Saas Valley, Switzerland

Saas 4000ers

The Saas region has the greatest concentration of 4000m peaks in the Alps and is one of the very best centres for classic mountaineering. The Saas and Michabelle region is one of the most ‘picture perfect’ areas of Switzerland and provides a perfect base to climb high independent summits without great technical difficulty. The course is based in the charming small town of Saas Grund which is east of its famous neighbour Zermatt.

The Saas valley is steeped in mountaineering history and can be found between two distinctive massifs; the Mischabel group and the Weissmiess group. Indeed there are no less than eighteen 4000m peaks surrounding the area. Cable cars are available on both sides to get us high and quickly from the valley floor. Mountaineering here is a varied experience, with views across to the Monta Rosa massif, Mont Blanc, and the Bernese Oberland including the Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau. In addition, the area boasts a fantastic selection of mountain huts which provide warm hospitality while at altitude. If you are looking for a varied mountaineering week, with the opportunity to bag several famous peaks, then the Saas 4000ers comes highly recommended. The area can be reached easily by public transport from both Geneva and Zurich. 

How difficult is the course? 

Most of the peaks can be attempted by ambitions and fit hill walkers. Previous alpine climbing experience is an advantage, particularly using crampons and an ice axe, however, is not a prerequisite. The course is designed to be progressive with acclimatisation and training built into the week. A good level of fitness (stamina) together with surefootedness and plenty of enthusiasm are the chief prerequisites. This six-day course has a guiding ratio of 1:3 and most of the ascents have a grade of PD.

What is the standard of accommodation in the huts?

The huts are of an excellent standard and run by full-time staff that look after us on a half-board basis, the cooking is plentiful homemade food which is sourced locally. A full selection of drinks and picnic lunch are available at extra cost. The sleeping quarters are communal.

Mont Blanc Extension;

It is possible to combine the trip with a 3 day Mont Blanc extension. Please inquire for details.

Weissmies 4023m (PD)

The best route is the traverse from the Almageller hut on the rocky south ridge, and then up and over the summit and down the west face. The glacier scenery and views across the valley to the Mischabel chain are magnificent. The summit is attained in around 4hours.

Strahlhorn 4190m (F+)

This massive snow peak gives a long ascent from the Britannia hut. Fantastic views looking towards Zermatt and the Matterhorn. 4 hour ascent.

Allalinhorn 4027m. (PD)

The best route on the peak is the Hohlaubgrat, an excellent snow and mixed climb up a long ridge. There is a challenging rock step just below the summit which provides the crux. 4 hour ascent.

Alphubel 4206m (PD)

This peak can be climbed from either the Täsch hut or Langfluh. We favour the South East Ridge from the Alpubeljoch. This is a snow climb, with a delicate summit ridge. 4 hours of ascent.

Lagginhorn 4010m (PD)

The rocky Lagginhorn is the most North-Easterly and lowest four thousand-meter peak in the area. We take the West ridge which is a comparatively long scramble on rock, generally with some snow or ice slopes at the top. 3 hours of ascent.

Nadelhorn 4327m (PD)

This peak is the third summit on the Mischabel Chain. The Nadelhorn has a pyramidal look, with three smooth faces divided by three sharp ridges. We approach from the Mischabel hut and take the classic NE Ridge. This gives varied climbing on snow, ice rock to an elegant summit. 3 - 4 hours of ascent.

 

Day Itinerary

  • Travel to Saas Grund. You should aim to arrive by late afternoon. The week starts with a welcome meeting, briefing and kit check at 7pm. Stay overnight in our comfortable partner hotel

  • Ascent of the Jegihorn

    We acclimatise by catching the Hohsaas lift to Kreuxboden and ascending the Jegihorn (3206m) via its SE Face. This exciting route includes some sections of via ferrata - fixed ladders, cables and walkways. Return to Saas Grund

  • Ascent of the Weissmies

    A nice gentle morning walk positions us at the Almageller hut for lunch. In the afternoon we have time to brush up on our alpine skills, rope work and some rock climbing. Stay overnight in the hut.

    An early start is needed to traverse the Weissmies (4017m) via the SW ridge. This is an interesting rock scramble with a snow crest leading to the summit. After taking in the fantastic views we descend down the WNW flank which passes through some spectacular crevasses and seracs. We spend the night in the Weissmies hut.

