Sierra Alpine Ice Climbing COVID-19 UPDATE: AAI is open and operating with new policies and procedures for COVID-19. Click the following links to learn more about AAI's COVID-19 Operating Plans and cancellation policy. Note that AAI requires proof of vaccination for COVID-19 beginning October 1, 2021. Overview
Coiling the rope after a successful climb of the North Peak Couloir. Andrew Yasso
The Eastern Sierra is famous for its golden granite, but it is equally famous for its steep and cold ice couloirs. Hidden in the rock folds beneath the stunning granite spines of the Sierra-Nevada range are literally dozens of beautiful blue ice lines, which provide intermediate to advanced level ice outings.
In this six-day alpine ice program, we start with fundamental ice climbing competencies and then progress to more advanced techniques. You will begin with foundational skills in the use of an ice axe and crampons in steep terrain, and then proceed to the study of two-tool ice climbing and multi-pitch technique. 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 and need. With each ascent more skills will be taught and participants will be given more independence.
One aspect to this program that is somewhat different from other ice climbing courses, is that every participant will not only have to develop ice climbing skills, but will also continue to develop his or her rock climbing technique. Nearly every ascent requires an ability to climb both rock and ice. Pitches of moderate rock cap most of the ice couloirs in the Sierra range. The ability to transition from steep snow, to steep ice, to rock is one of the most valuable skills that will be developed throughout the course.
Sierra Alpine Ice Climbing Course Objectives and Highlights
A climber making quality ice axe placements while leading on steep alpine ice.
Possible course objectives include: Dana Couloir, a 40-degree introductory route; U-Notch Couloir, a 45-degree, nine pitch line with some rock climbing at the top; North Peak Couloir, a six-pitch, fifty-degree route; and V-Notch Couloir, a fifty-degree line with a vertical step at the base and 5.6 rock climbing at the top. Routes will be selected based on participant interest and current conditions.
At the end of the course, participants should have a solid understanding of the art of couloir ice climbing and should have the fundamental skills required to lead moderate level alpine ice.
Sierra Mountaineering course with the Sierra Alpine Ice Climbing course to develop a solid foundation in each of the individual skills that you might encounter on a climbing trip in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains.
Alpine Travel and Climbing Skills
Design concepts, performance and selection of ice axes and technical tools
Application of American, French and German cramponing techniques
Proper choice between the application of the nine primary ice axe positions
Proper selection and placement of ice screws, snow flukes and pickets
Specialized designs and uses of alpine and technical tools in high angled ice climbing
Multi-pitch rock and ice climbing technique
Multi-pitch rappelling technique
Managing protective systems
Problem solving; gathering data and assessing techniques
Rope team leadership on snow and ice
Advanced use of a map, compass, guidebook and GPS
Facilitating team descents/retreats
Leave No Trace travel, camping and climbing skills
Sierra Alpine Ice Climbing Dates
V-Notch and U-Notch Couloirs in the Palisades offer great alpine ice climbing opportunities. AAI Collection
- Dates to be posted soon -
Please call our office for custom trip options or please click
HERE for our Private Sierra Programming rates.
Sierra Alpine Ice Climbing Cost and Details
$1800 (2:1 Ratio)
$2700 (1:1 Ratio)
Max Ratio - 2:1 (Climber:Guide)
Capacity - 4 Prerequisites
Good physical condition
Program Cost Inclusions and Exclusions
All group technical climbing equipment
Permit and access fees
Personal equipment such as clothing, boots, personal climbing gear (e.g. harness, helmet), sleeping bag, tent, etc. Personal climbing and camping gear is available for rent at a nominal charge.
Transportation to the program's meeting location and during the program. We ask that you provide transportation for your guide from the point of rendezvous, and if there are other climbers in your program we encourage you to carpool.
Lodging costs (if any)
Fees for changing air itineraries because of canceled or delayed programs
Gratuities to guides
Personal health, baggage, and trip cancellation insurance
For beginners and other climbers who do not have their own personal climbing equipment, we offer rental equipment. The following items are available to rent in the Sierra:
avalanche gear (beacon/probe/shovel)
cooking gear (stove/pot/fuel)
Please note that we do not rent boots, sleeping bags or sleeping pads in the Sierra; your best option if you need this gear for your course is to contact Wilson's East Side Sports in Bishop, CA or Mammoth Mountaineering in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Regardless of what you need, please be sure to alert all parties of your rental needs as soon as possible.
Sierra Alpine Ice Climbing 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
By Program Type
Group Summit Climbs
Private Guided Programs
Treks, Tours, & Backpacking
Corporate Outings & Services
Government & Military
Trekking and Backpacking
Skiing & Snowboarding
Guide Training & Rescue