Snow, Ice and Mixed in the Alps

The Alps, there is no other mountain range in the world with such history, easy access, beautiful divers climbing, sharp summits and unreal rock quality. It is in winter, spring and autumn that the combination of snow, ice, rock, low temperatures and quiet mountains give the winter alpinist that spark of adventure, always tempered by the tougher mountain conditions and greater commitment.

The easier rocky ridges of summer alpinism are transformed into greater challenges in the winter form or just being out in the mountains is both a privilege and challenge itself. Or for those with suitable experience, fitness and determination there are a fine series of north faces, goulottes and couloirs ranging in size and difficulty to find for most aspiring winter alpinists. Winter alpine climbing requires all the skills in the book and is suited for those prepared to embrace the concept of hard work and not always “easy” at the same time. You will touch all disciplines of climbing from steep snow and ice to rock and glacial approaches on foot or skis. With the focus in safety, skills and efficiency, the usual winter challenges make any climb extremely rewarding.

The Alps in winter are very special in many ways and the best way to explore them is with a professional UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guide. Just contact us to discuss your ambitions, so we can put together an appropriate itinerary tailored to your requirements. To give you and idea of the proposals we undertake examples are given below.

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Prerequisite skills
As with most mountain activities, winter mountaineering requires a good level of general fitness in order to be able to cope with long days out in a cold environment, both approach and climbing wise. We provide suggestions of all levels of experience and ability, from beginner to expert. However, please be aware that for safety reasons, on longer and more serious routes we cannot promise making an ascent until we have seen how well you are currently climbing. Of course if you feel you lack some knowledge or uncertain of your own level, please feel free to contact us. We will do our best to give you the best experience possible.

The best time is normally October, March and April, but there are periods from December to March when a high-pressure system over the Alps can provide many opportunities for great climbing in excellent conditions.

Some proposals
As with all winter climbing in the Alps, the best strategy seems to be to choose objectives that work best with the current weather, ice and avalanche conditions. Either you can choose some specific climbing objects in advance and wait until they are in conditions or you can wait until arrival and see what looks particularly good and attractive. We are happy to be very flexible to ensure that we climb where conditions are best and attempt the routes that suit you. Some examples of goulottes and couloirs in the Mont Blanc range are:

• Escarra Route III/4
• Charlet-Bettembourg Gully III/4
• Chere Gully II/4
• Modica-Noury III/5+
• Gabarrou-Albinoni III/4+
• Pellissier Gully II/4
• Supercouloir IV/5+
• Lafaille Gully II/4
• Valeria Gully IV/4+
• Laratoune III/4+
• Rebuffat Gully II/4
• Eugster Direct IV/5
• Le Fil a Plomb III/4+
• Rebuffat-Terray V/5
• Frendo-Ravanel II/5
• Madness Tres Mince III/5
• Petit Viking III/4.

Of course we have access to and knowledge about many other routes and venues. Please feel free to contact us, we will do our best to give you the best experience possible.

Small groups
We only take 1 climber/guide (or 2 climbers on shorter climbs) during these guiding days.

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. We may need a ski touring setup or snowshoes for the approach in some cases. 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 pair of technical ice axes, such as the Petzl Quark, Nomic or Grivel Matrix.*
• Harness, with adjustable leg loops and gear loops.*
• Crampons, technical model, such as Petzl Dartwin, Lynx or Grivel G14.*
• Helmet*
• Avalanche transceiver*
• Shovel*
• Probe*
• 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 2-4.
• Rigid mountaineering boots, a B3 rated boot is most suitable.
• Gaiters
• Gortex jacket or similar.
• Gortex pants or similar with ventilation possibilities.
• Mountain trousers combination in some softshell fabric or similar.
• Down jacket
• 2 pairs of base layer, synthetic or wool.
• 2 pairs of warm socks.
• Mid layer
• 2 pair of technical climbing gloves
• Insulated gloves, mitten type.
• Warm hat to fit under a helmet.
• Balaclava to protect your face in windy cold weather.
• Head torch with spare batteries.
• Sun block
• Water bottle (1-2 liters), since we do not recommend Camelback systems.
• Small medical kit.

• Professional Mountain Guide authorized by UIAGM/IFMGA.
• Use of the guides vehicle for transport (cost must be covered).
• A range of recommended accommodation options are provided.
• Personalized top quality winter climbing.

Not included
• Food and accommodation costs must be provided for you and the guide.
• Ski passes for you and the guide (when needed).
• Personal climbing equipment (see list above).
• Travel to/from designated meeting point.
• Mandatory insurance to cover mountain rescue costs.

Price: Private Guiding Rates, please contact us.

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

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