Intermediate Alpinism

Take your Alpine climbing to the next level! You will spend 5 days in a low-ratio group learning and challenging yourself in alpine terrain. This course is for climbers with previous mountaineering background who want to challenge themselves and improve their skills for bigger alpine climbing routes. The full 5 days will be spent in the mountains climbing in alpine and glaciated terrain. Great for climbers looking to increase their technical skills and knowledge through practical experience in an alpine environment.

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The 2023 Intermediate Alpinism course is offered as a Custom/Private program only. For more information and to book a private course, please contact our main office:
Telephone: 604-878-7007

Pre Requisites:
Previous mountaineering and glacier travel experience. Comfortable with basic rope management skills. Good physical fitness.
  • The emphasis of our Intermediate Mountaineering program is to help participants develop and refine their technical alpine climbing skills. You will spend as much time as possible leading and refining skills such as route finding, decision making, risk management, technical rope systems, alpine anchor construction, crevasse rescue and movement skills on steep snow and 4th/5th class rock. Each course will include multiple summit attempts in order to allow participants to apply skills in a real setting.

  • This course is conducted wholly in an Alpine region to give you the best opportunity to learn and practice Alpine Climbing skills. The actual location of the Alpine portion of this course will be decided one week prior to the course start date, as there are many variables that need to be considered, including weather, snow conditions, previous experience of the group, and road conditions. Typical locations include the Joffre Range about 1 hour northeast of Whistler, BC; the Spearhead Range, directly to the east of Whistler, BC; and, occasionally we will arrange to fly into the Tantalus Range above Squamish, BC (Flight costs are extra with this option).
  • Each of our Alpine and 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 5-day Intermediate Mountaineering 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-course planning
    All of the course planning will take place by phone, email and/or in person at our office in the weeks and days leading up to the course. You will receive a comprehensive package after you have registered, detailing all of the critical areas to plan and prepare for. Areas covered are equipment, pre-course training, menu planning, logistics and weather.

    Day 1
    Meet at pre-arranged location - Preparation and tone setting (1 hour)
    Skills covered: introductions, course objectives, gear review, communication, safety awareness, logistics planning.
    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
    Snow and ice travel review (3-4 hours)
    Skills covered:snow/ice anchors, alpine belay systems, crevasse rescue overview
    Evening debrief (1 hour)
    Skills covered: overview of day, tomorrow's objectives, pre-planning, sort and pack gear for next morning, weather
    Day 2
    Multi-pitch snow and alpine travel (8-10 hours)
    Skills covered: Steep snow climbing, multi-pitch alpine belay systems, route finding
    Day 3
    Summit climb with focus on terrain transitions (8 hours)
    Skills covered:alpine rope management considerations, technical systems for snow/ice/rock/glacier transitions, alpine movement skills
    Introduction to travel on ice (1 - 2 hours):
    Day 4
    Peak objective/travel day (10 - 12 hours)
    Skills covered: Application of all relevant skills while climbing a peak with a variety of terrain options. Focus on hazard assessment and use of skills/tools to achieve objectives. This is the "put it all together" day
    Day 5
    Morning wrap up of final course objectives (4 - 6 hours)
    Skills covered: Finishing off main objectives, technical rope systems, alpine 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.

    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 the 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 Intermediate Mountaineering 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 Intermediate Mountaineering 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