Intro to Ski-Alpinism-AKA Climbing & Riding in glaciated terrain
- Dates: March 28-30(Coast Range Hut) April 19-23, (Wapta Hut option), May 2-4
- Duration: 3 days
- Level: Intermediate
- Client Ratio: 5:1
- Cost:– 3 Day $795/Wapta 5 Day $1195
- Included: All camp meals while on the mountain, tents, stoves, cook kits, group climbing equipment, and guide services
- Not Included: Airfare, transportation to trailhead, transportation within Seattle, hotel accommodations, restaurant meals,snack/lunch on the mountain, gratuities for guides, and all personal items. A detailed equipment list will be sent to all participants.
Intro to Ski Alpinism helps achieve dreams of riding off Baker, Rainier, Shuksan or just touring to Camp Muir. This popular course takes your touring into the high alpine; teaching the fundamental skills of snow, ice, glacier, climbing techniques for ascent and glisse-descent of glaciated mountains. You learn how to be safe, self-reliant ski-mountaineers ready to climb and ski locally or in the great ranges of the world. This course is truly an excellent foundation for any rider seeking independence in the alpine arena. Spend three days in the Coast Range of BC or the North Cascades where active glaciers, volcanic peaks, and breathtaking views create the ideal learning environment. A summit attempt on the last day of the course gives you the chance to put your newly developed skills to the test.
Course curriculum includes:
- Terrain management (safe, efficient, fast) w/ up hill track & downhill
- Snow climbing, ice axe positioning, and moving in balance
- Self arrest technique
- Snow and ice anchor selection, construction, and equalization
- Crampon techniques
- Prussiking and team crevasse rescue practice
- Rappelling and rope management
- Glaciology and crevasse pattern prediction
- Navigation using maps, altimeters, and compasses
- Roped glacier travel and route finding through crevassed areas
- Mountain weather, alpine ecology, hazard assessment, and Leave No Trace Ethics
6:30am orientation. After an initial meeting and equipment check, we drive from Seattle to the trailhead and begin our hike to base camp. This approach is very strenuous and can take from 4 – 6 hours depending upon the particular approach and the fitness of the group. (This is where all of your training pays off!) You’ll skin through ancient forests and snow covered alpine meadows, enroute to our base camp. After establishing our camp, the remainder of the day will focus on the skills necessary for the proper use of an ice axe, traveling in balance, self-belay, self-arrest, placing various types of snow protection for use in the construction of snow anchors, as well as belay techniques. We hope to cap the day with a short evening ski run before dinner.
You will begin the day by learning crampon use and climbing steeper snow and ice. We then focus on the skills required for safe and efficient glacier travel including roped travel and self-rescue (prussiking) techniques. This will include the means for each team member to correctly tie into the rope including the proper spacing of climbers based on the number of team members. We will cover the difference in traveling with skis versus snowshoes or crampons, ie when you need to rope up. After learning the proper techniques for traveling as a rope team, we will then make a short glacial “tour”, enabling us to practice and comprehend the day’s lessons. We follow that lesson up with a few runs before skiing back to camp. Discussions late in the day will focus on navigation with the use of map and compass.
After a pre-dawn wake-up and a quick breakfast, we climb our way toward the summit. Today your group will apply the skills they have been practicing toward our ascent of a major glaciated peak. Depending on conditions and the pace of your group, it will take from five to eight hours to reach the summit. After enjoying the views and a snack, and absorbing your accomplishments, students will navigate and lead their team back to high camp, enjoying a well-earned glisse descent. Enroute to camp we learn crevasse rescue techniques, including constructing and equalizing multiple anchor points and practicing rescue scenarios thenr descend to the valley where we will celebrate a successful trip and begin planning the next climbing adventure.
Lake Louise:6:30pm orientation. After an initial meeting and equipment check, we grab dinner and get to bed early for tomorrow’s big day
7:30 Drive to Peyto Lake (2,200’) after dropping off the vehicle on the other end of the tour. The tour gains 4,000’ in 6 miles to the Peyto Hut.4-6 hours. The remainder of the day will focus on the skills necessary for the proper use of an ice axe, traveling in balance, self-belay, self-arrest, placing various types of snow protection for use in the construction of snow anchors, as well as belay techniques. We will cap the day with a short evening ski run before dinner.
From Peyto Hut the route ascends southwest onto the Wapta Icefield with Mount Thompson on our left (east) and Rhondda South on your right (west). Ski descents along the route are plentiful. With St. Nicholas in your view dead ahead you will eventually loose elevation and can ski down with towards the Bow hut with St. Nicholas on you right. The tour will be 3-4 hours covering 3.7 miles gaining 492ft, descending 984ft.
