Logistics

Paperwork

Please take the time to read the entire Logistics section in full. If you have questions, feel free to call the Alpine Ascents office or email us. 

Make sure you have submitted the following paperwork to Alpine Ascents.

⎕  Application
⎕  Passport Copy
⎕  Flight itinerary

Trip Insurance

As there are many unforeseen circumstances that may occur during or leading up to the trip, we strongly recommend trip insurance for your expedition. A variety of options are available through different providers.

There are two basic policies: ‘standard trip insurance’ which can cover injuries or illness, or ‘cancel for any reason,’ which covers a wider variety of situations. Note – these more comprehensive plans are considerably more expensive, and if paid out usually covers 75% of the trip fee.

Please see complete specific policy information for our recommended plans.

Getting There

A day-to-day itinerary can be found with your confirmation letter.

Flight reservations for your expedition should be made as soon as possible after receiving confirmation of your climb.

Flying to Geneva, Switzerland

Arrival: Fly into Geneva, then travel by shuttle to Chamonix. You will need to arrive in Chamonix by the afternoon of Day 1 of your trip itinerary. If you need to (or opt to) arrive early and stay in Geneva, recommended hotels can be found in the Lodging section.

Shuttle from Geneva to Chamonix: You are required to make your own way to Chamonix. Shuttle buses are the best way to get from Geneva International Airport to Chamonix. We recommend Geneva Airport Transfers or Alpy Bus. Both cost around €25 and are easy to book online. We highly recommend booking your shuttle at least two weeks in advance. They will drop you directly at the Pointe Isabelle Hotel.

Team Meeting: Meet at 7:00am in the hotel lobby the morning of our first climbing day (Day 2 on itinerary). Your lead guide will send an email 7-10 days prior to your trip with details outlining the first climbing day and a possible gear list for that day.

Departure: Climbers should plan to depart Chamonix for Geneva the morning of Day 9. Shuttle reservations for this return  should be made in advance of your trip. When booking your returning flight, be sure to account for the 1-hour shuttle ride from Chamonix to Geneva.

Arriving Early or Departing Late
Chamonix has an abundance of tourist attractions, shopping and dining for climbers and their families. Most popular is the famed Aig D’Midi cable car (the 3rd largest tourist attraction in all of France), which leaves directly out of downtown Chamonix and arrives at just over 3800m. Sightseeing and lunch can be enjoyed from this famous structure. In addition to the Aig D’Midi, the Montenvours train provides spectacular views of the Mer du Glace.

Hotels

For climbers who prefer single room accommodations, these arrangements can be made for an additional fee. Be aware that private rooms are available at hotels during our trip, but not in the mountain huts.

For climbers choosing double room accommodations, every effort will be made to pair you with another climber. A Single Room Supplement Fee will apply if a match cannot be made or there is a last minute cancellation. This will help keep our overall program pricing down since unlike other companies we do not charge more for smaller groups.

In Chamonix

Lodging in Chamonix is required on the first, second, fifth, and eighth night of the trip. These four nights of lodging are included in your trip cost. We stay at the Pointe Isabelle (subject to change). It is a centrally located and enjoyable place to stay. You can leave your luggage at this hotel in a safe storage area. We do recommend locks for you luggage and bags.
Pointe Isabelle: pointeisabelle.com

In Geneva

Lodging in Geneva is entirely optional depending on your travel plans and itinerary. Here are some recommended hotels:
Hotel Royal: hotelroyalgeneva.com
Hotel Tiffany: hotel-tiffany.ch

European Hut Life

One of the benefits of climbing in the European Alps is the amazing hut system in place for climbers. A tradition since the late 19th century, the huts serve as base camp, a refuge from the elements, and even a bunk house with restaurant. Huts are fully staffed with a guardian and cook staff. The system allows us to leave our sleeping bags, tents, stoves, and meals behind while we climb.

Dinners are typically comprised of soup, cheese, bread, a meat dish served with a grain and dessert. The huts can accommodate vegetarians. A typical French breakfast of bread & jam is served in the morning with coffee and tea. The huts all have indoor washrooms, though there are no showers and the sleeping rooms are bunk style. All of the huts provide ‘hut slippers’ for climbers to wear while inside the building. Huts typically sleep between 80-160 climbers and are often busy during the climbing season. Starting mid-day at most huts, you can purchase a “tarte d’jour” (tart of the day), an omelet, coffee, assorted beverages, and other snack food for an additional cost. Please be aware that the huts do not have WiFi.

