6 Day Baker Mountaineering Course Overview
This course far exceeded my already optimistic expectations! I learned so much and feel very ready to utilize the skills learned. This class also exposed areas where I was weaker and shed light onto parts of my climbing that I need to work on. I am so happy I did this course! —2020 Climber
From showing up until parting ways, we were impressed with the professionalism of the staff and facilities. COVID-19 brought some logistical and training challenges and Alpine Ascents always kept us updated via emails leading up to the course which was very helpful. We left the course motivated and excited to use our newfound skills in the Cascades and beyond. —2020 Climber
Distinguished among climbing schools, our six-day program has been the foundation of our education programs for over 20 years. Utilizing Mt. Baker we have access to one of the best glacier training areas in the United States, in many ways second to none.
During this course, our students receive hands-on climbing and climber’s safety training in Washington’s glorious Cascade Range (as seen in the slideshow below). Unlike Rainier, the Cascades is part of a vast mountain range with scores of peaks topping 8,000 feet, upwards of 400 glaciers, and countless permanent snowfields. This course is held on Mt. Baker, known locally as Koma Kulshan or simply Kulshan, offering climbers the chance to learn on actual glaciers and make a summit attempt. We may use other peaks in the North Cascades if necessary to ensure the best possible mountain conditions.
This program is designed for the beginner or intermediate climber who wishes to develop strong fundamental skills in all aspects of snow and glacier climbing. It serves as a prerequisite for many of Alpine Ascents’ intermediate-level climbs and is a stepping stone to more technically difficult mountains, including Denali. This course has served as a springboard to many climbing careers, including numerous Everest summiters, and has developed a foundation of skills for hundreds of independent climbers.
The quality of the course was excellent, and the guides were very circumspect about making sure we were doing it right. I need to practice the skills learned more, but I also feel like I now have a foundation for further skill development. I had a great time. —2020 Climber
This course has been successfully used as a training ground for skilled adventurers, rangers, law enforcement, firefighters, military, stunt people and many others who require climbing skills as part of their career.
This course generally takes place on Mt. Baker. Occasionally, courses also take place on Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Daniel, Eldorado Peak, Sahale Peak and throughout the Cascades
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
About The North Cascades
Courses are likely to be held on Mount Baker.
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.
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.
Eldorado 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.
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.
The course on Baker was fantastic! The curriculum was well thought out, and the guides did a great job. They were clear leaders who kept student learning and safety up front. They ensured that the group worked together to learn and to make a successful summit.