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Guides in the Alps


Original Post
Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175

Im planning a family vacation sometime in the next 2 years and would like to do a (roughly) 2-4 day climb in the Alps. Since I wont have a partner, I will probably look to hire a guide. As of now I was thinking of flying into Zurich and spending some time in southern Germany as well. This could be adjusted based on what I decide to climb and what the family wants to see. My ideal climb would be an alpine climb like the Eiger, but I need to do more route research.

Anyone have guide recommendations, specific route recommendations etc? Much appreciated.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175

Also, if anyone has done any highly rewarding class 3-4 routes that are easily soloed, id be interested in that as well. Just thought I should go for one of the big ones as this may be my only trip to the Alps.

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 266

As a heads up, getting a guide for 4 days straight in the mountains in Chamonix will be somewhat challenging.  It seems that most guides like to be home for dinner out there.  

I spoke to the fellow from High Mountain Guides, and he seems like he is one of the few folks who is up for taking new clients on harder longer routes.

t.farrell · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 60

Kind of echoing what Chris said, most guides would want to know your experience before getting on the Eiger with you...at least the American ones (which I prefer as they're generally considered more conservative with risk).

Most of the climbs can be done in two days. Guides will probably also want you to acclimate somewhere high as well since all the towns are considerably lower (~2000-3000m difference depending on the peak).

I think most people would recommend Chamonjx over Zurich. 

Miles Smart is a pretty badass dude. Runs a guiding service with his wife full time in Cham. Both of them are IFMGA (and American). I believe he does private trips.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,120
Jake wander wrote:

any highly rewarding class 3-4 routes that are easily soloed.

Not sure I know what the term "easily" soloed means, but there are many great class 3-4 routes in the Alps
. . (but not by Chamonix).

How about at least pick a country? (or two) - so we can narrow down to something resembling specific suggestions?

I'd suggest you consider "via ferrata" routes, since many are designed be done solo at a class 3 or 4 difficulty level, and many are in very spectacular settings -- and with dramatic exposure that you'd normally expect only from difficult 5.xx routes -- also give you a cross-cultural climbing experience.
. . (many of the best VF are _not_ in the Dolomites) - (and only one or two by Chamonix).

Ken

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175
kenr wrote:

Not sure I know what the term "easily" soloed means, but there are many great class 3-4 routes in the Alps
. . (but not by Chamonix).

How about at least pick a country? (or two) - so we can narrow down to something resembling specific suggestions?

I'd suggest you consider "via ferrata" routes, since many are designed be done solo at a class 3 or 4 difficulty level, and many are in very spectacular settings -- and with dramatic exposure that you'd normally expect only from difficult 5.xx routes -- also give you a cross-cultural climbing experience.
. . (many of the best VF are _not_ in the Dolomites) - (and only one or two by Chamonix).

Ken

for easily soloed i mean routes i could climb in a day without any crevasse concerns and on solid rock since i wouldnt be roping up for solo.

for the countries, we were very tentatively planning for switzerland and germany.

thanks for the info on VF, i was under the impression it was mainly in the dolomites.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,120
Jake wander wrote:

we were very tentatively planning for switzerland and germany.

thanks for the info on VF, i was under the impression it was mainly in the dolomites.

Solid rock is a concern for many routes in the countries you mentioned. That's why VF is a nice option. Gives you a fighting chance if a hold breaks while you're soloing. In Germany and eastern Switzerland, the word often used for Via Ferrata is "klettersteig".

Some worthwhile VFs in Germany are the Alpspitze near Garmisch -- or for a big full day adventure, the Jubliaemsgrat traverse (unprotected sections with loose rock) to or from the Zugspitze, with taxi + lift / cog railway shuttle). The Hindelanger klettersteig in SW Germany is rather fun (with "free" moves with hands and feet directly on the rock) and spectacular. In SE Germany, lots of pretty hiking around Berchtesgaden but I've been unimpressed with the VF in B (but the new one on the Untersberg nearby is fun). 

Switzerland (expensive and ? rules-conscious?) I generally avoid. I've heard good things about the Jaegihorn VF.

If you open yourself to western Austria, you get lots more options for VF and scrambles (e.g. on the S side of Berchtesgaden, also in the Dachstein).

Ken

P.S. Another reason to consider Austria (or the Dolomites) is that the interesting "classic alpine peaks" in Switzerland are just higher. So if you hire a guide, they are going to insist on a multi-day plan for acclimatization to altitude.
Note also that the Eiger is basically a heap of shit rock. The classic not-so-difficult Mittellegigrat ridge at least keeps you mostly at the top of the loose slopes, but then the traditional (still used?) normal descent puts you over + under other parties doing their best (let us hope) not to kick shit down on you. (? maybe try it in early season when more of the rock is still frozen with ice and old snow ?) 

Reid Malinbaum · · Torrance · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 0

Lots of babbling... contact a guide service in Switzerland and discuss your project climb with them directly. They will be most accommodating.

Reid

fossana · · leeds, ut · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 12,951

This site is a useful for climbs, scrambles and VFs in S Germany and N Austria, complete with photos and topos (in German): http://www.bergsteigen.com/  It looks like a few routes are also covered in Switzerland.

cdec · · SLC, UT · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 460

There are a bunch of American IFMGA guides that work in the Alps regularly.

Dale Remsberg - https://www.gravityguide.com   https://www.instagram.com/daleremsberg/

Jonathan Spitzer 

Tico Gangulee 

All are IFMGA and work in Europe. Dale is there now.  

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60

My first question would be where do you want to go?  Are you planning on Zurich because you want to see that area or because you'd thought that there's climbing nearby?  You mentioned the Eiger, but I'm not sure whether you're thinking of the N. Face (which seems a ridiculous thing to think you could get guided up) or the Mittleggi, etc.  If you're open to different areas then do some research on guides and see what they typically guide.  I think fun one day objectives would be the Cassin Route or North Ridge of the Biz Badile.  Lots of stuff in Cham clearly.  Don't overlook the Dolomites either. Lots of underrated classics on dramatic looking peaks, and via ferrata if you're without a partner.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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