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: £1495*

* Fully inclusive price

 Course Dates

The course teaches all the important skills and techniques necessary for you 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 you will have opportunity to practise techniques with close supervision and coaching from the guides.

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

Course Highlights

  • An instructional course giving you 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 we visit 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 provides excellent preparation for our Classic-AlpinISM course, or as a lead-in to any of 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 Extension or other 'classic' courses.

Is This Course For Me?

This course is designed with the beginner to alpine climbing in mind. It is suitable 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 and hiking in the 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 Content

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 Allalinhorn (4027m), one of the many beautiful 4000ers towering over the Sass valley (see the sample program description for more detail of the ascent). Other nearby 4000ers such as the Alphubel or Bishorn are also possible objectives.

Sample Programme

Saturday evening - The course starts with a briefing meeting at 6.45pm at The Grand Chalet Hotel in Leysin. This is the chance 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.

Sunday - 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 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.

Monday - 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.

Tuesday - We make 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 practicing short rope technique, and you will 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 then go back to the Moiry hut late afternoon, where we spend a second night.

Wednesday - 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 your glacial travel, crampon and ice axe techniques. We will then descend and drive back down to the Rhone valley and on to Saas Grund where we spend the night in valley based accommodation.

Thursday - 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 called the Jagihorn (3206m) which is a longer multi-pitch climb, or single pitch rock climbing close to the hut or climb the Jagihorn via ferrata. After a day here we will descend via the lift system to Saas Grund where we'll spend a second night.

Friday - 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've learned throughout the week. During the ascent you will 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’ll descend the Fee Gletscher and return to Saas Fee where we will have a course debrief, reflecting back on the week, answer questions and help with your plans moving forward. We will then return to the Grand Chalet in Leysin for dinner.

Saturday - Breakfast is included before departure.

Course Dates

Week Start Finish Price  
24 6 Jun 2020 13 Jun 2020 £1495
25 13 Jun 2020 20 Jun 2020 £1495
26 20 Jun 2020 27 Jun 2020 £1495
27 27 Jun 2020 4 Jul 2020 £1495
28 4 Jul 2020 11 Jul 2020 £1495
29 11 Jul 2020 18 Jul 2020 £1495
30 18 Jul 2020 25 Jul 2020 £1495
31 25 Jul 2020 1 Aug 2020 £1495
32 1 Aug 2020 8 Aug 2020 £1495
33 8 Aug 2020 15 Aug 2020 £1495 Full
34 15 Aug 2020 22 Aug 2020 £1495
35 22 Aug 2020 29 Aug 2020 £1495
36 29 Aug 2020 5 Sep 2020 £1495
37 5 Sep 2020 12 Sep 2020 £1495
38 12 Sep 2020 19 Sep 2020 £1495