Much of our work throughout the year is for private groups or individuals. From simple stand-alone guiding to bespoke courses.
With our alpine base in Chamonix, we have lots of experience throughout France and Switzerland.
We can offer global bespoke guiding, and with our extensive knowledge and great contacts we can help organise expeditions to all corners of the world.
Get in touch with us if you have a specific project or trip in mind.
What's not included
Who is this for?
We can offer private guiding to any level of fitness and ability.
We can set up an itinerary according to your wishes and current conditions.
Good fitness will make it more fun and you’ll get more out of your trip! Although we will tailor the course to your ability, we definitely recommend getting as fit as possible before you start. The process of training for your goal will help you focus on your goal – and having a goal will help you focus on your training. So all in all training is good!
Mountaineering is all about being able to exercise at a moderate intensity for many hours (typically 5 to 12 hours) and your training should reflect this.
Probably the best training is going on long days hill walking as this simulates the real thing as closely as possible and prepares the mind (exercising for long periods in poor weather requires mental strength!). However not everyone has the opportunity to do this and so alternatives such as jogging, cycling and gym workouts are good.
The focus should be on training Cardiovascular Endurance and so if in the gym, cycling/running/rowing machines are much better than weight training. Try and exercise for up to a couple of hours at a time, 4 times a week. Remember to build up your workouts over time. If you are not used to exercising much, your muscles and joints need time to
build up to avoid injury.
Try and choose an activity that you enjoy and keep a note of what you do and your times – this really helps with keeping the motivation up.
If you are not used to training then your local gym will be able to advise you on a plan and schedule to help you achieve your goals.
Training does not work overnight! The fittest athletes train as part of their lifestyles and have been doing it for years.
Consider training for a good couple of months before coming out to the Alps.
The Effects of Altitude
As one climbs higher the air gets thinner and so there is less oxygen in each breath we take. The higher we go the less oxygen there is. This makes exercising much harder work than at sea level and so we have to slow down to help compensate. Because we have slowed down, we may feel colder.
Because there is less oxygen in the air as we get higher, this can lead to ‘altitude sickness’ or Acute Mountain Sickness which is like the worst hangover you have ever had (headache, nausea, weakness, fatigue, dizziness) and can develop into a very serious and even fatal (in extreme cases) problem.
To avoid these problems, enjoy the climbing and increase our chances of summiting we need to acclimatise by spending several days and nights at progressively higher altitudes, so our bodies can adapt. This is a very important part of our preparation.
Unfortunately we can’t recommend a specific brand and model for each item on the kit list, as what is available is constantly changing and, of course, different people are different shapes and sizes with different budgets! However, in general, we use and endorse Sherpa and Black Diamond products because in our experience they are excellent…
If you go to a good retailer such as Snow & Rock, explain to them you will be climbing Mont Blanc and they will be able to advise you on what is best for you. Bring this list with you…
Lastly, if necessary it is possible to rent most hardware items from us in Chamonix (ice axe, crampons, harness, helmet). You can hire boots too at a rental shop very close to the chalet, but this is a last resort (no one likes uncomfortable boots).
1. Ice axe – for general mountaineering (between 50 and 70cm depending on your height) We can rent you an ice axe.
2. Standard steel mountaineering Crampons – 12 point crampons for general mountaineering with anti-balling plates. Whether strap on or clip on models they must fit your boots well. When buying crampons bring your boots to the shop so they can fit them for you – that way you can avoid buying incompatible ones! Specialised ice climbing crampons are not necessary. We can rent you crampons.
3. Helmet – standard hard plastic climbing helmet. We can rent you a helmet.
4. Trekking Poles – optional, but useful for the training days. We can rent you walking poles.
5. Boots – these must fit and be comfortable. If you buy boots try and make sure they are broken in before the week. They should either be ‘plastic’ or high-end insulated leather (not fabric) and must be compatible with your crampons. Your boots should be stiff-soled (also known as B2 or B3 grade boots in the retail world). If your boots are not stiff enough not only will it compromise your comfort when walking/kicking steps in hard snow but also compromise your safety as crampons are more likely to fall off or even break. When buying boots bring your crampons to the shop to make sure they fit well. You can also rent boots in Chamonix. Gaiters can also be useful in the deeper snow conditions. We can organise rental of boots from our partner shop in Chamonix town.
6. Rucksack – 40-50L with a plastic liner (even just a thick bin bag) in case of rain.
7. Waterbottle 1L – not platypus type – they freeze and leak. A light weight thermo bottle for the summit day can be useful too.
8. Harness (adjustable so that it is comfortable over all your layers), 2 screw gate karabiners, belay device, 1 8-foot sling. We can rent you a harness and karabiners etc…
9. sunglasses (cat 4), goggles, sunhat, sunscreen, lip salve/block
10. 3 sets socks and light coloured thermal tops
11. Lightweight Goretex hooded top & bottoms – make sure pockets are accessible even when wearing a harness
12. Warm hat, thick gloves (eg ski gloves that are warm and waterproof), thin gloves
13. Insulating layers. I use a thin ‘100’ weight fleece and a synthetic duvet jacket. I think a synthetic or down duvet jacket is perfect because you can put it over all your other layers (including goretex) when taking a break or if it is really cold without taking anything off. This is very quick and very warm and practical. If you don’t have a duvet jacket/can’t afford one then make sure you have 1 or 2 thick fleece layers instead.
14. Trousers – there are many brands of fairly windproof/shower resistant trousers for hillwalking/mountaineering. ‘Schoeller’ fabric garments are great but there lots of other good ones too. Bring a pair of lightweight thermal leggings (long johns) too – it can be chilly on summit day!
15. Personal first aid – blister kit, aspirin, or Paracetamol
16. Head torch and spare batteries
17. light weight Book/iPod for spare time in huts and earplugs (there is always someone snoring at night!)
18. Sleeping bag liner for huts (you don’t need a sleeping bag itself as blankets/duvets are provided)
19. Cash (euros) for extra drinks / snacks in huts (allow €20 per hut night but you may well not spend it!)
20. ID, Snack food, if you have an alpine membership card its worth bringing that too. You may also want to bring a small bag of your favourite tea bags as tea bags in the huts are often a bit weak!
Remember kit should be lightweight but functional – you have to carry it! We can help with equipment rental once you arrive in Chamonix.
To find out more about our courses, availability, or to ask any questions, please get in touch through the website or by phone on +33 (0)845 527 58 12.
We take a 20% deposit to secure your place on one of our courses, and we ask for the balance to be paid 6 weeks before the course start date.
We strongly recommend getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue.
Make sure that it covers glaciated mountaineering and climbing/ skiing. We recommend the Dogtag (www.dogtag.co.uk) – they have comprehensive policies and a good reputation.