Alpine Ice Climbing - Introduction Overview
This is an intensive course providing comprehensive instruction in the problems met and skills required for difficult alpine ascents. The curriculum consists of fundamental snow and ice climbing skills, a detailed treatment of all intermediate and advanced techniques, and state-of-the-art climbing methods. National Accreditation Reviewers have described the program as 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
The Cascade Range is the principal training ground in America for those planning Alaskan, Andean, and Himalayan ascents. Since the ice climbing can be done in the mild and good weather months of summer, during that period one can climb on a complete range of snow and ice types, each of which require 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. Depending upon glacier conditions, group ability, and weather, we normally climb the
North Ridge of Mt. Baker or the Roman Mustache route. 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:
During the course participants will have an opportunity to try out a variety of different ice tools.
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, and climbing
Alpine Ice Climbing - Introduction Details and Structure
Max Ratio - Days 1-2, 6:1; Days 3-4, 5:1; Days 5-6, 2:1 (Climber:Guide)
Capacity - 6
Good physical fitness
Ability to carry a 45 - 55 lb backpack for multiple hours
Stamina to hike for over 8 hours (including breaks, and with lesser pack weight)
Basic multi-day alpine mountaineering experience
Basic snow climbing and glacier travel skills
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 three 2-day segments, each segment building upon the knowledge and skills you gain throughout the course.
SEGMENT 1: TWO-DAY FIELD SEMINAR
Seven-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.
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.
May 26 - May 31, 2024
June 09 - June 14, 2024
June 23 - June 28, 2024
July 07 - July 12, 2024
July 21 - July 26, 2024
Aug 04 - Aug 09, 2024
Aug 18 - Aug 23, 2024
Alpine Ice Climbing - Introduction Testimonials
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
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.
John Hornbacker, Seattle, WA
Alpine Ice Climbing - Introduction Related Courses
United States - Alaska
United States - Washington
United States - California
United States - Nevada
United States - Colorado
United States - Utah
Canada - British Columbia
South America - Argentina
South America - Bolivia
South America - Ecuador
South America - Patagonia
South America - Peru
Europe - Alps and Caucasus
Asia - Nepal and Tibet
Asia - China
Asia - Japan
Africa - Tanzania
Pacific and Antarctica
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