This Introduction To Mountaineering course, based in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, is designed to teach basic mountaineering skills and prepare aspiring mountaineers for the high-altitude peaks they dream of climbing around the world.
While these mountaineering skills can be developed on one of our International Climbing Schools (Ecuador Climbing School, Mexico Climbing School, and Peru Climbing School), building a solid mountaineering foundation here in California sets climbers up for even more success as they add in the factors of high altitude and expedition climbing to their climbing experience.
Meet and great, discuss groups climbing experience and goals/dreams, schedule of the day/curriculum, principles and importance of Leave no Trace outdoor ethics.
Intro to Mountaineering
- The learning begins with a discussion on the different styles of mountain climbing, and the differences in equipment options and selection of equipment based on objective
- Helmet (ski vs. climb), Harness (light weight vs heavy rock), Axe (length, style, 1vs.2), Crampons (Steel, Aluminum, Hybrid, Attachment style), Boots (Single, Double, etc), Apparel and Packing fundamentals.
Moving to the field, we get down to business. Skills covered are:
– Introduce Crampons, the importance of good footwork and simple movement progression on moderate angle snow.
– Introduce the Ice Axe, its purpose, how to hold (self-belay vs self-arrest), and how to integrate into the movement progression.
– Further refine the movement progression, both diagonal and direct ascent.
– Self-arrest practice, while stressing the importance of careful climbing to avoid falls.
– Introduction to the rope:
– When to add a rope to the system
– Actual vs perceived security
– Basic types of ropes, rigging and their application
– Knots and hitches
– Basic snow anchors and belays
- Review of skills taught
- Next Steps
- Limitations of course
Bring your favorite baseball hat for shelter from the sun. No white under the brim – the reflection off of it from the sun is blinding.
Recommended: Alpenglow Hat
A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that one of your hats fits under a helmet.
Recommended: Black Diamond Levels Beanie
Neck Gaiter (Buff)
A multi-purpose neck gator that can also be worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet is still comfy.
Recommended: Alpenglow Buff
We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible, but is comfortable enough to wear for hours.
Recommended: Black Diamond Coefficient LT Balaclava
Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap is very useful (Chums or Croakies).
Recommended: Vaurnet Ice Rounds
These gloves keep the inside of your mitts or other gloves from accumulating sweat on the inside and turning inside out when you take them off, as well as provide additional insulation.
Recommended: Black Diamond Lightweight Wooltech Gloves
All-around gloves for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and hiking. These gloves (and similar options) are warm, wind-resistant, durable and have a sure grip. You will rarely take these gloves off. They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm.
Recommended: Black Diamond Tour Gloves
These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, and insulated. These will be the workhorse glove for any expedition.
Recommend: Black Diamond Mission MX Gloves
A wool synthetic blend. Pure rag wool socks are not nearly as effective in wicking moisture or retaining their shape and reducing blisters. Bring a few pairs of these socks. NO COTTON.
Recommended: Darn Tough Mountaineering Sock
General Mountaineering Boot
Should be warm single boots that have a stiff sole and accept a step-in crampon. The boots should be comfortable, have adequate wiggle room for your toes, and your heel should not lift more than 1/8 of an inch when walking.
Recommended: La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX
Ultra-light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light-colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days.
Recommended Men’s: Black Diamond Lightwire Short Sleeve
Recommended Women’s: Black Diamond Lightwire Short Sleeve
Mid-Weight Puffy Jacket
Hard Shell Jacket
Must have belay loop, gear loops and adjustable leg loops so that you can layer up underneath it. Easy to pack, lightweight + comfortable. *Harnesses are also available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Couloir
Steel crampons with anti-balling plates are required (so that snow does not build-up in the base of your foot). Make sure that crampons have a heel bail and that they fit snugly on your ski or snowboard boots. Crampons are available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons
General Mountaineering Axe
One non-technical climbing axe. The tool should be approx. 55cm- 65cm long and comfortable to hold. *Ice axes are also available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
An easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Vision Helmet – MIPS
While the technical equipment needed for a specific objective and season varies, this basic kit is a great baseline. Your guide will bring gear for you to use during your course, but participants are encouraged to bring some or all of this if you own it or are interested in purchasing it.
1 Cordalette (6mm x 5m/16.4′)
4 locking carabiners
2 non-locking carabiners
1 double-length Dyneema sling
Small prusik loop (6mm x 112cm/44″)
Auto-blocking belay device (eg. ATC guide)
Micro Traxion or similar
Should carry 70-100 ounces. Must be durable and have a reliable closure system. Recommended: MSR Dromlite 2L with Hydration Tube
Two 1L Nalgene Bottles
Two 1 Liter Wide Mouth Nalgene bottles.
Recommended: Nalgene 1 L wide mouth
Climbing Pack: 50-60L
Internal frame pack that is between 50 and 60 liters. Either purchase a matching pack cover, or use garbage bags as liners. Make sure the pack is fitted to YOUR body.
Recommended: Black Diamond Speed 50L Pack
Alpenglow is the best
“I’ve been climbing with Alpenglow for over ten years. After my first expedition, I knew I’d found the best team. I feel like I’m a member of the Alpenglow family, and have come to know and love many of their guides, office staff, and programs. Alpenglow is truly the best!”