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Alpine Autonomy Techniques 2024
Learn skills for Alpine independence | Fast track skills course
Climbing on Pointe des Amethystes, Argentiere glacier basin
Course overview

If you have previous climbing or crampon experience, and want a fast track course that is designed to make you more autonomous in the Alps, this is the course for you. You cover all the technical syllabus of the Introduction course in greater detail, with greater focus on route finding and equipment selection.
On this course there is a real focus on climbing in some of the most stunning areas of the Mont Blanc massif, as well as learning skills that will be useful in your climbing after the course. The course culminates in the ascent of a quiet and remote summit, such as the traverse of the Domes du Miages.
The technical content will be tailored to build on your current experience, with an emphasis on glacier travel and crevasse rescue on both dry and wet glaciers. The course also covers a whole host of ropework and Alpine safety issues such as avalanche awareness, belays and anchors, crampon and ice axe techniques.
This course is set at just above the level of the Introduction course (summer or winter), so if you have a bit too much experience (such as previous rock climbing experience) this course is for you. The vast majority of the routes ascended are of the Alpine PD grade (roughly equivalent to Scottish Grade II/III).
Many clients are pleasantly surprised how much chance they get to lead, and how autonomous they really belome over the week. We have seen several teams set off to climb their first 4000m peaks on their own, after the course, and this course really is a complete Alpine apprenticeship that works.
Dates: these are listed in the column on the right, and they show the live availability from our secure online booking system. When you book online, you receive immediate confirmation, your Alpine Information Booklet, course specific kit list and invoice.

Brief Course Itinerary

Travel to Chamonix to arrive for the 17:00 check-in followed by and course safety and itinerary briefings. There is time for kit checks or rental of equipment. Briefings are over by 19:00 and the team accompany the group to pre-dinner drinks. Many clients opt to travel out a day or two early to do an acclimatisation weekend course to provide an extra night of accommodation, and to ascend a 3000m peak. Night in Chamonix.

Gallery: Chamonix town
Day to learn and practice using crampons and ice axes on the Mer de Glace glacier (2000m). You also climb vertical ice, create ice anchors, and learn glacier travel skills. This is one of your most important days of the course in terms of skills development as it is essential to have good footwork on Mont Blanc. Guiding ratio 1:6 (max). Evening theory session / meeting with course hosts: click for info. Night in Chamonix.

Gallery: Mer de Glace
Alpine ridge route, such as the Traverse of Aiguille du Crochues, to focus on ropework, moving together, anchors, and the assessment of objective dangers. The route chosen for this day is generally a mixed route that is ascended in mountain boots rather than in rock shoes. Guiding ratio 1:3 (max). Evening theory session / meeting with course hosts: click for info. Night in Chamonix.

Gallery: Crochues Traverse
Today you really progress your altitude snowskills with an ascent of another peak, such as the Pointe Lachenal / Arete Lolo / Aiguilles Marbrees, and all skills previously learnt will be tested. This style of route will really work on your crampon skills and the selection of snow belays on steeper ground. Guiding ratio 1:3 (max). Evening theory session / meeting with course hosts: click for info. Night in Chamonix.

Gallery: Petite Aiguille Verte
The start of a two day route with a night in a mountain hut (half board hut not included for you and guide), or a day route. You decide the itinerary for the last two days of this course. Typically groups ascend the Domes du Miages, Aiguille du Tour, Petite Forche, or Mont Blanc du Tacul, and the route chosen is a reflection of your autonomy skills development and of the conditions. Guiding ratio 1:3 (max). Night in mountain hut / Chamonix.

Gallery: Aiguille du Tour
If you opted for a two day route, then today will be an Alpine start from the mountain hut to ascend one of the peaks mentioned on the previous day, or it could also be another day route if you have opted for that. After the main ascent of the week, you descend back to the Chamonix valley. Guiding ratio 1:3 (max). Evening social drinks, then a celebratory meal, with the final night spent in Chamonix.

Gallery: Autonomy week
Breakfast then the accommodation check out is by 10:00. Most arrange their transfers for around this time for a flight from Geneva about midday. Some people opt to book a tandem paraglider flight in the morning to celebrate the weeks efforts, and prices for this are from 100€ for a c.30 minute flight. These flights can be booked in resort up to the day before you wish to fly. Depart for home

Gallery: Icicle Windermere office
ITINERARY NOTES: Where possible we follow itineraries. Mountain adventures are weather and conditions dependant, so occasionaly we are forced to alter the plans. If this is the case, suitable alternatives are offered. Please use this outline itinerary as a guide to the types of route / activity that you will attempt.

