5-Day Mountaineering School

5 days in / (Skill level: Introductory)

Price per person

  • Next Available: May 11, 2023 - May 15, 2023
  • Upcoming: Jun 15, 2023 - Jun 19, 2023
  • Jul 06, 2023 - Jul 10, 2023

About this trip

On the northeast side of Shasta is the Hotlum Glacier, the perfect training ground for those wanting to learn the intricacies of mountaineering and glacier travel & crevasse rescue. This 5-day school will teach you the mountaineering skills and knowledge needed to form a solid foundation for the larger, more complex mountains you want to climb, all while summiting the premier mountaineering peak of California!


  • skill level


  • Duration

    5 days

This mountaineering school and north side summit climb is designed to prepare aspiring mountaineers for the high-altitude peaks they dream of climbing around the world. With two days of skills training on the Hotlum Glacier, it is the perfect opportunity to build a solid mountaineering foundation here in California that will set you up for even more success as you add the factors of high altitude and expedition climbing to your climbing experience. The northeast side holds numerous complex routes that cross massive sheets of ice, perfect for glacial travel, crevasse rescue and snow travel skills work.

Mountaineering Skills Day


  1. Introduce basic concepts of snow and ice climbing
  2. Become familiar with equipment choices, use and inspection.
  3. Practice knots, hitches and basic rope-work

Climbing a snow-covered peak can be difficult, and the specific challenges that we typically encounter can easily add unnecessary time or risk to your day. After hundreds of mountaineering expeditions all over the world, we know what works and what doesn’t work. This course is crafted to deliver the skills, knowledge and techniques necessary to start (or further) your mountaineering career.

Topics include:

  • Introduction to the alpine environment
  • Hazard recognition
  • Overview of equipment
  • Moving over steep snow
  • Crampons and Ice axe use
  • Diagonal and direct ascent and descent
  • Self arrest
  • Basic rope-work
  • Knots and hitches
  • Snow and anchors
  • Belaying and rappelling
  • Guided vs non-guided rope-work
  • Strategies to increase security

Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue Day

Traveling on glacial terrain can be inherently dangerous, difficult and complicated due to the variable nature of the terrain, the limited ability to scope out the hazards in advance and the serious consequences of falling into a crevasse. Even a minor fall into a crevasse can negatively affect the safety and success of the adventure.

Preventing a fall, or limiting the potential severity of a fall, into a crevasse while moving efficiently is the goal of glacier travel and requires practice and attention to detail. Further; if a fall does occur, rapid, organized and safe rescue is the goal of crevasse rescue.

Goals of the Day:

  • Introduce basic concepts of glacier travel and crevasse rescue.
  • Become familiar with equipment choices, use and inspection.
  • Practice roped travel, self-rescue and partner rescue.

Choosing how to travel on glaciated terrain is usually the first and often most difficult decision to make. There are two basic ways to address glacier travel safety and they usually depend on the activity and/or the perceived level of hazard:

  • Having the team roped up in advance and pre-equipped for self and team rescue.  This is the more traditional mountaineering glacier travel approach.
  • Traveling unroped and having rescue equipment available for team rescue.  This is most common for heli ski and ski mountaineering descents.

Choosing how to rescue is the next difficult decision to make and requires a specific skill set and significant practice. We will dive into both of these approaches and learn about the intricacies of both travel and rescue in each situation. Basic skills covered throughout the day include:

  • Introduction to the glaciated environment
    • Anatomy of a glacier
    • Hazard recognition
    • Overview of equipment
  • Basic Rope-work
    • Knots and hitches
    • Tie in methods and spacing
    • Team size and how that affects security
    • Moving as a team
    • Strategies to increase security
  • Crevasse Rescue
    • Overview of incident response to a crevasse fall
    • Snow anchors and load transfers
    • Lowering systems
    • Raising systems
    • Rope ascending and descending

Summit Bid

After spending the last two days developing the skills necessary for a successful summit of Mount Shasta, it will be time for our own summit bid. An Alpine Start will kick off our day, as we move under the cover of the stars towards the summit. We’ll utilize all of our new skills as we climb the beautiful north side route. After a short celebration atop one of California’s most iconic peaks, we’ll begin our decent back to base camp where will we get some much needed rest before trekking back to the trailhead the following day.

