6-Day Cascades Mountaineering Course
- Receive hands-on climbing and climber's safety training in Washington's glorious Cascade range
- Increase your technical skills in glacier travel, crevasse rescue, route finding, rappelling, and more
- Take a course that has springboarded many climbing careers (including numerous Everest summiters)
Join us for a challenging program designed for the beginner or intermediate climber wishing to develop strong fundamental skills in all aspects of snow and glacier climbing.
Distinguished among climbing schools, our 6-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. Unlike Rainier, the Cascades is part of a huge mountain range with scores of peaks topping 8,000', upwards of 400 glaciers and countless permanent snowfields. Most courses are held on Mt. Baker or Eldorado Peak offering climbers the chance to learn on actual glaciers and culminating in a summit attempt. This program is designed for the beginner or intermediate climber wishing to develop strong fundamental skills in all aspects of snow and glacier climbing. This course serves as a prerequisite for many of Alpine Ascents' intermediate level climbs and is a stepping stone for more technically difficult mountains. This course has springboarded many climbing careers include numerous Everest summiters as well as developed a foundation of skills for hundreds of independent climbers.
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
This course has been successfully used as a training ground for skilled adventurers, rangers, law enforcement, fire fighters, military, stunt people and many others who require climbing skills as part of their career.
This course generally takes place on Mount Baker. These courses also take place on Mt. Daniel, Eldorado Peak, Sahale Peak and throughout the Cascades. We utilize a variety of locations to distribute land use and provide pristine, less populated environs for our training. It also enables us to take advantage of the best possible mountain conditions for each course.
- Transportation to and from the trail head
- Course curriculum
- Guide fees (5:1 climber-to-guide ratio)
- Park fees
- Group equipment such as ropes, snow and ice protection etc.
- White gas for stoves
- Human waste disposal bags
- Cotton Alpine Ascents T-shirt
- $25 wire transfer fee (if applicable)
- Personal gear
- Transportation to/from Seattle, Washington
- Hotels/lodging in Seattle
- Transfers to/from Seattle office
- All expenses incurred in the event of early departure (evac fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc.)
- Trip cancellation insurance
Day by Day Itinerary
6:30am Orientation: We meet, check equipment and drive to the trail head. We begin hiking in the forest and ascend to the tree line (3-4hrs). After setting camp, we practice knot tying, rope handling, prussiking and other related subjects.
Snow School: Students learn the fundamentals of moving safely/efficiently on snow slopes of all degrees. Instruction includes: balance and rest techniques, proper use of the ice axe, self-belay, self-arrest, snow climbing in roped teams, anchor placements and technical rope climbing techniques for ascending steep snow slopes. Evening discussions focus on route finding and glacier travel.
Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue: You learn proper climbing techniques for safe glacier travel including rope techniques for teams of 3-4 persons, route finding through crevassed areas and crevasse rescue. Considerable time is spent on crevasse rescue as it is an essential skill for safe travel on glaciers. Everyone has the opportunity to rescue an individual from a crevasse. Instruction includes prussiking, pulley systems and placing rescue anchors on snow and ice. When we return to camp, we discuss navigation and other mountaineering topics.
Advanced Crampon Techniques: We begin by developing proper techniques using crampons on low angle ice, then move onto steeper and more challenging terrain. Emphasis is placed on proper technique and efficiency as these are essential on longer alpine routes.
High Camp: We pack our summit gear and establish high camp. Time permitting, we do a high glacier tour around spectacular ice towers and crevasses. In the early evening, we prepare for our summit attempt and enjoy the incredible views our high camp provides.
Summit Day: This is a long and demanding day on moderate terrain where you will have a chance to apply all of the skills learned during the course. With clear weather, we should be rewarded with a spectacular view from the summit. Upon descent we break camp and return to the trail head.
About The Operator:
Alpine Ascents International
A Brief History
Founder Todd Burleson has traveled the globe incessantly (from 8 Everest expeditions and the 7 summits, to Greenland, Mongolia and Iran) not only for his love of guiding but his never-ending pursuit of perfecting the Alpine Ascents approach. In 1986 there wasn't much of a business model for international guiding, but making a living at something you love has its merits. While Todd's proficiency in climbing was well regarded, he had a propensity for not only guiding and teaching, but looking at mountains as to how they might be successfully and safely guided (routes, camps, guide ratios, supplies and itineraries). From our early successes on Himalayan Peaks, this approach soon took hold on mountains around the world. Willi Prittie joined on with Todd and added his relentless pursuit of perfection and joy of the mountains to the zeitgeist of Alpine Ascents. This unique combination snowballed into some of the finest logistics, training and guiding in the industry.
With this recipe, Todd and Willi began sculpting a reputation - as a climber's outfitter. This included Willi maniacally developing the Alpine Ascents Mountaineering School, with the theme that any graduate should possess enough safety skills to call themselves a climber. Enter Gordon Janow who brought his eclectic background of writing, business and many years of traveling through Asia to galvanize Alpine Ascents as a business and mind set. This led to other strategic and opportune partnerships with old climbing friends such as Vernon Tejas, Peter Athans, and Jose Luis Peralvo, as well as recruiting, developing and training a host of younger guides that eventually became the core of the Alpine Ascents guiding staff. The office staff, not to be outdone, put the expertise of Matt Lepisto and Kristine Kitayama, and more recently Brent LaDoux, Alayna Cullen, Garrett Madison and Savannah Klunder, along with Todd and Gordon to the task of organizing and creating all that manifests the visions of guides and climbers alike. Most of the original members are with us today, keeping it a jovial and enthusiastic (bordering on obsessive) team.
