Picos is a guiding company based in the western part of the Alps. We offer guided trips and courses for individuals and groups covering all winter and summer alpine activities. Clearly, our programmes are thoroughly planned, well organized, matching the highest safety standards. But this is what you can expect from internationally qualified IFMGA mountain and skiguides.
As a small business, albeit with a background of 20 years, what we strive for is not a travel-agency experience for our customers. But to be mountain guides as partners, mentors and climbing mates.
Hiring a mountain guide is not like shopping for consumables. Adventures in the hills are multilayered, profound and emotional. Our mission as guides is to provide you with the best possible framework to experience these.
The necessary bond of trust does not come from posting fancy pictures, favorable social media profiles or slick marketing. It evolves when you feel our genuine commitment to exceptional experiences and helping you advance in your climbing career. It is based on friendly communication, a close contact to our clients and fairness in business affairs.
Our main programme is aimed at German speaking clients. But we do have a long history in climbing and working with English speaking folks as well; from having lived in Chamonix to organizing guides for one of the now largest tour operators in the UK. See the about our trips section to learn more.
Get in touch - we are looking forward to giving you information, discussing your projects or simply having a chat!
See you in the hills!
An important aspect of alpinism is to take one's own decisions and full responsibilty for what we are doing. Those who only follow a leader in the hills, miss out on important experiences that can be gained in the mountains.
Even though 'leading' is part of our job, we explicitly encourage our clients to adopt the neccessary skills to be self-sufficient on alpine trips.
As mountain professionals, we do not only offer beginners courses but also support experienced parties in taking the next step with our coachings.
Our Tutorial is something quite unique, freely downloadable and unfortunately in German ;-).
Anyone keen on helping us with a translation?
It need not always be Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Verbier or Kalymnos. Here are some trips that we think break out of line.
This is what makes us special and you can count on it:
Flexibility is our working method - not a slick marketing slogan. We budget 1-2 extra days in the planning of many of our trips to factor in adverse weather conditions. The days can for example be used to move the trip a day or two as to use the best weather window for the summit bid.
Of course you only pay the actual guiding days. We'd rather achieve your goal than insist on doing a poor alternative.
Ambitious alpine goals require the right conditions and this might not be the case on your first try. We understand that you don't want to hire a guide for not climbing your cherished dream route. On our individually arranged trips we discuss and agree on how to deal with this situation prior to the trip.
Understandably we cannot cancel all our trips in the high season. But we will come up with a fair deal for both sides: a prefixed alternate date, a voucher for the next attempt, an adapted rate for smaller and less committing objectives, or the option to cut off some days.
The Alps are the Playground of Europe and Europe is densely populated. Some areas are frequented to a degree that is almost grotesque. Traffic jams, risky overtaking maneuvers and utter chaos on lifts and huts are common sight. Clearly the experience must be suffering.
Clever planning can avoid this and the mountains can be experienced in a pristine way — even on big and renowned peaks. We have a long record of guiding some of the most prestigious summits using bivies and less known routes, or simply climbing acyclic. It has always paid off! Does this sound appealing to you? Let's discuss your next true adventure in the mountains!
The technical basics of alpinism such as knots, crevasse rescue, setting up a belay etc. are rather easy to learn. What takes a lot more time to acquire are experience, judgement, situational decision making as well as all the tricks of the professionals that make life in the mountains easier.
A lot of alpinists were lucky to learn from more experienced mates. Our coachings give you that unique opportunity. We act as supervisors and consultants while you are climbing on the sharp end of the rope. We try to provide you with as much expert knowledge as we can. There is no business secret, we are happy to share our decision making and perhaps even learn something ourselves.
Advanced topics include complex rope techniques (e.g. the infamous short rope), tactics, speed improvement or analytical snowpack analysis. Our coachings are well suited for experienced teams.
Quite frankly our cooperating partners want to sell the gear they are providing us with. It is therefore clearly in our interest if you test gear on our trips. So why should we charge you for this?
Lend out gear is generally free of charge on all our trips. If you have your own equipment, but want to save weight on a challenging ski traverse, we will bring lightweight crampons for you. You are keen to test a wide freeride ski or the latest ice tools? No problem! Of course, we do not have multiple sizes or models in stock, but we are trying to help you with gear as much as we can.
Lets face it: social media is a mere marketing tool for many businesses. To us this way of connecting with the audience is somewhat superficial. That's not our style. We prefer the direct contact to our clients - even beyond 'business'.
What does that mean for you? If you are planning a trip to the mountains on your own, get in touch, we are happy to recommend on a summit, region or provide information on the conditions. You need advice on gear? Need a second opinion on the avalanche situation? We are fostering a long term exchange, often on a very personal level, with many of our clients. We are taking the time, because its fun to chat or talk shop with like-minded people!
The job of mountain guides is demanding and highly responsible. Clearly, this work has to be appropriately remunerated. Yet we are climbers, not tough business men. That's why our emphasis is on dealing fairly with our clients.
We block dates for your trip. Sometimes the arranged climb still doesn't work out. We then appreciate your understanding that we cannot bear the cancellation risk alone. On the other hand we do understand that you don't want to pay the summit rate of a prestigious goal for an alternative destination. With open communication and consideration for each other's situation, we will find a good solution. The summit rate only applies if the conditions are right and we make a summit bid.
Environmental protection must not be misused for mere image cultivation. Businesses who earn their money with air travel should not pat themselves on the back because they use recycled paper and green electricity. This is not credible. We clearly acknowledge the undeniable environmental damage our activities cause, and we try to at least partly offset them by the following actions, without too many words:
We encourage you to travel by train. If possible we give you a lift from the train station. We help to reduce your luggage by providing you all the technical gear required for your trip. Given a sufficient number of participants, we cover up to 50% of your train ticket.
We compensate our own as well as the CO2 emissions of our clients travelling by car without any additional cost in a transparent and comprehensive way. Of course, you are also invited to contribute. Get in touch if there are any questions!
Sure, we do enjoy fine food and decent accommodation. But we are happy with less comfort as well, if that's what you want. Not having to book hotels makes things a lot more flexible. Cooking together is social and can be a lot of fun. No doubt, hiring a guide is expensive. By keeping our expenses as low as possible we help you save money and focus on the really important things - to climb and to ski! If you like the simple life, tell us so! There is a surprisingly high number of climbs that can be achieved without using expensive huts.
Because you still wouldn't know if a trip is confirmed. Bookings can be cancelled after all. Besides, well, the displayed number of available places can be fake — we all know that from the flight search engines.
Don't panic if the minimum number of participants is not yet reached! We often try to directly address long term clients, bring together bookings for different dates or find alternatives. Maybe we are really keen on doing the trip ourselves and offer you a special deal. Anyway we are keeping you updated. You might tell us your deadline by which you have to know if the trip takes place or not.