This course is aimed at those new to alpine mountaineering and covers all of the basic climbing and alpine skills, including:
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 limestone 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, taking coils and shortening the rope for moving together on alpine terrain. The multitude of friendly climbs in this area 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, 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 a map and guidebook, relating it to the terrain around us.
An early start 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 practising short rope techniques, and you may 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 to stop and learn the basics of building safe snow anchors and crevasse rescue techniques. We return to the Moiry hut late afternoon, for a second night.
Another early start with either an ascent of the Points de Mourti (3563m) to consolidate your learning, with another glacial approach and mixed climbing up the NE ridge or alternatively an involved descent of the Moiry Glacier to further develop your glacial travel, crampon and ice axe techniques. We then descend and drive down to the Rhone valley to Saas Grund where we spend the night in valley based accommodation.
Today pulls together the skills you have developed around rock climbing and basic ropework, such as belaying, building a safe anchor, personal rock climbing technique, route finding, prussiking etc. The Weissmies hut gives great access to a number of different venues suitable for all abilities. There are several options today including climbing a fantastic alpine rock pinnacle - the Jagihorn (3206m) which is a longer multi-pitch climb, or single pitch rock climbing close to the hut or climbing the Jagihorn via ferrata. After a day here we will descend using the lift system to Saas Grund where we'll spend a second night.
After an early breakfast we go to Saas Fee where we take the Alpine Express lift and Alpine Metro to access the Fee Gletscher at the foot of the classic Allalinhorn (4027m). The route up the Fee Gletscher and NW flank of the Allalinhorn will allow you to consolidate and practise many of the alpine skills you will have learned throughout the week. During the ascent you may get a chance to lead the rope and practise route finding and making decisions as the first step in gaining valuable experience to help you become more independent in the mountains.
The Allalinhorn is a great first 4000m peak and provides a fantastic vantage point for many of the other 4000m peaks in the surronding area. You should be able to see across to the Matterhorn and the huge Monte Rosa massif, along the spine of the Mischabel chain and in good weather all the way to the Grand Combin and Mt Blanc behind. From the summit we descend the Fee Gletscher and return to Saas Fee where we will have a course debrief, reflecting on the week, answer any questions and help with your plans moving forward. We return to the Grand Chalet in Leysin for dinner.
Breakfast is included before departure.