Technical Alpine Icefalls

This ice climbing course is for the more experienced ice climber who wants to make the most of a winter week of ice climbing in the Alps.

Level 3 Instruction & Coaching

5 days, 6 nights

Ratio: 2:1

Prerequisites: Classic Alpine Icefalls Or equivalent

Price: £1745*

* Fully inclusive price

 Course Dates

The course comprises five full days of top-quality ice climbing in such celebrated venues as Kandersteg and Cogne, as well as more remote valleys like Adelboden, Lenk and the Val de Bagnes. We steer clear of overcrowded icefall venues (such as some of those in the Chamonix valley) to give a safer, more aesthetic and adventurous ice climbing experience.

To get the most from the course, you should have had experience of following ice routes of grade IV standard, whether in the Alps or on winter routes in the UK. If you don't already climb at this grade, you may wish to consider our 'Classic Alpine Icefalls' course as preparation.

The aim of the course is to build on your technical skills and ice climbing ability while enjoying classic grade IV and V icefalls in at least two different venues. To achieve this we give continuous expert instruction throughout the week, looking at your climbing technique in detail and trying to ensure that you climb as well and as efficiently as you can.


We adapt the course so that everyone has the right level of challenge. Keen, fit people will have the opportunity to follow routes at grade VI (which have sustained vertical sections) and everybody on the course will greatly increase their ice climbing experience. There are opportunies to learn lead climbing skills for people whose goal is to climb independently.

We operate in small teams and travel by private car, giving us great flexibility to climb where the ice is best and to visit areas/routes which are new to you even if you have joined us many times before. It can be critical whether we head north to the Oberland or to more southern areas - this flexibility, backed by the depth of knowledge of the ISM guides, is the key to giving you a great ice climbing week which won't be ruined by bad weather or poor ice conditions in any particular area.

Is This Course For Me?

On your booking form please mention any ice climbing venues where you have climbed previously. The final plan for the week will take account of your prior experience, the weather, and prevailing conditions in the mountains.

Ability to follow ice routes of grade IV standard and a desire to attempt more challenging climbs led by the guide. Although approaches to the climbs are relatively short, general fitness is important. Icefall climbing at this standard requires good upper body strength such as would be gained by regular rock climbing or regular visits to an indoor climbing wall / gym.

Technical Skills Covered

As on the 'Classic Alpine Icefalls' course, during the week we review skills including: rapid ice screw placement and removal, racking equipment for steep ice, double rope technique, setting up stances and belays, retreating safely from an ice climb, assessing ice conditions, mixed-climbing techniques and adapting technique for higher-grade climbing.

Sample Programme

Sunday - the course convenes at 6.45pm at the Grand Chalet hotel with a briefing meeting with your guide. This is followed by dinner.

Monday (Day 1) - Climbing on the Lauenen Icefalls near Leysin, which offer routes of all grades up to 3 pitches long and in beautiful quiet surroundings. Here we look at your technical skills, analysing climbing technique, coaching when appropriate and refreshing the range of safety skills needed for bigger ice routes later in course.

Tuesday - Friday (Days 2 - 5) - Climbing in two of Switzerland's premier icefall climbing areas, typically the Val d'Herens, Val de Zinal and Val de Bagnes in the Swiss Valais, and the amazing icefall venue of Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland. If the weather is better in the south we can drive through the St Bernard tunnel to the ice-climbing mecca of Cogne. We are happy to be very flexible to ensure that we climb where conditions are best and attempt the routes most suitable for course participants. Our choice of venues will take into account prevailing conditions, the weather forecast and the needs of the group and we use private cars to move rapidly between areas.

Saturday - Breakfast is included at the hotel before departure.

Accommodation throughout the course is in mountain hotels with excellent, plentiful food, helping us to relax, refresh and rest well each night to be ready for another full day on the ice.

Course Dates

Week Start Finish Price  
3 12 Jan 2020 18 Jan 2020 £1745 Full
4 19 Jan 2020 25 Jan 2020 £1745 Full
5 26 Jan 2020 1 Feb 2020 £1745 Full
6 2 Feb 2020 8 Feb 2020 £1745 Full
7 9 Feb 2020 15 Feb 2020 £1745 Full
8 16 Feb 2020 22 Feb 2020 £1745 Full
9 23 Feb 2020 29 Feb 2020 £1745 Full