First steps: 5 easy Alpine peaks

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 03/08/2016
On the way to bagging that first Alpine summit selfie. Photo: Shutterstock / Vixit
View 1 of 3

So you’ve sampled winter action in the UK, decided you're ready for the next step and booked flights for the Alps – but where to start? Chamonix-based Mountain Guide Tim Blakemore suggests five alpine peaks suitable for a first trip to the Alps.

Equipment: walking axe, rope, crampons and glacier rescue equipment. If in any doubt of your mountain skills and knowledge, you know the score: hire a guide.

Pointe de Vouasson 3,489m (F) via left bank of the Aiguilles Rouges glacier valley

This peak can be climbed over two days using the Aiguille Rouges hut (2,810m) as your base camp. Lying above the wild and beautiful Val d’Herens and village of Arolla (Swiss Valais Alps), it is an ideal first, first-peak. Day one is spent walking through the tree-line, higher alpine meadows, and finally the chaotic moraines of the Aiguilles Rouges glacier. After booking into the hut you can spend the afternoon practising your rope work for the next day’s adventure. 

Start the summit day around dawn to take advantage of the night’s refreeze. The way is well-marked (though it's advisable to check out the first 20 minutes of the route the night before) – you follow old moraines until you reach the glacier proper. Here, don the rope and head north-west across it before summiting on a nice rocky peak (700m; three hours). Return via the same route.

La Louette 3,548m (F) via the South-East Ridge

Staying in the Arolla area, this peak offers another two-day adventure, this time based from the superb Dix Hut, which is reached via the Pas de Chevres. This pass itself makes for a good outing; it's reached from the village by following old ski pistes then good, well-marked trails. It culminates at a rocky col, which is vertiginous on its western flank. Luckily, it has been excellently equipped with ladders, which are straightforward to climb or descend – and if needs be a safety cable is in place for via ferrata equipment.

The summit is easily reached on day two by following the (fast-disappearing) glacier in a south-westerly direction before gaining the south-east ridge and then the summit itself. Return via the same route.

WATCH: Alpine Mountaineering in Arolla on BMC TV

Tete Blanche 3,429m (F) via the Glacier du Tour

The Mont Blanc massif has a hardcore reputation but there are plenty of accessible alpine peaks for beginners. Tete Blanche can be reached from the Albert Premiere Hut, which in itself makes a good, non-glaciated target for a hut walk. Start in the tiny village (and ski resort) of Le Tour. Here a lift can be taken to save a bit of energy and time at the start of the day. A well-worn and marked trail leads around the hillside (look down to your right for marmots) before joining an old moraine and leading directly to the hut.

For the next day, a dawn start should be okay (those climbing the Aiguille du Chardonnet will have left around 2am!). A good track is normally in place on the Glacier du Tour and it is a good idea to stick to it; later in the season, crevasses can open up here. The Tete Blanche is easily reached in around three hours of walking in incredible surroundings. Return via the same route.

La Tresenta 3,609m (F) via the Glacier di Moncorve and North-West Spur

This peak lies above Valsavarenche in Italy’s Gran Paradiso national park. One of the great attractions of this area is the abundant wildlife. It was originally stocked as a hunting ground for King Victor Emanuel II and the park was created to protect the iconic ibex from poachers. Nowadays they are doing very well and you stand a good chance of seeing them.

From the road head at Pont, walk through pine forests and open ground for about three hours before reaching the distinctive Vittorio Emanuele II hut, where you can sleep in the afternoon sun.

You are likely to have summit day to yourself (the vast majority of the people in the hut will be heading towards the Gran Paradiso) so it’s worth checking the route down towards the glacier the day before. Follow the glacier in an easterly direction before heading south-west at around 3,200m to gain the north slope, then the North-West Spur, which leads to the summit in around three hours. Return via the same route.

WATCH: Alpine Essentials DVD trailer on BMC TV

Breithorn 4,164m (F) via the South-South-West Flank

Now that you’re well-acclimatised and the weather is settled with little wind and visibility for miles: it’s a good day to go ‘high’. The Zermatt lift system allows you to access incredible glacial terrain and in effect you ‘gain’ a day every time you use it – it doesn’t come cheap though! The Breithorn is easily seen from the Mattertal and is an ideal first 4,000m peak. The route is entirely on snow and it can be busy, but the views are magnificent.

Take the Klein Matterhorn lift and gear up at the pistes. Rope up and duck under the piste markers onto the Breithorn Plateau. Head east-north-east towards the Breithorn Pass (3,842m). Now head north to the south-south-west Flank, which is normally well tracked. The rimaye (crevasse where the glacier is pulling away from the mountain) is sometimes a little open here but normally easily passed before gaining the summit in around two hours. Return via the same route.

Tim Blakemore is an independent, international (IFMGA) mountain guide based in Chamonix, France. He enjoys working at all levels, from novice through to expert and is a current trainer and assessor of mountain guides.

For more information on how to join in the adventure with him go to: alpinemountainguides.com


BMC travel insurance is loaded with the essential cover that you need for adventure.  

To make planning your trips easier, we've added Covid-19 cover into all five BMC Travel Insurance policies: Travel, Trek, Rock, Alpine and Ski and High Altitude.

Our new Covid-19 cover includes:

  • £5,000 cancellation cover: if you test positive for Covid-19 within 14 days of departure
  • Medical and repatriation: Covid-19 related illness
  • Being denied boarding: if you test positive for Covid-19 prior to your return home

Read more about the Covid-travel FAQs here

* Policy details: £77.53 for 7 days European Alpine and Ski policy up to age 69.  

For full terms and conditions see our Evidence of Cover

WATCH: BMC Travel Insurance built for the mountains


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 3795 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Winter's back: we've got you covered for Covid-19
0
Winter's back: we've got you covered for Covid-19

This winter, BMC Travel Insurance has got you covered for Covid-19. Make sure you're covered before you head off on your snowy adventures.
Read more »

Women with Altitude: 100 years of female alpinism
0
Women with Altitude: 100 years of female alpinism

Women with Altitude:100 years of female alpinism in the Pinnacle Club and Alpine Club is an interactive exhibition taking place from now until 8th January in the Alpine Club's London Headquarters and is free to attend.
Read more »

Join the Jonathan Conville Trust
0
Join the Jonathan Conville Trust

The Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust forward is seeking a new Trustee with social media and website expertise.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

Winter's back: we've got you covered for Covid-19
0

This winter, BMC Travel Insurance has got you covered for Covid-19. Make sure you're covered before you head off on your snowy adventures.
Read more »

Women with Altitude: 100 years of female alpinism
0

Women with Altitude:100 years of female alpinism in the Pinnacle Club and Alpine Club is an interactive exhibition taking place from now until 8th January in the Alpine Club's London Headquarters and is free to attend.
Read more »

Join the Jonathan Conville Trust
0

The Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust forward is seeking a new Trustee with social media and website expertise.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »