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 hotel in Leysin, Switzerland. This is a chance for you to meet your others on the course, your ISM 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, taking coils 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 Moiry hut, normally the Pointe de Bricola (3658m). The Moiry glacier and approach provides an excellent opportunity to practice glacial travel, route planning around glacial hazards and terrain to learn moving together rope techniques. From the summit, we descend back onto the upper Moiry glacier where there is an excellent spot to stop and learn the basics of building safe snow anchors and practice crevasse rescue techniques. We return to the Moiry hut late afternoon, for a second night.
Another early start and we head off to climb the Pigne de la Lé (3396m). The mixed climbing on the summit ridge provides excellent ground for practising those short roping and moving together techniques, and you may have the opportunity to lead the rope during the ascent and descent of the peak. From the summit, we descend back onto the Moiry glacier consolidating glacial travel techniques and rope work as we head back top the Moiry hut. We then descend from the hut and back to the parking and then drive down to the Rhone valley to Saas Grund where we spend the night in valley based accommodation.
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 other 4000m peaks in the surronding area.
You'll be inspired looking across at 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.
If down early enough from the Allalinhorn and the weather is stable, then the best-case scenario would be that we'll have a late lunch and head straight up the Hohsaas cable car lift and enjoy the short walk to spend the night in the Weissmies Hut. If not, then we'll spend a second night back in Sass Grund down 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.
The last day pulls together the skills you have developed around rock climbing and basic ropework, such as belaying, building a safe-anchors, personal rock climbing movement, route finding and prussiking etc. The Weissmies hut gives great access to a number of different venues suitable for all abilities. There are several options for the day if based at the Weissmies Hut 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 and drive back to Leysin late that Friday afternoon.
If already down in the valley then the day will be spent covering many similar rock climbing and ropework skills but from a valley base before again returning back to Leysin late that Friday afternoon.
You'll spend the last night and enjoy a final dinner back at the hotel in Leysin.
Breakfast is included before departure.