  • Ascent of the Lagginhorn

    Our next big peak is the Lagginhorn (4010m) ascended by the WSW ridge from the Weissmies hut. The route is mostly on rock until the final mixed summit slope. The summit is an exposed airy perch perfect for lunch and photos. We descend via the same route and on to Saas Grund for a night in the valley.

  • Ascent of the Allalinhorn

    We take the Metro Alpin lift up to its mid station and traverse round to the Britannia hut where we stay overnight.
    The traverse of the Allalinhorn (4027m) via the Hohlaubgrat is a highlight of the week. It has an exposed glacial approach with some rock climbing to access the summit to spice things up. From the summit it’s an easy walk down via the glacier to the top of the Mittel Allalin station and return to Saas Grund. It is worth noting that days 6 and 7 can be changed to ascend the Alphubel (4206m) or the Nadelhorn (4327m) depending on the conditions and aspirations.
    We return to the hotel in Saas Grund for the last night

  • Depart after breakfast

2019

Dates

Price

Sat 22 Jun
- Sat 29 Jun
£1799 Book
Sat 13 Jul
- Sat 20 Jul
£1799 Book
Sat 27 Jul
- Sat 03 Aug
£1799 Book
Sat 10 Aug
- Sat 17 Aug
£1799 Book
Sat 24 Aug
- Sat 31 Aug
£1799 Book
Sat 07 Sep
- Sat 14 Sep
£1799 Book

The price includes all guide fees & expenses, b&b hotel accommodation (twin share) and half board accommodation in mountain huts.

The price excludes evening meals in the valley, lunches, equipment hire, travel to and from the Alps, local transfers and uplift costs.

On our Swiss 4000er weeks we estimate that the cost for local transfers and uplifts will be in the region of £150 per person which is not included in the price and needs to be paid for locally in Swiss Francs.

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This list contains our recommended clothing and equipment for our Saas 4000ers week.

In the summer months, the days generally start very cold and warm up during the morning to become hot in the afternoon. It is therefore essential that you have 2-3 thin layers that you are able to put on/take off as the conditions change. Thin layers also allow better movement as opposed to one layer of bulky clothing.

If you are uncertain or need further information, please contact us.

  • Base Layer Top and Bottoms – a few base layer tops, usually long sleeved is best, wool base layers form Smartwool or Icebreaker are good as they offer good wicking properties and dry quickly. For your legs a couple of pairs of long or ¾ length bottoms are best.

    Mid-layer fleece tops – a couple of fleece type jacket or tops that can be worn between your base layer and outer layers. The “Layering” approach offers the best heat retention and flexibility in warm and cold weather.

    Insulation Layer - a down or primalotf jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.

    Lightweight softshell type trousers - you want to wear a lightweight softshell or similar material on your legs, these types of trouser offer good protection from snow/ice as well as abrasion on rock and are comfortable to move in.

    Walking shorts or pair of trousers with zip-off legs. Useful for walk-ins to huts on hot days.

    Gore-Tex Jacket - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable jacket. Best to have a lightweight jacket that can be worn in the event of wet or windy weather but is packable enough to fit in your rucksack. Your insulated ski jacket will be overkill and too hot and bulky.

    Gore-Tex Pants - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable trousers. Lightweight is important plus side zips for putting on over your boots and crampons. Used in cold, wet and windy weather.

    Sun hat and warm hat – bring a wide-brimmed sun hat or baseball cap plus a warm beanie style hat.

    Light, thin gloves – a thin pair of fleece or softshell gloves for warm weather are a must.

    Insulated gloves - You need to have a pair of waterproof warm gloves to wear on cold days.

    Gaiters – these are useful to wear to keep snow out of your boots.

    Socks - 3-4 pairs of medium weight socks usually mid-calf length is good.

  • There are 2 grades of boots for alpine trekking and mountaineering: B1 and B2

    • B1 boots are usually lightweight boots offering more flexibility when walking and are usually suitable only for trekking, easy glacier walking and Via Ferrata trips.

    • B2 boots are semi-rigid boots that are the best option for summer alpine mountaineering trips. There are leather and plastic/composite options. Leather boots tend to be more comfortable and breathable whereas plastic/composite boots are warmer and more waterproof.

    B2 boots are compatible with C1 and C2 crampons.

    Key features of a good alpine boot include Vibram soles, a reversed leather upper (which protect the best side of the leather from scuffing and abrasion and improves durability and water resistance) and ankle flex and a higher cut which give control, mobility and support.