Alpine Ascents International Today
Alpine Ascents International leads expeditions that have become benchmarks of quality in the climbing community and operates what we believe is the finest mountaineering school in the country. This expertise is based upon years of accumulated experience, not just from individual mountain guides, but through experience on particular mountains where details are fine-tuned over time. We maintain our ongoing process of multi-leveled and critical evaluation for each expedition. Innovations like daily weather reports, established season-long base camps, environmental pioneering, and operating our trips with small climber-to-guide ratios led by Alpine Ascents guides are just some of the factors that keep us in the forefront. Our guides are the primary reason that Alpine Ascents has built such a unique reputation. Many of our guides have been with us for most of their careers and have had the opportunity to participate in a wealth of climbs and programs. Our guides are generally not seasonal employees, who teach a few courses and head back to "other lives", but are dedicated and committed to a life of climbing.
Along with these elements, our commitment to the environment and ethical global business practices make Alpine Ascents the most respected and well-rounded mountain guiding company in the industry. Alpine Ascents is proud to be one of a small minority of companies authorized to guide on Denali, Mt. Rainier and throughout Washington's Cascades.
Program Philosophy ~ Mission Statement
Alpine Ascents is committed to developing safe, self-reliant and environmentally-conscious mountaineers and offering courses and expeditions of unsurpassed quality throughout the world. Our business practices stress ethical and culturally aware travel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of physical condition should I be in?
The weight of your pack is generally 65 pounds. 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.
When does my course begin and end?
Location: Alpine Ascents Office. 121 Mercer Street, Seattle.
Begins: 6:30am, Day 1 of the course. Finishes: Between 6:00pm - 10:00pm on the last day of the course.
Please note: Our recommended hotel, the Marqueen Hotel, is located 2 blocks from our office.
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. Please refer to your specific registration materials.
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.
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.
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, can be easily found via Sea-Tac courtesy phones. Cost: dependent on number of riders.
Taxis from Sea-Tac are readily available as well, average cost to the Marqueen Hotel: $35-$45, one way.
Parking while on Course?
There is limited parking near the Alpine Ascents Office. Baker Climbs require a trailhead permit, available through REI, and the Park Service. Details located in confirmation materials.
How do I get to Alpine Ascents International?
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 121 Mercer Street, directly across the street from Larry's Market and upstairs. Street parking is limited to 2-hour zones and parking meters, though there are several pay lots near our offices.
What kind of experience do I need to take a course?
Our 6-Day and Denali Prep and the 3-Day Muir Climb programs are designed for the beginner or intermediate climber wishing to develop strong fundamental skills in all aspects of snow and glacier climbing. 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. For those with little or no experience in the outdoors, we recommend our Backpacking and Wilderness Navigation course.
Where do I stay the night before and after the course?
There are several lodging options for our climbs. We meet at our office on the day of the course at 6:30am. Alpine Ascents has partnered with our neighbors Marqueen Hotel- located two blocks from our office. Reservations for your room should be made as soon as possible, ask for the Alpine Ascents Rate.
Rates: Reasonable by Seattle standards, vary by season.
If you wish to share a room with another climb participant, the Marqueen can help with those arrangements. You will need a room for the night prior to the start of your climb and for the last night of your climb. The hotel is 2 blocks from the Alpine Ascents office. Extra gear may be stored at 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 annotated equipment list detailing each piece of equipment you will need. Please read your annotated 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.
Is food provided on my climb or course?
Courses: As part of the curriculum, you are responsible for your own food. For summit climbs such as Rainier, you will need to provide your own lunches. 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.
Climbs: All meals are provided on summit climbs except lunches, see lunch menu plan provided upon registration. If you have any food allergies or requirements, please let us know in advance. There is a place on the application to do this. In addition to food, you will likely be asked to help carry provisions to the base camp. If you have a particular favorite snack/lunch food supplement or beverage mix, please feel free to bring it along.
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 number. 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.
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. 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 6-Day courses, the student to instructor ratio is 5:1.
Where is a good, trustworthy store to purchase gear?
Alpine Ascents climbers receive a 10% discount from Moosejaw Mountaineering. Our climbers also receive a discount of 10% from Feathered Friends. See our gear page for links to these and other companies.
I am concerned that the gear I am renting will not fit or work properly.
We rent the Koflach Degree. The packs, crampons, ice axes, tents, and other items are cleaned and checked on a daily basis. All of our gear is of the highest quality. Please note that double plastic boots do not break in.
Where will my course be held?
Our Washington 6-Day courses take place on Mt. Baker, Mt. Daniel, El Dorado Peak, Sahale Peak, Glacier Peak and throughout the North Cascades. We utilize a variety of locations to distribute land use throughout the North Cascades and provide pristine, less populated environs for our training.
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.
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.