There are many combinations when planning a week around climbing the Technical 4000ers and we do our best to deliver the week at the right level of ability for the course participants, taking into account what people have done before, the weather and conditions.
The course begins with a briefing meeting at 6.45pm at The Grand Chalet Hotel in Leysin. Here you will meet your ISM Guide and other team members. We will make an overall plan for the week, taking into account the group, weather and conditions. You will also be able to sort out any equipment you need. Dinner follows the briefing.
After breakfast, we leave the hotel and head down the valley to Aigle and on to Martgney where we'll spend part of the day refreshing some rock climbing techniques and alpine ropework. From here we'll then continue up the Rhône valley towards Zermatt and the small village of Tasch. From Tasch we head up a very steep winding road to where we can park and then make the short walk into the Tasch Hut where we'll spend the night, below the long west ridge of Alphubel.
An early alpine start finds the team ascending the lower reaches of the west ridge to where it steepends and forms the Rotgrat below the 4206m summit of Alphubel. The Rotgrat has become an established classic, being long, sustained with the climbing being on mostly very good quality alpine rock. After a long and committing technical ascent, it's nice to then have a very easy and straightforward short descent down glacial terrain to the Alphubeljoch and onto the dry Alphubel Glacier and then walking paths back to the Tasch Hut. If time allows we'll continue to descend the short path back to the car and have a night down in Tasch.
After a relaxed breakfast we'll leave Tasch and head up into the iconic village of Zermatt. Once in Zermatt we take the relatively long hiking trail steeply out of the valley, until we arrive at Trift 2337m below the Gabelhorn Glacier and the from here, we continue up more easily to the Rothorn hut where we'll spend the night. The hike from Zermat normally takes around 4-5 hours walking.
An alpine start focuses on the south east ridge (via the Gabel) of the Zinal Rothorn. It's a great classic route up the south east ridge and climbing a couloir to a notch on the south west ridge known as the Gabel, finishing by the upper part of this ridge via the infamous 'Biner Slab'. Fantastic views again from this central 4000m summit looking across the whole of the Alps and back to the Dent Blanche that you climbed earlier in the week. The descent is back down the route in reverse arriving back at the Rothorn Hut later that day. Two options from here is that if there is still plenty of time left in the day, you'll continue on down to Zermatt and back to stay in Tasch the night, or you'll spend a second night in the Rothorn Hut.
Depending on whether you stayed in the Rothorn Hut the night or ended up back down in Tasch, we'll make our way around to Saas Grund and use the Hohsaas lift to access the upper reaches of the peaks in this area. It's an easier day but one to reflect on the past week so far and rest a little before the final day's climbing. You'll stay in either the Weismiess or the Hohsaas huts that night.
On your last day, you'll have a number of great options to consider whether that's climbing either the Jagigrat on the Jagihorn, which is a superb technical rock ridge or climbing the Fletschorn which is only 7m off being short of a 4000m peak! both accessed from the Weissmies hut. Or we have the higher peaks of the Lagginhorn 4010m, climbing the long and classic south ridge or the Weissmies 4017m via the similarly classic north ridge, both accessed from the Lagginjoch and the Hohsaas hut. After a great last day climbing, we'll start to make our way back to Leysin where you'll spend the last night at the Grand Chalet.
Breakfast at the hotel is included before departure.