At Alpinehikers, we emphasize quality over size. Our goal is to offer the finest hiking tours available in the areas we know and love best. We keep our groups small and intimate, never cancelling a tour (our minimum size is 1 person), and you’ll benefit from our own genuine excitement for the Alps and the knowledge that comes from years of personal experience.
We’re committed to offering affordable, first-class vacations filled with exciting discoveries and the world’s best hiking. On our tours, you will get a chance to meet new friends, dive into a different culture, and immerse yourself in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We’ve uncovered the best trails and most breathtaking vistas, found the most authentic restaurants and charming inns, tested the chocolate (it’s all good!), and run through the fields to determine their Heidi factor. We’re picky, and we’ve assembled, I believe, the very best that the Alps have to offer.
We’ll strive to make our trip as ecologically sound as possible, using marked trails, staying in small local inns, using Switzerland’s extensive public transport system, and maintaining respect for the land through which we walk. Traveling as a small group allows us to minimize our impact and visit places that bigger groups just can’t. At Alpinehikers, we love the Alps, and we’re excited to share them with you!
“To us Alpinehikers is kind of like having a friend who’s really knowledgeable about the alps and you can rely on to find some great routes, itineraries and places to stay.”
M. Luigi, 2001 guided Chamonix and 2015 self-guided Dolomites tours
I’m Troy Haines. I was first introduced to the Alps while studying in West Berlin in 1989. On a break from my studies, I made the first of many trips to these wonderful mountains. It was love at first sight. The rugged, imposing power of the surrounding peaks combined with the peaceful, cultural allure of the villages below formed a powerful attraction for me that I have not been able to resist. Time and again I returned to walk the trails, meet wonderful people, and envy the lifestyle of those lucky enough to live in such a beautiful setting. Finally, I moved to the Alps myself, living and working in the hotels in Mürren, and spent many happy summers wandering the trails and discovering new places. We led our first guided tours in the summer of 1999, while I was still a year-round resident in the Alps, and added self-guided tours the next year. I’ve written more on the history of Alpinehikers on our blog.
Before the tours, I earned a degree in linguistics from Stanford University, taught 1st Aid and CPR classes for the American Red Cross, and led rock-climbing, hiking, and cross-country skiing trips. I also owned a bakery for two years (which helps explain my love of Swiss pastries) before moving to Switzerland in 1997. When not with the tours, I love being a Dad and hanging out with my two young kids. I’m also an enthusiastic trail runner, and have competed in a few of the excellent trail races in Switzerland, including the Jungfrau marathon twice. I love meeting and walking with new people in beautiful places, and always look forward to meeting others on these tours who share the same love of life and discovery that I do.
While we currently live in Prescott, AZ, we still travel to Switzerland every summer to lead and organize tours. Our daughter Sidney and son Owen have both spent many happy summers in Mürren. We also organize North American trips to Arizona, California, Colorado and more through our sister site, Rubicon Outdoors. Please also check out our Alpinehikers blog, for a variety of thoughts and essays on Switzerland and travel.
As the founder and owner of Alpinehikers, I am intimately involved in every detail of our tours. I am also ultimately concerned with your safety and satisfaction. For us, these tours are a labor of love. We’ll be there every step of the way with support, encouragement, and (hopefully) interesting facts and stories of the country we’ll be seeing. I lead many of our tours personally, and we also have a small group of superb guides who will accompany you on your tour. They all bring considerable enthusiasm, professionalism, and a wide variety of knowledge to share with those around them.
Growing up in British Columbia, Hayden Buck spent his youth exploring the temperate rainforests of western North America. Once the snowboarding bug bit him in 1995, it was extremely rare to find him anywhere but in the mountains. After taking a break from completing his studies in Criminal Justice to travel Australia and New Zealand, his lifelong dream of being a police officer shifted and his dreams of guiding began. From hiking in the Himalaya to living in Hokkaido, Japan for almost 12 years, living abroad has become a way of life.
Hayden now calls Munich home, but his heart still lives in the mountains. The Alps are some of Hayden’s favorite peaks, not just for their majesty, but also the historical significance of places like Lagazuoi in the Dolomites, and Grindelwald in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland, where some of Canada’s first mountain explorers made their mark.
