Our classic 5 day Chamonix Mountaineer programme gives you the opportunity to develop technical mountaineering skills whilst climbing some brilliant Chamonix alpine routes along the way. The aim is to develop your movement skills, alpine experience & fitness levels with a view to tackling steeper alpine ascents in future. This is an inspiring goal and great step towards bridging the technical gap between fine snowy peaks like Gran Paradiso & Mont Blanc with rocky & harder ascents like the Matterhorn and Eiger.
This course starts by tackling more technical & steeper rocky ground than is experienced on Mont Blanc for example but in lower and easily accessed venues. Training & practice on relevant terrain, but in less committing places allows the opportunity to build skill & confidence which can then be applied on higher mountain alpine routes later in the week…
- Develop your existing mountaineering & basic climbing skills to allow more technical alpine ascents to be made in future.
- For many this will mean helping to bridge the technical gap between e.g. Mont Blanc & The Matterhorn.
- Spend 5 enjoyable days climbing, mountaineering & training around the Chamonix Valley.
- Increase high altitude mountaineering experience & improve stamina / endurance for alpine ascents.
- Meet some other like minded mountaineers, even possible partners for a future Matterhorn programme.
- Have a fun & sociable week with 1 night spent in a high alpine mountain hut.
Below we have outlined both the alpine training elements and itinerary of alpine routes (up to around alpine grade PD+) for this course which will be led by a fully qualified IFMGA Mountain Guide with experience of climbing the Matterhorn and similar technical alpine peaks. So the course will include ongoing discussions on the subtle elements of improving your performance as well as the major skills described here…
Skills Covered During the Course
- Scrambling & Easy Rock Climbing in ‘Big Boots’ (alpine mountaineering boots rather than rock climbing shoes to maximise relevance to alpine ascents).
- Recreating the terrain & style of climbing on the Matterhorn with some emphasis placed on down climbing, lowering and abseiling as well as climbing skills.
- A refresher of mountaineering crampon and ice axe skills, with an emphasis on secure but efficient progression.
- Movement skills with crampons & ice axe on rock, ice and mixed ground & being swift, yet secure and saving energy on long alpine routes.
- A refresher of basic rope work and glacier travel techniques.
- Front pointing & basic ice climbing techniques with 1 and possibly 2 ice tools.
- Using mountain huts.
- Selecting appropriate alpine equipment to be light and effective.
(Flexible According to Weather & Snow Conditions)
- Pre Course – Arrive in Chamonix, check in to accommodation; arrange any hire equipment etc. Any previous time spent in the valley warm up walking/ acclimatising / training will be beneficial but not essential. We can advise on route choice for this as required.
- Day 1 – Introduction to the course, guide & other team members, equipment check…then straight out for big boot scrambling & rock climbing around the Chamonix Valley. This is an important training day, very relevant to the ascent of the Matterhorn, and gives the opportunity to really develop your alpine & rock movement skills whilst sampling some of the fine valley or middle mountain rock in the Chamonix Valley.
- Day 2 – Starting from the village of Les Praz in the Chamonix Valley we use the Flegere & Index lift to access the middle mountain rocky terrain of Les Aiguilles Rouges. This gives the opportunity to put yesterdays big boot scrambling and climbing in to context on the alpine ridge traverse of the Aiguilles Crochues. At just under 3000m altitude this also offers good acclimatisation training before going in to the high alpine zone for the next three days. The traverse finishes at the lovely Refuge Lac Blanc where a drink can be enjoyed with magnificent views of the Mont Blanc range before the highway path of the Tour du Mont Blanc is taken back to the lift station.
- Day 3 – Drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel to access the superb Italian side of the Monte Bianco Massif via the high Hellbroner lift (3462m). After a refresher using ice axe & crampons one of the fine local rocky / mixed ridge traverses and peaks like the Aiguilles Marbrees, Aiguille de Toule, North Ridge of the Petite Flambeau can be climbed. A sociable evening and dinner at the Rifugio Torino generally involves plenty of pasta and classic Italian café.
- Day 4 – An early start from the Torino Hut (3329m) usually provides the classic pre-dawn experience of crunching across the frozen glacier in crampons & good training for the ‘alpine start’ on the Matterhorn for example. Few other huts in the Alps have more route choices than the Torino and there is the option of a longer glacier journey to climb one of the fine summits on the Aiguilles d’Entreves or more of the ridges which were not done yesterday. The aim is to get plenty of mileage and build confidence on moderately technical high alpine terrain, rather than doing very hard climbing. Return to Chamonix in the afternoon for R & R and refining any equipment issues if necessary.