While traveling we will learn crampon use and climbing steeper snow and ice. We then focus on the skills required for safe and efficient glacier travel including roped travel and self-rescue (prussiking) techniques. This will include the means for each team member to correctly tie into the rope including the proper spacing of climbers based on the number of team members. We will cover the difference in traveling with skis versus snowshoes or crampons, ie when you need to rope up.
We will spend the first half of the day skiing one ofthe many objectives of Gordon, St Nicholas then in the afternoon; go over crevasse rescue then relax in the comfort of the Bow Hut for another night!
Bow Hut to Balfour Hut starts with a steep 1000′ climb up the Wapta Glacier heading west of the Bow hut. Our route offers multiple route options. Ascend the St. Nicholas Peak-Olive col and then ski down the Vulture Glacier. The second option ski tour around the East side of St. Nicholas Peak until you reach the west side of the St. Nicholas Peak-Olive col then ski down the Vulture Glacier to the Balfour hut.
4-5 hours covering 4.3 miles with elevation gain of 1,902ft and descent of 1,410ft.
Balfour Hut to the road can go back by the Bow hut or past the Scott Duncan hut. Exiting via the Scheisser/Lomas route takes us up and over the Balfour High Col, the crux of the Wapta traverse. Exposure to avalanches, ice fall and crevasses. require good weather to gain the upper reaches of the route where things will mellow out a bit and take you away from icefall danger off of Mount Balfour. Ski tour across the High Col till we can remove skins and ski down the Wapituk Glacier totoward Mount NIles using the Scheisser/Lomas route which is an 11km ski tour to the West Louise Lodge. The descent of 3,900ft takes 5 – 6 hours to complete and in bad weather can be quite challenging. After a few kilometers from the hut, you will come to a small peak go to the right of this and descend down to the westerly shoulder of Mount Niles. Ski through the trees a short distance until you find Sherbrook Creek bed and then follow this out to Sherbrook Lake and cross it to the far end. Ascend the slope on your left and begin searching for the summer trail or remnants of ski tracks which will lead you east around the shoulder of Paget Peak to the West Louise Lodge on Highway 1 a few kilometers away.
Caution required gaining the ridge for the last climb to the hut. 5-7 hours over 6.2 miles climbing 1,700ft then descending 800ft.
Our recommended clothing system has four layers.
- Base layer: manages moisture and wicks perspiration away from your skin. (Polypro, capilene, driclime)
- Softshell: should be a durable, comfortable, insulating and wind/water resistant layer that breathes well.
- Hard shell: windproof, waterproof and breathable. (e.g. Gore-Tex, or similar)
- Insulating layer: should be down-fill or synthetic-fill and fit over all layers. (e.g. down, primaloft or polarguard)
These four layers are usually sufficient for most people, but if you tend to be colder bring one extra medium-layer that would be ideal for extra warmth around camp, such as a vest. When deciding what to pack, remember to bring enough clothes and accessories to ensure your safety and comfort, while not over-burdening yourself with items you probably won’t use.
- Skis or snowboard. Skis should be equipped with alpine touring bindings or telemark bindings. We prefer split decision Snowboards w/ skins because you do not need snow shoes.
- Adjustable Ski Poles
- Alpine touring, telemark, snowboard boots crampon compatible
- Ski Crampons Required for all ski mountaineering trips
- Alpine climbing harness Must have adjustable leg loops and fit over all clothing and can be put on with ski boots
- 2 Locking carabiners Large, pear-shaped carabiner is best.
- 2 Regular carabiners lightweight
- 1 Single Length Runner/Sling
- Ice axe Lightweight
- Crampons with anti-ball plate Must be fit to boots prior to trip,
- Climbing/ski helmet Adjustable, should fit with hat on
- Glacier Travel/Crevasse Rescue *Optional on Summit Descents Prussiks/Ropeman/Microtraxion & Tibloc
- 1 synthetic T-shirt
- 1 long sleeve Sun Hoodie or shirt Lightweight, light colored for sunny days
- 2 synthetic sports bras*(WOMEN)
- 1 soft shell jacket
- 1 Down/synthetic jacket with hood
- 1 Hard shell jacket with hood Waterproof and breathable. Gore-Tex or equivalent is best, roomy enough to fit over multiple layers.
- 1 pair lightweight gloves
- 1 pair warm waterproof gloves
- Warm hat Wool or synthetic
- Shade hat or Visor
- 2 pair med- heavy wool/synthetic socks Check boot fit with liner and wool socks on
- 1 pair lightweight long underwear
- 1-2 pairs of underwear boxers/briefs
- Softshell pants
- Shell pants Waterproof/breathable with full side zips
- Sleeping bag Rated to at least 20º F. Line the stuff sack w/ plastic bag.
