Frequently asked questions | Miyar Adventures


Mt Baker Training Schedule
For complete details please see our Training Program.
What happens if the trip gets canceled or I cannot make it?
For complete details please see our Cancellation Policy.
How do I know what food to bring? How much?

Here is a video on what food to pack:Watch


The food you bring is a personal decision based on what you like to eat, within the limitations of the backcountry: no refrigeration, things get squished in a pack, everything must be carried in, and all waste/packaging must be carried out. Watch the video for some great suggestions.

For trips with summits below 15,000ft. foods that contain a mix of carbohydrates, fat, and protein are good. You can think of powering your body similar to the way you build a fire. Sugars, like energy chews and goos, are like tinder. They burn with little digestive effort and can help "get the fire going", but they have a limited ability to burn for a long period of time. Complex carbohydrates are like kindling and small branches. They will increase the duration of the burn, and provide a more even source of energy without as many "ups and downs" as sugary foods. Fats are like big logs. Fat can be more difficult to burn because it requires more oxygen to break it down. However, if you are able to burn fat, then you have an energy source that is extremely long lasting and much lighter to pack (slightly under half the weight for the same number of calories as carbohydrates or protein). If you have done a good job of training for your climb, then you should be able to burn fat while you are hiking up the mountain. This will allow you to eat less frequently, have a stable source of energy, and have a more even mood- which in turn allows you to have more fun. A common mistake is to rely primarily on simple carbohydrates like candy, goos, or energy chews. These sugary foods have their place, but they will only provide a short energy supply which is quickly diminished, and can lead to dry mouth, headaches, and a lack of emotional stability when the going gets tough. Our guides tend to save sugary foods and caffein supplements for late in the day when the body might need a little "pick me up". They are also useful at elevations above 10,000ft. when the digestive system may not be able to handle fats as easily due to lower amounts of oxygen. Proteins don't work very well with the fire analogy, as they can burn like complex carbohydrates, but also be used for tissue repair and enzyme replacement. Some proteins are mixed with animal fats, which are difficult to digest at altitude (think bacon). Having leaner sources of protein, like tuna, or vegetable sources, like peanut butter, can make digestion easier if you are going above 10,000ft.

If you are looking to decrease the weight of the food you carry you can simply do two things. 1) Avoid carrying anything with water weight. This includes canned goods, fresh fruit, or prepared foods like cooked rice, for example. 2) Increase the amount of fat you eat when you are at camps below 10,000ft. (It is easiest to digest fat when at rest and at low altitude). That's it! Sugar, uncooked instant rice, and pure protein powder all have roughly the same number of calories for their weight (4 calories per gram). Pure fat like olive oil and coconut oil have 9 calories per gram. So throw in a few packets of olive oil to add to dinner, and some fatty coconut milk powder to put on your breakfast cereal. Want to decrease bulk? Repackage food to get rid of trapped air and avoid foods that have air trapped in them like leavened breads. Use flatbreads and tortillas instead.

One final tip is to think about how the temperature will affect the food you bring. Chocolate tends to melt during warm days and in warm tents- whether it is in an energy bar or trail mix- so if you want it think about bringing M&Ms or other candy coated chocolate. If it's cold then energy bars, like cliff bars, can be as solid as bricks. To solve this problem put the energy bar in a pocket long before you need it so your body heat will keep it at a "chewable" temperature. Take a look at the video and reach out if you have any questions!

How much water do I need to bring?

Short answer: If you weigh 140lbs or less bring a three liter capacity. If you weigh more than 140lbs bring a 4 liter capacity. It is best to bring collapsible water bottles such as those made by hydrapak rather than CamelBaks/drom bags with attached hoses. This is because droms often leak inside of packs and hoses tend to freeze on summit days. Water bottles are also much easier to pull out of a pack, making it easy to refill at creek crossings, which allows you to carry less water, and therefore less weight, when approaching and descending from camp.

