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Introduction to Mountaineering

Skill Level:
Fitness Level:
Washington - North Cascades
2019 dates: June 19-21; 26-28; July 9-11; 18 - 20; 29-31; August 4-6; 7-9; 17-19; 29-31
Trip Duration:
3 days

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This introductory mountaineering course will give students a strong foundation in general mountain climbing skills and techniques.  The skills learned over the course of this three day program will prepare students for a great majority of mountaineering classics.  The locations we use throughout the North Cascades Mountains boasts large glaciers and incredibly scenic and suprisingly moderate terrain.  Our main venue is Boston Basin near Cascade Pass which gives several oportunites for a glacier climb with a beginner roped rock climb to achieve a classic alpine summit.  Some parties opt to go into the Eldorado Peak area but it must be considered that this area is both longer approach and involves no rock climbing.

Daily Itinerary:

Day 1:  7:00 a.m. Meet at REI in Bellingham or if arriving from the south meet group in Sedro-Wooley. Introductions, gear check and last chance to buy items. We will arrive at the Boston Basin trailhead in early afternoon. Hiking begins at 2,500 feet of elevation. We hike three and half miles up to camp at 5,700 feet and set up camp.

Day 2:  8:00 a.m. leave camp and practice skills throughout the day.

Day 3:  Last day to practice skills before making an attempt on an Alpine summit.  Shark's Fin Tower and Sehale Peak are the two possible options for final climbs.  A rappel is required to get off the summit. Once back on the glacier we hike, descend down to camp. After a small rest and fuel and hydrate we pack up camp and descend to the car. This last day will get us back to the trailhead between 4:30 and 6:00 PM.

note:  Many parties opt to summit on day two and enjoy a more leisurely itinerary on day three.  It's important to consider that you will not learn nearly as much with this itinerary.  

Mountaineering skills taught:

Skills covered Day 1:

  • Efficient backpacking for climbers
  • Map, compass and GPS
  • Mountain Weather
  • Glacier formation
  • Intoduction to snow anchors

Skills Covered Day 2:

  • Snow school
  • Intro to crampons and ice axe
  • Movement skills on Basic snow and ice
  • Self Arrest
  • Intro to using ropes to manage steep terrain
  • Belay options
  • Introductions to Glacier travel and crevasse rescue

Skills Covered Day 3:

  • Time management
  • Pacing
  • Basic Rock Movement
  • Basic ropework on rock
  • Rappelling
  • Glacier travel