That’s where you’ll find him guiding – with a permanent smile and a commitment to help his guests gain grins of their own!
“Our guides were Matt Brown and Hayden Buck. They were GREAT! A big fat “thank you” to both of them for creating such a memorable trip! They could not have done any better!”
“Hayden is a teriffic guide: helpful, knowledgeable, funny, and generous. I’d love to hike with him again.”
Mountains are in Brant Kilber‘s blood. Growing up in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, as a child and young adult he scrambled through much of the neighboring Cascade Range from Mt. Hood to Mt. Rainier, Mt. Olympus, Mt. Saint Helens, and Mt. Baker. On his most recent trip to Switzerland, Brant and a fellow guide climbed Monta Rosa, the second highest peak in Europe, a highlight for him.
He is also very familiar with European customs with a cultural understanding that runs deep. Brant spent four years living in Germany, both of his children were born there, and he describes his wife Beate’s hometown in southern Germany like a romantic thread that ties them both to the Alps. “When it’s clear, you can look across Lake Constance and see the Alps. Her father was a mountain climber and they spent a lot of time hiking around there together.” Brant is truly at home in the Alps and is always at ease, whether chatting with a local farmer or savoring a gourmet meal in a 5-star hotel, leading a leisurely hike or rising before sunrise for the chance to explore a new trail.
A carpenter and cabinet maker in Portland, Oregon in his off-season, Brant is also a well-informed naturalist and photographer ready to share his knowledge of birds and wildflowers with interested guests. Many of his photos grace the Alpinehikers’ website. He started guiding with Alpinehikers in 2000 and has led tours in Switzerland almost every summer since then… and he is always excited to go back. “I just find it fascinating being there. There is still so much to explore, to do and see. I love going to new places, but I love going back to places, too. I look forward to every single one of them.”
“I appreciated how Brant and Zach hung out with each one of us individually during the trek. They both have a lot of knowledge of the area and skill in how to encourage and make each member of the group feel included and important. The group had a wide variety of personalities and yet they handled all with class and skill. They were great fun while also looking out for each of us. Without a doubt the guides made the trip over the top fun and successful.”
Before talking with Zach Dahlmer, you might not know there’s world-class surfing to be had off the coast of Nova Scotia. As one of his first adventure playgrounds, those waters gave Zach some of his most significant encounters with the sheer strength of nature — and the meaning of responsibility. Now, as a professional outdoor guide, Zach calls on that responsibility and those life lessons on a daily basis.
Zach focused his degree in Adventure Education on the educational and interpersonal aspects of outdoor adventure with small groups. “It helps me understand students and clients needs on many levels; to know when to offer a challenge. They’re at a point of stretching, of growth, while they’re out there. My job is to have fun with people and meet them where they are.”
Certified as a Wilderness First Responder and trained in a wide range of skills such as backpacking, climbing, sea kayaking and wilderness navigation, Zach spent the last three years guiding in the mountains and canyons of the U.S. Southwest and the nine years prior to that as a sail charter guide. His favorite part of leading a group is the chance he gets to share his passion for wild places, “to offer them the chance to interact with the world and each other in a very real way.”
“Zach and Heather were both competent, friendly and encouraging. As a person who does not know much about Switzerland (I know more now) I would not have been surprised to find that my questions to the guides were tiresome to them. However, I thought they always displayed good humor and patience. I appreciated that. I also noticed that as some of us struggled a little (on steep descents etc.) that Zach kept his eye on all of us. He helped as needed but avoided smothering us or making anyone feel, through well meaning solicitations – are you okay? – that anyone was having a hard time or should be concerned. In short, he had the perfect touch for a group leader and that did not go unnoticed.”
Abby Strauss-Malcolm believes in dynamic balance — stretching comfort zones — life as an experience of change and growth. She’s always willing to get out there to experience things for herself, and she’s ready with an outstretched hand and quick laugh to encourage anyone who wants to join her.
Abby’s approach to leading a fulfilling life: “Time spent sharing incredible places with a group, moving through the landscape on foot, enjoying good conversation and food, and inspiring people to reach their goals and attain new heights.”
