Alpine Climbing Skills Course | Miyar Adventures
  DETAILS

Join us on a 6 Day Alpine Climbing Skills Course

The term “alpine climbing” refers to climbing involving pitches of rock, ice, or steep snow where a rope is needed for protection from a fall off of a mountain feature. The term “mountaineering” generally refers to lower-angle climbs where a rope may be needed for glacier travel, but is not needed to protect against a fall off the mountain. Climbers can walk up the majority of a mountaineering objective, while they need to use their hands, feet, and sometimes specialized tools like ice axes to climb alpine routes. Alpine climbing forms a foundation for “alpinism”, which is the pursuit of alpine climbing in a fast-and-light style. The pursuit of alpine climbing requires more skills than mountaineering, has a larger psychological component, and takes longer to master. If this sounds interesting to you, then read on.

Have you already climbed glaciated peaks like Mt. Baker or Mt. Rainier and want to further your development as a climber? Or perhaps you are just getting into climbing and want to do more than climb simple glacier routes? If so, then this is this Alpine Climbing Skills course is for you. We keep our ratios low so we can get into plenty of technical terrain and push students’ skill sets without sacrificing safety.

This Alpine Climbing Skills course prepares students to climb peaks that have significant sections of rock climbing on faces and ridges, steep snow climbing, and complex approaches and descents.  This includes Forbidden Peak, The Tooth, Liberty Bell, the Early Winter Spires, Black Peak, and other classic alpine rock climbs of the Cascades.  It is also the perfect preparation for alpine rock climbs in the Rocky Mountains- such as the Colorado Fourteeners or the Grand Teton, and for routes in the High Sierra of California such as Mt. Whitney.  If you’d like to also cover glacier travel, crevasse rescue, and summit a large glaciated peak consider combining this course with our Mountaineering Skills Course.  Or if you’d like to tackle steep ice routes such as the North Ridge of Mount Baker add our Ice Climbing Course.  By taking all three courses you have 14-days of world-class instruction that allows students to tackle peaks with large glaciers, multi-pitch rock, ice faces, snow-filled couloirs, and long technical ridges. Routes requiring these skills include Mt. Shuksan via the Fischer Chimneys route or North Face, more complex climbs in Boston Basin such as the North RIdge of Forbidden, or a climb of challenging rock routes in North Cascades National Park such as Dorado Needle, Early Morning Spire, Inspiration Peak, or Mt. Goode.    

Our Alpine Climbing Skills course begins with an introduction to multi-pitch rock climbing at a crag with easy access and a short approach. This day you will be introduced to equipment used for multi-pitch traditional (trad) climbing, rope management techniques, lead belaying, climbing techniques, multi-pitch belay station management, and technical descents such as rappels. You will also participate in a multi-pitch climb. The next two days will be split between instruction in multi-pitch alpine climbing systems, and a climb of an alpine rock route. Possible routes include classics like The Tooth, routes on Vesper Peak, or a route on Morning Star Peak.

For the final three days we head into Boston Basin, where we combine our multi-pitch skills with steep snow climbing and more complex alpine systems. We learn the fundamentals of moving on snow, and also learn how to progress together along ridges. Possible objectives include Sharkfin Tower, the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak, or- for more advanced students- the North Ridge of Forbidden Peak. The amount of learning on this course is substantial, the scenery fantastic, and the climbing experiences last a life-time.

For those with previous experience in complex alpine terrain, or for those interested in pursuing alpine climbing at a high recreational level or for a future profession, take a look at our Alpine Climbing Leadership Program.

Skills Covered During the Alpine Climbing Skills Course:

  • Equipment selection for multi-pitch rock and alpine climbs
  • Packing a pack for alpine routes
  • Rope management
  • Belay systems
  • Belay station management
  • Rock climbing movement technique
  • Rappelling
  • Walking/climbing techniques for steep snow
  • Introduction to snow anchors
  • Techniques for shortening and lengthening the rope
  • Alpine rock anchors
  • Basic wilderness navigation
  • Hazard mitigation
  • Campsite selection and set-up
  • Leave-No-Trace principles

Prerequisites:

  • Previous multi-day backpacking experience
  • Previous experience using crampons and an ice axe.  This can be gained on our Intro to Snow Climbing Course, or by adding one extra day to your itinerary.
  • Previous indoor or outdoor rock climbing experience is strongly recommended, but not required for those with a tolerance for steep and exposed terrain.  Rock climbing experience can be gained on our Intro to Outdoor Rock Climbing course.
  • Excellent physical fitness.  This course involves long days on-the-move in the mountains while carrying a pack weighing around 40lbs on the way into base camps.  While climbing you will have a small pack weighing 10 to 15lbs.  Take a look at our Alpine Climbing Training Program for details. 
Duration
6 Days 5 Nights Camping or Car Camping
Passport
Not needed for US citizens

PRICE BASIS
PRICE INCLUDES

  • Fuel, Pots, and Stoves
  • Tents
  • Group climbing equipment
  • Guide Services
PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • Transportation
  • Parking or entry fees (when applicable)
  • Food or drinks
  • Accommodation before or after the course
  • Personal clothing
  • Personal climbing equipment (rentals available)
  • Gratuities for guides
  ITINERARY
Day 1 :
Our first day we start instruction around 8am so students are well rested. There is a lot of hands-on learning today. We begin with an overview of equipment used for multi-pitch climbing in an alpine environment. We then cover anchors and forces in climbing systems before we begin to construct and test our own anchors. Next we learn how to lead belay, or review lead belaying if we are already familiar. Then we practice removing pieces of protection as a follower on a climb, and then participate in a multi-pitch climb that ascends several hundred feet up a rock face. While climbing your guide presents lessons such as rope management and belaying from the top of a pitch. We then practice rappelling back to the ground, and review the lessons we just learned in a more controlled context. As evening approaches we head to dinner, then drive to a campsite for the evening (or hotel for those who opt for more comfort).
Day 2
Today you will work with your guide to decide whether one more day of skills instruction is needed, or if you are ready for your first alpine rock climb. You may stay at the same rock climbing location or travel to a different destination. Skills instruction may include more training in multi-pitch climbing systems, or could include use of crampons and an ice axe in a snow environment depending on current conditions in the mountains and existing student knowledge. If proceeding to an alpine climb, part of this day may be used for an approach into Mount Thomson or Vesper Peak where you will camp by a beautiful alpine lake.
Day 3 :
Today we will climb an alpine rock route, and will start early. We will choose an objective that has the appropriate amount of challenge for students, and which will allow students to review the skills learned during the previous two days. Possible peaks and routes include The Tooth (South Face- 5.4 or Tooth Fairy- 5.9), Chair Peak (East Face- 5.5), Mount Thomson (West Ridge- 5.6), Vesper Peak (Ragged Edges- 5.7 or True Grit- 5.8), and Morning Star Peak (Mile High Club- 10a). After completing the route we hike-out and drive to a campsite in the vicinity of Marblemount in preparation for our trip into Boston Basin the following day. Another option is to have a day-off on day four to recover, absorb the learning, and attend to personal life before heading back into the field for three more days of learning.
Day 4 :
Today we collect our camping permit in Marblemount at 7am, then drive the Cascade River Road to the Boston Basin Trailhead. We then don packs and hike the steep trail to our basecamp for the next three days. Boston Basin is famous for its impressive alpine scenery, alpine meadows, and access to some of the best alpine rock climbing in the Cascades. After establishing camp we cover new skills, which may include steep snow climbing, shortening/lengthening the rope for moving along ridges, or belayed down climbing. Our exact plan this day depends on the weather forecast and our intended objective. We may turn-in early in preparation for a summit day tomorrow, or we might enjoy a casual dinner in the alpine glow as we prepare for another day of instruction tomorrow.
Day 5 :
Today will either be an additional day of instruction, or a summit day depending on weather, conditions, and our objective. One common objective for intermediate-level students is the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak. For this climb we depart camp before sunrise, and head-up an unnamed glacier to the base of a steep gulley system. The belayed climbing begins here, and we ascend to the summit ridge in six pitches. We then transition into ridge climbing on excellent rock, taking-in views of turquoise lakes, dark north-facing mountain faces, and massive glaciers. After reaching the summit we descend back down the ridge, making a series of rappels and downclimbing as necessary. We then rappel back down the gulley to the glacier, and descend the snow to rock slabs and back to camp. This can be a long day, and stamina is needed.
Day 6 :
Today we enjoy a sleep-in before waking for a leisurely breakfast. As we pack-up camp and descend to the cars we verbally review the myriad of skills covered in the previous five days. It will take many practice sessions and hands-on learning opportunities in the mountains to gain mastery of the immense amount of content. After reaching the cars we head out for an early dinner, and celebrate the completion of a challenging and memorable course.
  Testimonials
  • Eve Jakubowski