Long answer: Everyone has different needs when it comes to water. If it is a hot, sunny day you will need more water. If it is damp or cool you will need less. If you are climbing at altitudes above 8,000ft you will need more water due to the low pressure causing a more rapid loss of moisture from your skin and through increased respiration. If you are coming from a cool, damp environment and arriving in a hot, dry environment then you will need more fluids as your body adapts to the new environment. I tend to follow the guidelines above for most of my climbing unless the weather forecast calls for temps above 80F, in which case I will add an extra liter.

Another consideration other than fluid intake is intake of electrolytes. Ingesting electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium may be as important as maintaining hydration. Electrolytes are responsible for controlling a multitude of bodily functions, such as temperature control, respiratory rate, muscle contraction, digestion, fluid transport across cell membranes, and neurological function. Electrolytes are found in salty foods as well as sports drink powders, chews, and capsules like Gatoraid, Poweraid, and Nuun. Emergen-C and other vitamin powders are often mistaken for electrolyte mixes, but these do not contain the micronutrients you are looking for and the high acidity can cause stomach problems at altitude. Mountaineers experience hyponutremia (low electrolyte levels) more often than dehydration, and this condition can become a serious medical issue. Make sure your food includes sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium and pack some drink powders. It is also helpful to avoid drinking too much water, which is common when people feel hot. Drinking too much, too fast is the most common way people get hyponutremia in the mountains. If you feel hot, cool off by rubbing snow on your skin and clothing. In you are thirsty, drink. These are two separate problems and it is important to treat them as such.

What prior experience do I need for a mountaineering trip?

We strongly recommend prior multi-day backpacking experience. This means that you have carried your food, shelter, and clothing with you in a backpack while travelling from camp to camp, and you have prior experience packing a pack, pitching camps, and taking camps down. The knowledge you gain from backpacking is directly applicable to mountaineering. If you do not have this experience, we offer introductory backpacking trips that will give you the experience you need. If the timing of your intended mountaineering trip does not allow you to gain the recommended experience, give us a call and we will see if we can make something work.

How fit do I need to be for my trip?

If you currently participate in physical activities three times a week such as trail running, backpacking, hiking, or organized sports that involve aerobic endurance and leg strength, you are probably fit enough to reach the summit of a Cascades volcano with only a couple weeks of intensive training. However, with minimal preparation the climb may feel very difficult, and once on the climb you may wonder why you chose to subject yourself to so much suffering. You will have much more fun if you prepare yourself for the climb well in advance. Every trip has slightly different fitness requirements that we will address with you when you sign up. Below is some general information to get you thinking about your current level of fitness and how to train:

  • Here is an overview of what is required for a climb of Mt. Baker by the Coleman-Deming Route: On the first day climbing Mt. Baker you will be carrying a 45 lb. pack uphill for three to four hours to reach camp. This is an elevation gain of about 2,200 ft. On summit day you will be carrying a 25 lb. to 30 lb. pack uphill for eight to ten hours followed by a four to six hour descent. This is an elevation gain and loss of about 5,000 ft. This will be made more difficult due to heavy boots, high elevation, and uneven terrain. On the final day you will be carrying a 40 lb. pack downhill for three hours to reach your car 2,200 ft. below camp.
  • Training for climbs such as Mt. Baker should begin with general training that will lay a foundation for the sport specific training that is to follow. This is called a “Base Period”, and lasts from eight to twelve weeks. If you participate in sports on a weekly basis, you may already have established a good base and you can progress to the sport specific training phase. The Base Period includes a strength program using weights or resistance. Exercises should focus on legs, back, and abs (core). The Base Period also includes endurance training such as hiking hills, trail running on hilly terrain, bicycling (hills again), or, if you have existing injuries, swimming. The next phase of training is a sport-specific training phase lasting six to eight weeks. It should simulate the climbing objective as closely as possible. Begin wearing a loaded backpack and mountaineering boots while hiking up steep hills, gradually increasing the weight of the pack, duration/elevation of the climb, and incline of the slope. By the end of your training you should be doing consecutive days of activity on slopes that are similar in steepness to your objective (slopes that are about as steep as a blue ski run are good), of similar duration/elevation (2,000 to 5,000 ft.) and carrying similar loads (twenty-five to forty-five pounds). If you do not have access to large hills, do laps on small ones. If you do not have hills at all, do laps on bleachers or stairways. If your climb will last three consecutive days, try to do one training session a day for three days, and make these similar in difficulty to what you will experience on the mountain.
  • As important as training is rest. If you do a particularly difficult training session, or if you do several days of training in a row, make sure to take some rest days afterward. Continuing to train when you are physically exhausted will only increase your chances of injury and limit the physical gains you were hoping to achieve. At the end of a training day you should sleep very well. If you cannot sleep, you may be over training.
  • There are many excellent books on training for mountaineering and alpine climbing. For those looking for in-depth coverage of the topic, take a look at “Training for the New Alpinism” by Scott Johnston and Steve House.
How do I select and pack my backpack?


