/ 1st trip to the alps but where to go?

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Sam Maher - on 30 Dec 2012
Hi everyone,

I'm lucky enough to going to the alps for the first time this summer and was wondering what you would suggest to be a good, well rounded beginners route/summit. Currently I'm looking in the Arolla area but likewise I've heard the Saas area is good as well.

Also, what map would you suggest for your recommended area?

many thanks in advance

Sam
Mark Collins - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Sam Maher: Providing you're taking someone with you, I'd recommend Arolla. There you can concentrate on acclimatising and building your skills rather than becoming distracted by bigger and more famous peaks, in bigger and more famous resorts.
Sam Maher - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Mark Collins: yes, sorry i should have said, I will be going with two of my mates
peterd - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Sam Maher:

Easy snow peaks at Arolla include La Luette, Pointe de Vouasson, & Pigne d'Arolla. There is a delightful little rock traverse next to the Pas de Chevres. Climbing these type of routes would get you used to the Alpine environment and hut etiquette etc, before you move on to harder stuff.

There is no uplift at Arolla - you have to climb to the huts - this gets you fit and saves you money, but can be hard and hot work.
Father Noel Furlong on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Sam Maher:

Saas Fee, loads to do.
Mark Collins - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Sam Maher: Cool, I used this map but not sure where you can get it in the UK. A quick google should sort that though:
http://www.alplib.com/283t-arolla-avec-itineraires-de-randonnee-150000-xml-312_334_353-8346.html

Also, I used the Alpine Club Valais West guidebook.

There maybe more current maps/guidebooks now, I went to Arolla around 10 years ago.
The Ex-Engineer - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Sam Maher: They are both decent options.

However, it could be worth considering the Ecrins in France. It is a more than suitable option in terms of climbing/mountaineering and it could potentially work out cheaper than Arolla/Saas in terms of travel & subsistance.
Happy Haggis - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Sam Maher: the Bruce Goodlad Alpine Mountaineering book is great for starting out in the Alps - it has good descriptions of skills and techniques, as well as some route choices and ideas of how to progress (incl. suggested maps, gear etc.).
Sam Maher - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Happy Haggis:
> (In reply to Sam Maher) the Bruce Goodlad Alpine Mountaineering book is great for starting out in the Alps - it has good descriptions of skills and techniques, as well as some route choices and ideas of how to progress (incl. suggested maps, gear etc.).

you are bang on! I've read the book cover to cover (its starting to look a bit tattered now...) and it is brilliant. Its just a matter of choosing which of the suggested routes because there are so many and all over the alps as well. Great fun by the looks of them but we couldn't do them all in one trip, though we'd like to. Hence looking for anyone's experiences as to what they did first or what they'd do differently, knowing what they know now.
innesmac - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to Sam Maher:

If your just on about having a great time, taking in some peaks why not consider the Monta Rosa Chain. Get to take in plenty of summits, stay at some nice and huts with character (!) and have lovley surroundings too to wet your thirst for trips to come back too.
peas65 - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to Sam Maher:

We went to arolla, it was excellent. The pigne d'arolla was a highlight, not difficult glacier approach, bolted climb and abseil and then a long but not bad descent.
The Bertol hut was a great place to stay, bare in mind that switzerland is very expensive.

If you have a car it is very easy to move between the saas and arolla valleys. There are some good via ferrata in saas for rest days too.
Have fun :)
Happy Haggis - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to Sam Maher: Two ideas. (1) day 1: go from Arolla to the Vignettes hut; day (2) traverse the Pigne d'Arolla then stay at the Dix hut; day 3: climb La Luette then stay at the Dix hut again; day 4: either head back to Arolla or if you fancy something more challenging try Mont Blanc du Cheilon then back to the Dix and back to the valley. (2) day 1: head to the Trient hut from Champex (worth using the lift); day 2: climb the Aiguille du Tour then back to the Trient hut; day 3: climb the Tete Blanche (a bit more challenging) then back to Trient or Orny huts; day 4: take your rock shoes and some draws and climb some of the bolted routes out the back of the Orny hut before heading back to Champex (check the last time for the chairlift!). There's usually some windscoop below the Trient hut which is good for practising crevasse rescue etc too. Have fun!
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jhw - on 31 Dec 2012
Arolla is my favourite place for this sort of thing. The concentration of routes in both Saas and Arolla is amazing but Arolla has slightly more low altitude short rock-only climbs and ridges if that's what you're looking for (Saas has the Dri Horlini, Jegihorn, Lagginhorn, Portjengrat, Sonninghorn, and - if you're a glutton for punishment - the Egginer traverse, so you're not exactly lacking there). I also personally like the feel of Arolla/Evolene better (if you anticipate spending much time in the valley...) but like I say you're looking at the two best places for mid-level mountaineering in the Alps so you can't go wrong with either. Hire a car and do both. The AC's guide for Saas (Valais Alps East) is significantly harder to obtain than its guide for Arolla (Valais Alps West) which may determine things for you if you're doing a lot of stuff below 4,000m (otherwise its covered better in Martin Moran's book). Be advised that I found the peaks in the Mischabel range were often subject to poor weather when everything else in the area was good - maybe that was peculiar to the time I was there but this was the trend in both July and October so make of that what you will. Both areas have good climbing shops, campsites and facilities so take a look online and see which climbs appeal the most to your gut because on paper it's difficult to choose between the two. Arolla is about an hour closer to the airport which might be key.


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