The Hotlum Glacier is our first choice for this itinerary. However, depending on conditions, our guides will occasionally select a different route to accomplish the same goals.

Interested in this trip with a ski descent? Check out our private options!

Who Can Participate?

Aspiring mountaineers with excellent physical fitness who want to gain the basic skills of glacial travel and also reach a fun, challenging summit.

What’s Included

  • Food on the mountain
  • Group Gear: Tents, Camp Kitchen, etc. (Does not include bowl, fork, spoon, sleeping bag, or sleeping pad)
  • Ropes and other Technical Equipment  (Does not include mountaineering boots)
  • Wilderness Permits
  • Guide Fees

The Alpenglow Difference

With countless expeditions to high-altitude peaks around the world over the last 15 years, we bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to our beloved “home mountain”. Our teaching and guiding philosophy has been honed from the flanks of the Himalayan giants to the technical peaks of Peru, and we are beyond excited to be able to bring our program to this fantastic mountain. In addition to our international expedition roots, we are accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), being one of the very few guide services in the region to hold such a high standard. Each of our guides is trained by the AMGA in the terrain in which they operate, and the program is supervised by internationally licensed IFMGA mountain guides. This high standard, along with our many years of experience, translates to a fantastic mountain adventure!

Alpenglow Expeditions operates under a special use permit from the Tahoe, Inyo, Eldorado, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


  • Fitness

    Excellent physical fitness is required. Climbers must be able to hike for many hours at a time while carrying a pack.

  • Technical Experience

    While a background in climbing is helpful, it is not required for this introductory course.

    • Day 1 — Ascend to Camp

      8:00am: Meet and Greet in Town and brief for your trip
      10:00am: Depart for Brewer Creek or Northgate trailhead
      11:30am-4:00pm: Hike to camp
      4:00pm-8:00pm: Campcraft training, dinner, and an overview of the next day’s training
      8:00pm: Bed

    • Day 2 — Skills Training on the Glacier

      7:30am: Breakfast
      8:30am-3:30pm: Basic Mountaineering skills training
      3:30pm-7:30pm: Dinner & evening training
      8:00pm: Bed

    • Day 3 — Skills Training on the Glacier

      7:30am: Breakfast
      8:30am-3:30pm: Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue skills training
      3:30pm-7:30pm: Dinner & evening training
      8:00pm: Bed

    • Day 4 — Summit Bid via Hotlum Glacier

      1:00am-3:00am (conditions dependent): Alpine start
      11:00am-2:00pm (conditions dependent): Turnaround time
      Back in camp by mid-afternoon

    • Day 5 — Descend to Trailhead

      7:30am: Breakfast
      8:30am: Depart for trailhead
      11:30am: Arrive at trailhead

      • Headwear and Eyewear

      • Hat

        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 5-Panel

      • Beanie

        A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that one of your hats fits under a helmet. Recommended: Eddie Bauer First Slouch 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 Expeditions Buff

      • Sunglasses

        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: Julbo Shield

      • Helmet

        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: Petzl Meteor Helmet

      • Hands and Feet

      • Lightweight 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: Eddie Bauer Mountain Glove

      • Midweight Gloves

        These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, and insulated. These will be your main glove for the trip until summit days, or when it gets especially cold. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Guide Glove

      • Warm Socks

        A wool synthetic blend. Pure rag wool socks are not nearly as effective in wicking moisture or retaining their shape and reducing blisters. NO COTTON. Recommended: Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew Socks

      • Mountaineering Boot (Shasta)

        Should be warm single boots that have a stiff sole and accept a step-in crampon, or double boots if you have very cold feet. 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 Early Season (April-June): La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX Recommended Late Season (July-August): La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX

      • Upper Body Apparel

      • Long Sleeve Base Layer

        A poly-pro mid-layer that you will never take off. Fitted, light- weight and quick drying. Make sure it is long enough to tuck-in and we recommend zipper collars for more ventilation. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Midweight FreeDry® Merino Hybrid Baselayer 1/4-Zip

      • Lightweight Top

        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. The new wool blends are also an option. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

      • Synthetic Top

        A simple, lightweight synthetic jacket. This item is good for layering systems and the Primaloft keeps you warm when wet. Recommended: Eddie Bauer IgniteLite Stretch Reversible

      • Warm Layer

        A polarguard or fleece jacket. This is your mid layer that will be worn over your baselayer most of the trip. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Cloud Layer Pro 1/4 Zip or Patagonia R1 Jacket

