Guided Ice Climbing and Winter Ascents in the Cascades

Overview

Starting up a picturesque column of water ice.

Starting up a picturesque column of water ice. Danny Uhlmann

There is perhaps nothing more beautiful in the winter environment than the crystalline blue ice of a frozen waterfall. These falls that cascade down from the high cliffs and crags throughout our program areas provide the perfect venue to practice the art of water ice climbing. On this course you will learn how to use ice climbing specific tools, integrate specialized techniques into your repertoire of standard alpine skills, and develop refined rope handling and protective system skills for this unique medium and cold environment.

Guided Ice Climbing and Winter Ascents in the Cascades

Programs and Curriculum

Beginner Level Program

Ascending wild waterfall ice in the North Cascades.

Ascending wild waterfall ice in the North Cascades. AAI Collection

Beginner level climbers are introduced to the basics of ice climbing, crampons, ice tools, ice screws, ice bollards, belaying, knots and hitches as well as to top-roping techniques. Graduates of this course should feel comfortable in a single-pitch ice setting when climbing with a more experienced mentor.

Curriculum for this program includes, but is not limited to:

  • Design concept & selection of ice axes & second hand tools; reverse, classic, steeply drooped, & tubular picks; & crampons;
  • Design concepts, selection & placement of ice screws & other ice anchors for protection and belays;
  • Ice climbing grade system and guidebook interpretation;
  • Ice axe & second hand tool placement techniques; third tool technique;
  • French, German & American cramponing styles & combinations;
  • Tool and foot progression sequence, staggered versus parallel;
  • Top-rope system establishment and management;
  • Ice crag hazard assessment and safety management protocols;
  • Extensive climbing, including continuous pitch ascents;
  • Leave No Trace climbing & travel skills.

 

Beginner Level Climbs:

  • Pan Dome Falls - WI 2-3 - 1 day (Dec - Apr)
  • Chair Peak, Northeast Buttress - III, AI3 - 1 day (Dec - Mar/ Apr)
  • Hubba Hubba, Leavenworth - II-III, WI 3-4 - 1 day (Dec - Feb)

 

Intermediate Level Program

Intermediate level students will continue to work on the skills established at the introductory level. In addition to these, climbers will develop an understanding of rappelling techniques on ice, will practice following a leader and will begin technical leadership training. All students at the intermediate level will leave with an ability to manage a single-pitch top-roping site at an ice climbing area and will have foundational ice leadership skills.

Curriculum for this program includes, but is not limited to:

  • Review top-rope set-ups and techniques;
  • Arrangement & placement of intermediate protection & belay anchors in different types of waterfall ice;
  • Rappelling techniques on both single and multi-pitch lines;
  • Mixed climbing technique and the use of leashless tools;
  • Mixed climbing grade system and guidebook interpretation;
  • Leading sequence & belay changeover;
  • Steep and technical climbing technique with an emphasis on pillars, chandeliers, ribbons, etc;
  • Multi-pitch climbing technique;
  • Practice leading for those qualified;
  • Extensive climbing, including continuous pitch ascents;
  • Leave No Trace climbing & travel skills.

 

Intermediate Level Climbs:

  • Chair Peak, North Face - III - 1 day (Dec - Mar/ Apr)
  • Abiel Peak, various routes - III - 1-2 days (Dec - Mar/ Apr)
  • The Tooth, Northeast Slab - III - 1 day (Jan - Mar)
  • Hall Peak, Northwest Face - III - 1 day (Dec - Mar/ Apr)
  • Cashmere Mountain, Northwest Face - IV - 2 days (Dec - Mar/ Apr)
  • Drury Falls - III, WI3 - 1-2 days (Dec - Feb)
  • Whistler Mountain, East Face Couloir - III - 1 day (Apr - May)

 

Advanced Level Program

Advanced level students will continue to develop their technical ice leadership skills with more lead practice, multi-pitch ice climbing, and technical rescue skills. Upon graduation, advanced level students will have the ability to lead ice and will have a solid understanding of multi-pitch technique.

Curriculum for this program includes, but is not limited to:

  • Review top-rope set-ups, multi-pitch sequences, and rappelling;
  • Develop the skills to employ Leave No Trace rappel techniques
  • Continue to work on techniques for "high-end" climbing on steep technical ice and on mixed terrain;
  • Continue to develop a hazard assessment matrix with an emphasis on technical and group leadership;
  • Develop a basic understanding of high angle rescue on ice;
  • Leading sequence & belay changeover;
  • Leading for those qualified;
  • Extensive climbing, including continuous pitch ascents;
  • Leave No Trace climbing & travel skills.

 

Advanced Level Climbs:

  • Big Four Mountain, North Face - 2 days (Late Dec - Mar)
  • Colfax Peak, Cosley-Houston Route - WI4 - 2 days (Dec - Mar)
  • Dragontail Peak, Triple Couloirs - III, AI3 - 2 days (Jan - May)
  • Snoqualmie Mountain, New York Gully - IV, 5.8, AI4 - 1-2 days (Dec - Mar)
  • Mount Stuart, Ice Cliff Glacier - III - 2 days (Jan - June)
  • Mount Stuart, Stuart Glacier Couloir - III - 2 days (Apr - May)
  • Cutthroat Peak, Cauthorn-Wilson Route - III, WI 4-5 - 1-2 days (Apr - May)

Guided Ice Climbing and Winter Ascents in the Cascades

Prices and Details

Climber to Guide Ratio Prices:

  • 5:1 - $175/person/day
    4:1 - $200/person/day
    3:1 - $225/person/day
    2:1 - $265/person/day
    1:1 - $385/person/day

 

Max Ratio - 3:1 (Intro), 2:1 (Intermediate and Advanced)

Capacity - 6

 

Prerequisites

  • Intro: Some climbing experience of any type is helpful but not required
  • Intermediate: Experience following WI 3 or higher
  • Advanced: Experience following WI 4 or higher

Guided Ice Climbing and Winter Ascents in the Cascades

Related Courses

Program Finder