Throughout the summer months I offer guided and instructional mountaineering courses based in the Chamonix Valley. On this page you will find a few of the courses that I guide regularly, with more information involving examples of course itineraries, and a selection of my photographs from past trips. I hope this gives you some ideas of what we can do, but please get in touch to discuss your ambitions and goals because every trip can be tailored and adapted to suit your needs. 

Mont Blanc 4810m is the highest mountain in the European Alps. It is a wonderful mountaineering adventure for any aspiring alpinist. It is a significant challenge with rocky scrambling, steep snow climbing and exciting exposure. Standing on the summit on a clear morning high above the Chamonix valley with epic views across the Alps and the rest of Europe is and incredibly rewarding and uplifting experience. With a glaciated snow and icy summit at 4810m above sea level it is a serious mountain and thorough training, preparation and acclimatising is highly recommended. I guide Mont blanc as the pinnacle of either a 5 or 6 day course, aimed at fit and determined mountain climbers.

The Matterhorn 4478m is probably the most iconic and recognised mountain in the world. Its perfect pointy profile pierces the skyline of the Valais alps, high above the towns of Zermatt in Switzerland and Cervinia on the Italian side. It has 4 long and steep complex ridges which terminate on an exposed and perfect summit. As a mountain its even more impressive because of its prominence standing proudly on its own. It is a great mountain to stand on top of with a challenging and technical climb. There is no easy way and every route requires steady footwork, solid nerve, a high level of fitness and a bit of technical climbing ability. I guide the Matterhorn as a 6 day course with technical training, preparation, and acclimatisation.

The Eiger 3967m is a magnificent mountain in the Bernese Oberland. The mountain is famed for its enormous 1800m North Face. The history behind the first ascent of this Face is deep and fascinating. An Ascent of the 1938 route is an experienced and talented alpinists dream. One can wait years for the stars to align to have good conditions, time and a weather window to climb this route. 

 The Mitteleggi ridge tackles the Eastern flank of the mountain and is an exceptionally beautiful and enagaging route at a more reasonable grade of AD+. In my opinion it is one of the best routes of its grade in the Alps. I guide the Eiger as part of a 6 day Course with technical training, preparation and acclimatisation. 

Technical Alpinism is generally a Route graded AD or above on a major summit. The list is endless. There are 61 major 4000m peaks in the alps, many have numerous beautiful climbs to their summits. Some are well travelled, and some are very rarely climbed. The three peaks above (Mt Blanc, Matterhorn, Eiger) are the most famous peaks in the Alps. However this is to highlight that there is much much more out there. I want to describe some of my favourite alpine peaks and climbs. Often the best trips are where you come out with an open mind, a few ideas in your head but ultimately we just go where the conditions and weather is best. We can travel to other major alpine areas, Saas fee, Bernese Oberland, Zermatt, Val d'Anniviers, Arolla, Monte Viso, Ecrins, Monte Rosa, Bregalia, Dolomites etc...

A 5 or 6 day course would be an ideal opportunity to climb some fine routes and stand on top of some incredible summits. 

Introductory Alpinism.

For those who want to get a taste of alpinism we can arrange introductory courses covering the very basics of alpine mountaineering, with the end goal being an easier summit that can be achieved without any serious or difficult climbing. I really like teaching skills and watching people become more competent in the mountains. On an introductory course I teach basic glacier ropework, ice axe and crampon use, mountain navigation and route finding. 

 There is a lot to learn and what can be taught totally depends on your level and everyone comes from different back grounds. The main aim is that you would learn something and climb some mountains putting all your skills to use. A few classic introductory alpine peaks are Grand Paradiso, Aiguille de tour, Pigne D'Arolla, Monterosa, Alaninhorn.

© 2016 John McCune.