- Internal frame pack 3500-4500 cubic inch capacity able to carry snowboard/skis
- lightweight booties or slippers, comfortable top and bottom-cotton optional.
- Goggles and Glacier glasses 100% UV protection with side shields or wrap around.
- Personal first aid repair kit Basics: moleskin/blister kit, Band-Aids, first-aid tape, ibuprofen, personal medications, spare parts for bindings and batteries etc.
- Lip balm At least SPF 20
- Sunscreen At least SPF 40
- Headlamp lightweight LED
- 2 water bottles 1 liter wide-mouth Nalgene and 1 bottle holster, or
- Hydration bladder With drinking tube and 1 Nalgene bottle
- Toiletry kit Be sure to include WAG Bag or toilet paper stored in a plastic bag.
- 1-2 Large plastic bags Good for keeping miscellaneous gear dry
- Nylon stuff sacks For food and gear storage (large Ziplocs are also useful
- Hand wipes
- 1 small stainless steel thermos (Optional)
- Favorite snack foods (no more than 2 pounds)
WILL MY GUIDE (OR GUIDES) BE?
You will receive an introductory email with the instructor for your course. We are small company who enjoy working together in the mountains as well as highly skilled professionals who hold current Wilderness First Responder certification and are proficient in technical rescue and evacuation skills. Our guides are dedicated to the world of alpinism, many having first ascents and hold professional certifications with AIARE & AMGA. The AMGA is part of the IFMGA, which is the international body of certified mountain guides.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I TIP MY GUIDES?
Tipping is considered standard practice in the guiding industry. Tipping amounts vary – so $15-20 per day per person/per guide is average that works well for the guides without a serious blow to your wallet. Often 10% of the course cost is a good rule-of-thumb. If you feel that the program was exceptional or substandard the tip can reflect that.
CAN I RENT EQUIPMENT FROM BCAG?
Yes, we rent Beacons, Shovels, Probes and Packs here. If you need these plus touring equipment, Second Ascent rents avalanche safety equipment, alpine touring, tele and split boards click here. Quantities are limited so please contact us as soon as possible if you are interested.
HOW HEAVY WILL MY PACK BE?
You will carry 10-15 pounds, which will include everything on the equipment list.
WHEN DO I NEED TO PAY THE BALANCE OF MY TRIP?
Payable when you make your reservation by check, or credit card.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I NEED TO CANCEL MY TRIP?
If you should decide to cancel your trip, BCAG must be notified in writing. Your trip will be cancelled from the date we receive written notice. You will be assessed a cancellation fee according to the following schedule:
90 to 22 days from trip departure – 50% of trip cost
30 days or less – 100% of trip cost
WHAT HAPPENS IF I WANT TO CHANGE THE DATES OF MY TRIP?
Schedule changes are subject to a $50 fee per person up to 2 weeks out and $100 less then 14 days from the start of the trip and may not be possible. If conditions or circumstances preclude running a scheduled program we reserve the right to make the decision as to whether the program will be canceled, rescheduled, or an alternative provided.
WHAT HAPPENS IF BC ADVENTURE GUIDES HAS TO CANCEL MY TRIP?
In the rare circumstance where we need to cancel a program you can reschedule without a fee or receive a refund on your deposit. If circumstances arise that force us to cancel a program that is already in progress we reserve the right to decide whether a refund or credit, at a prorated rate, will be issued. We are not responsible for cancellation fees or costs arising from your changed or cancelled flights, lodging, or other arrangements. We strongly recommend obtaining trip cancellation insurance from your travel agent.
DO I NEED TO PURCHASE TRIP INSURANCE?
BCAG highly encourages the purchasing of trip cancellation and travel insurance on domestic trips and requires it on International trips. Europeans and Canadians use it because travel insurance provides coverage for trip cancellation and interruption, travel delays, loss of baggage and travel documents, baggage delays, medical expenses and emergency assistance.
Several options include Travelex or Travel Guard International at (1-877-248-8992) & www.travelguard.com for protecting your investment, however there are many companies to choose from and you may wish to do some individual research regarding which policy is right for you.
WHEN SHOULD I PLAN TO LEAVE A RETURN HOME?
We often get this question because most people need to know how much total time they need to take off work. Our Avi and Ski Tours begin by 8 AM at the trailhead and return to the car by 3. Our return to Seattle on the last day typically allows you to get back between 5-7 with the descent and drive back.