The best 4,000m peaks in Switzerland for beginners

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 01/06/2018
British Mountain Guide Paul Farmer on the south ridge of the Weissmies. Photo: Andy Perkins
View 1 of 4

What's the best 4,000m peak in the Alps for beginners? We asked five British Mountain Guides who are based in the Alps this question - Tim Blakemore, Jon Bracey, Matt Helliker, Andy Perkins and Tania Noakes. All of them picked a peak in Switzerland - testament to the concentration of excellent peaks of that altitude there.

Progressing to alpine routes can be intimidating and rightly so – as well as rock climbing and gear placements you need to be able to judge the weather and conditions, climb ice and snow, be safe in a remote environment, and cope with long approaches and altitude. These routes should only be undertaken by those who have learnt the appropriate skills. If in doubt, you know the score: hire a guide.

Breithorn
4,164m
Pennine Alps, Switzerland
by Tim Blakemore

The Breithorn is the easiest 4,000m peak in the Alps and ideally suited to beginners. Only 1.5 to 2 hours from the Kleine Matterhorn lift, the South-South-West Flank route has been the gateway to many novice alpinists starting their careers. Graded F it is little more than a steep walk with one rimaye to cross. If conditions are good a further summit (there are four further distinct tops above 4,000m) can be easily reached by the sometimes corniced SSW ridge at PD (a little harder).
 
More about Tim: alpinemountainguides.com

Bishorn
4,153m
Pennine Alps, Switzerland
by Jon Bracey

My favourite 4,000m peak for beginners is the Bishorn 4,153m. Away from the busy summer alpine valley bases, the hut approach starts from Zinal in the picturesque and serene Val d'Anniviers of the Valais Alps. There are no ski lifts, so start early for the five-hour hike to the Cabane de Tracuit via the Roc de la Vache. It's a great hut with brilliant food and welcoming staff. The next day gentle glacial slopes gradually lead you up to the pristine snowy summit with inspiring views across the Alps.

More about Jon: www.adventureconsultants.com


Selfie on Bishorn. Photo: Jon Bracey

Castor

4,226m
Pennine Alps, Switzerland
By Matt Helliker

For me is has to be Castor, as it was one of my first ever 4000m peaks and one that's surrounded by other alpine giants, which is bound to get the imagination flowing! One of the best ways to climb Castor for me would be starting from the beaufitul Rifugio Quintino Sella, to climb a route entirely on glacier but without any real technical difficulty to the SE ridge, here the knife edge, airy ridge to its pyridmidal summit will increase the heart rate … but not only due to the altitude! Focus and best foot forward.

More about Matt: matthelliker.com

WATCH: Explore the Alps with the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust

Weissmeis

4,017m
Pennine Alps, Switzerland
by Andy Perkins

The Weissmies is probably my favourite. Why? The south ridge is doable in a wide variety of conditions. The Almageller hut at its base is everything a hut should be. It’s low in the 4,000m bracket so acclimatisation is easier. The full traverse up the south side and down the north face is a great journey but check the conditions with locals before committing to it. Also, there’s reason why it’s the banner shot on my website! 

More about Andy: andypmountainguide.com


Gav Parker and Michelle Ward on the traverse of Piz Palu. Photo: Tania Noakes

 

Piz Palü 
3,900m   
Bernina Massif SW Switzerland
by Tania Noakes

The fact that this one falls a touch below 4,000m has protected it from popularity so it remains a more wild alpine experience. The valley base is the Engadine, home to the famous ski resort St Mortiz. Piz Palü is a beautiful, striking ridgeline composed of three summits linked by airy snow crests and rocky scrambling. It is very accessible from the nearby Diavolezza hut (2,978m), which is more like a hotel with both basic and luxury options. In good conditions, it is possible to take an early flight to Milan Bergamot airport, arrive in time for the last lift and climb it in a long weekend. The traverse of the ridge itself will test all of your alpine skills but at a relatively simple level. The climbing is never sustained and the ridge broadens regularly to allow you to catch your breath, regain your energy and to take in the awe-inspiring views of the Bernina range. 
 
More about Tania: www.classicclimbs.com

WATCH: Alpine Essentials DVD trailer


Feeling peaky?

BMC Travel insurance comes with £10 million emergency medical cover: Knock yourself out.

After Alpine & Ski insurance? Our policies already includes a huge range of cover to make sure you're well looked after. What's more, you can get a seven-day single-trip policy for only £61... so get it booked now!

Years of experience

We've been insuring adventurers like you for over 30 years. That's why all of our policies come with:

  • 24-hour emergency assistance helpline
  • £10 million emergency medical cover
  • £100,000 search, rescue and recovery cover
  • £10,000 personal accident cover
  • £5,000 cancellation cover
  • £2,500 baggage cover
  • No age loading until you're 70

WATCH: BMC Insurance: built for the mountains

Want to know more? READ: 5 reasons why you need BMC Travel Insurance

*Policy details: £61.44 for seven-day single-trip European Alpine and Ski cover up to age 69. 


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 37863 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Ben Tibbetts becomes second Brit to summit all 4,000m UIAA Alpine peaks
0
Ben Tibbetts becomes second Brit to summit all 4,000m UIAA Alpine peaks

Ben Tibbetts, adventure photographer and IFMGA mountain guide, has now become the second British climber to summit all 82 of the 4,000m Alpine peaks recognised by the UIAA. However, the accolades to the achievement were only secondary to his goal to finish off his long-term project, the beautiful photo guidebook Alpenglow.
Read more »

Community Action Nepal wins UIAA Mountain Protection Award
0
Community Action Nepal wins UIAA Mountain Protection Award

Community Action Nepal (CAN), a charity which has been operating in Nepal for over 20 years, was announced as the sixth winner of the annual UIAA Mountain Protection Award at the 2018 UIAA General Assembly in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in early October.
Read more »

Man and the Mountain: Chris Bonington resists the status quo
0
Man and the Mountain: Chris Bonington resists the status quo

Man and Mountain, it's fair to say that Sir Chris Bonington found his calling in remote high areas across the globe. But when did he first realise he was made for the mountains? And did anything ever stand in his way of making these daring ascents? Mountain Heritage Trust's own Jonny Dry explains how Sir Chris' love of climbing and mountaineering helped him resist the status quo.
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

Ben Tibbetts becomes second Brit to summit all 4,000m UIAA Alpine peaks
0

Ben Tibbetts, adventure photographer and IFMGA mountain guide, has now become the second British climber to summit all 82 of the 4,000m Alpine peaks recognised by the UIAA. However, the accolades to the achievement were only secondary to his goal to finish off his long-term project, the beautiful photo guidebook Alpenglow.
Read more »

Community Action Nepal wins UIAA Mountain Protection Award
0

Community Action Nepal (CAN), a charity which has been operating in Nepal for over 20 years, was announced as the sixth winner of the annual UIAA Mountain Protection Award at the 2018 UIAA General Assembly in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in early October.
Read more »

Man and the Mountain: Chris Bonington resists the status quo
0

Man and Mountain, it's fair to say that Sir Chris Bonington found his calling in remote high areas across the globe. But when did he first realise he was made for the mountains? And did anything ever stand in his way of making these daring ascents? Mountain Heritage Trust's own Jonny Dry explains how Sir Chris' love of climbing and mountaineering helped him resist the status quo.
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 »