This was a very enjoyable course. I felt the instruction provided by all of the guides was top notch, especially because they focused not only on the 'how', but also on the 'why'. I thought we were well prepared for the four day ascent of the Kautz route on Mt. Rainier and we had the opportunity to practice most of the skills we had learned during the first six days in Boston Basin. I also feel confident that I will be able to apply these skills on future climbs. -2015 climber. Read More
For those seeking to quickly gain skills and climbing experience, we offer an extraordinary challenge for the budding mountaineer: our Cascades Six Day Course, followed with a climb of Mount Rainier via the challenging and scenic Kautz route. This is a superb opportunity for those who want to put their new skills to an immediate test. We offer a guide ratio of 5:1 for days one through six, then 2:1 for the climax of the Kautz Route. Please Note: Alpine Ascents reserves the right to change location from the Kautz to another area in the Cascades when climbing conditions are not favorable.
Distinguished among climbing schools, our six-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 feet, upwards of 400 glaciers, and countless permanent snowfields. All courses begin with one-day of comprehensive rock climbing instruction at beautiful Mt. Erie, overlooking the San Juan Islands, with a focus on transferrable skills to glacier travel. The remainder of most courses is held on Mt. Baker, Mount Shuksan, or in Boston Basin, offering climbers the chance to learn on actual glaciers and make a summit attempt.
After our first 6 days in the North Cascades, we drive south to Mount Rainier (conditions permitting) and begin the final phase of the course.
The Kautz glacier is a spectacular intermediate climb that requires excellent physical conditioning. The challenging four-day climb is highlighted by several hundred feet of steep snow and ice climbing that weaves through the serac walls on the Kautz glacier. Please note we reserve the right to change locations from the Kautz to a North Cascades area if the route conditions on the Kautz are not favorable. This decision will be made just prior to the climb.
This programis designed for the beginner or intermediate climber who wishes to develop strong fundamental skills in all aspects of snow and glacier climbing
- Increasing technical knowledge/skills in all aspects of snow and alpine climbing including:
- Glacier travel
- Rope/belay techniques
- Crevasse rescue
- Route finding
- Safe climbing
- Rock 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 serves as a prerequisite for many of Alpine Ascents' intermediate-level climbs and is a stepping stone for more technically difficult mountains. It has served as a springboard for many climbing careers, including those of numerous Everest summiteers, and has developed a skills foundation for hundreds of independent climbers. It has also been successfully used as a training ground for skilled adventurers, rangers, law enforcement, firefighters, military, stunt people and others who require climbing skills in their careers.
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.
A fantastic program and experience. Wayne
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
Mount Shuksan (9,131 ft.), one the most photographed mountains in the world, offers the inspiring mountaineer a training ground that is not only richly diverse, but strikingly beautiful. Climbers must first employ their snow and glacier climbing skills to cross the Sulphide Glacier. The final challenge is an exhilarating blend of steep mixed snow and low 5th class rock to gain the summit pinnacle. Shuksan is a truly a classic northwest adventure.
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.
Ruth Mountain (7,115 ft.), is another North Cascades gem. With panoramic views of Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker, Hannegan Peak, and the elusive Picket Range, it's hard to find a more beautiful location to learn the ropes of mountaineering.
Most excellent program - during the first portion our guide far exceeded my expectations in terms of skill, leadership as well as teaching ability. Though we had some challenging situations on Rainer I always felt safe under their leadership. John
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.
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.
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.