After years of travel, being ready to root, Abby now calls Gloucester, Massachusetts home. She works in our office heading up sales, designing tours, scheduling guides and helping create seamless logistical flow for our private guided, guided and self-guided tours.
Being able to guide professionally has given her the opportunity to explore widely from Israel and Jordan, to Mexico, Canada, Alaska, Thailand, India, Vietnam, Singapore, Burma, and much of Europe.
“Our guide, Abby, was excellent. Just loved her!! The whole trip was like a dream come true.”
“Your talent in reading our group and making arrangements to accommodate the varying needs of everybody made it all seem effortless to us, which I know required a lot of quiet behind the scenes effort on your part. You are a great guide.”
Matt Hart believes in the power of wild and natural places. His biggest passion is being able to share new and exciting places with anyone who wants to get out on the trail. While he may be a classically trained chef, his path brought him to Prescott College where he earned a degree in Educational Use of Adventure and Wilderness. As a skilled outdoorsman, you can find him paddling, riding, climbing and trekking through just about any type of environment. Matt loves the perspective and growth opportunities the outdoors affords that can’t be duplicated in any other setting. and he is great at helping other people step outside their comfort zones to achieve their own personal best. “When you’re out like that, you get to know yourself and others in a truer sense. It’s transformative.”
Growing up in Colorado, Matt developed a strong sense of self through his time in the mountains and hills surrounding his home. More than anything, Matt is thrilled by the chance to make a career from activities normally relegated to weekends or vacation. “I’m really happy. There aren’t too many people that get to go to Grand Canyon, the coast of California, the Alps, the Himalayas, and the rainforest within a calendar year.” Matt’s work with Alpinehikers in Switzerland builds on his experiences guiding and teaching in the American Southwest, India, and Central America. When not guiding, Matt works as a photographer and an educator utilizing a variety of methodologies and educational theories to bring high academic standards to non traditional settings with young people and adults alike. Matt often posts photos and thoughts on his guiding and teaching experiences on his blog, Viewfinder Dispatch.
“I was very happy to not have to open a map the entire trip. Matt was so comfortable with his directions it was like taking a walk in his neighborhood.”
“It was a fabulous trip. Matt was a great guide. Very knowledgeable and a joy to spend 4 days with.”
Jimmy Marshment-Howell has a passion for adventure matched by his eagerness to lead the way for others. As a professional outdoor guide, Jimmy’s spent the last twelve years leading wilderness canoe trips in northern Wisconsin, whitewater rafting trips on the San Juan River, archaeological expeditions in the canyons of Utah, backpacking trips in the canyons of Arizona and mountains of Colorado, and snowboarding instruction in the Alps and the Black Forest.
Jimmy trained at Prescott College in ski mountaineering, technical whitewater, expedition logistics, and group management. His degree program in Outdoor Experiential Education and Wilderness Leadership took him to mountain ranges and rivers from southern California to Alaska. From there, Jimmy became the Head Guide at the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, where he planned and managed a variety of expeditions combining adventure and environmental education on the Colorado Plateau. During that time, Jimmy broadened his horizons guiding commercial rafting trips for Wild Rivers on the San Juan and summer camp groups at Deer Hill Expeditions.
Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Forest Science from the University of Freiburg in southwestern Germany,Jimmy is reconnecting with the city where as a child he first learned to love hiking among castles and forests. Fluent in German, Jimmy explores languages with the fascination he brings to climbing peaks. The Alps are his perfect workshop for experiencing other cultures in a landscape rich with history and natural beauty: an outdoor adventure playground like no other.
“Jimmy Marshment-Howell is a great guide; very intuitive on group dynamics (not coddling or overly solicitous), calm and he makes great trail sandwiches! I really enjoyed his company and our wide ranging conversations, how he fit so well with our group (despite being about 30 years younger). He worked hard to keep things moving well and it was obvious to me that his day preparations started much earlier than ours.”
Lena Bain’s love for the outdoors began early in life among the steep mountains and silty rivers of the American Southwest. A child of the river, her parents brought her on her first multi-day rafting trip at nine months old – and she hasn’t missed a season since! Lena began skiing several years later and immediately found the rhythm that would dominate her life: play in the rivers in the summer, play in the mountains in the winter.
