2-Day Ice Climbing Course Itinerary

Day Before the Trip

Mandatory 4 p.m. gear check at Alpine Ascents’ Seattle office, to ensure that everyone is fully equipped and prepared to depart the next morning. Rental gear is fitted and packed at this time. We’ll also review the functionality of each piece of gear, packing our backpacks, wilderness ethics, and Leave No Trace practices. Duration: Approximately 2 hours.

Day 1

We’ll meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Heliotrope Ridge Trailhead. This is a well graded trail that provides quick access to a spectacular alpine wonderland. We’ll hike to a camp in close proximity to the towering seracs of the lower Coleman Glacier ice fall at 5,000′. It’s a relatively easy hike of approximately 2,000 vertical feet over 3 miles.  It will take us around 2.5 – 3.5 hours. Once arriving at our camp location, we’ll set up camp quickly and have a lunch break.

After lunch, we’ll rope up and head over to our classroom site set amongst the steep ice and towering seracs of the Lower Coleman Glacier. Along the way, we’ll review the tenants of glacial travel. At our classroom site, guides will begin by explaining safe site selection, how to judge ice quality, and positioning of the belayer. From there, we’ll take a deep dive into belay techniques – both lead and top rope. Guides will then instruct on ice tool and crampon techniques for steep ice climbing.

Day 2

We’ll get an early start to make the most of our training day. Emphasis will be placed on developing efficient climbing technique on 60 – 80 degree ice walls with the use of two ice tools.   Expect lots of time spent climbing and applying basic ice climbing techniques to ever more challenging objectives. Building on the skills from the previous day, climbers will also belay each other and practice getting lowered down ice climbs, in addition to rappelling a steep ice cliff.  Guides will also discuss selection and placement of ice screws for belays and on-route protection as well screw removal and racking. All of these skills help translate into success on technical alpine climbs such as the North Ridge of Mount Baker and the Kautz Glacier on Rainier. After a full day of climbing, we’ll return to camp, pack up, and hike back to the trailhead.

The course exceeded my expectations. I was provided a deeper understanding of skills I already had and there were clarifications on skills I thought I knew, as well as new skills provided to me. One objective I had coming into the course was becoming a more self-reliant climber and I can certainly say this course […]


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