4000 Metre Peaks
The Alpine 4000ers remain a significant part of Alpine history. The classic routes (voie normal's) on these big peaks remain a great challenge for those who want to reach lofty summits and negociate narrow snow aretes. This combined with easy travel to the Alps has made Europe one of the most popular mountaineering destinations in the world...
Mont Blanc (4808m) is the highest mountain in Western Europe making it a logical mountaineering challenge. An ascent by the Goûter Ridge remains a popular route along with the Three Monts route from the Col du Midi. Being superbly positioned on the western tip of the alps the view afforded from the summit is truly unique.
The Matterhorn (4478m) is one of the worlds most famous peaks, it's familar triangular profile being visible from most of the Western Alps. One of the major peaks to be climbed during the 'Golden Age of Alpinism', the first ascent is a gripping story and a mountaineering tragedy. Although the Hörnli Ridge is well equipped with fixed ropes and belay stantions it remains a considerable challenge - a scramble of epic proportions.
The Saastal and Allalin peaks in the Swiss Valais offer a great deal of entry level to mid grade alpine ascents well served by lift infastructure. Saas Fee/Saas Grund is an ideal location from which to climb a number of 4000m peaks enjoying snowy mixed routes as well as the fine rock ridge of the Portjengrat (which sadly falls under the 4000m mark). e.g. Lagginhorn, Weissmies, Allalinhorn along with some fine lesser peaks.
The Gran Paradiso (4061m) is a large sprawling peak isolated to the south of the Mont Blanc Massif, affording some great views of the surrounding mountains. Despite being another popular peak, particularly with Italian mountaineers, the national park within which it is situated is home to large numbers of Ibex. A good introduction to the 4000m peaks the Gran Paradiso consists of a lengthly glacier approach to a final exposed scrambly ridge.