13-Day Cascades Mountaineering Course

Washington

Alpine Ascents is an extraordinary expedition and training program. Our guides, shared a strong ability to transfer their knowledge of mountaineering to members of the expedition. I have worked with a number of instructors and trainers during my time as a Navy SEAL and Cecelia is one of the best hands-on teachers I have ever worked with. - Erica.

Course Overview
The 13 Day Mountaineering course is the most comprehensive course we offer and is an incredible opportunity to learn basic mountaineering skills, rock climbing techniques and advanced alpine climbing topics in the North and Central Cascades. This course essentially combines the 6 day mountaineering course, the 5 day rock climbing for mountaineers course and many aspects of our 8 day intermediate course as well. The North Cascades are unique in that they provide the ideal training ground among a variety of readily accessible terrain. This is a challenging and arduous course, however, it will leave the student with a great skill set in which to help facilitate their climbing career. Whether that be guided or unguided; the 13 day will certainly provide a great education and leave a lasting impression.

Our first six days are usually spent on Mt. Baker or Eldorado Peak, and then we move to a rock training area (generally Leavenworth, Wash.). Then we plunge deep into the Cascades Range for a final summit attempt. This program will include two challenging summit attempts on varying terrain. This course serves as a prerequisite for many of Alpine Ascents' intermediate-level climbs and is a stepping stone to more technically difficult climbs.

Course Objectives

Increasing technical knowledge/skills in all aspects of snow, ice and alpine rock climbing including:

  • Glacier travel
  • Rope/belay techniques
  • Crevasse rescue
  • Route finding
  • Self arrest
  • Rappelling
  • Safe climbing
  • Cramponing
  • Lead and multi-pitch climbing
  • Aid climbing
  • Crack and face climbing techniques
  • Route finding
  • Rope and belay techniques
  • Top roping
  • Protection placement
  • Rappelling
  • Running belays and running protection
  • Developing educated, self-reliant climbers with the ability to evaluate subjective/objective hazards including:
    • Rock fall
    • Glacier conditions
    • Gear evaluations
    • Critical decision-making
    • Group experience
    • White-out conditions
    • Wilderness navigation
    • Weather conditions

This course has been successfully used as a training ground for skilled adventurers, rangers, law enforcement, firefighters, military, stunt people and many others who need climbing skills to do their work.

These courses take place on Mt. Baker, Mt. Daniel, Eldorado Peak, Sahale Peak and throughout the Cascades. We use a variety of locations to provide pristine, less populated environs for our training. That also enables us to take advantage of the best possible mountain conditions for each course.

Guides
Our guiding team is comprised of world-renowned guides and full-time professional climbers. While some of these guides have historical climbing achievements synonymous with their names, others are well known for their guiding and teaching experience. A number of our guides have been recipients of coveted climbing awards and scholarships.

Our guides are an integral part of Alpine Ascents because they understand and share our climbing principles. These individuals are dedicated to sharing their excellence with others. Many of our guides have been with Alpine Ascents for over five years, with a handful of veterans working with us for most of their careers. The quality of our Guide Staff is the primary difference between us and our competitors.

The role of an Alpine Ascents guide is to impart knowledge, use calculated judgement and assist individual climber development. Our guides are experienced educators who evaluate their strengths by monitoring climbers' achievements. Thus we stress our acute ability to provide students and expedition members with personal attention, realizing the commitment to assist each climber in obtaining their goals.

I found the programs to be thorough and professional.  The staff are both pleasant to work with and a great help when needed.  The course took me from understanding concepts to understanding how to utilize concepts under real-world conditions.  I found the whole system to be thorough and professional.  I have previously taken courses with Two other well-known schools.  I found your staff as professional if not more professional than anyone I worked with in either of those programs.  I didn't have many questions for your staff, but all interactions were highly professional as well as friendly.  I found the literature and the web site very thorough and enabled me to know what to expect.  I would have no problem recommending your services for people seeking either mountaineering training or guiding. Nate B.

The North Cascades
The North Cascades in Washington state form the largest and most rugged alpine wilderness mountain range in the contiguous United States. Contained within this range are scores of peaks topping 8,000 feet, upwards of 400 glaciers, and countless permanent snowfields. Most of the high peaks in the North Cascades are composed of metamorphic or intrusive igneous rocks. These weather-resistant rocks have been heavily sculpted by alpine glaciation, producing stunning peaks and ridges. These breathtaking views and the wide variety of alpine climbing have earned the area the nickname "The American Alps." The North Cascades are considered the premier training ground for developing alpine climbers. See our Course Catalog for a complete listing of our North Cascades course offerings.

