Technical Alpine Ascents

This week of technical mountaineering is not tied to any particular area or peaks. The course has a simple aim - to give participants a great week of challenging alpine climbing on the finest routes of at least two different alpine valleys of the Swiss Valais, Bernese Oberland or Mt Blanc Massif.

Level 3 Guiding & Coaching

6 days, 7 nights

Ratio: 2:1

Prerequisites: Classic AlpinISM (Instructional Course) Or equivalent

Price: £2045

 Course Dates

Designed for people with previous alpine experience, the specific climbs and peaks that we attempt are decided upon after considering the alpine routes you have already done. This way we ensure that you will be in new and inspiring areas on routes which provide the right level of challenge.


Course Highlights

  • A guided climbing week of challenging technical alpine peaks and routes
  • Complete flexibility to climb where the weather and conditions are best
  • Expert guiding and instruction from experienced ISM Guides
  • Price includes all food, vehicle transport and accommodation (excludes mechanical uplift*)

We may climb a 4000m peak on this course; however the emphasis will be on climbing the finest routes in our chosen area at the right level of difficulty for course participants.

We climb on a low 2:1 guiding ratio, which gives us flexibility to match levels of experience and fitness within the group - and to tackle some challenging climbs. Routes attempted on this course can range from PD to D and can include climbs that vary from short and technical, to those that are long and committing undertakings at altitude. We will explain the options at the course briefing and give you the chance to input into the final plan.

Please be very sure to detail on the booking form your previous experience and especially all alpine peaks climbed, so that we can plan the most suitable itinerary.

Is This Course For Me?

Previous alpine climbing experience is necessary (to the level of our Classic Alpinism course or equivalent). Participants should ideally be climbing to grade V (British Very Severe, American 5.7) and have experience of climbing with boots and rucksack (although we may carry rock boots for some climbs). Experience climbing with two ice tools on moderate routes (Scottish grade II and III) is also necessary. Good fitness and stamina is essential.

Course Content

Peaks and routes that can be climbed on this course

We would typically choose to run this course outside of the areas where we tend to run our other Technical Ascents courses (i.e. Zermatt, Central Switzerland and central Oberland). We are happy to change climbing areas to achieve the best possible week’s climbing.

The list of routes we could choose from is almost endless. Here are a few possibilities:

Valais Alps

  • Grand Cornier (3961m), S. ridge (AD+). Brilliant remote ridge.
  • Dent de Tsalion (3589m), A long and exposed granite ridge with excellent climbing (V).
  • Les Bouquetins (3779m), North face (AD+). Technical ice and rock climbing.
  • Mont Blanc de Cheilon (3870m), traverse (AD). Mixed ridge climbing at its best.
  • L’Evêque (3716m), SW Ridge (AD/IV+). Superb alpine rockroute.
  • Mont Collon(3637m),WestRidge (AD).Technical ridge to a remarkable summit plateau.
  • Grand Combin (4314m), Meitin (W) ridge (AD+). Mostly rock and mixed climbing to a final summit snow slope.
  • Dent d’Hérens (4171m), East ridge (AD). A long glacial ascent and a fine mixed summit ridge.

Bernese Oberland

  • Blüemlisalphorn (3663m), either by the classic NW ridge (AD), or by the N face (D) - a beautiful ice route in good conditions.
  • Traverse of the Blüemlisalp chain Magnificent snow crest (AD) linking the summits of the Morgenhorn (3627m), the Wyssi Frau (3650m) and the Blüemlisalphorn (3663m).
  • Fründenhorn (3368m), South West ridge (D). An excellent ridge climb with pitches up to IV+.
  • Doldenhorn (3643m), arête Gallet (AD). A long, classic route on snow, rock and ice.
  • Gspaltenhorn (3436m), NW ridge (AD-). Mixed climbing with an exciting rock crest leads to a great summit overlooking the highest north wall in the Oberland.
  • Kingspitz (2621m), North face (V+). The classic route up an impressive peak - if your rock climbing is up to it!

