The Saas region has the greatest concentration of 4000m peaks in the Alps and is one of the very best centres for classic mountaineering. The Saas and Michabelle region is one of the most ‘picture perfect’ areas of Switzerland and provides a perfect base to climb high independent summits without great technical difficulty. The course is based in the charming small town of Saas Grund which is east of its famous neighbour Zermatt.
The Saas valley is steeped in mountaineering history and can be found between two distinctive massifs; the Mischabel group and the Weissmiess group. Indeed there are no less than eighteen 4000m peaks surrounding the area. Cable cars are available on both sides to get us high and quickly from the valley floor. Mountaineering here is a varied experience, with views across to the Monta Rosa massif, Mont Blanc, and the Bernese Oberland including the Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau. In addition, the area boasts a fantastic selection of mountain huts which provide warm hospitality while at altitude. If you are looking for a varied mountaineering week, with the opportunity to bag several famous peaks, then the Saas 4000ers comes highly recommended. The area can be reached easily by public transport from both Geneva and Zurich.
Most of the peaks can be attempted by ambitions and fit hill walkers. Previous alpine climbing experience is an advantage, particularly using crampons and an ice axe, however, is not a prerequisite. The course is designed to be progressive with acclimatisation and training built into the week. A good level of fitness (stamina) together with surefootedness and plenty of enthusiasm are the chief prerequisites. This six-day course has a guiding ratio of 1:3 and most of the ascents have a grade of PD.
The huts are of an excellent standard and run by full-time staff that look after us on a half-board basis, the cooking is plentiful homemade food which is sourced locally. A full selection of drinks and picnic lunch are available at extra cost. The sleeping quarters are communal.
It is possible to combine the trip with a 3 day Mont Blanc extension. Please inquire for details.
The best route is the traverse from the Almageller hut on the rocky south ridge, and then up and over the summit and down the west face. The glacier scenery and views across the valley to the Mischabel chain are magnificent. The summit is attained in around 4hours.
This massive snow peak gives a long ascent from the Britannia hut. Fantastic views looking towards Zermatt and the Matterhorn. 4 hour ascent.
This peak is the third summit on the Mischabel Chain. The Nadelhorn has a pyramidal look, with three smooth faces divided by three sharp ridges. We approach from the Mischabel hut and take the classic NE Ridge. This gives varied climbing on snow, ice rock to an elegant summit. 3 - 4 hours of ascent.
Travel to Saas Grund. You should aim to arrive by late afternoon. The week starts with a welcome meeting, briefing and kit check at 7pm. Stay overnight in our comfortable partner hotel
We acclimatise by catching the Hohsaas lift to Kreuxboden and ascending the Jegihorn (3206m) via its SE Face. This exciting route includes some sections of via ferrata - fixed ladders, cables and walkways. Return to Saas Grund
A nice gentle morning walk positions us at the Almageller hut for lunch. In the afternoon we have time to brush up on our alpine skills, rope work and some rock climbing. Stay overnight in the hut.
An early start is needed to traverse the Weissmies (4017m) via the SW ridge. This is an interesting rock scramble with a snow crest leading to the summit. After taking in the fantastic views we descend down the WNW flank which passes through some spectacular crevasses and seracs. We spend the night in the Weissmies hut.
Our next big peak is the Lagginhorn (4010m) ascended by the WSW ridge from the Weissmies hut. The route is mostly on rock until the final mixed summit slope. The summit is an exposed airy perch perfect for lunch and photos. We descend via the same route and on to Saas Grund for a night in the valley.
We take the Metro Alpin lift up to its mid station and traverse round to the Britannia hut where we stay overnight.
The traverse of the Allalinhorn (4027m) via the Hohlaubgrat is a highlight of the week. It has an exposed glacial approach with some rock climbing to access the summit to spice things up. From the summit it’s an easy walk down via the glacier to the top of the Mittel Allalin station and return to Saas Grund. It is worth noting that days 6 and 7 can be changed to ascend the Alphubel (4206m) or the Nadelhorn (4327m) depending on the conditions and aspirations.
We return to the hotel in Saas Grund for the last night
Depart after breakfast
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The price includes:
The price does not include:
*Single rooms are subject to availability and supplement.
On our Swiss 4000er weeks, we estimate that the cost for local transfers and uplifts will be in the region of £150 per person which is not included in the price and needs to be paid for locally in Swiss Francs.
