As this course is designed to be accessible to people new to mountaineering, we cover all of the basic climbing and alpine skills, including:
You will have the chance to practise these skills on mountain routes such peaks as the Pigne de la Lé (3396m) and the Pointe de Mourti (3563m).
The course starts with a briefing at 6.45pm at The Grand Chalet Hotel in Leysin. This is a chance for you to meet your team mates and Guide and go through the details of the course. There will also be time for you to sort out any equipment you need and for you to ask questions. Dinner will follow the briefing.
The beautiful peaks above Leysin provide an ideal venue to practise and perfect basic rope and climbing techniques. We cover everything from tying in, belay set-ups and belaying techniques, movement over rock, abseiling and prussiking, to the taking of coils and shortening of the rope for moving together on alpine terrain. The multitude of friendly climbs here gives plenty of scope for introducing the complete novice, as well as coaching and improving the technique of those with previous climbing experience. We return to the hotel for dinner,
We travel to the Zinal valley (one of the great mountaineering centres of the Swiss Valais) branching west into the Val de Moiry. From the roadhead, the Moiry glacier dominates the view and is just half an hour's walk away. This gleaming cascade of ice is possibly the best venue in the Alps for practising ice climbing skills. We ascend the glacier to the Moiry hut, encountering ice pitches of every angle to practise ice axe and crampon technique, the use of ice screws for protection and belays and rope techniques for moving together. Where the glacier levels off we teach safe glacier travel before our final ascent on steep moraine to the hut. An evening session at the hut covers the use and interpretation of maps and guidebooks, relating it to the terrain around us. We spend the night at the Moiry hut.
A pre-dawn start is made to climb the superb Pointe de Mourti. The approach takes 2 hours over a serious glacier where we apply the glacier travel skills learned the previous day. Our routes takes the NE ridge of the peak, a typical 'blocky' alpine ridge (PD standard) which can be short-roped except for a few short pitches to overcome steeper sections. you may have the opportunity to lead the rope during the ascent and descent of the peak. The ascent finishes with a fine snow crest, exposed in places, leading to the summit. The summit panorama is superb, taking in giant peaks like the Matterhorn and the Weisshorn. We make a careful descent by the same route, taking particular care with rope work on the glacier due to softer snow in the afternoon and return to the Moiry hut.
We descend for 15 minutes to the glacier and move down to where it forms some remarkable towers of ice, steep serac walls and giant crevasses. This is an exceptional venue for learning ice climbing skills. Here we learn how to set up anchors and belays on ice and work on climbing skills for all angles of ice up to the vertical. Later in the day we cover the theory of crevasse rescue, from self-rescue techniques to assisted hoists and the setting up of pulley systems. We spent another night at the Moiry hut.
An hour's walk brings us to a col below the N ridge of the Pigne de la Le, a friendly peak which is perfect for using all the alpine ropework skills covered duing the course. The summit is a great viewpoint for mighty Zermatt peaks like the Zinalrothorn and the Obergabelhorn. During our descent of the glacier we cover snowcraft skills and set up an authentic crevasse rescue, allowing you the opportunity to act as both rescuer and victim. We continue down via the hut and return back to The Grand Chalet in Leysin for dinner.
Breakfast is included before departure.