Student Alpine Week - Level 1 Instructional Course

We’ve greatly reduced the cost of this alpine mountaineering course to give students in full-time education the opportunity to learn the important skills and techniques necessary to be able to climb easier alpine routes (up to PD) and to move safely over glaciated terrain.

Level 1 Instruction & Coaching

5 days, 6 nights

Ratio: 6:1 (COURSE FOR STUDENTS AGED 16 -23)

Price: £995*

* Fully inclusive price

 Course Dates

An important aspect of this course is that participants have every opportunity to practise techniques for themselves, with close supervision and coaching from the guides, and to meet other students who may become climbing partners for life.

As well as offering a challenging but fun introduction to mountaineering for relative novices, the course is particularly valuable for people with climbing experience in the UK who wish to progress to higher mountains in glaciated areas.

This course is open to anyone aged between 16 and 23 who is in full-time education (under 18's must have written permission from a parent).

A Level 1 certificate will be awarded at the end of the course confirming the level you have achieved

Course Highlights

  • An instructional course giving the student a great introduction to alpine mountaineering
  • All-inclusive price includes all uplift, food, transport and accommodation
  • Expert instruction and coaching from experienced ISM Guides

On this course you will learn the full range of skills needed for safe mountaineering on all types of alpine terrain including: rope work and rock skills; snow and ice climbing; moving on glaciers; high mountaineering from a mountain hut; snow craft and crevasse rescue.

The course will give participants a solid grounding in the safety aspects of alpine climbing. The course is also perfect preparation for some of our other instructional and classic courses which we run during the summer.


An important aspect of the course is that participants have plenty of opportunity to practice techniques for themselves. The areas that we use for this course have been carefully selected to provide the best possible climbs for you to practice and develop your skills, with expert coaching and supervision from the ISM guides.


Student Groups

In addition to the advertised course dates, we can arrange this course throughout the summer for groups of 6 or 12 people at the advertised price, and for groups of different numbers with an adjustment in price.

Is This Course For Me?

Participants should have good general fitness and some experience of rock climbing and rope work (whether gained on outdoor cliffs or indoor climbing walls). People with more climbing experience will be encouraged to lead the rope (with suitable instruction) on a variety of alpine terrain.

Course Content

As this course is designed to be accessible to people new to mountaineering, we cover all of the basic climbing and alpine skills, including:

  • Attaching to the rope and essential climbing knots.
  • Basic movement techniques over rock.
  • Abseiling and prussiking.
  • Belaying and protection techniques on rock, ice and snow.
  • Use of crampons and ice axe on snow and ice.
  • Taking coils and moving together with the rope.
  • Short rope techniques for different types of alpine terrain.
  • Safe glacier travel and crevasse rescue.
  • Descending on snow and ice.
  • Navigation and interpretation of maps and guidebook.
  • Preparation and selection of climbing equipment.
  • Alpine huts and the ‘alpine start’.

You will have the chance to practice these skills on mountain routes such peaks as the Pigne de la Lé (3396m) and the Pointe de Mourti (3563m). See the course programme description for more details of these ascents.

Sample Programme

Sunday evening
The course starts with students and guides meeting at 6.45pm at the Grand Chalet 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 peaks above Leysin provide an ideal venue to practice and perfect basic rope and climbing techniques. We cover everything from tying in, through 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 guest house 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 map and guidebook, relating it to the terrain around us.

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. Participants 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 Madonna.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 ropework on the glacier due to softer snow in the afternoon.

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 (cameras highly recommended!). 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.

An hour's walk brings us 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 in 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, with people having the opportunity to act as both rescuers and victims. We continue down via the hut to our transport back to Leysin, for dinner.

Saturday morning
Breakfast at the guest house is included before departure.

Course Dates

Week Start Finish Price  
30 19 Jul 2020 25 Jul 2020 £995
34 16 Aug 2020 22 Aug 2020 £995