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This list contains our recommended clothing and equipment for our Saas 4000ers week.
In the summer months, the days generally start very cold and warm up during the morning to become hot in the afternoon. It is therefore essential that you have 2-3 thin layers that you are able to put on/take off as the conditions change. Thin layers also allow better movement as opposed to one layer of bulky clothing.
If you are uncertain or need further information, please contact us.
• Base Layer Top and Bottoms – a few base layer tops, usually long-sleeved is best, wool base layers form Ortovox are good as they offer good wicking properties and dry quickly. For your legs, a couple of pairs of long or ¾ length bottoms are best.
• Mid-layer fleece tops – a couple of fleece type jacket or tops that can be worn between your base layer and outer layers. The “Layering” approach offers the best heat retention and flexibility in warm and cold weather.
• Insulation Layer - a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
• Lightweight softshell type trousers - you want to wear a lightweight softshell or similar material on your legs, these types of trouser offer good protection from snow/ice as well as abrasion on rock and are comfortable to move in.
• Walking shorts or a pair of trousers with zip-off legs. Useful for walk-ins to huts on hot days.
• Gore-Tex Jacket - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable jackets. Best to have a lightweight jacket that can be worn in the event of wet or windy weather but is packable enough to fit in your rucksack. Your insulated ski jacket will be overkill and too hot and bulky.
• Gore-Tex Pants - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable trousers. Lightweight is important plus side zips for putting on over your boots and crampons. Used in cold, wet and windy weather.
• Sun hat and warm hat – bring a wide-brimmed sun hat or baseball cap plus a warm beanie style hat.
• Light, thin gloves – a thin pair of fleece or softshell gloves for warm weather are a must.
• Insulated gloves - You need to have a pair of waterproof warm gloves to wear on cold days.
• Gaiters – these are useful to wear to keep snow out of your boots.
• Socks - 3-4 pairs of medium weight socks usually mid-calf length is good.
There are 2 grades of boots for alpine trekking and mountaineering: B1 and B2
• B1 boots are usually lightweight boots offering more flexibility when walking and are usually suitable only for trekking, easy glacier walking and Via Ferrata trips.
• B2 boots are semi-rigid boots that are the best option for summer alpine mountaineering trips. There are leather and plastic/composite options. Leather boots tend to be more comfortable and breathable whereas plastic/composite boots are warmer and more waterproof.
B2 boots are compatible with C1 and C2 crampons.
Key features of a good alpine boot include Vibram soles, a reversed leather upper (which protect the best side of the leather from scuffing and abrasion and improves durability and water resistance) and ankle flex and a higher cut which give control, mobility and support.
Boots can be hired in resort but to avoid discomfort we do strongly recommend that you have your own pair which needs to be well worn-in prior to your trip.
Alpine huts supply hut slippers so that you don't need to take any other footwear apart from your boots. Boots are not allowed in the dining room or dormitories and must be left in the foyer.
These items are essential for all alpine mountaineering courses
All items can be hired from Mountain Tracks or from sport shops in the Alps.
• Climbing helmet
• Ice Axe - General mountaineering / alpine pick 55-70cms long depending on your height.
• Boot crampons - with anti-balling plates.
• Climbing Harness – adjustable leg loops are useful for easy of putting on over your boots.
• Adjustable trekking pole(s)
• Rucksack - A simple and lightweight pack with a capacity of between 35-45 liters is recommended. You need to have one loop for carrying an ice axe on your rucksack.
• Lightweight sleeping bag liner – a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner is now compulsory in all mountain huts.
• Water bottle or Thermos – a water bottle or hydration system is needed.
• Head torch with spare batteries
• Personal first Aid Kit - Should contain:
Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.
Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen
Antiseptic cream or wipes
Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!
(Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)
• Sun Glasses - minimum category 3.
• Ski Goggles – these can be very useful if you encounter strong winds and poor weather.
• Sunscreen and Lip Protection
• Ear Plugs - For noisy huts!!
• Hold-all bag - for gear not required on trek. Will be left at first hotel and collected on return.
• Money - You will need some cash for food and drinks. There are some ATMs and most hotels, shops and restaurants will accept credit cards, but most huts still accept cash only. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 25-35 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption).
