Swiss Rock Guides

Equipment List for Mountaineering in the Alps

For all mountaineering tours I highly recommend purchasing a Swiss Rescue membership from REGA to cover the costs in case of a rescue. The REGA membership is CHF 30.00 (covers Switzerland only)  on the internet www.rega.ch  for air rescue coverage during the tour. Please ensure you have the rescue coverage before starting any trip. Bring your Swiss or European Alpine club card so you can get the cheaper hut fee in the Swiss huts.

I recommend consulting your travel agent for Swiss Rail, Euro Rail and any other train/rail pass for cheaper travel during your trip in the Alps. One of the best option I believe is purchasing a Half-Day Swiss Rail pass at any Swiss Rail station (SBB) so you can travel most trains and public transportation to the half rate. Some of the deals you can get on the market before leaving the USA give up to 50% discount on train and tram passes. It is worth taking some time and talking to your travel agent.

Swiss Guides does not cover any travel expenses before, after and during the tour!

Need more information about the climb or a guide book for the Swiss Alps, get on www.amazon.uk and search for "Les Schwindin" as author for following guides books: Valais Alps East/West; Selected Climbs (Alpine Club Guides), The Alpine 4000m Peaks by the Classic Routes (Richard Goedeke, Author) and Berner Oberland (Alpine Club Guides)

Equipment List for Mountaineering in the Alps


Technical Gear:

  • Backpack (35 - 45 liter)
  • Crampons
  • Ice Axe
  • Helmet
  • Harness
  • 2 Locking Karabiner
  • 120 cm sling
  • Prussic loop
  • Headlamp & extra batteries
  • 1 ski pole to hike with
If we need more technical gear for different climbs,
I will let you know. 
The orange items can be rented by Swiss Guides for a small fee
  • Crampons CHF 10.00 per day
  • Ice Axe CHF 5.00 per day
  • Helmet CHF 5.00 per day
  • Harness and Karabiner CHF 5.00 per day
or the entire set for CHF 15.00 per day

Personal Gear:

  •  Mountaineering boots (Heavy real mountaineering boots stiff enough for Crampons)
  •  Gaiters
  •  Sunglasses
  •  Lightweight gloves
  •  Midweight gloves
  •  Warm hat
  •  Sun hat

Layering System:

The clothing you will most likely wear when we meet and during the climb!
  •  Lightweight capilene underwear
  •  Breathable T-Shirt
  •  Light weight z-neck
  •  Mid weight capilene Zip-T
  •  Lightweight vest optional
  •  Hiking socks
  •  Mountaineering/climbing pants (schoeller fabric)
  •  Shorts for the hut optional
  •  Soft shell Jacket (Fleece)
This part of the gear is in your backpack and has to be with us at all trips!
  •  Gore-Tex jacket
  •  Gore-Tex pants
  •  Rain cover for your backpack
  • Small down vest or pullover or Jacket

Other Items:

  •  Camera
  •  Sunscreen & lip screen
  •  Earplugs for the hut
  •  Waterproof stuff sack big enough for the hut items
  •  extra T-shirt for the hut
  •  1 spare pair of socks
  •  1 spare underwear
  •  Lightweight silk hut sleeping sack
  •  Personal Items - toothbrush, small towel (There is very little water available in the huts to wash and use for personal toiletry.)
  •  Personal prescription medication
  •  Water bottle / Thermos (unbreakable) camel bags will freeze up when it cold!
  •  Lunch / snacks / pocketknife
  •  Swiss francs or Euros for the huts
  •  Alpine club membership card
  •  Rescue card for Switzerland or France   

Do not forget your Alpine Club membership card to get the cheaper hut rate.

Swiss Alpine huts accept American Alpine Club AAC members only if you purchase via the AAC office vouchers for the Swiss huts, so you can have the cheaper hut rate.

Please do not bring more then I recommend on this list. If we need other clothing/gear because of conditions/tour, I will let you know. Everything you carry extra will slow you down and will decrease your chances of summitting or achieving your goal. You will have to carry all of the gear for the entire tour. This list is based on over 15 years of experience and should be taken as a reference. If your pack is bigger then a 40-liter backpack, you are carrying too much. Repack and see if you can leave gear behind the weight should not be greater than 10kg (22 lbs).

