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.
⎕ Passport Copy
⎕ Flight itinerary
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.
The vast majority of our Alps climbs will originate in Chamonix, France. Please review your confirmation materials for a day-to-day itinerary.
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 0 of your trip itinerary. Day 1 is the first climbing day with your guide. 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.
Team Meeting: Please coordinate with your lead guide regarding a specific meeting time and location. Your lead guide will also 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: Shuttle reservations for your 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 are not included. Our climbers commonly stay at the following locations:
European Hut Life
Please note that hut price is not included in the trip cost. Climbers can pay for the huts directly upon arrival.
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
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.
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.
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
We recommend using credit/debit cards on this trip to avoid changing currency.
If climbing the Matterhorn and Eiger (located in Switzerland), we recommend changing currency to the Swiss Franc. For climbs based out of Chamonix in France, you should plan on using Euros. 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 / Debit Cards: Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. American Express is not.
Climbers will cover any additional cost accrued for itinerary adjustments.
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
Hotels are not included.
You are reasonable for all transportation costs for yourself and your guide while climbing. This may include tram fees, train tickets, and other forms of mountain transport.
Food & Water
You are responsible for your own meals while in town in Chamonix. Breakfasts are included at some hotels. Dinners can range from €25–50. While on the mountain, breakfasts and dinners are provided by the huts. These meals are not 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. 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.
Our guides make every effort to ensure your climb is risk aware, 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 $350, with a general recommended range of $250 to $400 for a seven day long trip. 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.
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
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:
Climbing in the Alps
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!
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
You will need a European outlet adapter for your electronics.
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.