Mountaineering or Alpinism started in 1492 with the ascent of the Mont Aiguille, a spectacular table top mountain – and one you can choose to do yourself with Alps Activities! Since then entrepid explorers have conquered many of the world’s high summits using techniques that have evolved radically over the years improving the safety and comfort of mountaineers.
Modern mountaineering is still a high risk activity with many natural hazards such as avalanches, rock fall and a changeable mountain micro-climate. Like rock climbing, mountaineering routes that have been tried and tested over the years are graded according to difficulty and different skills are required depending on whether the route crosses a glacier and how technical the rock route is.
Choose Your Mountaineering Adventure
We have a range of mountaineering summits that we operate in the Southern French Alps, but this list is by no means definitive and there are many more mountaineering opportunities available. These are some of our most popular summits that are generally accessible to novice and intermediate alpinists and mountaineers. You can check availability by clicking on the mountaineering trip of your choice and choosing a date to book.
However, if you have a particular summit you would like to try that isn’t listed below or can’t find a date that suits you, please contact us. We can either open up a new date or arrange a private guide for you.
Have a look at the location of all the mountaineering summits we run on a regular basis. Some of these are available to book online and others are not. If you would like to book a summit that isn’t bookable online, please contact us and we can create a new date or arrange a private guide for you.
What You Need to Know
For all our mountaineering trips we provide the required safety equipment including harness, helmet, crampons and ice axes. For your personal equipment you will need to check the individual equipment list detailed on each mountaineering trip. In general though you will need a decent mountaineering rucksack, a good pair of mountaineering boots that can take a crampon, a set of layers from thermals to waterproofs, gloves and a buff to wear under your helmet if cool. If your trip involves an overnight in a refuge, then you will need to prepare for that too.
All our mountaineering guides are UIAGM high mountain guides who are local to the Southern French Alps. This is the highest level of qualification that exists and being local means they have a thorough knowledge of the mountains of the Southern French Alps. Local conditions play an important part in safety decisions and our guides are continuously monitoring these and will turn back, change itinerary or even cancel if conditions are not safe. Your safety is always our top priority.
Most mountaineering trips start very early in the morning with an ‘Alpine start’ at 4 or 5am. This is to make the most of the cooler temperatures and avoid the afternoon thaw which can be dangerous, as avalanche and rock fall risk increases. Walking through the melting snow of a glacier is also quite hard work!
Best Time of Year for Mountaineering in the Alps
The mountaineering season in the Alps really starts once the main snow has started to melt from the high mountains making it possible to access without skis. The classic mountaineering season starts in mid June and goes on until mid September and the majority of high mountain refuges are open for this period.
It is possible to go mountaineering outside of this period but conditions can be more extreme especially at higher altitude and refuges are not always open.