Knowing how to pack a backpack and select the proper gear for a trip will go a long way toward your comfort and enjoyment on the trail. Let's take a summer mountaineering trip in the Cascades as an example: while some mountaineers carry 50 pounds or more on trips like this, we can trim our pack weights down to 35-40 pounds and make things much easier. Important points to making this happen:

  • Select an appropriately sized pack. A 2-3 day mountaineering trip in the Cascades can be accomplished with a lightweight 50 to 75 liter pack weighing less than 4 pounds. The Black Diamond Mission 75 weighs in at under 4 lbs and comfortably carries heavy loads.
  • If you wear a size “small” backpack, the actual size of your pack is usually five to ten liters less than what is stated on the pack. That means if you have a size small 60 liter pack, and you are attempting Mt. Rainier, you may not be able to fit all of your gear, clothing, food, and shared group gear in the pack, which is actually 50 or 55 liters. As a result, you may need to attach gear to the outside of the pack, which is time consuming, less comfortable, and more energy demanding on your body since the load will not carry as well. A smaller/lighter pack does not always mean it will be easier to carry.
  • If you have lightweight and compressible gear, such as an 800 or 850-fill down sleeping bag, you can get by with a backpack that is on the smaller end of the 50 liter to 75 liter rule. If you have a synthetic sleeping bag, a bulky puffy coat, or if you are a large person and therefore have larger clothing items and a bigger sleeping system, you will need a pack that is closer to 75 liters.
  • Pack your backpack in a way that minimizes dead air space inside. This means not using stuff sacks and zip-lock bags for organizing your clothing, but rather stuffing each clothing item and food item into small spaces in your backpack. Use the “cram it in there” method. Not the “fold or roll” method.
  • Keep important items that you will need during the day accessible, like lunch/snacks, water, sunglasses, warm layers, and personal medications like an inhaler. This will keep you from having to dig through your pack's main compartment to find what you need.
  • You will be given a packing list before your trip. Stick to the list and you will have everything you need without carrying extra weight. If you wish to bring an item that is not on the list, or if you wish to bring more of a particular item, feel free to give us a call. We want you to be comfortable, and in our experience the most comfort is gained by having the lightest pack possible.
What clothing will I need for the trip?

Here is a video on what clothing to pack for a glacier mountaineering trip. Please note that you will have a gear check in the morning or evening before you depart for your climb: Watch

  • Do not bring cotton clothes (with the possible exception of underwear for ladies). Cotton soaks-up water when wet and stops being effective at keeping you warm. Look instead at synthetic fabrics or wool.
  • Socks: one pair per day works fine on short trips. For longer trips this becomes impractical; there are tricks you can use to dry-out your socks during the day. Three pairs is the most you would need, unless your trip's packing list specifies otherwise.
  • The concept of layering is important, since temperatures and activity levels can vary a lot during the day. For instance, one can bring a light baselayer, a medium-weight baselayer top, mid-weight softshell pants, a warmer fleece or synthetic mid-layer, a puffy down parka, and a hardshell jacket and pants (plus a hat and some gloves). With this system you can be prepared for anything from 80 degrees F at the parking lot down to the mid 20s and windy at the summit of Mount Baker. But don't take it too far: only bring enough clothes so that you will be warm wearing ALL of them in the worst conditions you could possibly encounter.
  • For hands and feet it may be tempting to bring the warmest possible boots, high-altitude mittens, heated insoles, etc. but most of this is unnecessary for temperatures above 20 degrees F. No matter how thick, no glove can rewarm cold hands. We can teach you how to operate efficiently in the temperatures we'll encounter with the gear we recommend. Thicker, warmer gear will just add weight and will not make things any easier.
  • For boots, we recommend that you choose a boot that is as comfortable out-of-the-box as possible. You should not need to break-in your boots. Keep in mind that mountaineering boots have rigid soles so they can accept crampons, which means that they will not feel nearly as comfortable as trail runners or tennis shoes. However, you should not feel like you will get blisters from them unless this is something you have experienced with most of your footwear. We recommend that you try-on several different brands and styles. Choose the lightest boot that is still warm enough for your chosen objective. We rent the same boots that our guides wear, and we offer discounts to trip participants if you would like to buy a pair.

