Indoor & Ice Climbing

Chamonix is a climbing mecca. 

In winter there are great indoor climbing facilities plus jaw-dropping ice climbing routes to sample.

Ice Climbing

There are numerous, fascinating ice climbing spots in Chamonix like the Mer de Glace – and a little further afield in Italy too. Why not give it a try?

Under expert guidance you will be equipped with harness, ropes, crampons and ice axes, ready to discover a side of the Alps that few get to experience.

Although it sounds specialised, ice climbing is suitable for everyone - from complete beginners to experienced climbers. Some knowledge of ropes and basic climbing skills will give you a head start, but if you are a complete novice then your guide can teach you from scratch.

Handy hints from Mountain Base
  • Take your usual ski wear for this activity plus lunch
  • Don’t forget about Italy - there’s some great ice climbing there too
  • Bring a good pair of sunglasses and a high factor sunscreen for lips and face, even if it's not a very sunny day you can get rays bouncing back off the ice.

Frozen Waterfalls

Strap on your crampons and wield your ice axes in preparation to tackle some of the best frozen water falls in the Chamonix region.

You'll be under the watchful eye of a fully qualified IFMGA/UIAGM Mountain Guide, who will lead you through this well designed course for climbers wanting to test their skills over three days in the Chamonix valley.

This course is intense and very instructive but also a lot of fun and it will give you a great experience of climbing on ice.

Day 1 will take you through the basics on a gentle single pitch ice fall. The goal of the day is to show you different techniques, explain how the equipment works and make sure that you understand all the safety aspects. You will be able to climb several pitches in preparation for the following days.

Days 2 and 3 will be carried out on multi-pitch routes chosen by your guide, according to the conditions and your capabilities. You'll learn all the different techniques for scaling frozen waterfalls using ropes, ice axes and crampons. You will also be instructed on safety and protective gear when climbing on ice. Many of the ice climbing routes are based in Chamonix but the guide can decide to go further afield in order to find the best conditions.

Handy Hints from Mountain Base:
  • This course is for anyone who has basic experience of rock climbing or mountaineering. It's fine if you're a beginner but it's important that you have a good level of fitness. You'll enjoy it more too!
  • Some equipment can be rented from your guide but it's worth investing in your own kit if you plan on taking ice climbing up as a hobby. Take a look at our kit list on the right to find out what you need - all of it can be bought here in Chamonix.

5 Day Ice Climbing

Realise your potential and exceed your expectations with this 5 day course that will give you an excellent introduction to ice climbing amongst the towering peaks of the Italian Alps in the nearby village of Cogne.

During the course you will become adept at scaling frozen waterfalls, icy rock faces and classic Alpine routes in one of the most legendary places in mountaineering history.

The course is lead by a fully qualified UIAGM Mountain Guide, who will share expert knowledge with you regarding safety, technique and equipment. You will become confident in the use of ice axes and crampons, learning how to anchor them without destroying the magnificent formations of the ice falls. Climbing skills such as abseiling, belaying and multi-pitches will be practiced in a variety of spectacular Alpine locations.

This course is suitable for anyone who has been rock climbing before or has done some mountaineering. We accept beginners but it is important that people have a good level of fitness. The course is limited to small groups for maximum flexibility and to ensure that activities can be adjusted to each person's capabilities.

Handy Hints from Mountain Base
  • The course is intense but lots of fun! Don't stress out too much about your climbing experience, instead we recommend that you put in a few sessions at the gym so that you can enjoy it to the max.
  • Ropes and carabiners will be provided by the guide but you will need to supply your own harness, boots and outdoor clothing. Have a look at the recommended kit list on the right and contact us if there is anything you don't have. If you can't buy or rent it in Chamonix then it doesn't exist!
  • Look into your holiday insurance policy and double-check whether or not it covers you for this type of activity. There are much cheaper (and more enjoyable) ways to take a helicopter ride than being evacuated from the mountains.

