ISM - International School of Mountaineering
"....because it's there...." - George Mallory
" ....because it's fun...." - Joe Brown
" The one thing that matters among mountains is that we enjoy them." - W. H. Murray
ISM (the International School of Mountaineering Limited) is widely recognised as the foremost organisation of its kind. Since 1965 we have been running the most extensive programme of alpine mountaineering courses available to English-speakers internationally. This is coupled with a range of 'Haute Route' treks across the Alps in summer, with Ski Tours and Off-piste skiing courses throughout the spring, and with ice climbing courses in the winter months. Countless people have discovered the mountains through ISM; experienced climbers return time after time to enjoy and progress through our wide-ranging alpine programme and perhaps share the great adventure of an ISM expedition.
Mountaineering is no dry academic subject. It is a shared adventure that gives joy and lasting satisfaction to those who participate. The International School of Mountaineering is a 'school' in that we teach best and safest practice in all the arts of mountaineering - but we are not institutionalised. We take great pride in gearing our activities to individual needs, and our satisfaction lies in seeing our clients develop into competent mountaineers who often achieve more than they ever thought possible.
Many people have come to us as complete beginners and gone on to make challenging first ascents in remote mountain regions. Others have set their sights on achieving all the great 4000m peaks of the Alps - we are delighted to help them attain this goal. On our instructional courses we have a highly successful approach to skills teaching whereby people do as much as possible for themselves (while receiving the best tuition). This is well-proven as the most effective way to gain skills and knowledge. As various ISM brochures have frequently stated throughout our history, "with ISM, you progress as fast and as far as your ability allows".
The internationally accredited IFMGA Mountain Guides and Aspirant Guides who make up the ISM team are not only dedicated professionals; they are also devoted amateurs who pursue their sport for pleasure. The best climbing courses are run by people with a passion for the mountains - a key factor in the ongoing success of ISM.
Our long experience has given us unrivalled knowledge of the Alps, enabling us to take full advantage of the amazing variety of alpine areas within reach of our Leysin base. Several ISM Guides live in the Alps all year round, keeping closely in touch with conditions in the mountains. As a guiding team having a range of specialities, we work closely together and constantly 'pool' our knowledge. This expertise is reflected in our courses, helping us to achieve more with our clients and to maintain an outstanding safety record.
Why Choose ISM?
Our pedigree speaks for itself
Founded in 1965, ISM is by far the longest established provider of Alpine courses to English speaking clients. The majority of our clients come from the UK, although we attract English speaking clients from all over the world.Read More
The ISM Team
ISM Director and IFMGA British Mountain Guide
As a Director of ISM, Adrian splits his time between guiding, the ISM office, family and climbing for himself. During his 25 year commitment to the team, Adrian has played a key role in the development of ISM.Read More
IFMGA Italian Mountain Guide
Tommaso is a an experienced Italian mountain guide and regular year-round ISM team member. He loves the mountains and helping people to connect and find happiness in nature.Read More
IFMGA Swedish Mountain Guide
Christian was born in Sweden and had his first skiing experience in Austria as a youngster.Read More
IFMGA Swedish Mountain Guide
Christian likes exploring the mountains in any mountain range and particularly loves the solitude and wilderness of northern Scandinavia.Read More
In the early sixties an ex-fighter pilot named John Harlin lived and worked in Leysin at the American College of Switzerland. A very determined and charismatic mountaineer, he was eventually joined there by Royal Robbins. Leysin became the 'basecamp' for leading American and British alpinists of the day, such as Gary Hemming, Layton Kor, Dougal Haston and Don Whillans. They began exploring the Leysin Tours (limestone towers above Leysin up to 500ft high) and many of the classic routes bear their names.
At that time there were still 'last great problems' to be solved in the Alps. The South face of the Fou was unclimbed and there were no 'Directissimas' on the Dru West Face or the Eiger Nordwand. With Robbins, Harlin succeeded on the first two objectives; then in 1965 he made another far-reaching contribution to mountaineering by founding ISM.Read More
Testimonials For ISM
“What an incredible week learning the basics of Mountaineering. The course is perfectly balanced between summiting high alpine peaks and learning rope, climbing and glacier skills.
The classic alpinism course last week led by Swedish Daniel was excellent! The itinerary was really well planned taking into account the less than perfect weather and the abilities and aspirations of the group - we all learned loads.
Classic AlpinISM (Instructional Course)
Just a quick word of thanks for the course last week. Our guide Tom was excellent and covered a lot of miles to ensure we got the best conditions and great routes in and was always ready with a word or two of advice when needed - please pass my thanks on to him,
Classic Alpine Rock