Alpine Club Membership
If you are a member of an Alpine Club (American Alpine Club, British Alpine Club, etc.) we encourage you to bring your alpine club membership card as some huts offer discounts for members.
American Alpine Club http://www.americanalpineclub.org

Gear List

Please refer to your Gear List:

You are required to bring every item on this list as described, so be as precise as possible when packing. We are happy to work closely with you on finding the proper gear. Having your own equipment and climbing boots allows you to train and become familiar with your equipment prior to the trip.

If you plan to rent gear through Alpine Ascents (available for climbers based in the U.S.), your rental form must be submitted at least a month prior to expedition start date. Please call our office or e-mail [email protected] with any questions.

Most of our gear is also available to buy through the Alpine Ascents Store, where our climbers receive a 10% discount. Use coupon code CLIMB.

Renting Gear in Chamonix

For climbers based outside of the U.S. who need to rent gear for this trip, you can rent in Chamonix. We recommend Snell Sports or Concept Chamonix. We highly recommend emailing the store ahead of time to reserve your rental equipment. This equipment should be picked up your first day in Chamonix.

 

Other Information

Packing Tips

People generally take too much “stuff” rather than too little. Study each item before you pack it. Eliminate redundant items, extra changes of clothing, and excessive “nice to have” luxuries. You will benefit from traveling light because of the costs of excess baggage and because of the frequent loading and unloading of bags. Take everything on the required equipment list and little else. Remember to review your airline’s weight limits and pack accordingly. If your airline enforces a strict weight limit, you should be ready to have your boots and another heavy item transferred to your carry on.

Gear Lexicon

If you’re confused by items and/or language on the Gear List, we encourage you to refer to our Gear Guide for explanations on layering systems, differences between boots, etc.

Expenses & Budgeting

Currency

We recommend using credit/debit cards on this trip to avoid changing currency.

In Geneva, Switzerland the Swiss Franc is used. In Chamonix, France the Euro is used. If you are traveling from the U.S. and planning to use cash on this trip, we recommend exchanging to Euros in the U.S. prior to departure.

ATMs: ATMs are readily available throughout this trip.

Credit Cards: Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. American Express is not.

Itinerary Adjustments

The seven-day climbing itinerary has been our tried and true program for many years. This program has allowed the highest success rate by providing climbers four days of mountaineering training and acclimatization prior to the summit portion on Mont Blanc. If climbers cannot successfully complete the first four days of the itinerary, they may be asked not to attempt the summit portion. Guides will work with climbers to find suitable alternative climbing options around Chamonix. If this is the case, climbers will cover any additional cost accrued for itinerary adjustments.

Early Departure/Evacuation

If you need to leave the expedition early, you are responsible for all incurred expenses (evacuation fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc). A comprehensive trip insurance plan is recommended, which can cover these costs in the event that they occur.

Additional Expenses & Tipping

Food & Water

Other than the welcome dinner on Day 2, you are responsible for your own meals while in town in Chamonix. Breakfasts are included at the hotel. Dinners can range from €25–50.  While on the mountain, breakfasts and dinners are provided by the huts. These meals are included in the trip cost. You will need to purchase bottled water at the huts, which can range from €3–5 for 1.5L. The huts also offer wine, beer, and soda for additional costs.

You are responsible to supply your own snacks/lunch food while climbing. A grocery store is located adjacent to the hotel. Lunch costs for the duration of the climb can vary greatly with each individual. Plan on spending between €75–€100 total for lunches. Please bring traditional power bars, Gu’s, and Shot-Blocks from home as these are not easy to find in Chamonix. We recommend 5-7 power bars, 3–5 energy Gu, and 2–4 Shot Blocks energy snacks for the trip.

Tipping

Our guides make every effort to ensure your climb is safe, successful, and as enjoyable as possible. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of satisfaction and ability. The suggested amount is $250, with a general recommended range of $200 to $300. These amounts cover all guides on your program and are shared equally. Any contribution to the guides’ tip pool can go directly to the lead guide on your program and will be appreciated by the entire team. If you tip by check, please make it out to the lead guide by name. Please do not make the check out to Alpine Ascents

Alpine Rescue Insurance

In many European countries, climbers must pay for any rescue situation they are involved in. If helicopters are required, which is typical in the Alps, the bill can be very expensive. For this reason, climbers should consider purchasing mountain rescue insurance. We recommend the Austrian Alpine Club – British sector membership, which includes rescue insurance, or REGA of Switzerland. Global Rescue is another good option. Both must be purchased in advance of the trip start date.

On the Mountain

Changing Conditions

Recent summers have been unseasonably warm in the European Alps. This has led to increased hazards in the mountains. Typically, this happens when there are long stretches of significant warming with a high freezing level. During these times, we often see increased rock fall, icefall, and other mountain hazards. Our guide team is privy to the situation and monitors conditions daily. We also coordinate and work directly with many other guide services and guide bureau offices in the Alps. When mountain hazards increase, the guide team is ready to adjust plans to an alternative mountain if required. Please be aware of this possibility.