- Day 5 – Ascend Chamonix’s famous high mountain lift, the Aiguille du Midi (3842m) to access the remarkable area of rock, ice and mixed climbs around the col du Midi. This final day gives the chance to refine skills built during the week and develop more high mountain alpine techniques like front pointing on steeper snow & ice and using 2 technical ice tools. Check out some of the options on our Pointe Lachenal & ‘Midi Variations’ galleries below. A spectacular finalé to a great weeks mountaineering finishes with a drink in Chamonix to celebrate and discuss the classic mountaineers question….what’s next!?
Rob Sutermeister, Chamonix Mountaineer & Matterhorn Programme, Aug 2015
Thoroughly professional, relaxed and fun. If you are searching the net looking for the right guide company, go for these guys. Our course was outstanding. Thanks a lot Rob and Owain.
Chamonix Mountaineer Fitness and Experience Pre-Requirements
This course is for people who already have some basic rock climbing & mountaineering experience and have used crampons and an ice axe before. The focus of the training is for those who have already climbed snowy alpine peaks like Mont Blanc or Gran Paradiso and want to develop their technical mountaineering skills in order to climb more technical peaks in future like the Matterhorn & Eiger. You will also need to be physically very fit and able to complete 5 mountain days of walking, scrambling & climbing on broken and technical terrain at altitude (eg. 5-8 hours in duration each day).
Suggested Course Progression
Those aspiring to climb the great technical peaks of the Alps like the Matterhorn and Eiger have an enjoyable progression to make by climbing some other big but less technical peaks first. Our Climb the Gran Paradiso, Monte Rosa Mountaineer and Climb Mont Blanc courses would be a great start to this journey. Another good lead in to this course would be one of our UK based alpine and Matterhorn training courses.
After completing our Chamonix Mountaineer Programme an enjoyable extension would be our 3 day Weissmeis traverse programme in the Swiss Alps. From here, if you are going well and enjoying all the ascents so far you may want to do our classic 6 day Matterhorn programme. Another technical Chamonix based option is our Chamonix Alpinist course and after that Climb the Eiger. This course progression is often reflected in the dates of our courses so get in touch if you would like to build an excellent longer alpine programme with several different consecutive courses.
Chamonix private guiding is also a good choice for getting a tailor made programme and thus just the right level of technical & physical challenge and training input. This also allows more technical ascents to be made at a 1:1 guiding ratio.
Please see out Alpine Mountaineering Equipment List above.
Joe, Matterhorn Training & Ascent, Sept 2015
“Awesome week. The preparation was key. Before we went to the Alps Rob recommended some routes in the UK. Tower Ridge being one on Ben Nevis. This coupled with an exciting 3 days in Chamonix made our ascent of the Matterhorn possible. The ascent and descent of the Matterhorn is awesome. The pace is full on, footwork needs to be good and the movement with the guide spot on. Concentration is also very important as there seems to be so many ‘things’ happening at once, ropes, anchors, loose rocks, other climbers, fatigue! Rob and Owain were superb in their direction and guiding. Especially in the positive communication they gave us throughout the whole experience. Great trip, brilliant memories that will be with me for ever. “
2018 Chamonix Mountaineer Dates & Prices
July 23-27, 5 days, Monday – Friday
August 27-31, 5 days, Monday – Friday
2018 Course Fee
What’s Included in the Price?
- 5 full days mountain guiding with an IFMGA Mountain Guide
- Transport during the course including travel in the valley and across to the Italian Vallee d’Aosta
- Discounted equipment hire prices
- Management of the trip / itinerary and booking of all mountain huts
Our courses are priced on a ‘guiding only’ basis which means you pay the exact cost price for all other expenses like hotels, mountain huts and lift passes.
What’s Not Included?
- Chamonix accommodation. Prices start from camping at C.10 euros per night, Bunkhouse for C.20 euros per night and hotel accommodation from around 40-50 euros upwards. Please see our Chamonix Accommodation notes.
- Mountain huts. Allow about 65 euros per person for your hut night (dinner, bed & breakfast) and share in the Guides hut night also.
- The guides hut expenses are split between the group members and are discounted in huts and on lifts. The best way to deal with these expenses is to make a communal group ‘kitty’ which you contribute to and all expenses are paid out of.
- Mountain lift passes. Allow 30€ for the telecabine on day 2, 40€ total for days 3 & 4 and 50€ for day 5 up the Midi.
- Transfer from the airport to Chamonix, between 20 and 40 euros each in way in 2016, depending on the company.
- Lunches, extra drinks, snacks etc during the course
- Mountaineering equipment. Check the kit list below
- Insurance, this is your responsibility to arrange and ensure that you are covered for alpine mountaineering in the European Alps
- Any other expenses
- Approximate total cost of additional essential expenses (based 6 nights staying in the huts and a 2* Hotel in the valley): 500€
Further Details & Booking
For more details on our terms & conditions, to fill in a booking form and make a payment, please visit our booking page via the link below: