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Cascades Rock Climbing Course

Course Overview

I had a great time and I learned a lot on this trip. Both Guides were great guys and I had a great time and would definitely recommend to others. It was a great experience again from AA that I expect from you guys, 3rd trip with you guys was again good one.

Rock climbing is currently one of the fastest growing sectors of the outdoor industry and for good reason. It is a fun and rewarding experience, in addition to being an excellent way for the mountaineer to improve footwork and prepare for more technical summits. Our five day rock climbing course is designed for beginner and intermediate climbers; this is a great course for a budding outdoor climber or an avid gym climber looking to take their skills outside. Due to the small group sizes, the guides are often able to structure the course to meet the needs of each individual climber, while placing a premium of safety and safe climbing practices. Our locations are chosen with minimal approach time which will maximize our time climbing and developing skills. Although the days are long, our graduates often find this to be a very enjoyable course; a refreshing change of pace from our demanding glaciated climbs.

This course is a crucial part of the necessary skillset needed when approaching challenging mixed terrain climbing. Whether one has an existing background in glacier climbing, sport or gym climbing, or is an avid hiker, this rock course will change the way you view and assess variable terrain.

Students who complete the five day training course should walk away with a firm understanding of the basics of rock climbing including the ability to tie knots, belay and rappel safely. Furthermore, most of our students learn about the materials and equipment used in rock climbing, are confident in setting up their own top-rope anchors, understand the mechanics of lead climbing, improve their risk assessment, practice basic rescue systems, and enhanced movement skills. Although not the focus of this course, we usually attempt at least one multi-pitch climb to familiarize students with longer climbs.

Course Objectives

The purpose of this course is to improve terrain assessment and climbing skills of the students. This includes the actual movement skill on technical rock routes in addition to a base understanding of the safety systems that are used in rock climbing. These are all very transferable skills to snow and ice and many of our graduates find this course to be extremely beneficial for their future mountaineering objectives such as Denali, The Matterhorn or Everest.

Some key components of the course are:

  • Learning balance and energy efficiency in rock climbing. Slab, crack and face climbing techniques will be employed throughout the course.
  • Learning a variety of knots and hitches that are common in climbing.
  • Belaying and Rappelling.
  • Safe Anchor construction from pre-established bolts, traditional gear and natural placements.
  • Evaluating top rope sites and establishing top rope climbs. Helping climbers visualize the route, how it unfolds and managing potential risks.
  • Basic Rock Rescue techniques including escaping the belay and passing a knot.
  • Ascending a fixed line.
  • The mechanics of lead climbing and mock lead scenarios.
  • The theory and practice of multi-pitch climbing.

Reading List

This is a highly recommended shortlist and we would be happy to pass on a longer reading list for those interested. These links will bounce to Amazon.com with reviews.

Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills
Don Graydon (Ed.), Kurt Hanson (Ed.), Mountaineers Society, Mountaineers Books
Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills
Topher Donahue, Craig Luebben, Mountaineers Outdoor Experts, Mountaineers Books
Climbing Anchors
John Long, Bob Gaines

Frequently Asked Questions - Washington School

You will be mailed specific information for your climb or course upon registration. The following is to serve as a helpful guideline.

What kind of physical condition should I be in?

You should aim to be in the best shape of your life. The weight of your pack is generally 65 pounds. We invite you to check out our comprehensive Training page. We highly recommend checking with your physician before embarking on strenuous physical activity. We reserve the right to turn away those climbers who we determine to be in inadequate physical condition.

How do I reserve a space for a course?

The best way to reserve space on a course is to call our offices and place the deposit on a VISA/MC/AMEX. You may also fill out a secure online application here. Our courses fill quickly on a first-come, first-served basis, and registering over the phone is the best way to ensure reserving the course dates you want. You may also submit an application by mail with a check, money order or credit card number (see register section of website).

When does my course begin and end?

Location: Alpine Ascents Office. 109 West Mercer Street, Seattle.
Mountaineering Courses Begins: 6:30am, Day 1 of the course
Summit climbs: Mt. Baker and Mt. Adams have a mandatory gear check the day before at 2:00pm
Finishes: Between 6:00pm – 10:00pm on the last day of the course.

Please note: Our recommended hotel, The Marqueen Hotel is located two blocks from our office.
Marqueen Hotel
206-282-7407
www.marqueen.com

Which climbs include Transportation?

Alpine Ascents will provide transportation on all climbs and courses excluding the 3 Day Mt. Baker Summit Climb, 2 Day Mt. Adams Climb, Private Climbs

Do I have different logistics if I am on a private climb?

Private climb logistics are generally as follows: We meet the morning of your course at 7:00am at the Alpine Ascents offices. You are responsible for your own food and transportation. Private climbs of 3 days or less may require a gear check the day prior to your start date.

When should I fly in and out of Seattle?

We recommend staying overnight the night before the course begins and on the evening of the last day of the course. Because our last course day is a summit day, there are variables that make it difficult to guarantee the exact time each course will end. You will need to be ready to go at 6:30am on the morning your course begins. Please note; if you have a 2 pm gear check the day prior to your climb, it may be advisable to arrive 1 day before your gear check.

Where can I buy flights?

Alpine Ascents uses the services of Charles Mulvehill at Scan East West Travel: 1-800-727-2157 or 206-623 2157. They are very familiar with our Mountaineering School and offer competitive prices on all domestic and international flights. You can also contact him via email: charles@scaneastwest.com

How do I get from the airport to my hotel and downtown Seattle?

From Sea-Tac International Airport to the Marqueen Hotel or any hotel in downtown Seattle:
Shuttle Express: Airport to Marqueen Hotel or downtown Seattle and return. shuttleexpress.com
Cost: $38.00 one way
The Shuttle Express also has regular service to downtown Seattle and can be easily found via Sea-Tac courtesy phones.

Parking while on Course?

There is limited parking near the Alpine Ascents Office. Unfortunately, parking in downtown Seattle can be difficult. There are several parking lots and garages nearby that offer daily parking, but most do not offer weekly parking. A good option is to contact the Seattle Center Parking office and look into purchasing a monthly parking pass through them. They have a few garages with several pricing options: seattlecenter.com. Baker Climbs require a trailhead permit, available through REI, and the Park Service. (We offer the parking permits for Baker at our office. They can also be purchased en route to Mt. Baker).

How do I get to Alpine Ascents International?

Click Here for Map

  • From Interstate 5, take the Mercer Street Exit and follow the signs to Seattle Center/Space Needle. (A quick right turn onto Fairview Ave., and a quick left turn onto Valley St., which becomes Broad Street.)
  • After you pass the Space Needle on your right, make a right turn onto Denny Way.
  • Proceed to 1st Ave. North and turn right.
  • Proceed to Mercer Street and turn right.
  • We are located at 109 West Mercer Street, directly across the street from Bank of America and Next Door to Ozzie’s Tavern.
    Street parking is limited to 2-hour zones and parking meters, though there are several pay lots near our offices.
What kind of previous mountaineering experience do I need to take a course?

All courses except those listed as Intermediate are designed for beginners in very good physical condition. Our 13-Day course is designed for both beginning and intermediate climbers who are in excellent physical condition and serious about acquiring in-depth experience in all aspects of alpine climbing.

Where do I stay the night before and after the course?

Within walking distance of our Seattle Office is the Marqueen Hotel. We recommend staying there at our preferred rate. We meet at our office on the day of the course at 6:30am. The Marqueen Hotel is located two blocks from our office.
Marqueen Hotel
206-282-7407
www.marqueen.com

If you wish to share a room with another course participant, The Marqueen can help with those arrangements. You will need a room for the night prior to the start of your course and for the last night of your course. The hotel is 2 blocks from the Alpine Ascents office. Extra gear may be stored at our office until your return.

Staying elsewhere in downtown Seattle is another option. During the climbing season, hotels in the Seattle metropolis are difficult to reserve and are a bit more expensive. You may elect to stay in any one of the numerous hotels in the area, but you will be responsible for getting to our offices by 6:30am the morning of your course. We are a short taxi cab ride away from most of the downtown hotels and local equipment shops. After the course, we will return to our offices and you can return to your hotel by taxi at that point. You will need a room for the night prior to the start of your course and for the last night of your course. Please note: Free long-term parking is generally difficult in the vicinity of Alpine Ascents. If you plan to stay in Seattle and have a car, try to arrange a taxi or ride to our offices on the morning of the course. Extra gear may be stored in our office until your return.

