Getting to Seattle
You should arrive in Seattle the day before your course begins and depart the day after your course ends. If you are flying into Seattle, SeaTac is the closest airport to our office. You are responsible for transportation between the airport and your hotel.
Getting from the Airport to Alpine Ascents
Our office and recommended hotels are 30-50 minutes from the airport (depending on traffic). Most climbers take a Lyft, Uber, or taxi directly from the airport.
Another option is taking the Light Rail (public transit) from the airport station to Westlake Station, followed by a Lyft/Uber/taxi the last 1.8 miles to our office and vicinity. The Light Rail is $3 for this one-way trip.
6:30 a.m. Meeting Day 1 of Course
We meet at the Alpine Ascents Office at 6:30 a.m. on Day 1 of your course for gear check. Please be on time and come prepared, following your Gear Check information.
Once gear check has concluded, we will take the Alpine Ascents shuttle to the trailhead. This drive takes 2.5-3 hours.
Because transportation is provided by Alpine Ascents on this course, we strongly recommend against driving your car to gear check and trying to park it for the duration of the course. Commuting to our office via taxi/transit app is generally a better option.
Due to our location in the heart of Seattle, free parking can be difficult to locate in the vicinity of Alpine Ascents. Most parking is 2-hour metered street parking. Multi-day parking options include pay-by-day lots or limited 72-hour free street parking 4-8 blocks from our office.
Day 6 and 7 of Course
Day 6 is your final day on Mount Baker. After breaking camp and returning to the trailhead we will shuttle back to Seattle. We will regroup at the Alpine Ascents office to make equipment adjustments and finalize logistics for the next day. You can then head to your hotel in Seattle. Please make a hotel reservation for the night of Day 6.
Day 7 is your first day on Mount Rainier. We will meet at the Alpine Ascents office in Seattle at 5:45 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. shuttle departure. Please be on time. Additional guides will join us for the Rainier summit climb.
Day 9 of Course
You will return to the Alpine Ascents Office between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on the last day of the climb.
Air travelers are strongly advised against booking flights out until the day after your course concludes. Trip schedules will not be adjusted to accommodate return flights booked on the same day your course concludes.
We recommend booking a room for the night before your course in Seattle, for the night of Day 6, and for the night your course concludes on Day 9. We will return to our Seattle office late on Day 9, between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., and you can return to your hotel. We strongly advise against flying out until the day after your course concludes. Trip schedules will not be adjusted to accommodate return flights booked on the same day your course concludes.
The MarQueen Hotel: One block from our office and often able to offer a discount for our climbers. They are helpful and familiar with our programs. Please book early as Seattle hotels can be fully booked in summer months.
Reserve by phone: (206) 282-7407 (888) 445-3076. Mention you are with Alpine Ascents to get a discount, if available.
Reserve online: The Marqueen Hotel. Use promotional code “Alpine” to receive a discount.
We are located in lower Queen Anne, downtown Seattle, and are a short walk or taxi ride away from many other hotels. You may elect to stay in any one of the numerous hotels in the area. You will be responsible for getting to our office for your gear check the day before your climb and morning departure on Day 1 of the climb.
Other Hotels Nearby:
Inn at Queen Anne
The Maxwell Hotel
6:30 a.m. Gear Check (Day 1 of your Course)
Meet at the Alpine Ascents Office at 6:30 a.m. for a mandatory gear check. This takes place on the first day of your course. This meeting will last approximately 2 hours.
You are required to attend this meeting, so we can distribute and fit rental gear, do a thorough check of your gear, provide packing instruction, check personal menu items, review the route and trip itinerary, and answer any questions you may have.
You may attend the gear check in your normal street clothes. We have storage for reasonably sized luggage while you are on your climb, so please bring a duffel bag/suitcase to store any personal items you do not wish to take on your climb.
What to Bring: Please bring all of your gear to gear check. Note that you do not need to pack carefully, as we look at every item together. Rental gear will be picked up at the gear check. You are responsible to bring all gear on the gear list (including food) except what you rent from Alpine Ascents.
Gear Check Video
For reference, check out this video that talks through the 3 Day Rainier gear list. The gear list for your course is similar, though not identical. The video should give you a basic understanding of the gear you will need for your Mount Baker course, but please refer to the link above when packing and preparing for your 9 Day Course.
Link back to your 9 Day Course gear list:
Due to the heavily glaciated temperate mountains in the Washington Cascades you may be subject to highly variable weather conditions. With this in mind, we developed our gear list for the safety and comfort of our climbers. There may be occasions when required items are not used because of current weather conditions. You are welcome to call the office before your trip to check on conditions, but please note the gear list prepares you for poor weather conditions.