Course Prices
Standard course
5 days guiding, 7 days holiday in total £1099
Live availability
Click on the planner logo to the right to
see the real time live course availability
Latest Availability
Secure online booking system
Standard Course Inclusions: 1) IFMGA Mountain Guide for five days, 2) Chamonix course hosts for logistics & briefings, 3) Self-catered accommodation in Chamonix (inc. beddings & towels), 4) Pre course information booklet, 5) Equipment discount voucher for UK shops, 6) Free 36 page technical Course Instruction Booklet, 7) Road transport in Chamonix valley, 8) Evening technical instruction / briefing sessions.
Exclusions: 1) Travel to and from Chamonix, 2) Equipment hire, 3) Cable cars & uplift, 4) Personal laundry, telephone calls, lunches, evening meals in valley, & any purchases in mountain huts / hotels / restaurants, 5) Optional night half board in mountain hut (inc. costs for guides), 6) Sunday pre-dinner drinks & Friday celebratory meal & drinks, 7) Activities insurance, & excess baggage charges.
Notes: This trip can be operated as a private course for a group of 3 people booking together, at a 1:3 ratio throughout, on any date you wish throughout the summer season.
Course upgrade options
Many clients on this trip consider upgrading with one or more of the following course additions...
Big 5 Alpine
kit rental
  Upgrade to single from
£300-£500 in addition to
standard course price,
depending on week.
Extend by 2 days after
to ascend one of the
Big 5 Alpine peaks as
an extra summit.
Rent all technical kit
for a week. Full Alpine
Bundle costs you just
£100 for the week.
Saturday night spent in
Chamonix, with choice
of self-guided or guided
on Sunday. From £70.
  Click for details Click for details Click for details Click for details
Standard course accommodation - normally clients are based in self-catered flats (details), so take a look, and decide if it's for you. For more luxury, contact us for quotes in higher standard apartments, or hotels of any standard required. If you have / source your own course accommodation, or we cannot provide an upgrade, the standard course price has a £100pp reduction applied on your invoice.
Ascending the arête to the summit of the Domes du Miages
Current course availability

Course Dates
Alpine Autonomy
  • [ 0 ] 23 - 29 Jun 2024
  • [ 1 ] 7 - 13 Jul 2024
  • [ 3 ] 21 - 27 Jul 2024
  • [ 1 ] 4 - 10 Aug 2024
  • [ 3 ] 18 - 24 Aug 2024
  • [ 3 ] 1 - 7 Sep 2024

Price: £1099 Book online

Alternative courses
Mont Blanc Summit
Alpine Introduction Course
Tech Ice & Classics

Winter Mount Toubkal

Client feedback

I was so glad to find a course that catered for someone with previous experience, who wanted to find our what I didnt know, in order to climb in the future without a Guide. You provided just that, & I enjoyed the course

Patrick T , Autonomy

I just wanted to thank you for organising a great course last week, and for all your help before and after it. We both loved it - Gilles was a fantastic guide, and I learnt far more in 5 days than I was expecting. Hoping to be back in Chamonix sometime next year for
another trip!

Ann & Rachel , Autonomy

The day after the course finished, we felt confident enough to take on and complete an unguided climb. Absolutely delighted. It did exactly what it said on the tin

Will & Tom, Autonomy
Press & media
Films & videos
Photo gallery
Location data for this trip
The trips are based in the Chamonix valley in the French Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc. It is easily accessed via a 90 minute transfer from Geneva airport.
Time Difference
GMT +1hr
Local Currency
€ Euros
Travel from UK
1hr flight
Pre-requisite experience
For this course there is a large quantity of technical instruction and skills elements, with a wide range of routes that can be climbed during the week. Please ensure that you have all the pre-requisite skills and experience requirements for this course. If you are unsure at all, please ask us to help advise you;

Crampons - have used crampons, even for winter skills / walking

Rock - if no outdoor rock experience, to be a capable scrambler

Ropework - be able to tie on to a rope, and to belay safety

Fitness - to be similar fitness to those attempting Mont Blanc
Alpine skills & knowledge
Try to answer the questions below, and see how much you already know. The answers are beneath. After you complete one of these courses, you should be able to answer all these questions, and much more with the greatest of ease.

Q1. What is the minimum length rope two climbers should take for a wet glacier crossing?

ANSWER: They should take a 30m rope, as a wet glacier is snow covered, so crevasses could be hidden. Each climber should tie on the end of the rope and take in chest coild until 10 to 12 metres are tied off between them.

Q2. What is a foehn wind, and how is it generated?

ANSWER: A foehn wind is caused by the enforced uplift of an airmass over a mountain, and as it cools with altitude the humity condenses and precipitation falls. On the descent the drier air mass is rapidy compressed and warms quickly. The net effect is that the air reaches the same altitude on the far side of the mountain drier and warmer than on the uplift side.

Q3. How can you retreat from a multi-pitch ice / glacier climb without leaving any ice screws behind?

ANSWER: By constructing Abalakov belay systems, which are two inter-connecting holes drilled into the ice, using ice screws, through which some abseil tat is threaded and tied off.

Q4. How do you tell a left and right crampon apart?

ANSWER: The buckles / strap attachments are always on the outside of the crampon, to reduce the snagging / trip hazard. Also looking a the crampons from above, a left boot crampon bends to the right, and vice-versa.
Suggested reading and kit
View full course equipment list, with examples of kit, click here
Why choose our trips?
See our Alpine blog, by clicking on the Word-press logo to the right.
Icicle Blog
Itinerary flexibility to allow you to take full advantage of the weather windows on any day, to maximise your summit chances.
Our prices are fixed in £ Sterling, to protect you from euro fluctuations, so you can budget accurately.
There is a choice of routes to opt for, depending on the weather, conditions, and your experience.
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.

Get in contact to arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee to discuss your course in person with a trip advisor.

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