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How do I get to the meeting point?

We will meet at Ascent Outdoors, 5209 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107 at 7AM the day of your climb. This allows us to do a gear check, and allows you to rent or purchase any gear you might be missing. We offer a discount on gear purchases to those who are participating in one of our climbs or trips.. If you need a different meeting location that is en route to the trailhead, just let us know and we will work something out. We try to coordinate carpools from our meeting location whenever possible.

Where should I stay while I’m in town for my trip?

We meet at Ascent Outdoors at 7am on the day of your climb so it can be nice to stay nearby. Here is a general list of accommodations within 10 miles of Ascent Outdoors where your gear check will be hosted. (We’re not recommending or endorsing any of these as we don’t have personal experience with them but just helping to compile a list)

Within walking distance:

Within about a 15-20 minutes drive depending on traffic:

Will I need a pass to park my car? Which one?

Most of our trips will require the driver of each vehicle to have some kind of pass to park their car at the trailhead. Each of our climbs may have different requirements for the pass needed, as it depends on who the land manager is at the trailhead (which is not necessarily the same managing agency as the mountain is managed by).

Here's a summary of the passes you might need, and where. We will provide specific information on which is needed for your trip.

  • Washington Discover Pass. Needed for most state-owned lands, not national parks or forests. You can either buy an annual pass for 1-2 vehicles, pay a daily fee at some trailheads (exact change required), or pick up a one-day pass at some stores.
  • Northwest Forest Pass. Needed for the most popular trailheads on national forest land (i.e. managed by the US Forest Service). You often must buy these in advance; there is no provision for paying at the trailhead.
  • Federal Interagency Recreation Pass. This more expensive annual pass can do everything the above Northwest Forest Pass can do, but also allows admission into US National Parks, areas managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (e.g. wildlife refuges), and others. In other words, this pass works for most federally managed land.

Generally, one person per vehicle will need the appropriate pass. The Discover Pass requires recording the vehicle's license plate on the pass, meaning the driver will be the one who needs it.

What specialized gear will I need for my upcoming Cascades mountaineering trip?

Here is a video that details the gear you will need for a glacier mountaineering trip:

While we will provide a more complete packing list in advance of your trip, the following is more information on some of the specialized equipment required for mountaineering. Miyar Adventures can rent most of this gear to you if you do not wish to purchase it.

  • Mountaineering boots. Boots for mountaineering are waterproof and have at least a partially rigid sole which allows the wearer to kick steps into hard, steep snow. If your boot flexes too much, you will not be able to put weight on just the toe area to stand up in this situation. Mountaineering boots also usually have one or two plastic welts molded into the heel and toe for attaching some types of crampons, but not all crampons need these in order to work.
  • Gaiters. Gaiters protect the gap between the top of your boot and the cuff of your pants from getting snow inside. They also provide some protection from accidental punctures from your crampons. Small, lightweight gaiters are not as useful as the taller models designed specifically for mountaineering.
  • Ice axe. This is used for personal and group safety when climbing steep snow. It must be the correct length: when holding the head of the axe, the spike (on the bottom) should reach your ankle. Older axes can be borrowed or bought used but these tend to weigh an extra pound over modern lightweight axes.
  • Crampons. These allow you to get traction when walking on flat or sloped ice. They must be fit to your boots and not all models or attachment mechanisms will work with just any boot.
  • Harness. You will wear a seat-style harness on the glacier. Rock climbing harnesses can work, but are heavier and bulkier than you need because they are designed for rock climbers to hang in them for longer periods. Miyar Adventures can provide you with a lightweight alpine harness that's more appropriate and easier to put on over boots and crampons.
  • Carabiners and cordage. Miyar Adventures will provide these for your trip. If you wish to acquire your own, at a minimum you will need two locking carabiners and two pieces of 5-6mm climbing cord: one 6 feet long, the other 4 feet long. We can provide more complete information on glacier travel systems as part of your trip.
  • Helmet. A rock climbing style helmet is needed to protect from rock and ice fall. No bicycle helmets, ski helmets, construction helmets, etc.