You are required to bring every item on this list as described so be as precise as possible when packing. Alpine Ascents rents quality equipment at reasonable rates. Gear is also available for purchase at the Alpine Ascents Equipment Store where climbers on an Alpine Ascents expedition will receive a discount.
• Pack everything in two layers of sturdy plastic (trash compactor bags work best and are equivalent to two layers of plastic).
• Bring one large trash bag to completely and easily cover the inside of your pack.
• You will help carry some of the group equipment, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your pack.
Stoves & Tents
Tent, stove, and cooking utensils, while required for the first 6 days of your course, can be shared between two climbers to reduce pack weight. These pairings will be arranged at gear check the morning of your course. Please be aware of this possibility to share these items.
**During the summit climb portion on Mount Rainier, breakfast and dinners (as well as stoves and tents) are already provided on the mountain. Please bring a cup, bowl, and spoon. You are required to bring your own lunches (see Meal Planning). You may be asked to help carry provisions to each camp. If you have a particular favorite food or beverage mix, please feel free to bring it along.
About Food in the Mountains
You are responsible for all of your own food during the course portion (first 6 days on Mount Baker) and for your own lunches during the summit climb on Rainier (final 3 days). Please purchase your foods before we meet. There are several large supermarkets near our office including Trader Joe’s, Safeway, and Metropolitan Market. If you plan to incorporate freeze-dried meals, purchase these ahead of time.
A comprehensive menu planning guide can be found on the next tab under “Menu Plan.”
Food is one of the basic pleasures of wilderness travel. There are countless options for putting together healthy and delicious meals for long wilderness trips, depending on how much time, effort, and money you have to spend on preparation before the trip. Thorough meal planning and preparation is a must!
While our summit climbs and expeditions include meals, our mountaineering courses aim to teach sustainability and self-sufficiency in the mountains. For this course, you will be responsible for bringing and cooking your own food for the 6 day portion and then you will need to provide only lunches for the last 4 days. Guides will review all food items at the gear check, but you will be responsible for cooking your own meals.
On the evening of Day 6 you will dine in Seattle (reminder to reserve a hotel room) and you will also have time to shop for upcoming lunches during the Seattle visit.
For the first 6 days in the Cascades you will need:
For the 3 day Rainier portion you will need:
Breakfast and Dinner are provided on this portion of the course
Nourishment and mountaineering are inseparable. Climbing requires higher daily energy expenditure than many other strenuous activities. Eating well (and frequently!) sustains energy levels, keeps us happy, and helps us to combat the cold conditions and inclement weather we will likely encounter in the mountains of Washington. One of the most challenging parts of a mountain guide’s job is advising climbers on the types and quantities of food to bring on a mountaineering expedition. Unlike items such a sleeping bag where you have it packed or not, food is subjective.
Some climbers eat large quantities of food, some eat less. Some love dehydrated meals, while others do not as a result of digestion issues. As guides, we can’t tell you what you are going to like or how much you are going to eat. There is no way to tell you if you’re going to want 2,500 or 3,500 calories per day.
With that in mind, here are some general thoughts on food planning:
Too little food is terrible, but too much food is not the answer
Going hungry and/or having to live off the extra food of other climbers and guides is not fun. On the other hand, you don’t want to haul around food that will go uneaten. Consider the weight and volume of what foods you are bringing.
All food selection is a compromise between taste, weight, space
A block of cheese is easier to pack than a similar amount weight of shredded cheese because it is denser. Dehydrated meals are the lightest meals to pack and easiest to prepare, but if you don’t like them it doesn’t matter how light and easy they are.
Bring food that you like
Six days is a long time to be unhappy with your food choices. If you don’t like a particular food in your home, it is unlikely you are going to start enjoying it in the mountains.
It’s your responsibility to check food preferences and amounts prior to your trip
Is 1 cup dry cereal with 3 tablespoons of powdered milk enough for one breakfast, or will you be happier with 1.5 cups? How much pasta should you bring for one dinner – 1 packet or 2? Trying out a few mountain meals at home will give you a much better sense of what to bring. Test out snack/lunch options before your course, too.
Salt, pepper, mustard, hot sauce, sugar, etc. are all great additions to any meal plan, especially if you are not using dehydrated meals (as they are already high in sodium). The lightest option is to pick up individual serving packets from the deli section at the grocery and store them in a Ziploc bag. Also, very, very small (1 oz.) plastic storage containers with screw-on caps can be purchased at most outdoor stores for condiment storage.
An essential part of breakfast and dinner for both hydration and well being. Coffee drinkers take heart – there can be decent coffee in the mountains! Starbucks VIA’s have become standard on mountaineering expeditions. A small portion of powdered milk and sugar can be added. Black tea, yerba mate, herbal teas, hot chocolate, and powdered chai are other options. Plan on bringing enough for 2 to 5 hot drinks per day!