• Toiletries – Should contain:
Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
Tissues and toilet roll
Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
(Any other essentials you need but remember there are no shower facilities and generally no running water in the huts and you have to carry everything with you!)
• Alpine club card - If you're a member.
• Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.
It is possible to hire boots and the technical items needed for the Mont Blanc Climber week in Chamonix and guideline prices for 6 days hire are:
Mountaineering boots €55
Ice Axe €30
Boot crampons €35
If you wish to hire any technical kit please contact us in advance with your requirements.
It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.
For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
It is a condition of booking that you are fully vaccinated (unless exempt) and you comply with the entry rules to a destination country.
As of January 1st 2021, there are new rules for UK residence when travelling to the EU and other European countries.
The Ski Club of Great Britain has compiled some of that advice to help travellers understand the changes, and what they might need to do if they are travelling after the Brexit deadline.
At Border control, you may have to show your return ticket and money
At border control, you may need to:
Visas for short trips: you will not need one if you’re a tourist
If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.
You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
Most holiday companies have taken measures to ensure that there will be minimal impact to their guests’ experience.
If you are taking a package deal that is covered by ABTA, ABTOT & ATOL you will have the same buyer protection as before. You should always purchase travel insurance to make sure you are covered in case of delays or cancellations. If in doubt about arrangements contact your tour operator to make sure there aren’t any changes. It is probably worth adding a little extra time before passport control just in case things aren’t running as smooth as normal.
Both Ski Club Freshtracks and Mountain Tracks holidays are covered by ATOL & ABTOT protection and are guaranteed to run regardless of the new Brexit rules. Take a look at our holidays here.
Most travel insurers will offer the same amount of coverage in EU countries as they did before if you already have a policy with them, in fact, many of them are underwritten by large EU corporations. It is possible that premiums might go up after December 31st as we leave the EHIC scheme and other shared healthcare and insurance organizations. If you aren’t sure whether your insurance still covers you, head to their website or give them a call.
Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020. It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.
Ski Club Insurance will continue to provide the same cover whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. For full Insurance, policy details go here.
A ‘green card’ is proof that you have motor insurance cover when driving abroad. You should plan to carry one for the vehicle you’re driving in the EU and EEA, including in Ireland, from 1 January 2021.
You will need to carry multiple green cards if:
Contact your vehicle insurance provider 6 weeks before you travel to get green cards for your vehicle, caravan or trailer. The green card can be emailed to you by your insurer for you to print. For more information head to gov.uk
From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway will end.
A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing.
You can find all the latest information on gov.uk.
The most convenient airports are either Zurich or Geneva airports.
A fast train tunnel has reduced journey times from Zurich to Saas Grund by about 1 hour so the journey time is slightly less than from Geneva. (2 hours from Zurich, 2 hours 20 minutes from Geneva).
The train doesn't go as far as Saas Grund and you have to change in Visp on to the Postbus. You need to ensure you get to Visp no later than 1900 otherwise you'll miss the last bus. The bus journey is just over 20kms and takes about 30 minutes.
All our mountaineering trips are run by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.
The Alps generally have a very pleasant climate throughout the spring, summer and autumn with warm days and cool nights, with daytime temperatures in the valley around 25 - 30°C. At high altitude the temperature often goes down below -10 and can feel even colder with wind chill.
I have no previous mountaineering experience but I am keen to learn the basics of using crampons and an ice axe and rope work. I would enjoy ascending rocky scrambles and easy angled snow and ice. I am a regular hill walker summer and winter and used to long days out, I am happy to walk for 6-8hrs per day carrying all my gear in my rucksack. For Via Ferrata trips a head for heights and some upper body strength is useful.
I have undertaken some previous rocky scrambling and short rock climbs, ice or easy alpine climbing. I am comfortable moving on rocky and snowy ridges and slopes of up to 40 degrees. I enjoy the challenge of more remote technical terrain. I would like to learn more about alpine rope work. I can improve my crampon / ice axe technique and could scramble on rock with greater efficiency.
I have previous experience climbing alpine PD+ or harder. I am undeterred by scrambling and have done some pitched climbing on rock or ice. I have a firm grasp of the rope techniques necessary for pitched climbing and crossing glaciers. I am confident when using crampons and ice axe. I relish the thought of climbing steep rock and ice or traversing an exposed ridge covered in snow and ice. I can abseil, know how to use a prussic knot and make myself safe on basic belay stances.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.