      • Hard Shell Jacket

        A lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket WITH A HOOD that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Make sure you have pit-zips and if you are using an old jacket, re-waterproof it. Recommended: Eddie Bauer BC Freshline Jacket

      • Soft Shell Jacket

        While this item isn’t required, we know that those who don’t have one wish they did! More breathable than Gore-tex, these jackets block wind and light precipitation. A windshirt is an option for this layer. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Sandstone

      • Down Parka (5-6,000 Meter Peaks)

        A puffy jacket with a hood that will keep you warm during the coldest of conditions. The higher the quality down, the better (800-fill is best). However, be sure the jacket is still lightweight. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Downlight Hooded Jacket

      • Lower Body Apparel

      • Base Layer Bottoms

        Fitted and quick drying. This piece will be a base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures. Recommended: SmartwoolMen's Intraknit™ Merino 250 Thermal Bottom

      • Hard Shell Pants

        Your waterproof bottom layer for extreme weather days. Make sure you have water-resistant zippers, crampon patches + good pockets. Recommended:Eddie Bauer BC Duraweave Alpine Pants

      • Soft Shell Pants

        You will spend most of your days in these pants. Choose Schoeller® or a soft-shell equivalent. Breathable + water-resistant. These pants should have an ankle zip so they will accommodate your mountain boot. Recommended:Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Alpine Pants

      • Technical Equipment

      • Helmet

        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: Petzl Meteor Helmet

      • Harness

        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: Petzl Altitude

      • Mountaineering Crampons

        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. 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

      • Waterproof Gaiters

        GORE-TEX® or Schoeller® calf- high gaiters, insulated supergaiters recommended. *Gaiters not needed if your pants and/or boots have built-in gaiters. Recommended: Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodile Gaiters (required if your boots do not have integrated gaiters)

      • 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: Petzl Summit

      • Climbing Pack: 60-75L

        Internal frame pack that is between 60 and 75 liters. Either purchase a matching pack cover, or use garbage bags as liners. Make sure the pack is fitted to YOUR body. Recommended: Osprey Aether 65 or the North Face Cobra 65

      • Technical kit

        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

      • Expedition Equipment

      • Sleeping Bag (20°)

        Rated to 20º F. Choose an 800+ Fill Premium Goose Down bag. Make certain that the sleeping bag is the right length. DON’T FORGET A COMPRESSION SACK FOR THE SLEEPING BAG. Granite Gear Compression Sack is desired. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Kara Koram with Compression Sack

      • Foam Sleeping Pad

        A foam pad will help protect the inflatable pad from puncture. Recommended: Therm-a-Rest Z-lite

      • Hydration System (optional)

        Should carry 70-100 ounces. Must be durable and have a reliable closure system. Recommended: MSR Dromlite 2L with Hydration Tube

      • Headlamp

        L.E.D. headlamps are required. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp. Recommended:Black Diamond Revolt 350

      • Two 1L Nalgene Bottles

        Two 1 Liter Wide Mouth Nalgene bottles. Recommended: Nalgene 1 L wide mouth

      • Ear Plugs

        Ear plugs for sleeping/relaxing while sharing a sleeping space

    • Do I have enough experience for this trip?

      This intro to mountaineering course is an entry level program, designed to teach you all the skills you need to begin your mountain climbing career. While you do need excellent general fitness, no climbing experience is necessary.

    • Would you consider organizing a private intro to mountaineering course on Mt. Shasta?

      Yes!  A private course would provide more flexibility and opportunity for individual instruction for you and your group.  Check out our private skiing and climbing options to get an idea of what we offer, and give us a call to discuss it!

    • What is your cancellation policy?

