In 1983, Pat Littlejohn picked up the reins and took on the directorship of ISM. Pat was very well known in the climbing world for his hard traditional routes on Cornish and Pembroke sea cliffs in the UK, including alpine routes such as an almost free ascent of the Hemming-Robbins route on the W Face of the Dru in 1971 and a decade later the South Face of the Fou. In 1995 with Mick Fowler, they make an audacious ascent of the NE Pillar of Taweche in Nepal. In 2008, Pat was awarded an OBE for services to mountaineering, for his achievements and untiring efforts to ensure that mountaineering’s unique ‘spirit of adventure’ is kept alive within the sport.
Pat along with his partner Eira, Steve Jones and Steve Monks all grew the school keeping the passion and adventurous spirit of mountaineering alive through the courses that ISM ran. The team grew with Terry Ralphs, Adrian Nelhams, Anders Swensson and Thomas Hallen all joining ISM as the client numbers grew. The summer programme was expanded to include a winter icefall climbing programme and ski touring courses and adventurous exploratory expeditions to virgin summits in Kyrgyzstan and the Andes quickly followed.
ISM grew from strength to strength becoming known as the foremost English speaking mountaineering school in the Alps. The Vagabond closed its doors and ISM moved to the Hotel Grand Chalet, which became and still is ISM’s home in Leysin today.
ISM grew to a point where the old ‘Co-op’ style of running the school did not really fit anymore so ISM became a Limited Company with the then ‘co-opted’ members becoming directors. Pat continued at the helm, running ISM and being the overall figurehead.
In 2013, for the first time in ISM’s history a director out-lived his role and retired from post. He, along with Steve Jones, who also retired with him, were awarded a Piolet D’or for their tireless enthusiasm and commitment to ISM.