Participants must have mountaineering experience (either gained at ISM or elsewhere) and be conversant with the range of skills and techniques demanded by Alpine climbing (i.e. those taught within our Summits & Skills/Technical Alpinism instructional course programme).
The Andes expedition has a relatively set itinerary and involves mountaineering at alpine AD standard and ice climbing at grade III. On the Tien Shan expeditions we go to remote areas which offer a variety of objectives at different standards. Here fitness, enthusiasm and a taste for adventure are more important than climbing grade.
'Alpine-style' means applying the style of climbing normally practised in the Alps to higher mountains. It is a lightweight, environmentally friendly approach to mountaineering which rejects tactics like using fixed ropes to overcome difficult sections and to shuttle between fixed camps. On our trips you climb the mountain properly using your own climbing skill to overcome difficult terrain. The guides are there to take care of the safety aspects, giving protection with the rope whenever necessary. They don't fix ropes for people to jumar up behind them - if you want to reach the summit, you have to climb there! In our considerable experience, mountaineering 'alpine-style' always gives the greatest satisfaction and sense of achievement.
Andes Summits (late May / early June)
The Cordillera Blanca of Peru is an enchanting mountain range, containing some of the world's most beautiful mountains. On this 3-week trip we enjoy mountaineering in the Cordillera Blanca to the full by climbing in two different areas, beginning in the secluded Ishinka valley, working up to an ascent of Tocllaraju (a superb 6000m peak), then travelling north to devote the second part of the trip to climbing the impressive Chopicalqui (6400m), a superb summit in the Huascaran region.
For people with Alpine and ice-climbing experience, we recommend this as an ideal first expedition to the greater ranges.
Virgin Peaks of the Tien Shan (late Aug - early Sept)
Since 1995 Pat Littlejohn and Adrian Nelhams have been running adventurous expeditions to little-explored mountain ranges in Central Asia, making the first ascents of around fifty peaks, many of them stunning summits and among the most important in their area. Several of the trips have been documented in 'High' magazine and other mountaineering journals. An opportunity to combine fantastic mountaineering with genuine exploration.
These expeditions visit very remote areas and can involve tough conditions in the high camps. They are recommended for people who are adventurous, hardy, and who have had at least two alpine climbing trips and/or previous expedition experience.