is from late June to end of September. However, late season such as October can provide many opportunities for great climbing and can be a bit more solitude in most famous venues.

Program for the week
Please note that the course is flexible. The venues for this course can be chosen that works best with the current weather, snow and ice conditions, personal requests and your level of mountaineering interest. To mention a few places where we have been in the past; Saas Valley, Gran Paradiso, Monte Rosa, Monviso and Chamonix valley. The following program is a typical 6 days week course in the Aosta Valley. There might be changes due to weather or mountain conditions.

Day 1 Sunday : Arrival day in Courmayeur – Meeting
Arrival day in Courmayeur. The hotel will be available for check in the afternoon and in the evening we have a gathering to meet in person and discuss the plan for the week. If you want to spend additional days before or after the course please let us know.

Day 2 Monday: Rock Climbing – Aosta Valley
We have a valley-based skills day to practice basic rope and climbing techniques. We cover things such as tying in, fundamental belay set-ups and belaying techniques, abseiling, prussiking, taking coils and how to move over rock. Aosta valley offers plenty of options for the beginners to those with prior climbing experience. In the evening we return to the hotel in Courmayeur.

Day 3 Tuesday: Ecole du Glace – Mer de Glace Glacier
A day devoted to Ecole du Glace where we travel to the Mer de Glace glacier (2000m). Here we have an excellent and easily accessible glacier to learn the basics of safe travel on ice and glacial terrain. We cover crampon and ice axe technique, climb vertical ice, create ice anchors and walk a lot with crampons. We can never stress the importance of having a good footwork, on ice and snow, when moving in the alpine terrain in the Alps. In the evening we return to the hotel in Courmayeur.

Day 4 Wednesday: Glacier Travel – Rifugio Torino
Glacier travel skills, practicing building snow anchors, crevasse rescue and probing for crevasses, spent on a journey across the glaciers nearby the Torino hut (3375m). The night we spend in the Torino hut and we have a session on alpine weather prediction, the use of maps and guidebooks and relating it to the terrain around us.

Day 5 Thursday: Alpine Mountaineering – Rifugio Torino
The first “alpine start” for the week to climb one of the peaks around the hut. We can choose between Aiguilles Marbrees (3535m) or Tour Ronde (3792m), both offering excellent training ground for practicing leading and moving together on rocky alpine ridge terrain. For the more experienced climbers we might even have Aiguille d’Entrèves (3604m) as an option. In the afternoon we descend from the Torino hut, we then drive up to Val d’Ayas or Valsavarenche where we spend the night in valley based accommodation.

Day 6-7 Friday-Saturday: Ayas or Chabod Hut – 4000m Summit
We can choose between two 4000m summits, either Gran Paradiso (4061m) or Polluce (4092m), depending on your level of mountaineering interest and skills gained so far. For both summits we have to head up out of the valleys on Friday on foot to reach the huts, a 4-5 hours trek up a good track with some spectacular views of the surroundings. Saturday morning we make our second ‘alpine start”, leaving the huts before dawn in order to cope with the best alpine mountaineering conditions. After you have the reached the summit, you descend to the hut for lunchtime and back down to the starting point in the valley. We finish the course with a debrief and personal advices for the future before returning to Courmayeur where you spend the night.

Day 8 Sunday: Departure day
Day of departure back home.

Small groups
We recommend to be at most 2 climbers/guide during these courses (depending on the course venue and mountaineering interest we might even agree to go with 4 climbers/guide). Some courses there are two guides with independent groups working together.

Personal equipment
The following is a general equipment list, all communal safety equipment (e.g. ropes, ice screws, rock protections, etc) is provided by us. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. Equipment marked with * can be provided by your guide when needed. Experienced climbers will find it best to bring their own tried and tested personal equipment.

• One classical mountaineering ice axes, a straight-shafted one, such as Petzl Summit or Grivel Jorasses 2.0*
• Harness, with adjustable leg loops and gear loops.*
• Crampons, classica model, such as Petzl Sarken or Grivel G12.*
• Helmet*
• 1 Belay device with a HMS screwgate karbiner.*
• 2 large locking HMS karabiner.*
• 2 Prusik cord.*
• 1 sewn tape sling 240 cm.*
• Poles, adjustable that can be mounted on a backpack.
• Backpack, 35-45 liters, with straps for climbing equipment.
• Ski goggles, “orange/yellow/clear” lenses to be used in windy weather.
• Sunglasses, category 3-4.
• Rigid mountaineering boots, a B2-B3 rated boot is most suitable.
• Rock climbing shoes.
• Gaiters
• Gortex jacket or similar.
• Gortex pants or similar with ventilation possibilities.
• Mountain trousers combination in some softshell fabric or similar.
• Down jacket lightweight.
• 2 pair of base layer, synthetic or wool.
• 2 pairs of warm socks.
• Mid layer
• 2 pair of technical climbing gloves (thinner and thicker)
• Insulated gloves, mitten type.
• Warm hat to fit under a helmet.
• Balaclava to protect your face in windy cold weather.
• Sun hat to protect you against the Sun.
• Head torch with spare batteries.
• Sun block
• Travel sheets to sleep in at the huts.
• Water bottle (1-2 liters), since we do not recommend Camelback systems.
• Small medical kit.
• Training/approach shoes – travelling and evening wear.
• Spare clothes for wearing in the valley.

• Professional Mountain Guide authorized by UIAGM/IFMGA.
• All transport needed during the course.
• All lift passes.
• Nights at mountain huts including breakfast and dinner.
• Hotel accommodation in twin double rooms including breakfast before, during and after the week (a single room can, where possible be arranged at additional cost).

Not included
• Lunch and drinks during the days.
• Personal climbing equipment (see list above).
• Travel to/from designated meeting point.
• Mandatory insurance to cover mountain rescue costs.

Number of days: 6 days climbing, 7 nights accommodation.
Price: Please contact us.

Please use the form if you have any questions or want us to contact you.

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