· Tent. Tent accommodations are included for Miyar Adventures trips. If you wish to bring your own tent, we strongly recommend a four season free-standing tent. Three season tents cannot withstand the winds sometimes encountered on Cascade volcanoes even in the summer. A non-free standing tent can work great if you are experienced at pitching it, but it is critical to pitch and anchor it correctly. This task is made more difficult on rocks and snow. Regular tent stakes that probably came with your tent will not work in the places we will be setting up tents. If you are bringing your own tent, also bring lots of extra 3mm cord and either some small stuff sacks or specialized snow anchor

When should I book my flight into and out of Seattle for my trip?

Most of our mountaineering trips depart Seattle before sunrise on day one, and return to Seattle as late as midnight on the final day. For this reason we strongly recommend that you arrive in Seattle the day before your trip begins, and depart from Seattle at least one day after the end date of your trip. Keep in mind that the day after your trip you will be very tired. Plan work commitments accordingly.

What is the best season for a glacier climb?

Most climbs of glaciated peaks in the Pacific Northwest take place between late May and early September. Climbs are possible as early as March, but cold temperatures and avalanche danger may have an effect on your ability to summit. From late May to late June temperatures tend to be colder but routes to the summits of glaciated peaks tend to be shorter due to numerous snow-bridges over crevasses. From July through September temperatures are often warmer but routes become more wandering and prone to rock and icefall as the season progresses.

What if I can no longer continue a climb?

We keep a guide to client ratio that usually allows for a guide to bring you back to camp while another guide continues with other climbers to the summit. Our guides have wilderness medical training, and carry fully-stocked first-aid kits in the event you are in need of medical assistance. If you are climbing in a small group and there is only one guide, she/he may be able to return to camp with the entire group and continue the climb the following day. In the event of a serious illness or injury, our guides carry GPS communication devices that allow them to communicate with emergency medical services in the absence of a cell signal.

What is the best route and mountain for a beginner?

The Coleman-Deming and Easton Routes on Mt. Baker are excellent beginner climbs. These climbs are physically demanding, but offer mostly low-angle glacier travel with spectacular views.

For beginners who have a little more time and are looking to have a solitary experience, consider a climb of Glacier Peak or Mt. Olympus. Both of these mountains offer incredible views, glacier travel over low-angle terrain, and a wilderness experience not found on the popular glacier climbs of the Pacific Northwest.

What is the best route for someone with previous mountaineering experience?

There are dozens of peaks that are suitable for those with previous glacier mountaineering experience. Fisher Chimneys or the Sulfide Glacier of Mt. Shuksan are excellent intermediate climbs. For those looking for a steeper climb that includes several pitches of ice climbing, the North Ridge of Mt. Baker is a good choice. For those looking for rock climbing on a stunning feature in a spectacular setting, a climb of The Tooth near Snowqualmie Pass, or the West Ridge of Forbidden in North Cascades National Park might be of interest. Let us know what type of experience you are looking for and we will recommend a trip that has the right amount of challenge.

Is there a minimum/maximum age for mountaineering participants?

Mountaineering participants must be at least twelve-years-old. If participants are under eighteen-years-old a parent or guardian must give written approval for their participation in a trip or program. We do not have a maximum age for participation in mountaineering. If you are able to carry your own backpack over mountainous terrain, then you can participate. We have had participants in their eighties participate in high elevation trekking in the Himalayas.

What is the weather like during a glacier climb?

