PRICE

$595

Spring 2021
June 5 – June 6, 2021
Inquire for private dates

DETAILS

Grade: Beginner
2 Day Course

 
 
 
 
 

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425.749.7421

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OVERVIEW

Leave the crowds behind and learn how to backcountry ski! During this course we will introduce the critical equipment and skills that allow us to safely enjoy the vast and exciting world of backcountry skiing. Set within an overnight ski tour, our curriculum covers uphill and downhill travel, with an emphasis on essential items such as avalanche safety gear, climbing skins, and alpine touring boots and bindings and the skills needed to use them.

Intro to Backcountry Skiing • 2 Day Course and Ski Tour

Northwest Alpine Guides’ Intro to Backcountry Skiing is designed for intermediate inbounds skiers seeking to transition from resort skiing into the backcountry. Our course takes place on the pristine south side of Mount Baker, far from the nearest resort. For a true backcountry touring experience, we stay overnight in mountain tents or an historic fire lookout when available. This course demands strong physical fitness as all participants must skin up to high camp carrying a backpack with overnight gear.

Mount Baker Tour

With dramatic glaciers, record-setting snowpack, and the potential for more than 7,000 vertical feet of riding, Mount Baker offers some of the best skiing in North America! To native residents of the area, Mount Baker is Komo Kulshan, “the White Watcher” who looks out over the Salish Sea. The mountain’s indigenous name – and its skiing fame – stem from its accessible, enormous glaciers. Skiers gravitate to them to hone their skills and challenge themselves, whether on the gentle Easton Glacier or the steep Park Headwall. We approach via the Schreiber’s Meadow Trail and establish our camp at 6,000 feet near the base of the Easton Glacier. From our tents, we enjoy easy access to abundant terrain to practice our glacial riding skills, all with excellent views of the Twin Sisters Range, Mount Rainier and the snowy, serrated skyline of the North Cascades.

Mount Baker Summit Ski Descent

Climb to the summit of Mount Baker and experience the challenge and thrill of ski mountaineering as you ride down the second most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States! With up to 7,000 vertical feet of ski terrain, Mount Baker offers one of the best descents in North America. We generally recommend 3 days for this option, although advanced skiers may complete an ascent and descent in two long days.

Intro to Backcountry Ski School Curriculum

  • Introduction to ski touring equipment
  • Introduction to avalanche transceivers and other safety equipment
  • How to ascend on backcountry skis: climbing skins, boots, bindings and setting tracks
  • Tour planning and terrain hazard assessment

Need help choosing a trip?
Read our Four-Legged Stool blog post for tips on finding the right adventure for you.

Tour Highlights

  • Enjoy a Northwest Alpine Guides adventure and learn to backcountry ski.
  • Overnight ski tour on the second most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.

4 to 1 Skier to Guide Ratio

We lead the Intro to Backcountry Skiing Course at a 4 to 1 skier to guide ratio to ensure that you receive personal attention and hands-on instruction throughout the tour.

Northwest Alpine Guides holds a Special Use Permit and is an authorized outfitter guide within Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Mt. Baker Ranger District

“In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination: write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD).”

ITINERARY

Intro to Backcountry Skiing

Plan to arrive the day before the climb begins.

Day 1 • Move to high camp on Mount Baker

Meet at our Guide Hut in Sedro-Woolley, WA.

Northwest Alpine Guides will provide you with a detailed PreClimb departure book upon registration including personal gear list, meeting location and driving directions.

Our alpine guides will meet you for team introductions, gear check, and group gear distribution. The drive to the Schrieber’s Meadow Trailhead on the south side of Mount Baker at 3,400 feet takes approximately one hour. The tour to high camp takes 4 to 5 hours using climbing skins. The team will set camp between 5,600 and 6,200 feet depending on the season.

Your guides will introduce the backcountry curriculum after arriving at high camp. Each team member will be assessed throughout the ski school. You will need to demonstrate adequate fitness and proficiency in skiing skills as your safety is our priority.

We return to camp, enjoy dinner and go to be early for the next day’s tour.

Vertical Gain Skiing: 2,800 feet
Skiing Time: 4-5 hours

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: None

Day 2 • Tour the Easton Glacier and ski descent

Today we ski tour on the lower Easton Glacier. We will ascend as high as conditions allow, and choose descents that maximize our fun and safety. This is a true backcountry experience. During the tour, your guides will build upon on the skills introduced in the previous day’s ski school. We descend to high camp, pack up and enjoy a ski descent back to the trailhead.

We usually arrive back at our cars by mid-afternoon and conclude our adventure in Sedro-Woolley.