What do I need to bring?

When you sign up for a course we will send you a confirmation package that includes an equipment list detailing each piece of equipment you will need. Please read your equipment list very carefully. You are required to bring every item on the list so be as precise as possible when packing. Alpine Ascents rents quality technical equipment at reasonable rates. If you have any equipment-related questions please call us (206-378-1927). You can also email us at: Climb@AlpineAscents.com

Is food provided on my climb or course?

As part of the curriculum, you are responsible for your own food. Before departing for the trailhead, we will check and organize personal/group gear. Additionally, if necessary we will make one final stop for groceries. However, it is advisable to purchase most of your bulk foods before we meet. If you are staying in Seattle, there are numerous supermarkets as well as the flagship REI, North Face, and Patagonia gear shops for fresh and prepackaged foods.

Note for 13-day students: Following the first six days of the program we will return to our vehicle and travel to the rock climbing area. At this time we will re-supply our food and have time to shower. Initially you need only to carry food for the first six days. Our 13-day program is our most physically demanding course.

Where do I pick up my rental gear for the course?

You will pick up your rental gear at our offices during the gear check.

Can I share a tent and stove?

Yes, students generally pair up during the gear check to share the weight and bulk of a tent and stove.

How heavy will my pack be?

Since everyone purchases different gear and is a different size, it is hard to give you an exact weight. For most of our courses, you can expect your internal frame pack (packed with gear and food) to weigh between 55 and 65 pounds. It is likely that you will be asked to help carry some of the group equipment such as ropes and protection, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your backpack for approximately 4-8 pounds of gear. The total potential weight to be carried is 65 – 75 pounds.

Any tips on packing?

The mountains of the northwest and north coast are heavily glaciated temperate mountains. This means they are subject to highly variable weather conditions.

  • Pack everything in two layers of sturdy plastic. (Trash Compactor Bags work the best) Bring one large trash bag to completely and easily cover your pack. You should bring at least 4 bags.
  • It is likely that you will be asked to help carry some of the group equipment, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your backpack.
What can I read to prepare for the course?

You will get far more out of your course by reading Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 6th ed., The Mountaineers. This book provides an excellent overview of the elements involved in alpine mountaineering. Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 6 review many of the aspects we will be covering during your training and familiarity with these aspects will greatly enhance your experience.

How many students/instructors are there per class?

On our 3-Day Mt Baker climbs the ratio is 3:1, Training Courses (programs 3 days or greater), the student to instructor ratio is 5:1 . For our 13-Day course it is 4:1. Our 8-Day and 12-Day Alaska courses have a 5:1 ratio.

Where is a good, trustworthy store to purchase gear?

We run our own retail climbing shop and online gear store, where all Alpine Ascents climbers receive a discount.

I am concerned that the gear I am renting will not fit or work properly.

All of our gear is of the highest quality. The boots, packs, crampons, ice axes, tents, and other items are cleaned and checked on a daily basis. Please note that double plastic boots do not break in.

How is the issue of human waste in the North Cascades dealt with by Alpine Ascents?

Alpine Ascents International takes Leave No Trace principles very seriously. We are a pioneering organization in environmentally positive methods of waste disposal. We were the first guide service to implement the use of the revolutionary “Wag Bag” system. Other wilderness companies and organizations are taking our lead and are now implementing this excellent product. If you have climbed with us and are wondering where to obtain your own supplies, you can order Wag Bags from Phillips Environmental directly from their website: http://www.thepett.com

Is this trip going to be physically challenging?

Yes. See the training tips above, but… Keep in mind that you are climbing a mountain and it is not easy. If you follow our physical fitness tips and do some training on your own, you should complete the course with no problems.

What if I need to leave the course early?

For climbers who need to be escorted from the course, there is a minimum fee of $350.00.

The guides’ skill level was outstanding. They were obviously very experienced in back country as well as technical skills. Not only was my guide an excellent climber but a great teacher.

Partners & Accreditations

Alpine Ascents International is an authorized mountain guide service of Denali National Park and Preserve and Mount Rainier National Park.
Copyright © 2016 Alpine Ascents International. All rights reserved.