She obtained her river guide license at 18 and shared her love of the outdoors as a whitewater rafting guide on the San Juan and Colorado Rivers for eight years. During that time she also spent four winter seasons as a certified ski instructor in Arizona, Utah and Germany. Determined to improve her skills as an educator and Spanish speaker, Lena lived in Spain for one year teaching English as a second language and exploring the Pyrenees in her free time.
Lena is a self-described nerd for social psychology – specifically the concept of ‘outdoor communities’. As an undergraduate at Westminster College, her desire to create effective wilderness communities motivated her to write her thesis on the topic: Wilderness Experience Facilitation: A Qualitative Look at Whitewater Guiding on the San Juan River of Southern Utah. Lena has just finished her M.A. in Community Psychology at the University of New Haven and looks forward to incorporating her new understanding of healthy communities into her career as a hiking guide.
“Just wanted to let you know what an absolute blast we had hiking with Jimmy and Lena on our hike through the Bernese Oberland! It was my husband and I with our sons (ages 22 and 16). Everything was absolutely perfect. We enjoyed each of the inns that we stayed at, the meals, and the group of people we hiked with. Jimmy and Lena were expert guides that really exceeded our expectations. Our sons are very physically fit and able to hike quite fast. The guides were able to balance the boys needs with the rest of the group. Additionally, there were days that Jimmy or Lena were willing to do an additional hike with the boys when the rest of us had enough. I cannot tell you enough how happy we were with both Jimmy and Lena! They are the best.”
Bruno Yates considers himself extremely lucky to have grown up on the beautiful island of Jersey, part of The British Isles, but only a stone’s throw from the coast of France. Long summers spent playing on the beaches, swimming and sea kayaking, led to a lasting fascination with the outdoors and consequently a degree in Sports Science and Physical Geography. While on the mainland of Britain, he also discovered the fantastic mountains of the Lake District, Snowdonia and the Highlands of Scotland.
Bruno is an International Mountain Leader and a British Mountaineering Instructor. These qualifications have led to a variety of interesting work including guiding groups in far flung places (Greenland, Japan, India and Namibia to name a few) and teaching rock climbing and mountaineering in the United Kingdom. He worked at an Outward Bound School for several years and then as a college lecturer in Outdoor Education before becoming a freelance guide in 2011. He’s still an Associate Instructor at Outward Bound and also works for a charity which uses the mountain environment to help veterans struggling with PTSD.
“I love my job because of the variety of beautiful places it takes me to and the variety of people I get to work with, all age groups, nationalities and backgrounds. I’m blessed to live on the shores of the stunning Lac d’Annecy in France with The Aravis Mountains on the doorstep and Mont Blanc only an hour away. In my free-time you’ll find me either running, climbing, canoeing, swimming, cycling or skiing. The mountain environment is a unique place to escape the hum drum – a place to be grounded and re-connect with some of life’s simple pleasures.”
“Bruno was a fantastic guide – very professional and had a ton of insight into the region. He made the experience extra special.”
“Bruno was terrific! He tended to all of our needs and was flexible with options throughout the trip.”
Eryka Thorley knows adventure. With Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as her childhood playground, Eryka quickly learned the draw of outdoor sports and grew up loving the challenges and adventures they entail.
She fine-tuned her appreciation for hiking, bikes, climbing and a fly rod while away at college in Montana. Skiing still topped her list, though, and starting in 2005 she added ski patrol to her list of job titles. In 2010 Eryka worked as a mountaineering guide on Mt Rainier in the Cascades of Washington. Here her love for the culture of mountains grew including the influence of two expeditions to Greenland (2011 and 2012). In 2012, Eryka’s cultural curiosity led her to graduate school at the University of Colorado Denver where she received a M.A. in Medical Anthropology with a focus on climate change communication. In addition to raising an adorable little lady named Wynter, Eryka is a 200 hour certified yoga teacher, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Leave No Trace Trainer.
Eryka lives to travel. Her thirst for adventure has taken her on the world’s longest kayak relay in Finland, leading dog sled expeditions in Greenland, studying health in rural Guatemala, and 75 consecutive days in a tent in the Alaskan wilderness. It is not the summit of mountains that draws Eryka to the alpine world, but the elegant dance of people and environment that she finds there.
