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Author: Amabel Buck X Montane

Progressing from the relatively low-level peaks of Britain to the snow-smothered summits of the Alps can seem a daunting task. Many of even the easiest 4,000m peaks in the Alps require a little more technical experience than you’ll typically need for the mountains of the UK, and the skills and know-how to deal with the higher altitude and all the risks that come along with it. No matter which of the easiest 4,000m peaks you decide to tackle first, it’s always advisable to hire a guide to ensure your safety on the mountain.

We got together with mountaineering brand Montane, who manufacture technical kit that can really go the distance. With an extensive range of mountaineering and climbing gear for both men and women, you can be sure to find everything you need for your first foray into the mountaineering world. With that in mind, we put our heads together to come up with the four easiest 4,000m peaks for beginners, so you can decide which biggie to bag first.

Breithorn, Switzerland (4,164m)

Cimber on the ridge to the briethorn switzerland

What is it?

Widely regarded as one of the easiest 4,000m peaks in the Alps, the Breithorn is ideal for budding alpinists thanks to the cable car that brings you all the way up to 3,883m. This leaves you just 300m to tackle for the summit. From the Klein Matterhorn lift station, you can follow the route across a glaciated plateau, leading to a ridge to the summit. The ascent takes most climbers a mere three hours to complete.

How to do it?

The cable car can easily be reached from Zermatt, where you can catch the Klein Matterhorn lift from the end of the Mattertal, and due to the Breithorn’s unique position you should get excellent views of the Matterhorn from the summit, providing the weather allows. If this is your first experience climbing at this kind of altitude, we recommend staying the night in the Gandegghütte before your climb. This delightful mountain hut has excellent views and is located a short hike from the Trockener Steg cable car station, where you can get on the final cable car up to Klein Matterhorn and begin your ascent.

Who should do it?

Competent UK hill walkers will find this a great introduction to mountaineering, and hiring a guide is the best way to learn the basics of roping up as well as using an ice axe and crampons on alpine snow. Climb during the summer for the easiest conditions. The more experienced have a further summit to play with if conditions allow.

Allalinhorn, Switzerland (4,027m)

The summit of Allalinhorn, one of the easiest 4,000m peaks in the Alps

Photo: Th.Keilig

What is it?

The Allalinhorn is one of the easiest 4,000m peaks in the Alps for similar reasons to the Breithorn; it’s easily accessible by cable car and involves a short ascent over glaciated terrain. From the summit, you can feast your eyes on views over Monte Rosa, Matterhorn, Weisshorn and the Mont Blanc massif.

How to do it?

Take the cable car from the popular swiss ski resort of Saas-Fee up to the top Mittelallalin station at 3,450m. From here you can follow the normal route to the summit – this is one of the most climbed routes in the Alps, so you should see plenty of other climbers en route to the top. For a longer adventure it is also possible to climb Allalinhorn from the valley in Saas-Fee, stopping at the Längfluh mountain hut overnight.

Who should do it?

Perfect for fit and competent hill walkers, the Allalinhorn is an excellent introduction to alpine mountaineering. Hire a guide and you’ll be able to master the basics of roping up for glacier travel, navigating crevasses and using an ice axe and crampons.

Weissmies, Switzerland (4,017m)

Weismeis, one of the easiest 4,000m peaks to climb for beginners

Photo: Rob Slade

What is it?

Ideal for those looking to bag their second or third 4,000er, the Weissmies offers a little more challenge at the same altitude and with the same jaw dropping views. You’ll still get a helping hand from the Swiss lift system, whether you start your adventure in Saas-Almagell (where you can cut out the first few hundred metres with a chairlift) or Saas-Grund (where the Hohsaas cable car takes you to the base of the normal route).

How to do it?

Those looking for a truly incredible ridge walk should opt for the south ridge route from Saas-Almagell, with an overnight stay in Almageller mountain hut before a summit attempt early the next morning. Those with less experience should stick to the normal route from Saas-Grund, staying overnight in the Weissmies hut or Hohsaas hut (which is slightly closer to the summit.)

Who should do it?

Again, any fit and competent hill walker with experience using crampons and an ice axe should feel confident enough to take on the Weissmies with the assistance of a guide. Those tackling the south ridge route from Saas-Almagell will also need a head for heights and plenty of scrambling experience.

Gran Paradiso, Italy (4,061m)

Gran paradiso in Italy, one of the easiest 4,000m peaks for beginners

What is it?

As the highest mountain located solely in Italy, you might be surprised to find Gran Paradiso making this list of the easiest 4,000m peaks for beginners, but Gran Paradiso is a relatively non-technical climb often used as an acclimatisation for the nearby Mont Blanc. Speaking of which, the summit of Gran Paradiso provides excellent views of the highest peak in the Alps, with panoramic views of snow-smothered mountains and even a Madonna statue at the summit for photo ops.

How to do it?

Climbing Gran Paradiso involves an ascent across glaciated slopes, with a final 50m rock climb to the summit (where fixed bolts are in place for protection). The normal route to the summit departs from the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II, where you will stay overnight before your summit attempt. You can easily reach the mountain hut via mule tracks from Valsavarenche. From the hut, you will need to rope up in order to cross the snow-laden landscape and scramble along the summit ridge. You will need to use the fixed bolts for the final portion of the climb.

Who should do it?

Gran Paradiso is a great peak for those looking to further their mountaineering experience. Ideally you will have used an ice axe and crampons before and have some experience in climbing and scrambling. Hiring a guide will give you the chance to further your alpine skills on this well-known Italian peak.

Essential kit for climbing the easiest 4,000m peaks in the Alps

While these mountains may be dubbed the easiest 4,000m peaks for beginners, they’ll still prove a significant step up from your average UK mountain and therefore require some more technical kit. Alongside a pari of well worn-in B2 mountain boots, here’s the basics you should have packed when hoping to conquer any of the above mountains.