Vertical gain skiing: 2,000-3000 feet
Skiing time: 7+ hours

Meals Included: None

Plan to depart the day after the climb ends.

Itinerary Notes
Northwest Alpine Guides makes every effort to uphold the scheduled itinerary, although our guides are given discretion to adapt the itinerary for reasons beyond our control or due to the needs of the group. Meal schedule: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner

DETAILS

Where to Meet

At 8:00 a.m. on the morning of the climb, we meet at the Guide Hut in Sedro-Woolley, WA for equipment check and orientation before heading to the trailhead. We will email you detailed PreClimb information including a gear list and full departure details upon receiving your registration.

Deposit and Payments

  • $300.00 deposit includes a $200.00 non-refundable registration fee, due with application.
  • Balance due 90 days prior to start date.
  • The balance can be paid by check, or credit card.

Price Includes

  • Guided tour and instruction
  • Boiled water for meals
  • Professional mountain guide
  • Group equipment (including tents, ropes, stoves, etc.)
  • Wilderness Permits

Price Does Not Include

  • Transportation
  • Trailhead parking fees (Northwest Forest Pass)
  • Meals and snack food
  • Personal gear
  • Hotels or lodging
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Medical and evacuation coverage
  • Staff gratuities

Guides

Our instructors are highly skilled professional guides who have been selected based on their technical proficiency, proven safety records, careful judgment, patience, and supportive teaching styles. They are dedicated to a climbing lifestyle, and collectively have climbed throughout the earth’s major mountain ranges. Our guides are friendly, very willing to share their own experiences, and can help you develop a plan to achieve your own climbing ambitions. All our guides carry current certification in wilderness first aid.

Tipping

Our guides are dedicated mountain professionals who work hard to ensure your success and wellbeing on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. An average tip is 10 – 20% percent of the cost of the program, usually $100 – $200. Your guide team will pool all tips. If you prefer to transfer funds electronically, please send gratuities through paypal.me/mountaingurus

Summit Attempt

Northwest Alpine Guides cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe. You or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a team member’s own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not NWAG responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.

Age Guidelines

Participants age 16 & 17: May participate in fixed-date group itineraries if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Participants age 15 and younger: May only participate in private climbs and must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

All minor climbers must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian throughout the entirety of the program. If either the minor climber or the guardian needs to descend at any time during the program, both climbers must descend together.

Minimum Participants

Please note that a minimum of two participants is required to guarantee each departure at the advertised price.

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend that all participants consider travel and trip cancellation insurance after making a deposit. Travel insurance offers the best protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness, an injury prior to or while traveling, or a possible family emergency.

If you choose not to purchase insurance, you assume full responsibility for any expenses incurred in the event of a medical emergency and/or evacuation, as well as for trip cancellation, interruption, lost luggage, etc. Northwest Alpine Guides does not insure you against these risks. We ask that you consult your travel insurance carrier directly with questions.

For more info about current coverage plans and quotes please visit.

Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance

Travel, evacuation and rescue coverage designed for adventure travelers.

For a quote, or to purchase travel insurance, please click this link Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™

  • Waiv­er for pre-exist­ing con­di­tions (must be pur­chased with­in 14 days of trip deposit)
  • Option­al ​“Can­cel for Any Rea­son” cov­er­age (must be pur­chased with­in 14 days of trip deposit)

Global Rescue

We recommend Signature Travel Insurance. For travel insurance or Global Rescue membership.

For a quote, or to purchase travel insurance, please click this link Global Rescue

Date Changes

Date changes may be requested at any time up to 45 days prior to your departure date for a $100.00 fee per person. Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. No date changes allowed less than 45 days before departure.

Cancellations

Since departures require a minimum number of participants, Northwest Alpine Guides must adhere to a stringent refund policy. The policy is intended to protect participants who have otherwise committed time and resources to the departure. Please read our Online Reservation for Terms and Conditions.

MEALS

You will need to provide all of your own meals during the Intro to Backcountry Ski TourYou will need one (1) breakfast, enough lunch and snack food for two (2) days, and one (1) dinner. Northwest Alpine Guides will provide the group with hot cooking water for breakfast and dinner. 

Meal Schedule

Day 1: Lunch & snacks, from the trailhead to high camp, Dinner
Three or four 15-minute lunch & snack breaks during the ascent to high camp. Dinner in high camp.

Day 2: Alpine Breakfast, Lunch & snacks for the ascent and descent
Three 15-minute snack & lunch breaks on the ascent from high camp to the Easton Glacier, one 15-minute snack break on the descent to high camp

Day 2: Remaining snacks for the descent to the trailhead

Mountain Lunches

We recommend that you bring a variety of snack food to eat while moving. On each day, we will encourage you to eat at regular, short maintenance breaks, roughly once every hour. These snacks can be critical for maintaining a steady supply of energy while moving up and down the mountain. We will not stop for a big lunch break.

