This is very much a sample program of the course as many different combinations of these peaks and climbs are possible. We finalise our plan to make the most of weather conditions and taking into account your previous experience/ascents.
The course starts with participants and guides meeting at 7.00pm at Le Grand Chalet hotel in Leysin. This is the chance for the guides to give a thorough briefing and discuss the detailed plan for the week with you - and for you to ask any questions that you may have!
After sorting out any particular equipment requirements, we travel up the Rhône valley to Visp and then via the Saastal to Saas Fee (1.5 hrs.). A short cable car ride takes us up to Plattjen at 2570m. A good track leads from here via a glacier to the Britannia hut (3030m). Alternatively, we can take the Felskinn lift and spend some time on the glacier refreshing techniques with crampons and axe, if this is more appropriate. We spend the night at the recently renovated and friendly Britannia hut.
Our first major objective is the Allalinhorn (4027m). Our preference is not to take the normal route but to climb the superb Hohlaubgrat - an excellent mixed climb up a gradually narrowing and steepening ridge. An early start from the hut takes us down onto the Hohlaub glacier, which we ascend easily to the base of the ridge. The initial easy snow slopes become steadily steeper and icier as we climb, eventually becoming a narrow crest. A rock band just below the summit provides the crux (grade III) pitch. We descend, via the easier normal route, down the massive Feegletscher to the Langfluh hotel at 2870m.
Another pre-dawn start takes us up a different arm of the Feegletscher to reach the Alphubeljoch (3782m) in about 2.5 hours. From here we ascend the SE ridge of the Alphubel (4206m), which starts as a pleasant snow ridge over Pt 3904m then steepens at a rock band. With good snow cover we keep to the right flank, but if icy the delicate rock ridge itself is followed to the easier-angled upper slope (and the huge whaleback summit plateau which is such a distinctive feature of the region). If time presses we can descend by the E flank to Langflue, or retrace our steps to the Alphubeljoch and from there traverse another important summit - the Feechopf (3888m) before descending the glacier to Mittel Allalin and taking the Alpine Metro & cablecar down into Saas Fee, for a well-deserved rest and evening out in the valley. Overnight hotel.
We can enjoy a relaxed start in the morning, with a bit of time to look around Saas Fee, before we start the long and steep walk up to the Mischabel hut. A lift can take us part of the way, but there is still 1100m of zigzagging up steep rocky ground (some of it equipped with chains) to reach the hut, which is superbly situated at 3329m and has stunning views of the peaks surrounding the Saas valley.
Another alpine start takes us up to and across the Hohbalm glacier. We then climb the steeper slope up to the Windjoch. From here, we follow the splendid narrow snowy and rocky crest of the NE Ridge up to the summit of the Nadelhorn (4327m). In good conditions, the climbing is exposed rather than difficult, although in icy conditions it can feel difficult enough! We descend by the same route to the Mischabel hut where we stay a second night.
For our last day we have several options. For a shorter but more technical mountaineering day we can climb the SE ridge of the Ulrichshorn (3925m) taking in a couple of interesting rock pitches, or we can have a technical session of ice climbing & crevasse rescue on the glacier. Finally we have the option of descending to the valley in the morning and doing some rock climbing on our way back to Leysin. The choice is yours unless the weather decides for us! We return to our hotel in Leysin for a debrief, a good dinner, and a sociable evening.
Breakfast at the hotel is included before departure.