Winter Alpine Course

Chamonix is one of the best places to explore the world of winter alpine climbing.

This course is designed for those with no previous winter mountaineering experience or for those who want to refresh their existing summer skills and get an introduction to winter climbing in the Alps. The course is run with small groups, allowing for flexibility to adjust the level to each participant as much as possible.

The course will focus on the following four main areas: Mixed Alpine Climbing, Ice Climbing, Glacier Travel and Avalanche Awareness.

You will start with a skills day to introduce and refresh glacier travel techniques, ice axe technique, using crampons on steep snow and ice, crevasse rescue and avalanche awareness.

Over the next two days you will be operating in smaller groups. You will have a day's ice climbing and a day in the high mountains and put your new found skills to work with some mixed climbing.

The last two days of the course we operate in even smaller groups which allows us to access more technical ice climbing routes and a chance to try out lead climbing. You may also get a chance to do a longer, more technical winter route.

The locations used will be decided by your guides based on where the best conditions are at the time, possibilities include the Chamonix Valley, Trient in Switzerland and Cognes in Italy.

No previous mountaineering skills are required to join this course; rock climbing, hill walking and summer mountaineering experience are all helpful but not required. The small ratios enable participants to progress very quickly. You do, however, need to have a high level of fitness. To enjoy this tour you need to be happy doing a 6-8 hour hike in the mountains without being destroyed the next day.

Click on the link on the right to download the full course itinerary.

Handy Hints from Mountain Base
  • Get your fitness levels up before you arrive, you'll get much more out of the course if you do.
  • If you don't have all the kit you can buy or rent anything you need in Chamonix, have a look at the kit list on the right to see what you'll need.
  • Take plenty of small but energy-loaded snacks - this is a physical course and being active in the cold can make you hungrier than usual!

Winter Mountaineering

This course is the more advanced version of our winter alpine course; if you want to explore further and climb some more serious ascents, this course is the one for you.

The course is designed for mountaineers who want to improve their skills and are interested in climbing harder routes, either mixed climbs, ice climbs or gullies at high altitude.

Over the five days, we try to cover ice climbing, mixed climbing (rock and ice), snow and ice gullies, use of protection in these types of terrain, safety and movement techniques. If both mountaineers are good skiers it may be possible to access to some of the areas on skis, saving time and energy!

This course is based on a 1:2 ratio (one guide to two clients) for the full five days, to allow for as much flexibility as possible so you are not limited in difficulty and choice of routes.

Handy Hints from Mountain Base
  • Make sure you bring spare batteries for your head torch and (if possible) your camera, you'll be kicking yourself if you run out of either!
  • Layer your clothes as much as possible, this course is very physical so you need to be able to move easily and adjust if you're too hot or cold. Anything you don't already have can be bought in Chamonix.
  • Take plenty of small but energy-loaded snacks - this is a physical course and being active in the cold can make you hungrier than usual!

Crevasse Rescue

If you climb in the mountains or ski off-piste, then the chances are high that you'll end up on a glacier at some point. Which is awesome! But can also be dangerous, without the right knowledge and experience...

Our one day crevasse rescue course teaches you the basic knowledge that could save someone's life: how to plan a trip over glacial terrain, how to identify and avoid dangers such as crevasses and seracs, and how to carry out a crevasse rescue using ropes and harnesses.

This course runs all year round - here in Chamonix we have the choice of many different locations either on the Argentiere glacier at Les Grands Montets or on the Vallée Blanche. This allows us to practise a number of different scenarios, according to the weather conditions and terrain.

Handy Hints from Mountain Base:
  • This course is great for couples or groups of friends who often ski and climb together - learn how to keep each other safe and what to do if someone gets into trouble.
  • If you book this course towards the start of winter you'll have plenty of time to practise your new techniques before the season comes to an end.
  • You'll also learn valuable skills for high altitude mountaineering 

Indoor & Ice Climbing