Cascades Intermediate Mountaineering Course

Washington

Everything I could have ever hoped for. The Mountaineering School gave me enough exposure and training to create an intense desire to keep climbing and pursue high altitude goals. Our guide was nothing but extraordinary. His skill, leadership and teaching ability were unsurpassed. -Brian C.

Course Overview
The 8-Day Intermediate Mountaineering course is an incredible opportunity to learn advanced alpine climbing topics in North Cascades. The focus of the course is climbing steep snow, ice, rock and mixed terrain, in addition to glacier travel. The wilderness of the North Cascades provides the ideal training ground due to the variety of terrain that is available. The goal of this course is that graduating students should be able to climb non-technical glaciated mountains with short sections of moderately technical terrain safely. It also provides an excellent advanced preparation guided ascents of Liberty Ridge of Mount Rainier, the Matterhorn, Denali, Mount Vinson and Cho Oyu. Alpine Ascents believes the best training for mountaineering is accomplished with as much time in the field as possible, and all eight days are spent in the mountains.

Course Objectives
Complete a series of climbs designed to improve and increase existing mountaineering skills and knowledge.

To further develop experienced climber's existing technical skills.

Climbing techniques covered:

  • Lead climbing
  • Crevasse rescue review
  • Route finding
  • Rope and belay techniques
  • Protection placement
  • Wilderness navigation

This course has been successfully used as a training ground for skilled adventurers, rangers, law enforcement, fire fighters, military, stunt people and many others who require climbing skills as part of their career.

These courses take place on Mt. Baker, Mt. Daniel, Eldorado Peak, Sahale Peak and throughout the Cascades. We utilize a variety of locations to distribute land use and provide pristine, less populated environs for our training. It 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 think the greatest strength of the company was reflected in this course and in every trip I've done with Alpine Ascents; and that is the guides. My guides were 100% fantastic. They were truly impressive in regards to both their skills and knowledge as well as their interpersonal skills. The main reason I continue to take trips with Alpine Ascents is that you have the best guides in the business. As far as I've seen in my experiences no one does it better than Alpine Ascents International. From education to organization from safety to the skill level of the guides Alpine Ascents is head and shoulders above the rest. -Tim A.

PREREQUISITES- 60 Pound Pack Required

Climbing Skill Level
Climbers should have completed our Alaska 8 Day, Alaska 12 Day, Cascades 6 Day, Rainier 8 Day or 10 Day course or equivalent.

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.

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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