All Alpine climbing and skiing is physically demanding and we'd like to try to make sure you have a suitable level of fitness and ability before you book. Joining a course that is too hard (or too easy!) will be less enjoyable for you, and possibly less safe. The guide reserves the right to change the itinerary or to not take you on days if he/she feels your fitness/ability is unsuitable.

If you have any doubts about your fitness or ability, or would like more detail about the level needed or how to prepare for your trip, please ask before you book and we will try to help.

Summer Alpine Courses

Regular hill walking, running, cycling and/or rock climbing all provide good fitness training to prepare for our summer alpine courses.

  • Trekking Peaks: Previous experience using axe and crampons is helpful but not essential; prior roped climbing experience is not required but good hill-walking fitness is necessary to enjoy these courses. All essential skills are taught from beginner level. Days are sometimes up to 10 hours and 1400m of ascent, but there will be easier days in the week.
    Prior experience is not essential but if you want to get experience in the UK before coming to the Alps we can recommend Moran Mountains' Winter Mountaineer and Skye Mountaineer courses.
  • Introductory Mountaineering and High Summits: Some prior experience of winter mountaineering and/or roped climbing is helpful, but we will instruct you in all the essential Alpine skills. Itineraries are tailored to group experience and aspirations. Days are sometimes up to 10 hours and 1400m of ascent, but there will be easier days in the week.
    Prior experience is not essential but if you want to get experience in the UK before coming to the Alps we can recommend Moran Mountains' Winter Mountaineer, Intro Winter Climber,Skye Mountaineer and Cuillin Traverse courses.
  • Intermediate / Advanced Mountaineering: These courses require greater prior experience of rock and/or snow-ice climbing; they can follow on from one of our Introductory level Alpine courses or from a good experience of personal climbing. There is a big step up in difficulty from easier PD snow climbs to AD and D level mixed routes, which can involve technical and exposed terrain. Full instruction is given in the more advanced rope-work and technical skills required. Good general mountain fitness is essential. Please refer to individual course descriptions for further specific requirements where appropriate.
    These weeks suit people with previous UK or Alpine Mountaineering experience such as our Introductory Mountaineering and High Summits weeks or Moran Mountains' Cuillin Traverse or Adventure Rock Climbing courses.

Off Piste Skiing and Ski Touring

For our ski tours and ski touring courses (intro and intermediate) we recommend you have a good general fitness level as a starting point (involving regular cardiovascular exercise e.g. hill walking, running, cycling).

  • For the Steeper Skiing weeks you should be comfortable making 1000m of ascent per day and able to confidently ski at least 40 degree slopes off piste.
  • For the Ski Mont Blanc week, you should be able to spend long days on the move (the summit day is 1800m ascent, around 7 hours up) and be confident and experienced off piste skier. Some mountaineering experience is helpful.
  • The Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route involves long (7 hours) consecutive days in the mountains (up to 1000m per day of ascent) including off piste skiing with a rucksack.
  • The Winter Room Haute Route often involves trail breaking in deep snow and some fairly big days - between 1000 and 1500m vertical ascent every day in 2013. It's much harder work than a "normal" Haute Route, as we'll be carrying 3 days food for huts, expecting colder weather, no tracks, arriving at cold huts and having to melt snow and cook food, etc. A trip for the adventurous!

Ice Climbing Courses

  • Introductory courses: No prior climbing experience is required but a good level of general fitness is recommended. Some prior rock climbing experience is useful. Ice climbing needs some upper body strength(!)
  • Progression courses: You should have done some ice and/or rock climbing before - either an Introductory course or have climbed grade 4 as a "second". No leading experience is required. Again, a good general level of fitness is recommended. A great follow on from our Introductory course.