Because of extreme climate conditions, climbing big peaks can be a challenge. Storms come in faster and more severely then in the past, which influences the decisions needed  to provide a safe trip. As pilots say: "Looking up to the sky wishing I was flying is better then being in the air wishing I was the safe on the ground"

What does that mean? Once you make a booking, I reserve my time for you; huts/hotels are reserved; and all the other logistics are in place. However, the weather is a factor that cannot be "booked". That means, if we cannot do the climb, for example the Eiger, I will do another climb with you. There will be options and climbs at lower elevations. It is impossible to predict what the weather will be at the time of your booked tour, but if you do book, and the weather does not allow for the precise climb for which you booked, Swiss guides will offer you an alternative. If you do not wish to do an alternative climb in this situation, I recommend trying to book at the last minute. However,  you run the risk of the huts not having room for late bookings as well as no guides being available. Huts are first come first serve for those without reservation which means that in high season, there is a good chance that the hut will be full.  If you are living in Europe this is a reasonable option, as you can call to see if the huts have room; however, if you are traveling from afar, this option is not ideal.

 

If you have any questions regarding gear or packing, please feel free to contact me.

Mountaineering boots can be rented by Vertical Sport in Interlaken www.verticalsport.ch
(If you need mountaineering boots please contact Vertical Sport prior to the trip to ensure availability and arrange to purchase the boots.)



SWISS GUIDES L.L.C. ROCK-ICE-SNOW


Training plan for mountaineering in the Alps

Start intensive training at least 3 months prior to the planned mountaineering trip in Europe. The better your level of physical fitness is, the more enjoyable the climb and experience will be. Running will not be enough, as climbing uses different muscle groups in your body. Training must include some long, rigorous uphill walking or running.

Being technically adept at mountaineering is as important as having a high level of physical fitness, so do not forget, climbing mountains is the best training.

Adjust your gear and buy mountaineering boots far in advance, so everything will be properly worn in and adjusted to your feet and body.

Acclimatization is also very important and the more time you spend over 13’000 ft., the faster you will be acclimatized in Europe.

Last but not least is allowing yourself a good break the week before the climb to be ready, but properly rested, for the climb. I recommend arriving at least 4 days prior to the meeting time and climbing trip so that you are over any jet lag that you might have.


Medication:

A lot of people take Diamox for the altitude. I recommend waiting until you are up around 12’000 ft. before taking any Diamox so your body gets adjusted to the altitude and not to Diamox. (Please contact your doctor and ask him/her for advice)


Physical Training Plan

I understand every body works differently and some of you do not have much time to train ideally. The better shape you are in, the higher your success rate and fun you will have. We will climb/hike on an average day for 10 - 12 hr. with a small backpack and mountaineering boots. If you are extremely exhausted after 12 hrs. of hiking/climbing, and should there be an emergency, you will not have the needed reserves and strength to continue safely. Therefore, being optimally fit is of the utmost importance.

We will be climbing/hiking on an average of 3’000 to 4’500 ft uphill a day. Average coverage is about 3 miles a hr. and 1’000 ft. uphill in an hour. The following is my recommended physical training plan:

I recommend hiking/climbing for 1hr. and taking a rest for max. 10 min. and every 4-6 hr, taking a long break for max. ˝ hr. Train your body to walk 1 hr. without stopping. It takes some discipline but the outcome is great.

  • 1 day, do a 10-12 hr. hike in the mountains or hills (up and down off the trail for balance and in your mountaineering boots).

  • 1 day do an 8-10 hr. climb/hike in the mountains or hills (up and down off the trail for balance and in your mountaineering boots).

  • Within a week, for 1-2 days, do a 3-4 hr. power hike or speed walk or uphill mountain bike. If it is possible, do a hike /climb uphill for 5hrs. for an elevation gain of 4’500 ft.

This training plan means at least 3-4 days a week of training. If you try to do this for 3 months, you will be incredibly fit and ready for the Alps. Do not forget that one-week prior to the trip, stop strenuous hikes for a total recovery.


Technical Training Plan

  • 1 day a week do indoor climbing to improve climbing technique and body strength at a level of 5.9
  • 1 day of outdoor climbing, wearing your mountaineering boots up to US grade 5.5
  • 1 day of crampon technique uphill/downhill climbing on hard blue ice or black summer ice (at least 40 degrees)
  • 1 day of uphill and in particular downhill walking/climbing in mountaineering boots class II-III
  • I recommend hiking/climbing on boulder/gravel fields to train for good balance. This will train you to experience how to put pressure on a boulder, not fall or loose balance, and to climb as efficiently as possible.
  • Another good exercise is crossing a boulder field with your hands on your back going up and down as fast as possible (be aware of the risk of this particular exercise and use common sense)!
  • Down-climbing and bouldering are the most important technical training block because in the Alps we hardly ever rappel down. We down-climb most of the standard routes. The down-climb can be as long as 4-6 hrs. in grade III terrain or harder!!!!

