Alpine Ice Climbing - Introduction

Overview

This is an intensive course providing comprehensive instruction in the problems met and skills required on difficult alpine ascents. The curriculum consists of a review of fundamental snow and ice climbing skills and detailed treatment of all intermediate and advanced techniques and state-of-the-art climbing methods. National Accreditation Reviewers have described the program as probably the most comprehensive, progressive, and intense course of its type in the world, and it has been particularly noted for its emphasis on teaching climbers to lead. The entire course is spent on glaciers and a great deal of practice climbing is done each day. Instruction is given on Mt. Baker which has eighteen glaciers and routes of all technical standards.

Rappelling down a serac in one of Mt Baker's massive icefalls. Keith Gunnar

Rappelling down a serac in one of Mt Baker's massive icefalls. Keith Gunnar

The Cascade Range is the principal training ground in America for those planning Alaskan, Andean, and Himalayan ascents because the ice climbing can be done in the mild and good weather months of summer, and because during that period one can climb on a complete range of snow and ice types, each of which requires adjustment in climbing technique and protective systems. Instruction is given on the Coleman Glacier of Mt. Baker, considered the top glacial training ground in the United States. The course concludes with a major two-day ascent of Baker on which team members deal with logistics, challenging climbing, the operation of a wide range of protective systems, and route finding. Upon completion of this program participants should be technically prepared to make ascents of significantly difficult alpine and snow routes.

Alpine Ice Climbing - Introduction

Curriculum

Participants are instructed in a highly refined, hybrid ice climbing technique that combines the most effective aspects of American, German, and French approaches to snow and ice. Groups are very small and there is flexibility in emphasis according to individual interest & need. The curriculum includes:

Alpine Ice - Tools

During the course participants will have an opportunity to try out a variety of different ice tools.
Doug Foust

  • Design concepts, performance, and selection of ice axes & technical tools
  • Proper choice between and application of the primary ice axe positions: piolet canne, panne, manche, poignard, ramasse, rampe, ancre, and traction
  • Choice between and application of American, French, and German cramponing techniques
  • Proper selection and placement of ice screws, snow flukes & pickets for belays and intermediate protection
  • The uses of mechanical belay devices in alpine climbing
  • Specialized designs and uses of alpine and technical tools in high angle climbing
  • Free climbing technique on overhanging ice
  • Setting up and operating hanging belays
  • The uses of prusiks
  • Crevasse rescue techniques: self-rescue, pulley systems, and pulley system combinations
  • The use of skiing glissades for ease and speed of descent
  • Glacial structure and movement: using large external landforms to predict inner glacial structures and hence the difficulties and hazards of a potential route
  • Evaluation of the objective hazards of avalanche, rock fall, and ice fall
  • Integration of specific skills with the general goals of efficient, safe, and self-dependent climbing
  • Leave No Trace travel, camping, & climbing

Alpine Ice Climbing - Introduction

Details and Structure

$1395

Max Ratio - Days 1-2, 6:1; Days 3-4, 5:1; Days 5-6, 2:1 (Climber:Guide)

Capacity - 6

 

Prerequisites

Basic alpine mountaineering experience

Basic snow climbing and glacier travel skills

 

Program Structure

As this program progresses, the climber-to-guide ratio decreases to 2:1, allowing us to accommodate participants who progress at different rates and wish to emphasize different levels of technical difficulty. Applicants should have the basic alpine mountaineering experience taught in our Alpinism 1 Course. Tuition includes the provision of group climbing equipment. This trip is broken into two 3-day segments, each segment building upon the knowledge and skills you gain throughout the course.

 

SEGMENT 1: TWO-DAY FIELD SEMINAR

Three-mile hike to base camp adjoining the Coleman Glacier; one day spent in technical instruction & practice covering all climbing and belaying skills used on snow in its various forms; one day spent on climbing skills used on ice in its various forms.

 

SEGMENT 2: TWO-DAY PRACTICUM

Protective systems for ice climbing; leading sequence; application of ice climbing skills to difficult terrain; closely supervised technical climbing in an icefall. Glacial structures, hazard evaluation, principles of glacier travel, crevasse rescue. Route finding problems & solutions. 

 

Alpine Ice - North Ridge

Big smiles as AAI Guide Jason Martin makes his way up the spectacular North Ridge of Mt. Baker.  Tad Mccrea

SEGMENT 3: ASCENT OF A MAJOR ALPINE ROUTE

A two-day climb on which team members deal with logistics, challenging free climbing, the operation of a wide range of protective systems, & route finding. Routes are chosen for each rope team according to the proficiency demonstrated by the participants during the Seminar & Practicum. Most commonly they are Mt. Baker via the Roosevelt Headwall, North Ridge, Roman Mustache, or the 2500-foot Coleman Headwall. Easier routes are climbed when appropriate for conditions. Ascents are made with a maximum of two climbers per guide.

 

FOLLOW-UP CLIMBS & SPECIAL SESSIONS

This program can be immediately followed by challenging 2 and 3-day climbs, or 4 to 10-day climbing trips in the Cascades. Participants will also be qualified to join many AAI expeditions abroad. A similar program is offered each summer in Bolivia's Cordillera Real where we make a series of ascents of 18,000 to 21,000-foot peaks. From July through September AAI also presents an advanced program in the French Alps.

Alpine Ice Climbing - Introduction

Dates

Climbing steep glacier ice on Mt. Baker's massive Coleman Glacier.

Climbing steep glacier ice on Mt. Baker's massive Coleman Glacier.
Dylan Taylor

  • May 7 - May 12, 2017 - FULL
  • May 14 - May 19, 2017 - FULL
  • May 28 - Jun 2, 2017 - FULL
  • Jun 11 - Jun 16, 2017 - FULL
  • Jun 25 - Jun 30, 2017 - FULL
  • Jul 2 - Jul 7, 2017 - 
  • FULL
  • Jul 9 - Jul 14, 2017
  • Jul 23 - Jul 28, 2017
  • Aug 6 - Aug 11, 2017
  • Aug 20 - Aug 25, 2017
  • Sep 3 - Sep 8, 2017
  • Sep 17 - Sep 22, 2017

Alpine Ice Climbing - Introduction

Testimonials

Alpine Ice - Pose

An AAI Guide takes a moment to strike a pose while demonstrating ice climbing techniques. Doug Foust

"My guide was hands-down the best guide I have ever encountered. He quickly ascertained our experience level, interests, and expectations for the course, then catered to those, ensuring that we focused on those skills we needed most."
Mary Ellen Potter, Bellevue, WA

"All of the guides were positive and patient, and fostered a 'can do' learning environment. In this environment, my confidence and technique really improved."
Carol Masheter, Salt Lake City, UT

"Our guides were totally professional, totally patient, and very well versed in all intricacies of safe travel in the mountains."
Thomas Davis, Carmel, IN

"My guide exceeded my expectations. He quickly assessed my skills and we focused on reviewing and improving them. With his guidance and suggestions, I showed a lot of improvement in a couple of days, culminating in a great day on the North Ridge of Mt. Baker."
John Hornbacker, Seattle, WA

Alpine Ice Climbing - Introduction

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