Meats and cheeses are great foods for this course as they will not spoil – nature’s freezer (snow!) will be close to hand. Reduce excess packaging. Get rid of boxes, extra wrapping, etc. Ziplocks are great for repackaging food. A few medium-sized stuff sacks are great for organizing food while in camp.
Consider bringing Nuun hydration tablets or other cold drink mixes to add to drinking water for electrolyte replacement during your course. *Please note the emphasis on hot drinks and other liquids in the menu. Staying hydrated while climbing is very important, and this issue is addressed in-depth while on the course.
The most important preparation you can do for your course is training. This is an extremely rigorous climb and being in strong physical condition is mandatory for personal saftey, success, and team compatibility. Students who have properly trained will also be better equipped to learn and retain the technical material covered.
Refer to your course training page:
If this kind of training is new for you, we strongly recommend working with a trainer/coach that has a background in mountaineering. Steve House and staff at Uphill Athlete are experienced industry professionals we highly recommend.
Knots to Know
We recommend learning the following knots and hitches before your course. Knowing these knots beforehand will help you focus more of your course time on learning their applications.
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.
On the Mountain
Nights 1-5, 7-9 at Camps
Sleeping arrangements: Tents (2 climbers per tent)
Bathroom: Waste Kits
Cell coverage: Some camps receive limited cell service. However, climbers should be prepared to be out of service for the duration of the course, with the exception of Day 6 in Seattle.
Night 6 at your hotel of choice
Be sure to book a hotel in Seattle for the night of Day 6. See Lodging tab.
Leave No Trace
Alpine Ascents International practices Leave No Trace principles on all expeditions. We believe that given the proper information most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment. Before your climb, please become familiar with Leave No Trace:
As guides, we spend time teaching the environmentally appropriate Leave No Trace principles and practices. There is nothing more rewarding than working hard to get high into the mountains, reaching a pristine campsite, witnessing incredible views, and having the feeling that no one has been there before.
Conversely, there is nothing more disheartening than working hard to climb a mountain, reaching a site and encountering trash, food waste, and toilet paper. Please read the seven LNT principles, and call the office if you have any questions about what you can do to plan ahead.
Guides are permitted to accept and greatly appreciate tips. Your guide team will pool all tips received. A general range for the full guide team on this course is $300-$450, but should meet both your personal comfort levels as well as reflect the quality of service provided.
Please be aware that we are unable to process tips by card. You are welcome to tip your guides with cash or via mobile payment such as Venmo or PayPal.
While we cannot eliminate the risk of exposure to COVID-19, we do carry out a variety of measures designed to mitigate the risk of illness for climbers and staff. It is important we work together with the same team-oriented perspective we rely on in climbing, and we greatly appreciate your partnership. Please take a few moments to thoroughly read the information below and know that we look to improve our operation as additional information about the virus becomes available.
If you experience fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea please immediately contact Alpine Ascents. Anyone experiencing these symptoms within 14 days of their trip date will be asked to reschedule their trip. All climbers are verbally screened for these symptoms on arrival to Alpine Ascents, and all staff are screened daily.
For your safety and the safety of staff, cloth or surgical face masks are required at all times on Alpine Ascents’ premises. If you arrive without a mask, staff will provide one for you. We strongly recommend reviewing proper mask wearing procedures prior to your arrival.
While climbing and traveling in the mountains, all climbers are required to have a face mask easily accessible in a waterproof bag (Ziploc, etc.). When social distancing measures are not feasible, such as at a belay, you will be requested to wear your mask.
Vaccinations & Testing
We expect all climbers attending this program to be vaccinated. Those who are not vaccinated must arrive with a negative PCR test at check in. This test must be taken 96 hours prior to your gear check. Non-vaccinated will be asked to sleep in single tent arrangements.
Mitigation Measures at our Office
Hand washing and hand sanitizing facilities are provided at every entry point, in every gear check area, and of ourse within every restroom. We encourage you to regularly clean or sanitize your hands while at Alpine Ascents, especially after touching your face, sneezing, coughing, using the bathroom, eating, or drinking.
Common areas, high-touch surfaces, and restrooms are sanitized regularly. We are committed to keeping our environment clean for your protection as well as ours.
All equipment at Alpine Ascents is disinfected in line with CDC protocols, using EPA-registered disinfection supplies certified to mitigate COVID-19.
Alpine Ascents’ staff are trained in recognizing signs and symptoms of COVID-19. This training comes in addition to thousands of hours of first-responder or other medical experience.
The program was well structured and appropriate in length. The quality of the instruction was excellent. Everything moved smoothly, efficiently, and flexibly. I can’t conceive of a single improvement to be made to the course. I’d highly recommend the course to anyone.