Chamonix / Mont Blanc Massif

  • Dent du Géant (4013m). A variant on the normal route (one pitch of V) avoids the crowds on this fantastic rock spire.
  • Tour Ronde (3792m), North face (AD+). This classic route is an excellent introduction to north face ice routes.
  • Mt Blanc du Tacul (4248m), Chèré couloir. A short but steep couloir with ice up to 80°.
  • Mont Maudit (4463m), frontier (Kuffner) ridge (D). This ridge is an all time classic – a long mixed climb at high altitude.
  • Aiguille du Moine (3412m), South ridge (D-). An excellent rock ridge with pitches to V.
  • Aiguille du Chardonnet (3824m), Forbes arête (AD). Another classic mixed climb along a pinnacled ridge.
  • Mont Dolent (3820m), Gallet ridge and traverse (AD). A more remote adventure away from the crowds. Mixed climbing to a great summit.
  • Aiguilles Dorées (3519m), traverse (D). A long traverse on rock, ice and mixed ground.

*Please note that this course normally runs without taking mechanical uplift and is priced accordingly. If uplift is taken (with agreement of course participants) it is charged as an extra.

Sample Programme

This is very much a sample programme of this course as any number of different combinations of peaks and climbs are possible.

Saturday evening
The course starts with participants and guides meeting at 6.45pm at Le Grand Chalet hotel in Leysin. This is the chance for the guides to give you a thorough briefing and discuss the detailed plan for the week with you.

The plan for the week might start in the Arolla region with the ‘Arête de Tsalion’ as our first climb. This is an excellent route up a long and steep ridge on the Dent de Tsalion, next to the spectacular tower of the Aiguille de la Tsa (which we can climb as well if we are in good time). We sort gear and then drive around to Arolla and walk up to the privately owned Tsa hut.

This is a big day so we make a good ‘alpine start’ in the morning. Starting over awkward moraine, we soon reach the bottom of the arête, which is followed all the way to the summit - mostly pitched climbing with some strenuous sections up to grade V. From the top, a short traverse across a snow slope takes us to the bottom of the prominent tower of the Aiguille de la Tsa, which can be climbed in another four pitches or so, if there is time (and energy!). We descend to the glacier and traverse around to the Bertol hut.

There are several options for today depending on the conditions. The Dents de Bertol (3547m) is the closest and is a snow ascent to a mixed ridge. If there are good ice conditions the Tête de Chavannes (3671m) gives a great steep ice route. We descend via the Col de Bertol and back to Arolla. Overnight hotel.

A superb expedition for the second part of the week is traverse of the Grand Cornier (3733m). The South Ridge of this peak is a fantastic route in a wild and remote setting, climbed from the Dent Blanch bivouac hut. This is situated in an incredible position on the col underneath the north ridge of the Dent Blanche. We sort the bivvy food and gear, drive around to Ferpècle, and make the 5-6 hour ascent to the bivvy hut.

The climb starts straight from the hut and is mostly rock, so we don’t need to make a pre-dawn start! The difficulties are mostly on rock (pitches to IV) and the ridge itself is a very exposed and narrow crest. From the summit we descend the tricky rock crest of the North West Ridge, then over mixed ground onto the upper Moiry glacier, which gives a long but easy descent to the Moiry hut.

Our return to Ferpècle involves crossing the Moiry glacier again below the hut and then climbing easily up to the Col de la Couronne. From the col we can take in an ascent of the south ridge of the Couronne de Bréona (3159m). This excellent rock peak is seen prominently from the hut and gives a fine little route to round off he week. We descend to Ferpècle and return to Leysin and the Grand Chalet hotel in the afternoon.

Saturday morning
Breakfast at the hotel is included before departure (or this is a rest day if you are continuing to another course).


Course Dates

Week Start Finish Price  
24 6 Jun 2020 13 Jun 2020 £2045
27 27 Jun 2020 4 Jul 2020 £2045
30 18 Jul 2020 25 Jul 2020 £2045
33 8 Aug 2020 15 Aug 2020 £2045
36 29 Aug 2020 5 Sep 2020 £2045