Mountain Skills Essentials

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Crevasse rescue-1Glacier view-1Crevasse jumpAlpine climbing Waddington-1

This course is an excellent introduction to the skills required for moderate alpine routes involving snow or glacier travel. Four days in the field cover all aspects of basic mountaineering techniques such as ice axe and crampon use, self-arrests, snow and glacier travel skills, rope handling, hazard assessment and crevasse rescue fundamentals. A peak ascent will be attempted if time and conditions permit.

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$815.00

All technical gear supplied
Dates:
Program dates listed below. Private dates also available, contact us for details on arranging a Custom Mountain Essentials course.
E-Mail: info@themountainschool.com
Pre Requisites:
Overnight backpacking experience and good physical fitness. No previous technical climbing experience is required for this course.
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  • The Mountain Skills Essentials course is designed to build a solid foundation of the essential skills required for basic general Mountaineering objectives. At the conclusion of this course, students will have the skills and knowledge to travel off-trail and into snow covered and glaciated terrain above treeline. Participants on the Mountain Skills Essentials course will have been taught:

    • methods for planning and preparing for a multi-day mountaineering objective
    • how to recognize mountain hazards, and methods of avoiding or minimizing those hazards
    • navigation techniques using a map, compass and altimeter
    • rope management skills related to basic snow climbing
    • glacier travel techniques
    • alpine travel skills for moderate terrain and non-technical glaciers
    • crevasse rescue fundamentals with a three person rope-team
    • Minimum Environmental Impact camping and travel practices
    • methods to practice and refine each set of skills taught on the course, on their own time
  • The Mountain Skills Essentials courses are conducted at a variety of Alpine locations in the Coast Mountains of BC. Specific locations are chosen close to the course date, based on current conditions and weather forecasts. Typical areas include the Joffre Range near the Duffey Lake road; Spearhead Range in Garibaldi Park behind Whistler; and, Brohm Ridge near Garibaldi Peak, above Squamish.

    Course meeting times and locations will be confirmed one week in advance of the first day of the course

  • Our Mountaineering programs are taught by some of the best climbers and Guides in Canada. All are certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and each one has a passion for teaching that will inspire you in your climbing pursuits.

    Visit Guides and Instructors Page for complete details and background on each of our Guide Team.

  • The following is a brief possible schedule for the Canada West Mountain School 4-day Mountain Skills Essentials course. Many different variables (such as weather, snow conditions, group experience levels, etc) influence the actual day-to-day schedule and the order in which topics are presented, so the following should be considered a general outline only
    Pre-trip planning
    All course logistics and preparation are planned in advance in direct consultation with our office via phone, e-mail and/or in person. A comprehensive pre-course package is sent out to everyone well in advance of the course dates.

    Day 1

    • Meet at the trailhead - Preparation and gear check (1/2 hour)
    Skills covered: communication, safety awareness, gear check, weather conditions discussion
    • Approach to Alpine region base camp (approx. 2-3 hours)
      Skills covered: Navigation, map reading, pacing, group management, route finding, hazard awareness
    • Camp set up (2 hours)
      Skills covered: Camp selection, hazard awareness, sanitation, environmental awareness, food storage, water, campcraft tips
    • Introductory snow travel session (3-4 hours)
      Skills covered: Hazard awareness, navigation, off-trail travel, basic ice ax use, walking on snow, self-arrests
    • Evening debrief (1 hour)
      Skills covered: overview of day, tomorrow's objectives, pre-planning, sort and pack gear for next morning, weather
    Day 2
    • Backcountry travel skills (1 - 2 hours)
      Skills covered: Navigation, pacing, group management, route finding, hazard awareness
    • Snow and glacier travel skills (6 - 8 hours)
      Skills covered: Introduction of snow travel basics, self arrests of all sorts, roping for snow and glaciers, belaying on snow, anchors, glacier travel, route finding on glaciers, travel techniques, crevasse rescue.
    • Lunch time options: Navigation, route planning, glacier study, napping
    • Evening debrief (1 hour)
      Skills covered: overview of day, next day's objectives, pre-planning, sort and pack gear for next morning, weather
    • Optional skills: Review and discuss crevasse rescue skills
    Day 3
    • Practice and refine steep snow and glacier travel skills, possible summit attempt (8-10 hours)
      Skills covered: steep snow climbing, team rope skills, navigation and route finding, glacier travel and rescue skills
    Day 4
    • Wrap up of loose ends (4 - 6 hours)
      Skills covered: Finishing off main objectives, ascending ropes, rappelling, more rescue, serac climbing, orienteering, whatever the instructors and/or students feel they need
    • Break camp/hike out (3 hours)
      Skills covered: Navigation, map reading, pacing, group management, route finding, hazard awareness.
    • Wrap up and student assessments (1 - 2 hours)
  • Please prepare you gear with the goal of reducing the weight of your pack as much as possible.

    Here is a link to our Mountaineering Gear list - Mountaineering Course Gear List

    Plan on using the same personal clothing and camping equipment that you would take on an overnight backpacking trip. Your Base Camp on the Mountaineering courses will often be in an alpine or sub-alpine location and exposed to the weather.

    Footwear:
    You will be working each day in and on snow, so it is important to have proper boots suitable for snow travel. Boots also must be appropriate for use with general mountaineering-style crampons (See the FAQ section for details on Boots)

    As for weather, you should always plan for the worst which includes temperatures of close to freezing or slightly below at night, and possible precipitation of rain and/or wet snow each day. Please ensure your clothing and gear is suitable for these conditions.

    Technical gear is listed on the Gear list. Students are asked to supply their own basic slings and cords, as these items may experience wear on each course. These items are available at outdoor stores such as MEC. All other technical gear is supplied, with the exception of Crampons, which are required. There are many styles of attachment systems yet any general mountaineering crampon will work, as long as they are compatible with your boots. Crampons are available to rent at many outdoor stores such as MEC.

    In regards to communal gear such as tents, stoves and cookware, we encourage people to share tents and cooking gear/stoves. If you already have a team or partner planned, this is great. If you wish, we can help coordinate this for you and put you in contact with other students - just let us know when you book your course.

  • Questions about Mountain Skills Essentials course

    What are the best boots for my Mountaineering Course?

    Do I need to bring special gear?

    What happens if the weather is not good?

    Where is the Mountain Skills Essentials course conducted?

    How long are the days?

  • Review these documents, and bring signed copies of the Waiver and Medical Form to your program.

    Canada West Mountain School Refund Policy - Refund Policy

    Canada West Mountain School Waiver - Waiver

    Canada West Mountain School Medical Disclosure Form - Medical form

    Mountain Skills Essentials Pre-planning document - Mountain Skills Essentials Pre-planning