Alpine Club Membership

If you are a member of an Alpine Club (American Alpine Club, British Alpine Club, etc.) we encourage you to bring your alpine club membership card as some huts offer discounts for members. www.americanalpineclub.org

Leave No Trace

Alpine Ascents International practices Leave No Trace principles on all expeditions. We believe that given the proper information most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment. Before your climb, please become familiar with Leave No Trace:

7 Principles of Leave No Trace

Climbing in the Alps

Light Packs

Many of our climbers are accustomed to carrying heavy (50+ lbs.) packs while climbing in wilderness areas in the United States. Because of the accessibility of the climbs and greater infrastructure in the European Alps, we climb with smaller and much lighter packs. Please follow the recommendations in your Gear List and bring a pack of appropriate size. You will be glad to save the weight!

Other Climbers

Along with lighter packs, the accessibility of this region also leads to greater use than what some of our climbers may be accustomed to. There will likely be many other climbers on the route at the same time. Your guides will instruct you in passing other parties or letting them pass as appropriate. In these interactions, we aim to be respectful and courteous to all others climbers we encounter.

Other things to know

Electricity

You will need a European outlet adapter for your electronics.

Clothing

Because we will be spending time in town, consider bringing “street clothes” in which you feel comfortable dining and walking around town. Luggage with items you are not bringing on the mountain can be kept at our hotel in a secure storage area. We do recommend locks for your luggage.

Covid-19 Protocols

Please note that Covid protocols, both best practices and entry requirements, are changing frequently. While we cannot eliminate the risk of exposure to COVID-19, we do carry out a variety of measures designed to mitigate the risk of illness for climbers and staff. It is important we work together with the same team-oriented perspective we rely on in climbing, and we greatly appreciate your partnership. Please take a few moments to thoroughly read the information below and know that we look to improve our operation as additional information about the virus becomes available.

Vaccinations & PCR Testing for Entry and Exit
As vaccine availability increases, please make every effort to ensure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to Europe. Vaccination is one more way we can try to manage risks and keep you and others healthy. The overwhelming majority of Alpine Ascents Alps guides will be fully vaccinated prior to the start of the season and we are aiming for 100% vaccination among staff.  If you are vaccinated please bring a copy of your vaccination card.

**Regardless of vaccination status, you will need to be tested for Covid-19 before the start of your trip and before returning home.**

To travel into Switzerland, you will need to present valid proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 3 calendar days before departure from your home country. Your airline will check your negative test results before boarding your flight. These test results may also be checked at the mountain huts.

At the conclusion of your climb, you will need to get a Covid-19 test in Chamonix before returning to your home country. This can be done at the Mirialis Biogroup Chamonix laboratory. You do not need to book an appointment ahead of time, but please be aware of the limited hours the laboratory is open.

For more information on entry into Switzerland we recommend reviewing this website.
For more information on entry into France we recommend reviewing this website.

Obtaining a French Covid Certificate
If you are coming from outside of Europe, you will need to apply for a French Covid Certificate in addition to getting a PCR test prior to your trip. This should be done as far in advance of your trip as possible.
Instructions and application found here.

Masks
Climbers will be asked to wear proper facemasks in all public places while not on the mountain. This includes while in towns, while being transported and while in hotel premises or during meals.

Lodging
Lodging will be in shared rooms and tents unless a single room is requested. Subject to change based on conditions.

Dining on the Mountain
Due to the nature of climbing in the Alps we will follow sleeping protocols outlined by the hut guardians. Expect to wear a face mask when not eating. A sleeping bag liner is required. Meals might be served outside weather permitting. Huts do accommodate over 100 climbers a night.

Screening
If you experience fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea please immediately contact Alpine Ascents. Anyone experiencing these symptoms within 14 days of their trip date will be asked to reschedule their trip. All climbers may be verbally screened for these symptoms on arrival.

Mitigation Measures
Hand washing and hand sanitizing facilities are provided throughout the program. We encourage you to regularly clean or sanitize your hands while on this journey, especially after touching your face, sneezing, coughing, using the bathroom, eating, or drinking. Common areas, high-touch surfaces, and restrooms are sanitized regularly.

Great program, really enjoyed the first three days of training/acclimatization hike around the glaciers and the impressive hut system found in the Alps. The extensive rock climbing was unexpected but all of the guides did a great job getting us prepared to handle challenges of the first portion of the summit day on the grand […]

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