Some examples of snack foods include dried meats (salami), jerky (turkey, beef, fish), tuna fish, cheese, crackers, bagels, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, candy bars, gummy candy, cookies, energy bars and trail mix.

We cannot overstate how critical it is for you to bring foods that you enjoy eating. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength in the mountains. We recommend a selection of sweet, sour and salty food.

When preparing lunches, please do not bring food items that require cooking or extensive preparation.

Mountain Breakfasts and Dinners

Please prepare your meals prior to your climb. Suggested food items:

Alpine Breakfast: Instant oatmeal, Pop Tarts, dried fruit, granola bars, bagels, peanut butter, cream cheese.

Dinner: Freeze-dried dinners are easy to prepare but do not always taste good and may affect your stomach. Instant noodle soups and rice are also popular. You may also consider bringing a cold meal of dried meat, bread, pizza, or sandwiches.

Hot Drinks: Coffee, Caffeinated Tea, Herbal Tea, Cocoa, Cider

Cold drinking water will be available in high camp. Hot, boiled cooking water will be provided for your meal preparation, for example for freeze-dried dinners, instant soups, instant oatmeal and hot drinks.

When preparing meals, please do not bring food items that require extensive cooking or other preparation.

The Guide Hut offers a wide variety of freeze-dried meals for purchase, including vegan and gluten free options.

TRAVEL

Getting There

At 8:00 a.m. on the morning of the climb, we meet at the Guide Hut in Sedro-Woolley, WA for equipment check and orientation before heading to the trailhead. Upon receiving your registration, Northwest Alpine Guides will email you complete PreClimb information, including a gear list specific to your itinerary and other departure details. The Guide Hut offers a selection of mountaineering equipment and clothing for purchase and rent.

The small town of Sedro-Woolley, “The Gateway to the North Cascades,” is approximately 70 miles and a 1.5-hour drive from Seattle or Bellevue. Limited services are available in Sedro-Woolley. More extensive food, shopping and lodging options may be found nearby in the cities of Mount Vernon and Burlington.

The Guide Hut / Northwest Alpine Guides
305 F And S Grade Road
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Click here for directions
Parking can be found across the street in the Park & Ride lot.

The Guide Hut

The Guide Hut serves as a meeting location, rental shop and retail store for guests of Northwest Alpine Guides.

During open hours at the Guide Hut, you may pick up pre-reserved rental items, try on rental boots, and purchase last-minute items. The Guide Hut offers a selection of retail items including outdoor clothing, glacier sunglasses, gloves, water bottles, cups, bowls, spoons, sunscreen, waste kits, moleskin, batteries, sports food, freeze-dried meals, Northwest Alpine Guides logo wear, and a selection of climbing equipment, including carabiners, cord and other items. Please visit the online Gear Shop for a list of available merchandise and to pre-purchase items.

The Guide Hut exclusively serves Northwest Alpine Guides customers. It is not open to the public, and does not serve customers outside of scheduled operating hours.

Flight Travel

Most climbers will fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) the evening before the program and rent a car for the hour and forty-five minute drive to Sedro Woolley, Washington. Please note that Seattle traffic is worsening and driving times from Seattle and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport may be significantly longer.

Our Northwest programs begin at the date, time and meeting location listed in the itinerary in your PreClimb Information. Meeting locations may vary depending on program destination. Climbers flying to Washington State must arrive the day before their program begins in order the meet the group for an early morning gear check and orientation. Return times on the final day of the program are difficult to predict. We strongly recommend that climbers book a hotel night following the final day of their itinerary and schedule departure flights on the following day. If departing on the last day of the program, we recommend booking a flight later than 10 pm.

Transportation

Transportation between the meeting location and the trailhead is not included in the price of the trip. Guides are not responsible for providing transportation to team members. We serve both local and out-of-town climbers in our Northwest programs, and many of our guests prefer to use their own vehicles. Team members are free to organize rideshares with other team members. With your permission, our office staff can share your name and contact information with other team members so that you can organize ridesharing. The NWAG office does not coordinate ridesharing or carpooling and we are unable to share customer or guide contact information due to privacy concerns. In rare cases, Northwest Alpine Guides staff may provide limited transportation between the trailhead and Sedro-Woolley as a fee service.

Trailhead Parking

You will need to obtain a NW Forest Pass or equivalent parking permit to leave your car at the trailhead lot. Single-use passes are $5.00 per day. They can be purchased in advance or the day of the gear check. A National Parks pass may suffice.

