Summits and Skills 4000m - Level 1 Instructional Course

Our six-day Summits and Skills 4000m course is designed to give you the best possible introduction to Alpine mountaineering and, in addition, a chance to climb a 4000m peak as a culmination of the week.

Level 1 Instruction & Coaching

6 days, 7 nights

Ratio: 4:1

Price From: £1445*

* Fully inclusive price

 Course Dates

The course teaches all the important skills and techniques necessary for participants to be able to climb easier alpine routes (up to PD) and to move safely over glaciated terrain.

An important aspect of the course is that participants have every opportunity to practise techniques for themselves with close supervision and coaching from the guides.

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 participant a great introdution to alpine mountaineering
  • All-inclusive price includes all uplift, food, transport and accommodation
  • Expert instruction and coaching from experienced ISM Guides

The areas that we use on this course have been carefully selected to provide the best possible climbs for you to practise and develop your skills, with expert coaching and supervision from the ISM guiding team. The most effective way to learn is by doing, and you will not find a more 'hands-on' course than this one!

This course also provides excellent preparation for our Classic-AlpinISM course, or as a lead-in to our ‘Classic’ range of courses and eventually to our most advanced Technical AlpinISM course. Its combination of skills training and progressive acclimatisation to 4000m also make it ideal to combine with our Mont Blanc Special week, for people who wish to prepare as thoroughly as possible for an ascent of Mt. Blanc.

Is This Course For Me?

This course is designed with the beginner to alpine climbing in mind. It is suitable both for people with no previous technical climbing experience as well as those with some experience on the crags or climbing walls. You will need to have a good level of general fitness, such as that gained from walking in the UK (or other) mountains or other aerobic exercise. Climbing a 4000m peak is physically demanding – as a guideline you need to be happy carrying a 10kg rucksack for a full day out in the hills that takes in plenty of ascent. If you don’t have access to hills, regular exercise that works the legs and lungs is important.

Course Description

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

  • Introduction to basic climbing equipment.
  • Attaching to the rope and other climbing knots.
  • Basic movement techniques over rock.
  • Abseiling and prussiking.
  • Belaying and protection techniques on rock and ice (both as leader and second).
  • Use of crampons and ice axe on snow and ice.
  • Taking coils and moving together with the rope (both as leader and second).
  • Short rope techniques for different types of alpine terrain (both as leader and second).
  • Safe glacier travel and crevasse rescue (both as rescuer and 'victim').
  • Constructing snow and ice belays and 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 practise these skills on mountain routes such as the Pigne de la Lé (3396m) and/or the Pointes de Mourti (3563m) before we make the ascent of our 4000m peak. This is often the Weissmies (4023m), one of the many beautiful 4000’ers towering over the Sass valley (see the course program description for more detail of the ascent). Other nearby 4000’ers such as the Alphubel, Allalinhorn or Bishorn are also possible objectives.

Sample Programme

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 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 practise 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 hotel for dinner.

We travel to the Moiry glacier, an excellent and easily accessible venue to learn the basics of movement on ice and glacial terrain.We cover crampon and ice axe techniques on different angles of ice, the use of ice screws for protection and belays and good rope technique for safe travel over glaciated terrain.

At the end of the day, we carry on up the glacier a short distance to the Moiry hut, where we spend the night. An evening session at the hut covers the use and interpretation of map and guidebook, relating it to the terrain around us.

We make an early start in the morning to climb one of the peaks above the hut – normally the Pigne de la Lé (3396m). The mixed climbing on the summit ridge provides excellent ground for practicing short rope technique, and participants have the opportunity to lead the rope during the ascent and descent of the peak. From the summit, we descend to the upper Moiry glacier where there is an excellent spot for us to stop and teach the basics of crevasse rescue techniques after which we then head back to the Moiry hut late afternoon, where we spend a second night.

Another early start from the Moiry hut with either an ascent of the Points de Mourti (3563m) to consolidate the learning with another glacial approach and mixed climbing up the NE ridge or an involved descent of the Moiry Glacier developing further the groups glacial travel, crampon and ice axe techniques. Both days culminate in the group descending from the Moiry Hut and back to the vehicles, where we then drive back down to the Rhone valley and head around to Saas Grund where we spend the night in valley based accommodation.

We head up out of the valley on foot to the Almageller hut, which is the starting point for our ascent of the Weissmies (4023m). The approach takes about 4 hours up a good track and has spectacular views of the Mischabel chain, including the Täschhorn, Dom and Monte Rosa. The hut is set beneath the rugged Dri Hornli (3207m), which has many excellent training climbs. Hugo the hut guardian is very welcoming, and the hut itself is as comfortable as any hut in the Alps. If time allows, we head over to the Dri Hornli to climb and to refresh the skills needed for our ascent of the Weissmies next day.

We make another ‘alpine start’, leaving the hut before dawn in order to make our ascent while the snow is still well frozen. We head up to the Zwishenbergen pass and from there climb a snow and ice slope to gain the rocky south ridge. Excellent scrambling and short pitches lead on to the fore-summit, from which an airy snow/ice ridge leads to the top. Again, you can have the opportunity to lead the rope for yourself with the guides giving instruction as necessary. From the summit, we complete the traverse of the peak by descending the impressive glacial North West flank of the mountain down to the Weissmies hut. We continue to descend to the valley via the Hohsass lift system and travel back to the Grand Chalet hotel in Leysin. All the ISM courses meet back here on Friday with most people heading to the Top Pub for the evening to tell tales of the week’s adventures and plan for the future!

Saturday morning
Breakfast at the hotel is included before departure.

Course Dates

Week Start Finish Price  
24 8 Jun 2019 15 Jun 2019 £1445
25 15 Jun 2019 22 Jun 2019 £1445
26 22 Jun 2019 29 Jun 2019 £1445
27 29 Jun 2019 6 Jul 2019 £1445
28 6 Jul 2019 13 Jul 2019 £1445
29 13 Jul 2019 20 Jul 2019 £1445
30 20 Jul 2019 27 Jul 2019 £1445
31 27 Jul 2019 3 Aug 2019 £1445
32 3 Aug 2019 10 Aug 2019 £1445
33 10 Aug 2019 17 Aug 2019 £1445
34 17 Aug 2019 24 Aug 2019 £1445
35 24 Aug 2019 31 Aug 2019 £1445
36 31 Aug 2019 7 Sep 2019 £1445
37 7 Sep 2019 14 Sep 2019 £1445
38 14 Sep 2019 21 Sep 2019 £1445