I stumbled across your website and was delighted to find that ISM is still in operation.
I relished reading about your long history and to that end, my thoughts took me back to December of 1978. My friend Brian and I, a couple of 18 year old, ‘Snot-nosed’ Canadians from Vancouver, pitched up in Leysin at ISM for a ’Winter Mountaineering’ course. It was going to be just the two of us with our guide, who turned out to be the late, great, Pete Boardman! Having been weened on Chris Bonington , Dougal Haston, Doug Scott, Pete, et Al (AL Rouse) on Everest and Pete and Joe Tasker on Changabang from a young age, we were pretty star stuck!
I won't bore you with the minutia, but Pete was a consummate professional and host. A memorable ascent of some chimney route on the Tour d'Ai that was covered in verglas, comes to mind! I remember getting myself into a bit of a spot and thought back to something I’d read by Hamish MacInnes (a well-known Scottish Winter hard man at the time) about climbing in Scottish ‘full winter conditions’ and that holding a ‘Dachstein’ (thick woollen mitt) against verglas and the warmth generated from your hand melts the surface ice and re-freezes the glove to the rock, making it a viable hand hold! I tried it and it worked! ‘Well I'll be damned!’ I thought.
Off to Chamonix and an Epic on the Aiguille du Tour.
A pleasant walk to the Hut in summer, but that day we were wading chest deep in snow on the approach. Like a bunch of vandals, we had to break into the hut that was closed and locked. A couple of days of clear weather saw us summit the Aiguille du Tour on one day and another interesting nearby peak, whose name escapes me, on the next.
Pete would laugh at me ‘come on Frank, a big strapping lad like you should be able to get up this!’ or he would laugh ‘You two, neither one of you climbed it properly!’ (both of us, had stepped on a piton to get over the crux move!)
My god, we learned so much from him in just a few days! He was incredibly patient with a couple of beginners, like us.
We returned to Canada and my friend Brian lost interest. But I was inspired and managed to become competent enough to get up a few good routes in Squamish, Yosemite and the Canadian Rockies.
I was shocked to hear of Pete's death on Everest in 1982.
After 33 years as a Paramedic in Vancouver, I have just retired, luckily able to do so at age 55. I've stayed relatively fit, enough to be able to wonder around the hills a bit, but I haven't had a rope on in about 5 years.
Anyway, some fond remembrances of a trip so long ago. I thought I would let you know.
If I’m able to get fit enough to climb anything that an ant couldn't jump over................well ISM is where I would come.
All the best to you all.