If you are climbing a glaciated peak above 10,000 ft. in Washington in May or early June temperatures could be as low as 0 F on the summit. As the season progresses temperatures warm, with maximum summit temperatures in the 40s or even 50s by mid-August. When storms move-in and winds pick-up temperatures can drop by as much as 20 degrees F in less than an hour. Storms can occur in any season, and may bring rain, sleet, snow, or hail. A typical forecast for late July on Mt. Baker, with no storms, would be:


6,000 ft.       Hi 67  Low 48

8,000 ft.       Hi 52  Low 39

10,000 ft.     Hi 45  Low 28

10,781 ft.     Hi 40  Low 23

Do you rent gear?

We rent most of the gear that you need for a glacier climb. Here is a link to our gear rental page: We offer a 15% discount on gear rental for those participating in one of our trips.

Can I wear contact lens during my climb?

Contacts are usually fine during the hike to basecamp on any of the glacier climbs of the Pacific Northwest. However, above basecamp contacts do not work well. This is because wind-driven volcanic dust can find its way into your eyes, effectively causing blindness. Additionally, at higher altitudes temperature and pressure differences can lead to foggy contact lenses. We recommend that you bring a pair of your normal prescription glasses, and couple these with a pair of Cocoon glacier glasses. Cocoons are designed to fit over your prescription glasses, offer full UV protection for the snow, and vent well to prevent fogging. They are also quite affordable compared with other options. If you do not already own a pair, you may purchase a pair in our store at a discount if you are on one of our trips. If you choose to use a pair of your own ski goggles for this purpose instead, make sure the goggles will block UV light and have ample venting so they will not fog when you are working hard in the afternoon heat while hiking uphill.

How can I prevent altitude illness?

Generally altitude illness occurs above ten-thousand-feet, but everyone is different, and you may begin experiencing a mild headache as low as seven-thousand-feet. Our trips are designed to help you acclimatize properly. Whenever possible, we follow a “climb high, sleep low” strategy. There are times that this is not possible, such as when an incoming storm forces us to attempt a summit before the storm arrives. In such cases your individual rate of acclimatization may play a role. Evidence suggests that the rate at which you adapt to altitude is largely genetic. However, there are a few things you can do to improve your ability to adapt within your genetic limits:

  • Pre-acclimatize by spending time at altitude one or two days before your trip. This is not practical or necessary for most people, but if you know from experience that your ability to adapt to altitude is well below average, then this is a strategy you should consider. The advantage you gain from brief pre-acclimatization will only last about a day, so doing this well ahead of time will not be beneficial. The ideal pre-acclimatization altitude is between eight and nine thousand feet.
  • Train for your climb. If you have the proper training you will be able to maintain a lower heart rate, and use less oxygen. This reduces your chances of altitude illness.
  • Maintain a consistent pace during the climb. A slow, even pace will help your body circulate oxygen more efficiently to your muscles and brain. Long breaks at altitude increase your exposure to high elevation and make it more likely that you will get sick.
  • Maintain proper hydration. A failure to carry enough water, or a failure to drink frequently while climbing will cause dehydration, which makes your blood thicker. This forces your veins to dilate, thus causing intracranial pressure which produces headaches, nausea, and other symptoms of altitude illness.
  • Eat simply, eat early, and eat often. A diet rich in carbohydrates has been shown to decrease symptoms of altitude illness. These foods include crackers, bread, candy, dried fruit, pasta, and energy bars. Eating a meal before you reach 10,000 ft. is a way to ensure that you have begun digesting calories before you lose your appetite, which is common at altitudes above 10,000 ft. Lastly, eating a small snack at every break (100 to 200 calories) will ensure that your brain has the sugar it needs to continue operating properly. Headaches can be caused by a lack of sugar in the bloodstream.
  • Drink caffein. Caffein is a vasoconstrictor. This means that it can combat vasodilation which causes headaches and nausea. Medications such as Excedrin which contain caffein, acetamenophen (Tylenol), and Aspirin can help to treat symptoms.
  • Use Diamox (acetazolomide). Take 125 mg of acetazolomide the evening before your climb to altitude. Take another 125 mg the morning of your climb. Continue taking 125 mg each morning and evening you ascend to a higher elevation. Stop taking once you begin your descent. Acetazolomide is a prescription drug in the United States. Consult your doctor.
  • Stay cool. Overheating is common on mountaineering trips- especially on the descent when the sun is overhead and winds have calmed. When you become hot your blood vessels dilate, which causes headaches and a host of other altitude symptoms. Combat this by rubbing snow on your head, using big sun hats, and wearing light-colored clothing that reflects sunlight.
  • Reduce salt intake. You need salts and electrolytes while you are climbing. These help you maintain proper hydration and prevent hyponutremia. However, salts also thicken your blood, and have been shown to contribute to altitude illness. For this reason we recommend that you drink electrolyte beverages when you are active, and reduce the amount of salt in your evening meals. This is only necessary for days you spend above 10,000 ft. This applies primarily to our international trips to Nepal, India, and Tanzania.
How big are your group sizes?

