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Classic 4000m - Swiss Valais

The highest peaks of the Alps have a special allure and the Saas and Zermatt regions of the Swiss Valais have the greatest concentration of 4000m peaks in the Alps.

Level 2 Guiding & Coaching

6 days, 7 nights

Ratio: 3:1

Prerequisites: Summits & Skills 4000m (Instructional Course) Or equivalent

Price: £1545

 Course Dates

Many of these can be ascended without encountering great technical difficulty, and it is the classic routes on these great peaks that we shall be climbing throughout this course.

Course Highlights

  • A guided climbing week of classic routes around Saas Fee
  • Expert guiding and instruction from experienced ISM Guides
  • Price includes all food, vehicle transport and accommodation (excludes mechanical uplift*)
Nadelhorn 6 Copy

We enjoy a fantastic week, climbing as many of the classic 4000m peaks in the Swiss Valais region as possible. Some previous mountaineering experience is necessary (such as gained on an ISM Summits & Skills course or equivalent), the focus of this week being more on climbing rather than instruction.

Of course, ongoing coaching and advice from your guide are a part of all our courses - and instruction will always be given whenever we see it would be helpful.

Our exact itinerary is normally finalised after taking into account any peaks that participants may have climbed previously. Please ensure that any such peaks are mentioned on your booking form.

Looking At The Alphubel 003
Is This Course For Me?

Competence with ice-axe and crampons is required as well as the ability to climb scramble over moderate broken ground on rock. Participants should normally have completed an ISM Summits & Skills course or had equivalent alpine experience. Routes climbed on this course are normally in the range from F+ to PD+.

You need to have a good level of general fitness and stamina - climbing any 4000m peak can be physically demanding! Do prepare yourself well with regular aerobic exercise before the course.

Course Description

Peaks that can be climbed on this course

Rimpfischhorn (4199m). PD+. A long glacial approach from the Britannia hut, or the Berg hotel at Flue, lead to some fantastic rock pitches (up to III) on the final ridge and a great summit.

Strahlhorn (4190m). F+. This giant snow peak gives a straightforward, but long, ascent on snow and ice from the Britannia hut.

Allalinhorn (4027m). PD+. The route of choice is the superb Hohlaubgrat, an excellent mixed climb up a gradually narrowing and steepening ridge. A rock band just below the summit gives the crux (grade III) pitch.

Alphubel (4206m) PD. Done from either the Täsch hut or Langfluh, the South East ridge from the Alpubeljoch is mostly straightforward, but finishes with a steep and exposed ice slope and stunning views from the summit of the Taschorn and the Dom.

Nadelhorn (4327m) PD. Approaching from the Mischabel hut via the Windjoch the classic NE Ridge gives elegant climbing on snow, ice and mixed ground to this excellent summit.

Weissmies (4023m) PD/F+. The best route is the traverse from the Almageller hut via the rocky south ridge (grade II), descending the huge glacial NW face to Hohsaas.

Lagginhorn (4010m) PD. This huge rocky peak is the only 4000'er hereabouts that can be climbed without stepping on to a glacier. From the Weissmies hut, a long scrambling rocky ridge, generally with some snow or ice slopes at the top, leads directly to the summit.

*Please note that this course normally runs without taking mechanical uplift and is priced accordingly. If uplift is taken (with agreement of course participants) it is charged as an extra.

Sample Programme

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.

Saturday evening
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!

Sunday
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.

Monday
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.

Tuesday
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.

Wednesday
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.

Thursday

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.

Friday
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.

Saturday morning
Breakfast at the hotel is included before departure.

Course Dates

Week Start Finish Price  
25 17 Jun 2017 24 Jun 2017 £1545 Full
28 8 Jul 2017 15 Jul 2017 £1545 Full
32 5 Aug 2017 12 Aug 2017 £1545 Full
36 2 Sep 2017 9 Sep 2017 £1545 Full