/ Swiss Alps guidebooks, are they worth it?

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ralphio - on 21 May 2013
Currently in the process of planning our first trip to the Alps this summer. Heading to Arolla and Saas Fee. Buying a decent guidebook was going to be one of the first steps but we're having trouble finding one that would be suitable. Both the AC guides seem almost impossible to get hold of and from looking at previous posts on here they may be a bit out of date anyway. Martin Morans book would be ok but doesn't include all the routes we want to do, especially in Arolla (sub 4000m). Have done a lot of route research on here, summitpost and vasrious mountain guide websites and have come up with loads of fairrly detailed information. For some peak such as Aiguille de la Tsa I've got nearly an A4 page of information!

So it got me thinking. Is it actually worth us having a guidebook? Would they give us anything extra that you cant find on the internet?

The only guidebook I've seen that may be suitable is the Swiss Plaisir Alpin book. Anyone got a copy? Any good?

Thanks...
mattrm - on 21 May 2013
In reply to ralphio:

I do have a copy of it. Lots of easy stuff in it. It's very good. However it is rather expensive. Lots of nice phototopos and up-to-date detail (which is a major failing of most of the AC guidebooks).

I'm tempted to say that if you've done your research, then a guidebook probably isn't needed. However they're nice to read.
islandlynx - on 21 May 2013
In reply to ralphio:
indeed the AC Valais Alps east is hard to get and apparently has poor route descriptions. Howvere the valais alps east (AC) is easy to get online on in bookstores. Its a good guidebook in my opinion. True you can find lots of information of particular routes online but what happens when you get out there and you change your mind, maybe weather, a recommendation, tiredness. A guidebook gives your freedom while you're out there.

Simon4 - on 21 May 2013
In reply to ralphio:

> The only guidebook I've seen that may be suitable is the Swiss Plaisir Alpin book. Anyone got a copy? Any good?

Isn't that mostly about bolted rock routes, rather than Alpine routes?

Martin Moran is very good, but as you say, 4000m peak oriented (the clue is in the title!). There certainly are a great many worthwhile routes/mountains in the Alps that are not 4000m but give a great mountain day out, especially at this time of year.
Simon4 - on 21 May 2013
In reply to ralphio: Are you aware of CampToCamp?

http://www.camptocamp.org/

Does require you to have some idea of what you want to do, as generally you can look up the routes you are interested in, but it has recent detailed descriptions of ascents, so is very current and informative (as informative as people care to make it that is).
alasdair19 on 21 May 2013
In reply to ralphio: valais east is an excellent guide, the information is mostly v good and inspiring. The photos are poor and lay out very trad but the core writing in the guide is excellent. It also is clear about the effect hot summers have had in the range. The plaisir guides are also v good and.v different. I've used them in several areas there is a
alasdair19 on 21 May 2013
In reply to alasdair19: a few different ones. Including a plaisir alpine. Don't be shy of phoneing hut guardians and asking them about routes. They want to help speak excellent English and have the most up to date beta.

Bear in mind that alpine climbing demands route finding skills and.guidebooks often only make perfect sense after the.route.!
Simon4 - on 21 May 2013
In reply to alasdair19:
> ... the information is mostly v good and inspiring.... the core writing in the guide is excellent

Very true. But the grades, times, route specifics need to be taken with a lorryload of de-icer.
bigbobbyking - on 21 May 2013
In reply to Simon4:

Second camptocamp. Great source of info, does auto translate which is understandable most of the time. Once you've worked out roughly what mountains and routes you want to do most of the information is probably available there.
ralphio - on 21 May 2013
In reply to ralphio: had a look at camp to camp but didn't think its layout was all too clear. The foreign language put me off a bit as well. Didn't think of auto translate so will go back and have a look at it.
Simon4 - on 21 May 2013
In reply to ralphio:
> but didn't think its layout was all too clear

You get used to it. Persist, it is worth it.

> The foreign language put me off a bit as well

Understandable. My French is reasonable but it is quite often very colloquial/specialist - fortunately I have a partner who has lived in France for 15 years who can read it quite well now.

> Didn't think of auto translate ...

Produces some "interesting" results, to say the least.

I was thinking of suggesting to UKC site developers that they produce a similar facility. Maybe I will.

Simon4 - on 21 May 2013
In reply to bigbobbyking: Also often has recent pictures which are quite synoptic and helpful. Continentals seem to take this sort of constructive contribution to helping their fellow mountaineers quite seriously (now all we need to do is to educate them not to leave crap in the mountains and mountain huts!)
rlrs on 21 May 2013
In reply to ralphio:

I've got the Plaisir Alpin, I find it most useful for the less well-known easy climbs in the eastern part of Switzerland.

The list of mountains it covers, with almost always just the normal routes described, is on the publisher's web page: http://www.filidor.ch/Pages/Book.aspx?Id=17.

For each route it gives a very short route description in French, German and English (in place of Italian) in the 2008 print, plus a rough map and a picture or photo of the route.

I would hesitate to recommend it just for one trip to the Valais, but looking at the list of mountains on the website will give you a useful list of the easier possibilities. But speaking from experience, surely there is something better for acclimatisation than the Stellihorn!

Note that Swiss maps are on-line here: http://map.geo.admin.ch/
There's another site better to print maps from, but I don't find it right now.

Happy Haggis - on 21 May 2013
In reply to ralphio: I've got the Alpine Plaisir guidebook and think it's great. It is a collection of lower grade climbs with up to date info. It's especially good for the areas you're planning to go to. I've found it much more up to date and informative than the AC ones.
alasdair19 on 21 May 2013
In reply to Simon4: sure but for what its worth

Bouquestin traverse was good and accurate as was S ridge of dent blanche, l'eveque, grand cornier, pigne ord, traverse of cheilon.

had trouble just getting to the hut in an obscure part of the valpelline...

heard good reports and reasonable time on the sunrise pillar of the eveque. failed on the weber pillar on the dent blanche but has fallen off and I've not heard of UK teams on the trickier routes on that hill at all.

Cool area as allways the more info the better!
graham F - on 22 May 2013
In reply to ralphio: Both the AC guides are good but a little out of date for some descriptions. I think they are too comprehensive too - they have descriptions to lots of routes which are rarely/never climbed. Moran's book is excellent and up to date and will be really good around Saas area.
Getting local up to date info is well worth it - conditions change dramatically through the season with some routes going from very snowy to totally dry. E-mail local guides/huts/etc in advance and ask guardians when you phone to book huts.
xoran - on 27 May 2013
In reply to rlrs:
>
> Note that Swiss maps are on-line here: http://map.geo.admin.ch/
> There's another site better to print maps from, but I don't find it right now.

http://map.wanderland.ch/?lang=en&route=all
Is this the website you were thinking of to print maps?
The Ivanator - on 28 May 2013
In reply to ralphio: If you are principally after rock climbing in the Valais district, then this is the comprehensive guide. The coverage starts East of Arolla though, Saas, Zermatt, Rhone Valley and Simplon Pass crags are included. Pricy, but worth the investment:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/book.php?id=1208
You can purchase online from the BMC.
ads.ukclimbing.com
LakesWinter on 28 May 2013
In reply to alasdair19: Yeah I've found all the descriptions for routes I've done fine in both Valais guidebooks, unlike the mont blanc ones, which are crazily out of date now.

Pigne, Chelion, Tsa, Zinal Rothorn N ridge,
Hohlaubgrat, Weissmies traverse and Fletschorn normal routes all accurate.

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