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Personal Guiding & Custom Courses - Winter

If you have ice-climbing objectives or particular destinations in mind which are outside the scope of our course programme, we can help you achieve your goals through Personal Guiding.

ISM offers this service throughout January and February, normally in 5 or 6-day blocks but often shorter blocks are possible. Personal Guiding opens up a huge range of objectives, and to give you an idea of the type of assignment we undertake examples are given below.

We offer Personal Guiding at 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3 ratios, and the rates charged for these services are for GUIDING ONLY (please contact the UK office for current rates - tel: +44 (0)1539 721561).

Clients have to cover the expenses for their trip with local currency (although nowadays most huts, valley accommodation and cable cars may be paid for by credit card). Expenses vary greatly according to the itinerary you wish to follow, but we will give you as good an estimate as we can when you enquire.

Custom Courses for icefall climbing can be organised any time throughout January and February, both for individuals and for any sized climbing team.

Typically they follow itineraries (or run at destinations) which are different from those offered within our course programme, or they may be one of our regular itineraries arranged for a private group.

We can arrange an Ice Climbing Custom Course in any part of the Alps, and just as on our courses, we work out an all-inclusive price for you.

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One-day Preparation for any of our ice courses has been popular in recent years. It typically happens on a Sunday and gives a chance to 'brush off the cobwebs' and get into the swing of climbing if you have had a bit of a break from climbing activities. It is also a chance to get back into the swing of using your technical equipment and to run through important skills like knots, rope work and belaying, so that you are quick and slick in the basics before your course.

We are happy to discuss any plan you have in mind - please contact Sally at the ISM office (+44 (0)1539 721561 ism@alpin-ism.com

Some Custom Course and Personal Guiding assignments of recent winters

Icefall Climbing at La Grave, Ecrins massif. La Grave is the icefall-climbing Mecca of the southern Alps, characterised by long, high quality climbs with very easy access (several are roadside) and generally clear, cold weather (300+days of sunshine per year). We visit the area in a 5.5-day trip from Leysin (leaving Saturday pm, returning Friday evening) which can be arranged as Personal Guiding or as a Custom Course.

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Central Switzerland Icefalls

A tour of the ice-climbing areas in Central Switzerland can give a superb week full of interest and variety. The granite area Wassen just north of Andermatt is an ideal place to start the tour, which would probably take in the famousMeienlochfall (grade 3) which at 1360m altitude gives a stunning and reliable 3 pitch classic on the way to the Susten pass. For ice routes on a grand scale the magnificent ice slabs at Scollenen give routes up to 500m long at grades 3 & 4. Engelberg is a beautiful limestone area offering very reliable ice conditions being at an altitude of 2000m, and for people operating at grades V & VI areas such as Graustock and Zonkare countless challenges.

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Winter Alpine Mountaineering

While the scope for mountaineering in the Alps in winter is far more limited than in summer, some very worthwhile objectives are possible in areas which can be accessed using the ski lift systems. With a tiny fraction of people climbing compared to summer, the Alps seem to take on a new scale and feel more like the Greater Ranges.

You must be well equipped for the cold and have a flexible approach to take advantage of whatever objectives are possible, but if you prefer mixed mountaineering to icefall climbing and are happy to approach on snow shoes or skis, a great mountaineering week is possible in either the Mt Blanc Massif, Swiss Valais or the Bernese Oberland.