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.

Level 2 Instruction & Coaching

6 days, 7 nights

Ratio: 3:1

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

Price: £1645*

* 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, 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, but we feel that the Trient area of the Mt Blanc massif offers the best objectives and terrain to help those climbers wanting to develop their mountaineering skills further and to become more independent. We aim to give you a varied week of climbing, and a great progression of skills leant on all types of mountaineering terrain. We hope that through this week you'll gain the confidence and learn the skills needed to become more indendent in your own climbing and mountaineering.

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

Trient area (Mt Blanc Massif)

  • Aiguille d’Orny, South Ridge, rock, PD or AD.
  • Aiguilles Dorées, a long and classic traverse that can be shortened if necessary by abseiling down from couloir Copt, mixed, D.
  • Aiguille de Tour, traverse of the peak over the North and South summits (mixed and rock, PD).
  • Aiguille de Tour by the classic Table de Roc ridge (PD), a snow couloir to a superb jagged granite ridge, over the famous 'rock table'.
  • Tête Blanche, North West ridge, an excellent alternative to the North face if the latter is too icy (snow and ice, PD+).
  • Aiguille Sans Nom, another beautiful rock route up the south ridge, AD+
  • Aiguille Purtscheller (3475m), a classic alpine ridge climbing on perfect granite in a fantastic setting! The climbing is all in pitches (up to grade IV alpine)
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 limestone cliffs of the Leysin Tours provide a beautiful venue for us to start with a review of rock climbing skills (belay techniques and setups, rope work and movement) within the context of an enjoyable climbing day. It gives the guide a chance to find out exactly ‘where you are’ with your climbing! We move on to cover technical aspects of multi-pitch climbs and descents, lead climbing skills, and to coach your movement on the rock as appropriate. We try to relate crag climbing techniques and rope work to the longer climbs of the Alps and the need for speed and efficiency. As we do throughout this course, we adapt the level we teach each of these things to your level of experience. We return to the Grand Chalet in Leysin in the evening.


In the morning, we head off to a high alpine hut, where we will spend the rest of the week. This is normally in the Orny/Trient region (the Swiss side of the Mt Blanc massif) as it provides the ideal venue having a very wide range of suitable climbs for the next days. A short drive to Champex and a chair lift take us up to La Breya from where a couple of hours walking gets us to the Orny glacier. We will stop on the glacier for a session reviewing basic crampon and ice axe techniques and roped glacier travel. We demonstrate and coach your ice climbing technique with some ‘ice bouldering’ and look at the use of ice screw and Ablakov belays, before continuing up to the cabane d'Orny.

From the cabane d'Orny we'll head directly up from the hut and focus on having a multi-pitch rock climbing day, climbing the west ridge of the Aiguille d'Arpette. It's a great day, allowing us to deliver many of the elements around having a safe and fun alpine rock day. You'll develop your understanding of the hazards around you, route finding, the ropework and techniques for the different types of rock terrain that you're moving over (helping efficiency in the mountains), placing traditional protection and choosing anchors. On descent we'll also include safe abseiling techniques, thoughts around lowering and other techniques for the changing terrain to get down from a climb safely. It's a great area to really help develop peoples independence in this environment. We'll then spent a second night at the cabane d'Orny.


We make an alpine start before dawn, as it's best practice to be up on the Trient glacier while everything is still frozen. Once up on the glacier, we'll head across the huge Trient Plateau to climb the Tête Blanche (3421m) via either the east or north east ridges. Today we'll focus on both safe glacial travel and mixed climbing via one of the ridges on the Tête Blanche. It's an alpine mountaineering day where we give thought to both the weather and conditions around you, route finding, and adapting the rope techniques to the terrain that you're moving over, giving us the opportunity us to refresh skills such as taking coils and teach techniques around moving together, short roping and short pitching. You'll be working as independent teams gaining experience around route finding, choosing safe anchors, placing traditional gear, different ice axe and crampon techniques and ropework etc. We'll descend via the Col Blanche, experiencing how to manage a steep section of glacier safely maybe looking at snow belays and abseiling, before heading back across the Trient glacier to stay the night at the cabane du Trient which is a fantastic hut overlooking the whole Trient glacier basin.


Today we'll look at another alpine rock objective but this time one where you have a glacial approach to get onto it. It's a great chance to pull together many of the learnt skills over the past few days to work independently to climb the south ridge of the Aiguille Purtscheller (3475m). This route gives classic alpine ridge climbing on perfect granite – all in a fantastic setting! The climbing is all in pitches (up to grade IV alpine) with an awkward chimney to finish and a narrow rock summit. On any of the awkward sections the ISM guide will be there to either help coach you through any sections of to safeguard them as you move through. It's again a chance to develop your independence at this grade and in this alpine environment. We descend with several abseils down the mixed ground on the North East side of the peak back onto the Trient plateau. After crossing the Trient plateau we'll hopefully have some time to refresh and develop peoples skills and knowledge around crevasse rescue looking at holding a fall, snow anchors and the ropework around helping someone out of a crevasse safely. We then spend a second night at the cabane du Trient.

This last day is a chance for you to take real ownership of any glacial travel, route finding and rope techniques used getting to a summit safely, with the ISM guide just coaching and giving you feedback when they feel it's appropriate. We hope that this last day will really help develop that feeling of confidence and indenpendence moving forward. In the hut the night before the ISM guide will have discussed the weather and conditions, looked at the map, chosen a suitable summit, and a plan of how the day could play out. One of the summits could be the Aiguille du Tour (3542m) which is a lovely alpine summit to finish on, sitting high above the Trient glacier with great views of all the surrounding peaks and valleys. The descent is back down one of the ridges, again practicing different rope techniques descending safely to the Trient glacier.

After crossing the Trient plateau and descending the Orny glacier, we descend to the valley and return to the Grand Chalet hotel in Leysin later that Friday afternoon.

Saturday morning
Breakfast at the hotel is included before departure.

Course Dates

Week Start Finish Price  
24 6 Jun 2020 13 Jun 2020 £1645
25 13 Jun 2020 20 Jun 2020 £1645 Full
26 20 Jun 2020 27 Jun 2020 £1645
28 4 Jul 2020 11 Jul 2020 £1645
30 18 Jul 2020 25 Jul 2020 £1645 Full
32 1 Aug 2020 8 Aug 2020 £1645
34 15 Aug 2020 22 Aug 2020 £1645
36 29 Aug 2020 5 Sep 2020 £1645
38 12 Sep 2020 19 Sep 2020 £1645