Jakub Doubic brings an irresistible sense of fun to every adventure. Born and raised in the Czech Republic, Jakub is a global citizen. Traveling from Europe to the US and Canada, north Africa, and Asia, he has made the whole world his playground for mountain biking, rock climbing, mountaineering, ocean windsurfing, kitesurfing, and diving. His masters degree in computer engineering certainly did not keep him from his passion for the outdoors and his gift with group leadership.
“Life is a never ending learning process for me. New places and guests make it interesting every summer. New challenges to approach and solve, new people to meet. I am inspired by our bigsmall planet – how can you get bored?”
Jakub’s depth and breadth of experience comes from many years as a guide and instructor helping people of all ability levels with hiking, skiing, biking, and rock climbing.
“My favourite part of leading the group is sharing the great outdoor places worth visiting with our guests. With the right approach, everyone can enjoy it!”
While most of our tours take place in the summer, planning happens year-round. Deborah Charlap and Mike Cullen work in the office all year, and have each made multiple trips to Switzerland. Troy Haines, Matt Hart, Abby Strauss-Malcolm, Eryka Thorley, and Zach Dahlmer all guide our tours for much of the summer and work in the office the rest of the year. We take turns relocating to the Alps each summer to support our self-guided hikers and guides.
With our tight knit staff, you know you’ll never get lost in the shuffle, and are sure to find someone who can answer your questions thoughtfully and knowledgeably.
Deborah Charlap manages administrative operations and marketing for Alpinehikers. She explores new opportunities to make our office an effective, engaged workplace and celebrates the ways that everyone’s adventures contribute to our company’s story. “I’ve never considered myself an explorer and now I work surrounded by professional guides… Their enthusiasm is contagious! It’s made me more eager to find the adventures in everyday life and just get out there more.”
Some of Deb’s adventures include homesteading in rural Arizona and training companion and working dogs. A magical trip to Switzerland in the summer of 2013 marked her transformation from occasional hiker to avid adventurer. “There was this Sound-of-Music-style moment — alone in an alpine meadow, surrounded by yellow globe flowers and towering white peaks… It’s an incredible place to stretch your boundaries.”
Mike Cullen took forever to sit down and write this blurb about himself! In fact, he’s too busy answering email questions, editing, printing, and shipping your tour materials to think about himself enough to write any more than what you see here! He does love fly fishing, watching English Premier League matches, hiking, tinkering in his garage, and traveling with his lovely wife, Layla.
Michelle Willix knows the meaning of perseverance. A mental health therapist for children and adults with histories of trauma and abuse, Michelle sees the power of finding and fostering a can-do attitude toward life. Her personal experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada in 1997 (before cell phones or extensive internet!) was the jumping off point for her parallel career in adventure travel.
In 1997 she traveled to Costa Rica for a short trip and ended up staying for nine months, learning Spanish, and working as a waitress and an off-shore bookie to pay the bills. Volunteering has brought her many more adventures, from teaching snow sports to people with physical and mental disabilities, to giving sea kayaking lessons and working with traumatized kids at an orphanage in Peru.
Since 2003, Michelle has migrated from her home in Boulder, CO to the Alps to recharge her batteries guiding and supporting our self-guided hikers. “I walk through the Alps taking a zillion pictures… Even though I’ve been there so often, I find new joy each time I’m in Switzerland.” A highly dedicated guide with Wilderness First Aid certification and experience in a wide variety of outdoor sports, it is Michelle’s achievements in personal growth through wilderness challenge that make her most valuable to her guests. She says her ‘aha’ moment on the Pacific Crest Trail was a recognition that “I can do a whole lot more than maybe I had given myself credit for.” Michelle brings that positivity everywhere she goes and it lights up her trips with contagious energy and excitement.
If you have any questions about a tour or destination, please feel to call or email anytime. We’re always happy to talk about the tours and your particular needs, and are normally in the office Mon-Fri from 9:00 – 4:30. If we don’t pick up, it just means we’re busy or away for a moment, so please leave a message and we’ll call you right back. We are located in the mountains of Northern Arizona, which is on Pacific time from early Nov to mid-March and Mountain time otherwise.
329 S Montezuma St.
Prescott, AZ 86303