This was an excellent course. It covered all aspects of basic mountaineering and glacier travel skills. One of the real strengths of Willi and the program is the close personal attention that each student receives. I felt Alpine Ascents offered a wonderful experience in the North Cascades Mountaineering School. It was challenging but I feel I walked away with a lot of knowledge and increased respect for nature and the environment. I also felt the whole experience was very well organized from the application process through the achievement of the summit. -Amy S.
Distinguished among climbing schools, our 6-day program has been the foundation of our education programs for over 20 years. During this course, one receives hands-on climbing and climber’s safety training in Washington’s glorious Cascade range (as seen in the slideshow above). Unlike Rainier, the Cascades is part of a huge mountain range with scores of peaks topping 8,000', upwards of 400 glaciers and countless permanent snowfields. Most courses are held on Mt. Baker or Eldorado Peak offering climbers the chance to learn on actual glaciers and culminating in a summit attempt. This program is designed for the beginner or intermediate climber wishing to develop strong fundamental skills in all aspects of snow and glacier climbing. This course serves as a prerequisite for many of Alpine Ascents' intermediate level climbs and is a stepping stone for more technically difficult mountains, including Denali. This course has springboarded many climbing careers include numerous Everest summiters as well as developed a foundation of skills for hundreds of independent climbers.Course Objectives
- Increasing technical knowledge/skills in all aspects of snow and alpine climbing including:
- Glacier travel
- Rope/belay techniques
- Crevasse rescue
- Route finding
- Self arrest
- Safe climbing
- 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, fire fighters, military, stunt people and many others who require climbing skills as part of their career.
This course generally takes place on Mount Baker. These courses also take place on 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.
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.
Excellent, I never knew I could learn so much in only 6 days!! The guides were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about teaching us. - Gosia
The North Cascades in Washington State form the largest and most rugged alpine wilderness mountain range in the contiguous US. Contained within this range are scores of peaks topping 8,000', 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'. 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') 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 with respect to its great mass of snow and ice and easy accessibility. This combination creates a perfect alpine training ground.
El Dorado Peak (8,868') stands as 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') a scenic hike on the Cascade 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') 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. Its corniced rock and snow summit ridge rises above the small, steep Quien Sabe Glacier and provides a very aesthetic climbing line accessible with basic skills.
Simply EXCELLENT! Wonderful guides who never lost their patience with me or anyone in our group. Being great climbers is one thing, but being teachers who can clearly impart knowledge in a friendly and cordial manner is another. All three of our guides were both. Would recommend the course to others in a heartbeat! The program was fantastic, I am truly grateful for the experience.Tony S.
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.
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.
At Alpine Ascents environmental stewardship remains one of our core values and we take Leave No Trace ethics and practices very 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 principals and practices.
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, we pioneered a waste removal system on our climbs, utilizing the WAG Bag® system. And we continue our on-going 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.
We regularly organize private climbs for individuals, corporate groups, families and friends. We encourage you to book these climbs early as we are often able to cater these climbs to group-specific desires. Please contact our office 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.Return to Top of Page