Introduction to Ski and Splitboard Mountaineering


The Introduction to Ski & Splitboard Mountaineering is designed for people who have little to moderate experience in outdoor rock/alpine climbing and backcountry ski touring or splitboarding.  The objective of this course is to give participants an opportunity to learn the basic fundamentals of ski and splitboard mountaineering, which combines the basics of alpine rock climbing with backcountry riding.

The course begins with the basics of rock climbing in Mazama, Washington, where we will go over skills on how to belay, rappel, and climb multi-pitch alpine routes in a safe environment within your comfort zone.  This is followed by a day of backcountry splitboarding and/or skiing practice in Washington Pass. Once these skill areas have been introduced, the course will peak with a classic alpine rock ascent on the granite spires and peaks around Washington Pass.  Climbers will use a ski or split-board touring set-up to approach the climbing route, then switch to climbing mode.  A rock climb to the summit will be followed by an exciting rappel off and ski/snowboard out.  

The climbs we attempt typically include one or two of the following:

  • South Early Winter Spire, South Arete
  • South Early Winter Spire, Southwest Couloir
  • Liberty Bell, the Beckey Route
  • Silver Star Mountain from Burgundy Col


Join this course for excellent, intensive skills development, a diverse and beautiful alpine climbing experience, and an exhilarating opportunity to combine the skills of rock climbing and skiing/snowboarding all in one trip!

Introduction to Ski and Splitboard Mountaineering

Course Objectives

Rock Climbing:

  • Introduction to equipment: design, care, use, and selection
  • Knots and tie-ins
  • Hand and foot positions for easy to moderate climbing routes
  • Introduction to anchors and belays
  • Development of full repertoire of free climbing technique for moderate ground
  • rappelling


Splitboard/Ski Touring Skills:

  • Design concepts, selection and use of personal and technical equipment for rock climbing and splitboarding/ski touring such as ropes, harnesses, skins, crampons, axes, belay devices, etc.

  • Basic backcountry travel tips
  • Uphill switchbacking techniques and tips
  • Packs, transceivers, shovels, probes equipment overview
  • Map and compass overview
  • Belaying techniques on rock & snow
  • The concept and application of the self-belay and self arrest while touring and skiing/snowboarding
  • Free climbing technique on rock & snow
  • Cramponing techniques
  • Rappelling from rock and snow
  • Safety, speed & efficiency in the mountains

Introduction to Ski and Splitboard Mountaineering


Day 1: On day one this course, participants will learn or develop skills on how to belay, rappel, and rock climb in a safe environment within their comfort zone.  Instruction begins with an introduction to the design, use, and care of climbing equipment and continues with procedures required for safe, belayed climbing and rappelling. Then working from fundamentals on balance and posture we introduce hand, foot, and body positions to begin developing a complete repertoire of roped free climbing techniques for each climber.

Day 2: We spend the first part of our morning reviewing backcountry travel techniques and transceiver use before stepping onto our boards and selecting terrain as we explore some low risk areas to practice transitions and efficiency. Uphill track setting will take up the middle of the day with emphasis on terrain selection, mastering tricky switchback moves, proper use of skins, and ski crampons.  We will go over setting snow anchors and belaying and rappelling on snow.

Day 3 & 4: On day 3 and 4 we will pick an objective, combining the skills learned in the previous two days we will approach on skis/splitboard to the base of either the Liberty Bell, South Early Winter Spire or Silver Star.  Once we reach the base we will drop our touring gear and rack up for the climb.  The climbs vary from a couple pitches of alpine 5.6 to about 1,000 +/- foot rocky scramble.  After summiting we will rappel off and ski/snowboard back down.


Introduction to Ski and Splitboard Mountaineering

Dates & Details

Dates:  Contingent upon Hwy-20's annual opening date, typically after the beginning of May.  Call for availability.

Cost:  $1150

Max Ratio:  3:1, maximum 6:2 (Climber:Guide) (Min. 2 Participants)



  • Overnight backpacking experience
  • Intermediate to advanced in-bounds skiing or snowboarding experience


Cost Inclusions and Exclusions:

Inclusions: Included in the course cost is group technical climbing equipment (personal climbing equipment is available for rent at a nominal charge), transportation to the climbing areas from AAI headquarters, all permits and camping fees, and the guide fee.

Exclusions: Not included in the course cost is all personal clothing and climbing gear (including crampons, ice axe, harness, helmet, tent, etc), gratuities to guide, meals while on the course, or travel insurance.


Introduction to Ski and Splitboard Mountaineering

Related Courses

Program Finder