Nine times out of ten, if I have to turn people around or inform a guest that a climb like the Eiger is too hard, it is not because they are not fit enough or cannot climb hard enough. It is because they can not walk/climb in 3-4 grade terrain safely and efficiently enough, and it turns out to be a safety issue! Take classes with a certified American Mountain Guide Association guide if you need to work on basic skills.


Hydration/Dehydration

This is a very important subject. We will hike /climb for 8-12 hrs. and need to stay hydrated, but we cannot carry more than 2 liters of water. The night before the activity drink lots of water, and at breakfast time drink more water for a total of at least 2 liters of water. Do not leave to the climb with a half empty tank. Leave with a full tank!

During the trip you will only drink little sips every other hour. You will still need some for the last stop. Camelbacks do not work well because you do not have control of how much you have left. Oftentimes the Camelbacks leak too. Therefore, they are not recommended. Rather, bring two 1- liter plastic bottles of water. If you do use a camelback, bring at least one 1-liter water bottle. Your body can only handle so much water. If the body has too much water, it will take an excess amount of energy to separate the water and minerals as you hike and your energy level will come down. We are talking about a different approach to drinking on a climb than you are used to. Be open and try it because this way you sweat less, and you have to urinate less so you can concentrate on the climb.

Remember we are not in a desert or in Alaska at 20,000 ft.
After the climb you have to drink a lot of water to give your body back what it needs.
Remember when you eat, food also has water in it and will help hydrate you as well.
For the climb/hike add Gatorade, juice or tea to your water because water by itself is not good enough.
Train your body as suggested and not for a drinking festival.
So keep training!!!

We guarantee an IFMGA certified mountain guide for all activities.



My Swiss Guiding Philosophy

As a professional guide it is my obligation to inform each and every one of my guests about my philosophy. I offer the experience of the journey as well as the flavor of the Swiss culture and not just the peak. My experience in guiding goes back some time, and I find it best to do a preparation climb for more difficult climbs. This allows us to get to know each other, and it gives me a chance to assess each client’s climbing skill level. It gives me time to help you improve your skills, adapt your pace and assist you in getting used to the short roping style we use in Europe. It also guarantees you a higher success rate on climbing the mountain of your dreams. Once we have done our warm up climb, I will let you know if you can do a harder climb or if we need to adjust the goal to a less demanding climb. If I determine while on a climb that a client is technically or physically not capable of completing the climb, for their safety and well being, I will cancel that particular climb for which they contracted and offer one that is appropriate to their skill level. Although we may be totally prepared for a climb, weather or mountain conditions may be the reason I choose to cancel the tour and offer an alternative climb or cultural tour.

A note on being well within your physical and technical abilities on any given climb: unlike many other sports whereby people try to challenge themselves technically and to the edge of exhaustion, these are not safe options in mountaineering. If we are far from any hut or shelter when you reach your exhaustion level, simply stopping is not possible. In fact it may be that we have to go on for hours before reaching safety. We can have a little play room with the conditions and weather to a certain point, but physical and technical skills should not be tested in a mountain setting. We can do so in a safer environment such as short routes. To tackle a big mountain, one should have had experience on many similar climbs of that grade or harder. This ensures safety on the mountain! Mountaineers should not need any encouragement to go on while on a climb. As mountaineers we do not conquer peaks, we do it for ourselves to accomplish something, to stand in awe at the beauty of the mountains and to stay fit and give meaning to life.

I believe all mountain guides should be certified through nationally and internationally recognized mountain guide associations such as the UIAGM/IFMGA. A certified guide is trained in the latest guiding and rescue techniques and has to go through a rigorous certification process. When a client entrusts their life to me, I consider this is a grave responsibility, one that drives my decision-making on a climb. This trust has manifested itself into close relationships with my clients, who have kept in contact with me throughout the years. I believe in no "great or the best guides". The only "good" guide is the one who makes it to old age! It is impossible to mountaineer totally risk-free, but without limiting risks, we do not accomplish anything we want get old enough to tell the story. Look at Reinhold Messner, for example, he is known as very safe climber and for always trying to avoid taking risks!

We like happy and returning clients!

Freddy Grossniklaus

We guarantee an IFMGA certified mountain guide for all activities.