    Boots can be hired in resort but to avoid discomfort we do strongly recommend that you have your own pair which needs to be well worn-in prior to your trip.

    Alpine huts supply hut slippers so that you don't need to take any other footwear apart from your boots. Boots are not allowed in the dining room or dormitories and must be left in the foyer.

  • These items are essential for all alpine mountaineering courses

    All items can be hired from Mountain Tracks or from sport shops in the Alps.

    • Climbing helmet
    • Ice Axe - General mountaineering / alpine pick 55-70cms long depending on your height.
    • Boot crampons - with anti-balling plates.
    • Climbing Harness – adjustable leg loops are useful for easy of putting on over your boots.
    • Adjustable trekking pole(s)

  • Rucksack - A simple and lightweight pack with a capacity of between 35-45 liters is recommended. You need to have one loop for carrying an ice axe on your rucksack.

    Lightweight sleeping bag liner – a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner is now compulsory in all mountain huts.

    Water bottle or Thermos – a water bottle or hydration system is needed.

    Head torch with spare batteries

    Penknife

    Personal first Aid Kit - Should contain:

    Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.

    Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen

    Antiseptic cream or wipes

    Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!

    (Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)

    Whistle

    Sun Glasses - minimum category 3.

    Ski Goggles – these can be very useful if you encounter strong winds and poor weather.

    Sunscreen and Lip Protection

    Ear Plugs - For noisy huts!!

    Camera

    Hold-all bag - for gear not required on trek. Will be left at first hotel and collected on return.

    Passport

    Money - You will need some cash for food and drinks. There are some ATMs and most hotels, shops and restaurants will accept credit cards, but most huts still accept cash only. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 25-35 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption).

    Toiletries – Should contain:

    Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal

    Soap

    Anti-bacterial hand cleaner

    Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene

    Tissues and toilet roll

    Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel

    (Any other essentials you need but remember there are no shower facilities and generally no running water in the huts and you have to carry everything with you!)

    Alpine club card - If you're a member.

    Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.

  • It is possible to hire boots and the technical items needed for the Mont Blanc Climber week in Chamonix and guideline prices for 6 days hire are:

    Mountaineering boots €55
    Ice Axe €30
    Boot crampons €35
    Harness €15
    Helmet €15

    If you wish to hire any technical kit please contact us in advance with your requirements.

Saas Fee.jpg

Saas Valley

View map

The Saas Valley is an alpine valley in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland. It is separated from the Mattertal valley by the Dom and is surrounded by a number of other significant 4000m peaks including Allalinhorn, Weissmies, Nadelhorn, Strahlhorn, Rimpfischhorn and Alphubel

The main town in the valley is Saas Fee is known as the 'Pearl of the Alps'. We regularily use the lower village of Saas Grund as our base for our winter ski trips and summer climbing trips. We have a great relationship with the Hotel Roby, a traditional climbers hotel. 

The area is renowned for alpine adventure in both summer and winter.

Our top reasons for visiting the Saas Valley

  • High altitude skiing with guaranteed snow
  • Endless ski touring options for all levels
  • Cosy and rustic hotels in the picturesque village
  • Excellent snow record

 

Resort Information:

Resort Height: 1,800m (Saas Fee)
Highest Lift: 3,500m
Nearest Airport: Geneva or Zurich

Transfer Options: We recommend you take the train from Geneva or Zurich airport to Saas Fee. Connections are regular and the its takes 3 hrs 30 mins for the journey; usually with 1 change from Geneva and just over 3hrs from Zurich with 1 or 2 changes; the last part of the journey is done by bus from Visp. To look up train timetables use this link Swiss Railway Timetables

 

  • It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
     

  • The most convenient airports are either Zurich or Geneva airports.

    A fast train tunnel has reduced journey times from Zurich to Saas Grund by about 1 hour so the journey time is slightly less than from Geneva. (2 hours from Zurich, 2 hours 20 minutes from Geneva).

    The train doesn't go as far as Saas Grund and you have to change in Visp on to the Postbus. You need to ensure you get to Visp no later than 1900 otherwise you'll miss the last bus. The bus journey is just over 20kms and takes about 30 minutes.

  • All our mountaineering trips are run by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.

  • The Alps generally have a very pleasant climate throughout the spring, summer and autumn with warm days and cool nights, with daytime temperatures in the valley around 25 - 30°C. At high altitude the temperature often goes down below -10 and can feel even colder with wind chill.

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