(In this example we stay in the Furka area, however it is equally feasible to transfer to the Salbit hut on the Tuesday and climb the South Ridge of Salbitschijen on the Wednesday or Thursday plus other routes in this area.)
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.
We drive along the Rhone valley to the Rhone Glacier and the Furka pass. The Sidelen hut is a perfect place to start the week and is reached in 1.5 hrs walking. We climb a 'warm-up' route near the hut in the afternoon and check/refresh the alpine skills and ropework required for the course.
The South-East ridge of the Gross Bielenhorn (3206m) is an excellent first objective, being long and varied with several pitches of IV+. There are short-roping sections and the descent is quite complex with several short abseils, making this a great route for practising the full range of alpine rock skills. We return to the Sidelen hut.
For a more technical challenge today we can choose one of several routes on the south face of the Klein Bielenhorn. This is reached in 25 mins from the Sidelen hut. Routes on the face itself are all V+ or VI and around 8 pitches. A less technical option is to traverse the peak via the West Ridge (IV) which gives an excellent mountaineering day. We descend in the afternoon and walk up to the Albert Heim hut (1.5 hours).
There is a choice of superb objectives today. Strong rock climbers will probably want to attempt the Graue Wand (VI), the most famous route in the area which takes a series of fissures up an absolutely stunning 400m granite face. If you prefer a first-class mountaineering day, then the traverse of the Galenstock from south to north (grade III rock, overall grade AD) fits the bill exactly. Either objective requires good weather, so if the forecast is better for the Thursday then plans for these two days may be swapped around.
The South Ridge of the Gletschhorn (3305m), grade III+, is very enjoyable indeed and gives you an opportunity to do some lead-climbing (with instruction from your guide and at the guide's discretion) or simply to enjoy a less pressured day. It can be climbed entirely in mountain boots or carrying rock boots for the hardest pitches.
The Winterstock (3203m) is the closest major peak to the Albert Heim hut, rising in a series of huge towers. We will attempt a route on the First Tower, either taking the first section of the massive South Ridge (V/VI) or one of the more recent routes on the SW face. We return later in the day to the Grand Chalet hotel in Leysin for dinner.
Breakfast at the hotel is included before departure.