Logan Talbott

co-owner / chief guide

Logan has been guiding professionally for over a decade in the disciplines of Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. When not out guiding, Logan spends time in the office helping the team with the day-to-day operations of the business. From one day ascents of El Capitan to big Alpine climbs in the Himalaya, from ski descents on Denali to backyard ski tours in Lake Tahoe, he can’t help but smile when out running around the hills. Logan is an AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, an Avalanche course leader with AIARE, as well as a wilderness EMT. In addition to guiding, Logan has extensive experience in mountain rescue, having worked for rescue teams in both Yosemite and Denali National Parks, and volunteering locally for Tahoe Nordic SAR. When not out in the hills, he lives in Truckee, CA with his lovely wife Lynette and daughter Maggie.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Tim Mincey

A native of Chicago, Tim grew up barely knowing that mountains existed, much less that you could climb or ski them for fun. But as an engineering student at Stanford, he managed to fall in love with snowboarding, and after college he made the move to Tahoe to ride full-time as a snowboard instructor. Once in Tahoe, Tim couldn’t wait to dive into backcountry splitboarding and rock climbing, and he is perpetually trying to make up for his late start in the mountains by climbing and snowboarding as much as possible. Tim has guided throughout California since 2011, and has a hard time imagining that he’ll ever tire of showing off the beauty of the Sierra Nevada.

He is an AMGA Certified Rock and Splitboard Guide, Apprentice Alpine Guide, and Single Pitch Instructor, as well as an AIARE Course Leader and AASI Level 3 Snowboard Instructor. He lives in South Lake Tahoe with his wife, Beth, their daughter, Cora, and their Mini Australian Shepherd, Pika.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

Dave Nettle

Dave’s love for outdoor challenge, adventure and fun began early in his life with Boy Scout backpacking and mountaineering trips in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1972 he started his lifelong pursuit and joy of rock climbing with his first climbs deep in the Sierra Nevada backcountry, which remains his favorite mountain range to share and enjoy.

In 1975, at age 17 he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail solo from Mexico to Canada and the following year hiked the Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico, sealing his passion for grand adventure and determination to accomplish what he sets out to do.

Dave’s underlying philosophy of living life fully and approaching the world of adventure travel and alpinism with “confident uncertainty” has led him to the mountain ranges of the world where his climbing accomplishments are just a part of what he values.  At the heart and soul of it all is the experience of interacting with, and learning from, the people, places and cultures along the way and sharing the challenge and beauty of wilderness with friends.

In addition to five decades of rock and alpine climbing which have included new routes and significant ascents throughout North America, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia, Dave is an accomplished ski mountaineer who hangs up his climbing shoes each winter in favor of backcountry alpine ski touring and hut to hut ski tours in the European Alps.

Dave brings 15 years of technical Rope Access and Rescue Training experience to the team.  He has helped pioneer the use of Rope Access methods to complement traditional mountaineering based techniques to improve the safety and efficiency of ski lift, gondola, high angle and crevasse rescue procedures.  He has been a SPRAT certified Rope Access Level 3 Technician since 2002.

His blend of outdoor skills, professionalism and sense of humor make for memorable trips, not to mention epic slide show presentations which he loves to share with others. Dave is the founder of a free community slideshow series in the Tahoe area that has been ongoing since 1988 and continues to inform, entertain and inspire everyone to seek out and accomplish their dreams and goals. You can learn more about the Alpenglow Winter Film Series here.

Guide Certifications

Tim Dobbins

With notable first descents in the Alps, Tim Dobbins represents Alpenglow’s cutting edge guiding philosophy providing only the best guides for every trip and expedition.

Growing up in Oregon, Tim started out skiing at the young age of 4 years old. Tim grew up ski racing for 9 years before he moved on to backcountry skiing in Aspen, Colorado. He spent 4 years working as ski patrol at Snowmass Ski Resort.

Tim moved to Chamonix in the mid-’90s where he spent 6 seasons skiing and climbing while studying French. Tim says that Chamonix is where he really started learning how to ski tour, rock climb, ice climb and eventually began skiing the steepest lines he could find.

Examples of those steep lines were the North-East face of Les Courtes, Couloir Barbey from Aiguille D’Argentiere, Couloir Couturier from L’Aiguille Verte, Couloir du Diable on Mont Blanc du Tacul, East face of the Matterhorn and many, many others.

Tim has spent the last 10 years guiding and instructing in rock, ice, alpine, and skiing. He is an AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, and lives on Donner Lake in Truckee with his wife Gisele, sweet daughter Manue and son Matisse.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

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    5-Day Mountaineering School

5-Day Mountaineering School

On the northeast side of Shasta is the Hotlum Glacier, the perfect training ground for those wanting to learn the intricacies of mountaineering and glacier travel & crevasse rescue. This 5-day school will teach you the mountaineering skills and knowledge needed to form a solid foundation for the larger, more complex mountains you want to climb, all while summiting the premier mountaineering peak of California!