Classic AlpinISM - Level 2 Instructional Course

Our Classic AlpinISM course is structured to develop your existing alpine mountaineering skills to enable you to become a more independent mountaineer on a wide variety of high mountain terrain and routes up to grade PD+.

Level 2 Instruction & Coaching

6 days, 7 nights

Ratio: 3:1

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

Price: £1595*

* Fully inclusive price

 Course Dates

The course develops those existing skills and techniques learned on our Summits and Skills 4000m course (or equivalent), giving participants as much opportunity as possible to lead the rope whilst enjoying a full and satisfying week of mountaineering on high alpine peaks and alpine routes (up to PD+) and to move safely over glaciated terrain independently.

A Level 2 certificate will be awarded at the end of the course confirming the level you have achieved.

Course Highlights

  • An instructional course developing the participants existing alpine mountaineering skills to become more independent
  • All-inclusive price includes all uplift, food, transport and accommodation
  • Expert instruction and coaching from experienced ISM Guides
2 Lower Rez

Several alpine areas offer great objectives for this course including Trient, the Grand Combin region, the Mt Blanc de Cheilon group. These regions offer all types of alpine climbing – snow and ice slopes of varying angles, rocky ridges, exposed arêtes, glaciers and mixed ground. We aim to give you a very varied climbing week, coaching the skills needed for all types of terrain. We also do our best to ensure that you will be climbing peaks and routes that are new to you, so please list your experience carefully on the booking form.

Safe technique on glacier approaches is another important part of this course, as glaciers are changing rapidly with global warming and generally becoming more challenging to negotiate safely, being steeper, icier and more crevassed. Judgement of prevailing conditions is more crucial than ever as guidebooks and maps struggle to keep pace with the changing mountain environment, and adapting technique to cope with this situation is now a vital part of safe alpinism.

Is This Course For Me?

This course will suit people with previous alpine experience (ideally gained on ISM’s Summits & Skills 4000m course) who would be happy following rock at grade II in mountain boots carrying a rucksack. Experience with ice axe and crampons is essential. A solid background in Scottish winter climbing and rock climbing in the UK would also be suitable preparation for this course. Although all skills will be reviewed and refreshed, participants should have some knowledge of the equipment and rope work involved in outdoor climbing. A good level of fitness is needed as all the peaks involve substantial mountain days.

Course Content

Peaks and routes that can be climbed on this course

Valais Alps

  • L’Évêque (3716m) The normal route is a classic of the area at PD but can be more difficult if icy. A superb elegant summit.
  • Petit Mont Collon (3555m) The normal route on the S Flank is excellent in snowy conditions and leads to a choice of 2 summits, each of which has technical interest (PD/PD+).
  • Mont Blanc de Cheilon (3869m) Normal route from the Dix hut (PD). A popular classic having great scrambling and easy climbing on perfect gneiss as well as an enjoyable section on snow, making for a varied alpine day.
  • La Luette (3648m) A great little training/warm-up peak offering several routes on its east flank from F+ to PD.
  • La Ruinette (3875m) The SW Ridge (PD) is a long day from the Chanrion or Dix huts and involves an equal mix of snow and rock climbing. The summit views of the Gd Combin group are breathtaking.
  • Tournelon Blanc (3707m) The North Ridge (PD) gives mixed climbing with a fine snow crest to finish.
  • Combin de Corbassière (3715m) The South Ridge at PD is a regional classic and one of the most enjoyable rock ridges anywhere.

Trient area (Mt Blanc Massif)

  • Aiguille d’Arpette Beautiful rock ridge above the Orny hut. PD+ on perfect granite.
  • Aiguille du Tour (3544m). The north-south traverse at F+/PD is a great outing on this very popular peak.
  • Tete Blanche and Petite Fourche (3520m). Combining the NW ridges of each of these peaks gives a most enjoyable outing with some technical interest (PD+).
  • Aiguille d'Orny Great in early season, a snow couloir leading to a spectacular rock tower (IV).
Sample Programme

Saturday evening
The course starts with participants and guides meeting at 6.45pm at Le Grand Chalet hotel in Leysin. This is the chance for the guides to give you a thorough briefing on the details of the course, sort out any particular personal equipment requirements and for you to ask any questions that you may have!