We place one guide in charge of one to three people. Because these people are all attached to the same rope, this is called a “rope team”. Usually we have one or two rope teams on a route at a time, which means a group size of two to eight including the guides. Each rope team will have the equipment needed to operate independently of the other, which allows the teams to travel at different paces and camp in different locations if necessary. If you have a large group, or if you would like a private guiding experience, we will do all we can to accommodate your request.

How many people are in one tent?

Our lightweight tents sleep two or three people. This allows the weight of the tent to be distributed amongst several people. If you would like to bring your own tent, or would like us to bring a single-man tent for you (you will need to carry it) please let us know.

Should I tip, and if so, how much?

Tips are greatly appreciated, and tipping is standard practice in the guiding industry in the United States. $40 per day of your trip is a good rule-of-thumb for overnight trips. A three-day Mt. Baker climb tip would be $120. Tipping more than this is a sign that the service was above average, and tipping less than this indicates that the service was below average. If your guide did extra work to help you achieve the summit, or if conditions for the climb were especially difficult, consider giving a higher tip. If your trip was scheduled as a three-day climb, but you summited and returned to the trailhead in two days, consider giving a tip for three days since the workload for the guide was about the same as for a three-day trip but compressed into two days. Finally, if you are the only participant on a trip consider tipping $50 per day, since the workload for the guide is about the same as for more clients, and the level of individual attention is higher.

Is mountaineering safe?

No. There are elements of the mountain environment that are not within the control of your guide or land managers such as the National Park Service. However, going with a guide can reduce your exposure to hazards increase the likelihood of summiting. Guides provide instruction on what to wear, what to carry, how keep members of the rope team safe, and how to safely use equipment. Guides are trained to manage risk by reducing exposure to hazards such as rockfall and avalanche. They are also trained to arrest falls, perform rescues, and deliver medical assistance. Perhaps the greatest advantage of using a guide is her/his knowledge of the climbing route, which will help you avoid hazards, stay on-track even in adverse conditions, and ensure you have a tried-and-true summit strategy.

Do you offer discounts for groups?

When possible we do offer discounts. Please contact us for details.

How do I use the bathroom during a climb?

We are committed to protecting the mountain environment, and doing so means that we follow specific protocols when disposing of our waste. If we are climbing a glaciated peak in the Pacific Northwest, we will pack-out our solid human waste. The waste is carried in two nested heavy-duty plastic bags, and attached to the outside of your pack on the descent. To use these bags you will spread a sheet of plastic on the ground to catch the waste, and fold it up after you have finished before depositing the waste in the double-bags. We then dispose of the waste at the trailhead. Many of our international expeditions use portable base camp toilets to pack-out waste. These are usually carried down the mountain by pack animals or porters. If you are doing a technical high elevation climb, then we will use a system similar to the one we use in the Pacific Northwest.

When can I take a shower?

There are no opportunities for bathing on our mountaineering trips in the Pacific Northwest (unless, of course, you don’t mind bathing in streams from glacier melt). You can take a shower before and after departing for your climb. Generally this means you will go without a shower for a maximum of four days. If you are on an international trip, there are opportunities to shower in villages on the approach and return from the mountain. Details will be sent when you register.