The weather in the North Cascades can be extremely variable, with snow below 3,000 feet. Precipitation levels are heavy, particularly during the winter months. "Variable conditions" also include glorious weather for lengthy periods, usually in late summer. For instructional purposes, the optimum time to climb in the Cascades is from early May through late August. This is when the combination of weather and snow conditions is usually at its best.
The vegetation and wildlife of the North Cascades are interesting and diverse. Approximately 150 common species and another 100 or so less common species of wildflowers bloom during the summer. This range is aesthetically exceptional and we hope you find yourself returning many times to enjoy its grandeur.

Many who have been introduced to the world of alpine climbing in the Cascades have gone on to climb in the world's greatest mountain ranges. We hope our program will be the first step towards a lifetime of mountaineering.

Cascades Summit Details
Mt. Baker (10,781 ft.), the highest point of the North Cascades, is a heavily glaciated dormant volcano. The twelve active glaciers of Mt. Baker cover an area exceeding 20 square miles. Mt. Baker is unique in its great mass of snow and ice and easy accessibility. This combination creates a perfect alpine training ground.

El Dorado Peak (8,868 ft.) is one of the most majestic North Cascades mountains. It presents a strenuous climb, which rewards the physically fit with a beautiful mountaineering route. It is perhaps the most intensive training ground we use. General snow and glacier climbing skills lead one to the knife-edged snow arete at the summit and an expansive view across one of only two ice caps in the North Cascades. The aptly named Inspiration Glacier cloaks the summit and is magnificent to behold.

Mt. Daniel (7,986 ft.). A scenic hike on the Pacific Crest Trail and a timberline high camp near a beautiful glacier tarn enhance the approach to this little-known glaciated peak of the Central Cascades. This is a complex mountain requiring a broad range of basic mountaineering skills.

Sahale Peak (8,680 ft.) presents another classic North Cascades wilderness mountaineering objective and is a favorite among our guides. Climbers are rewarded with some of the best scenic views in the range. The corniced rock and snow summit ridge rises above the small, steep Quien Sabe Glacier and provides an aesthetic climbing line that's accessible with basic skills.

The program was everything I thought it was going to be. It was well planned and executed. Thanks for a great trip. I have never been outside the city and it was a blast. Guides were incredible. - Pete

Physical Conditioning
In the best interest of personal safety, success and team compatibility, adequate training and excellent physical condition is required. Prior experience carrying a heavy pack for multiple days serves as excellent preparation for this course; Climbers must be able to carry an average of 50-60lbs. Climbers need to be in excellent physical condition for both personal enjoyment and to be an integral team member. We encourage you to contact us so that we may assist you in developing a training program that meets your particular needs. Comprehensive training information can be found here.

Environmental Responsibility
Alpine Ascents is deeply committed to maintaining ecosystems at home and around the world. With each expedition, trek and course, we not only attempt to leave the environment as we found it, but strive to assist the local population in protecting the land and people indigenous to that region. Alpine Ascents reaches for the highest ethical business practices at home and abroad. Each staff member is dedicated to environmentally sound alpine ascents.

Environmental stewardship remains one of our core values, and we take Leave No Trace ethics and practices seriously. The mountains are our home and we are unwilling to sacrifice their preservation for human objectives. On every one of our courses and climbs, we teach and follow the environmentally appropriate Leave No Trace principles and practices.

Our commitment to environmental stewardship can be seen on our programs around the world. Over the years, with the assistance of our Sherpa teams, we have stepped up efforts to clean Mt. Everest. Our Wag Bag® program made a pioneering step in human waste management for the National Park System and Forest Service in the North Cascades. On Aconcagua and Mount Vinson, we pioneered a waste removal system on our climbs, utilizing the WAG Bag® system. And we continue our maintenance and minimal impact plans wherever we guide. We believe that given the proper information, most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment.

Alpine Ascents is committed to developing safe, self-reliant and environmentally conscious mountaineers.

Private Groups
We regularly organize private climbs for individuals, corporate groups, families and friends. We encourage you to book these climbs early, to help us be better able to fit these climbs to group-specific desires. Contact us to further discuss the benefits of private courses.

Alpine Ascents International is an Equal Opportunity recreation provider under the Special Use Permit from the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Okanogan National Forest, Wenatchee National Forest, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Goat Rocks Wilderness and the North Cascades National Park.

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