The beautiful limestone peaks above Leysin provide an ideal venue to practice and perfect rope and climbing techniques. A climbing day on the Leysin Tours refreshing skills, acquainting the guide with your climbing standard and covering all the ropework and climbing techniques that will be used throughout the week in the high mountains.

Drive to Arolla, park in the village, then walk up the valley to the Pas de Chevres. From here it's a chance to break up the hike into the Cabane des Dix to practice some alpine ropework, climbing the rocky ridge to the Pointe du Pas de Chevres and then looking at techniques to descend safely again. Once down and back at the pass, you'll then descend steep ladders onto the Glacier de Cheilon. The Glacier de Cheilon is a 'dry' glacier which you'lll then cross to access the Cabane des Dix, where you'll spend the night. It's a fantastic hut, perched on the edge of the rocky 'Tete Noir' overlooking the glacier and up to the beautiful north face of the Mont Blanc de Cheilon.

We wake early and head up to the Col de Cheilon with a focus on safe glacier travel and ridge scrambling techniques climbing the Mont Blanc de Cheilon. The route takes us first over the steep and sometimes very icy Col de Cheilon to access the Glacier du Gietro. From here, we traverse the head of the Glacier du Gietro heading first south to where you can then safely start to head east and then curving back north navigating a steep glacial tongue that spills down from a subsidiary summit. The glacier squeezes through some amazing rock scenery as it descends steeply down creating a superb backdrop to this glacial ascent. If conditions allow, then from the subsidiary 'winter' summit of the Mont Blanc de Cheilon we continue on and climb a very exposed rocky ridge to the 'true' summit which has the most amazing 360 degree views of the Alps before you. Descent is by retracing your steps back down through the glacier giving thought to safe glacial travel and route finding, navigating back to the Col de Cheilon and another night at the Cabane des Dix.

An early alpine start to catch the snow and glacier at it's best, sees the team descending onto the Glacier de Cheilon en route to climbing and traversing the Pigne d'Arolla. It's a mainly glacial travel day where we hope you'll get to put into practice many of the skills learnt from the previous days both in the best rope techniques for the particular terrain that your going to travel on, navigation and route finding through crevassed terrain. It's another classic summit and great views of many of the peaks around. From the summit, you'll descend a steepening glacier down to the Glacier d'Otemma and the Vignettes Hut where you'll stay the night.

To tackle Petit Mont Collon we have to descend a little on the Glacier d’Otemma until we can climb up to a hanging glacier on the peak itself. Snow fields then a spur lead up to the saddle between the summits from which an interesting mixed ridge leads is taken to the higher (E) summit at 3555m. This is a fine peak and seldom climbed since the classic North Face lost its permanent ice cover. We descend by the same route to the Vignettes hut.

The elegant spire of L’Évêque is our objective today. A long steady glacier ascent gets us into a snowy bay between L’Évêque and the equally impressive Mitre de L’Évêque. The first part of the summit climb is on snow early in the season but is often an ice climb later, making it much more demanding. Above this, climbing on steep rocks takes us to an easier ridge leading to an airy summit with fabulous views all round. A careful descent by the same route gets us back to the glacier, which by now will be softer and more serious, demanding good ropework for a safe passage to the hut and back down to the valley . We return to Leysin later for dinner.

Saturday morning
Breakfast at the hotel is included before departure.

Course Dates

Week Start Finish Price  
25 15 Jun 2019 22 Jun 2019 £1595 Full
27 29 Jun 2019 6 Jul 2019 £1595 Full
29 13 Jul 2019 20 Jul 2019 £1595 Full
31 27 Jul 2019 3 Aug 2019 £1595 Full
33 10 Aug 2019 17 Aug 2019 £1595 Full
35 24 Aug 2019 31 Aug 2019 £1595 Full
37 7 Sep 2019 14 Sep 2019 £1595 Full