    I was part of a group that summitted Mt. Baker in early August this year. Overall, it was a great experience. I went into it not knowing what to expect from a guided climb (my past few had been unguided) and was pleasantly surprised. I was concerned that I'd be bored, but was happy to find that they did a great job juggling our group's varying skill levels, and I walked away feeling like I had learned and progressed as a climber. Ben and Anthony are both very knowledgeable (you can always learn from guides, it just depends how much time they have to teach!) and I found myself getting a bunch of new experiences even just in the 24 hours that we climbed. I was also impressed by their abilities to read us and judge when clients needed encouraging or advice. They did a great job managing us, and I remember the moment that my attitude turned from "this isn't going to happen but it's still experience" to "holy crap, we have a shot!" After toughing it out through some rain, blustering winds, and low visibility, the skies cleared up and we had our chance. Thanks to Ben and Anthony for the positive attitudes and guidance that weekend! I'd definitely join them again in the future.

    Eve Jakubowski
  • Climbing Mt Baker

    What an awesome experience to go on climbing Mt. Rainier with Miyar Adventures. Sandeep and his team of guides ( Kirk, Alexis, Joe, Ben, Chris, Jasmin ) did an awesome job to lead the multiple rope teams trough snow skill preparations and guiding through safely on glacier journey. The amount of efforts put into multi-month preparation, pre-trip meetings, accessibility to gears for rent and attention to details with food/weight/personal gears were all instrumental in almost all of us (in a group of 24) able to summit Mt. Rainier and have wonderful memories. We knew we were in best company and safe hands with prior experience with Miyar Adventures led climb to Mt. Baker and few other preparation trips. And guides calibrated their approach from novice climbers to experienced climbers to push enough to have an enjoyable experience. I highly recommend to go with Miyar Adventures on amazing trips they have lined up around the Puget Sound Area and internationally.

    Harshit Shah
  • View of the North Cascades from Mt Baker

    This was my first time technical/glacier climb under great guides assistance & summited Mt. Baker & can't wait for more to come, see you soon ;)

    Zuzana Svitek
  • Mt Baker

    If you are interested in doing any climbing or hiking but need a guide , I highly recommend Miyar Adventures...Sandeep is a wonderful person and you will actually learn (and practice ) climbing and crevasse rescue techniques in addition to the trip/climb ...it is definitely beyond a just a "get you to the summit" experience. He genuinely cares and brings in other excellent guides for bigger groups. My husband and I recently successfully made it to the summit of Mount Baker with Sandeep, two other guides and a group of friends and we had a fantastic experience. He and the guides he works with are very knowledgeable so I had confidence in their abilities to lead us but they are also very friendly and fun so that overall trip was enjoyable. I will definitely climb with Miyar Adventures again!

    Monica Henry
  • Star Trails over Mt Baker

    I've climbed Rainier and Baker (+several other training hikes) with Sandeep and other guides from Miyar Adventures. The climbs were made super fun, safe, and informational. With Sandeep's detailed prior planning, extensive know-how of the mountaineering practices, and long climbing experience, you know the climb is going to be safe with great chances of summit. Before all big climbs, Sandeep does an indoor session to discuss the itinerary and answer any concerns. You'll definitely learn a lot whenever you spend time with Sandeep. He has expertise in all forms of climbing: mountaineering, rock and ice. So it also makes it easy to try other activities because you already know the guide well. I've taken instructions from few other guides as well and I wouldn't doubt to state that Sandeep is the best guide I've climbed with! He'll keep you motivated and answer your questions with patience. He'd have fun stories to tell from his rescue ops, first ascents, or other hard climbs. He is ready to make adjustments based on the preferences of the group which is a key in making the trip not only successful but also enjoyable. I can't recommend Miyar Adventures enough! Give them a try and you'll be glad you did.

    Prateek Sharma