This is My Story
I am the first American guide to have obtained International IFMGA/UIAGM certification. This is the highest professional qualification available in mountaineering. UIAGM certification is mandatory to guide in the Alps. I am dedicated to providing you with safe, professional, quality climbing and skiing programs whether you are a novice or an expert. Guiding is a very old tradition here in the Alps and guides take their job very seriously. I have lived in Europe for more than 30 years, I speak 4 languages, I did all of my guide training in Europe and passed my exams in France at the ENSA. It wasn’t given to me – I earned every single part of it.
I know my profession inside and out. This isn’t about my vacation climbing trip – I’m here to help make sure it’s all about you. I won’t spend all my time asking the obvious questions on where to go or how to get there. I’ll take us straight to the goods – unlike many “foreign guides” who are (amazingly) clueless…
Guiding is what I do. It is not a part time activity nor a hobby, but more a way of life and most certainly a passion!
So what makes hiring me special?
Most people realize that by hiring a mountain guide you reduce the risks involved with mountain related sports. You can also take advantage of climbing and skiing in places where you probably would not go alone. But did you also know that an enormous amount of climbing and skiing can be packed into a holiday in the company of a mountain guide. Trying to resource all the info and beta on your own in a foreign country can be a daunting task. If you are looking to optimise your time here – and not miss the weather window – hiring a guide can be well worth the expense.
If you end up only doing a small percentage of what you wanted to – what is the better choice ? Optimise your time here, and make tracks instead of following them…
I mean most guides find this alone to be a massive challenge.
Name: Francis Kelsey
Birthday: March 16
School: ENSA – Chamonix, France
Favorite vacation: I’m always on vacation
Favorite book: Guide books
Favorite type of music: I enjoy discovering all types
Favorite movie: Anything that involves mountains
Favorite quote: Detends toi, ca va bien se passer –
Relax, everything’s gonna work out
a little history
I am a professional mountain & ski guide. I have been guiding now since 1992. I have always been into the mountains – skiing at age 4 and secretly sneaking away for overnight bivouacs in the mountains behind my parents house. At age 13, I decided to pursue my airy scrambles for something that looked a bit more fun. I went to work as an assistant bringing out other young teenagers on exciting hiking and more importantly to me, climbing outings. One thing led to another and before I knew it my world evolved around the mountains. At the age of 18 I moved to France to pursue my passions, later becoming actively involved with the French Alpine Club in Dijon and organizing outings and putting up climbing routes here and there in Burgundy. In 1992, I entered the infamous ENSA or French guides school in Chamonix and became the first American to receive international certification (UIAGM/IFMGA) through this prestigious school. Since then I have been making my living as a full time professional guide, climbing and skiing in many of the worlds great mountain ranges. I speak fluent French, some Italian and I am now learning German.
Previously I have worked as a technical consultant for Petzl, and Grivel.
I have a great passion for steep skiing. and for a number of years I guided with Stages Vallençant guide bureau. Unfortunately, they are no longer in existence.
The office was founded by the late extreme skier, Patrick Vallençant and some of his friends in 1977.
Contact me to organize your next outing
some climbs I have guided
- Eiger: North Face Lauper route; the Mittellegi Ridge, West face.
- Mönch: Nollen Route
- Dent Blanche
- Matterhorn: the traverse, Hörnli Ridge, Zmutt ridge.
- Grandes Jorasses : Shroud and Hirondelles ridge.
- Mont Blanc: various routes (more times than I can remember) including the traverse from the Aiguille du Midi, the Grands Mulets and the Gouter, Brenva Spur, Innominata ridge, Aiguilles Grises…
- Grand Capucin : Bonatti route.
- Les Drus : Traverse.
- Les Courtes: Swiss, Austrian & NNEast routes.
- La Verte : Couturier couloir, Whymper couloir.
- Aig. du Midi: Frendo spur, Mallory, Tournier…
- M Blanc du Tacul: Supercouloir, Gervasutti pillar.
- + 100’s of other routes throughout the Alps.
- Aconcagua: the Polish Glacier and the Normal Route.
- Sierra Nevadas, Colorado, Utah, Washington state….
some ski descents I have guided
Eiger : West face.
Tour Ronde: North Face, Gervasutti couloir.
La Verte: Whymper couloir.
Les Courtes: NNEast route.
Aig. de Blaitiere: Spencer couloir.
M Blanc du Tacul: Couloir du Diable.
+ 100’s of other crazy, wild stuff….
what does it take to make the grade as an ifmga guide
why hire me
So what makes hiring me special? Most people realize that by hiring a mountain guide you reduce the risks involved with mountain related sports. You can also take advantage of climbing and skiing in places where you probably would not go alone. But did you also know that an enormous amount of climbing and skiing can be packed into a holiday in the company of a mountain guide. How many times have I seen people come and want to do it all on their own, which may be fine, but spend half their time trying to find out about the route or weather and end up missing the window…
If you end up only doing a small percentage of what you wanted to – what is the better choice ? Optimize your time here, and make tracks instead of following them…
- I personally guide my trips whenever I possibly can. I believe in that it is nearly impossible to offer a high level of commitment and responsibility unless you are out there yourself. I also on the occasion, ask fellow guides to assist me especially during the peak months. All guides are internationally certified UIAGM/IFMGA guides – This is the highest qualification available in mountaineering. And one I have dedicated my life to. This is also a mandatory qualification to guide in Europe.
- I am an independent guide and therefore have much more freedom to offer you a singular, worthwhile experience while in the mountains. Customized trips are what I do best.
- Small climber to guide ratios are of the utmost importance when considering hiring a guide. I offer the lowest ratios I know of – any program I offer can also be done on private basis. Bigger numbers means less time spent learning, less safety and far less flexibility, all very important issues to remember…to get the most out of your mountain holiday.
- What I do goes far beyond being just a “job” or a summertime hobby. Guiding is a full time commitment for me. It is a lifelong passion of mine and one that I wish to pass on along to you.
- I have extensive knowledge of the Alps. I know where to go and better yet when to go there. This allows you to take advantage of the best possible conditions and get the most out of your holiday. What could be better than getting a first hand account from myself having climbed or skied the route that same morning !
- Local transportation is included in all of my programs. I live here year round and offer transportation in my personal vehicle. By signing up for one of my programs you are certain to be spending as much time in the mountains as we can. There is no figuring out where to go and how to get there – spend your time (and money) wisely.
- By working with other guides in Europe and in the USA, I am able to share and learn new techniques, developments and information in the world of mountaineering.
- You also have the opportunity to demo the latest gear from any one of my partners. Be on the cutting edge.