Driving Directions

From Seattle

Take I-5 North towards Burlington to Cook Road in Skagit County.
Take exit 232 from I-5 N

Turn right onto Cook Road, Head East to Sedro-Woolley
Follow Cook Road to Borseth Road in Sedro-Woolley, 7 min (4.3 mi)

At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit and onto Borseth Road
Turn left onto F & S Grade Road

The NWAG Guide Hut is the first building on your left

From Bellingham

Take I-5 South towards Burlington to Cook Road in Skagit County.
Take exit 232 from I-5 S

Follow Cook Road to Borseth Road in Sedro-Woolley, 7 min (4.3 mi)
Turn left onto F & S Grade Road

The NWAG Guide Hut is the first building on your left

From Burlington

From State Highway 20 East, at the traffic circle, take the 2nd exit onto Cook Road (after the Walgreens)

Follow Cook Road to Borseth Road in Sedro-Woolley, 7 min (4.3 mi)
Turn left onto F&S Grade Road

The NWAG Guide Hut is the first building on your left

Hotels

Lodging in Burlington and Sedro-Woolley, Washington. If you wish to stay close to the meeting location the night before your climb, we recommend the following options:

Three Rivers Inn Hotel
210 Ball Street
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Burlington
9384 Old Hwy 99 North
Burlington, WA 98233

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Burlington
1670 S Burlington Blvd
Burlington, WA 98233

Mountain Weather

For updated North Cascades weather forecasts, click here.

GEAR LIST

These items are required for our Intro to Backcountry Skiing course.

The Guide Hut offers a selection of mountaineering equipment and clothing for purchase and rent. Gear may be purchased from the Guide Hut in person on the morning of your climb, or in advance via our Online Gear Shop. Rental gear must be reserved in advance using our quick rental form. Please read our Guide Picks blog post for gear recommendations by specific brands.

Shop the Guide Hut »Quick Rental Reservation »Gear Recommendations »

Head and Face

  • Warm Hat: Wool or synthetic. Must cover the ears.
  • Buff or Balaclava
  • Sun Hat or Baseball Cap
  • Glacier Glasses: Essential eye protection at altitude. Wrap around style or side shields. A category 4 lens is required.
  • Goggles: For protection from wind. (Optional) 
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm: SPF 30+
  • Climbing LED Headlamp: Bring one extra set of batteries.

Upper Body

  • Baselayer Tops: Two synthetic long-sleeve shirts. Hoods for sun protection are strongly recommended.
  • Mid-layer Top: A synthetic or fleece top.
  • Softshell Jacket: This is a breathable but wind-and-weather resistant jacket. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Hardshell Jacket: A fully waterproof shell. GORE-TEX© or equivalent. Hoods are required.
  • Insulated Jacket: Medium weight down. 700+ fill or higher required.

Note: Proper hardshell rain gear is required on all trips.
Note: Women may want to bring an extra sports bra in case one becomes wet.

Handwear

  • Lightweight Softshell Gloves: One pair. Leather palms offer durability and grip.
  • Heavyweight Gloves: Insulated glove or mitten with GORE-TEX© or waterproof outer.

Lower Body

  • Baselayer Bottom: One pair. Synthetic, no cotton.
  • Softshell Pants: One pair. Synthetic, stretchy, non-insulated. (Optional)
  • Hardshell Pants: One pair of GORE-TEX© ski pants. Full-length side zips are recommended for ventilation while climbing, and to allow you to take off your hardshell pants without removing your shoes.

Footwear

  • Alpine Touring Ski Boots: Alpine touring (AT) ski boots with walk and ski modes for uphill and downhill travel. Must be compatible with your bindings and crampons.
  • Mediumweight Socks: Two pairs of wool or synthetic socks.
  • Heavyweight Socks: One pair of wool or synthetic socks for sleeping in and for cold days or summit days.

Sleeping

  • Sleeping Bag: A warm bag rated 0ᵒ to 20ᵒ Fahrenheit depending on season.
  • Sleeping Pad: A full-length closed-cell foam and/or inflatable pad. Foam AND inflatable pads are recommended for camping on snow during early-season climbs.

Packing and Backpack

  • Backpack: One 65- to 75-liter pack for personal and group gear. Should have an effective waist belt, fit properly and provide good support while carrying 45+ pounds.
  • Liner Bags: 2 large plastic contractor bags.

Note: An adequately sized backpack is required. You are responsible to carry all of your personal gear and food, as well as a portion of group gear (tents, ropes, stoves, fuel, etc.). We do not recommend an additional pack for summit day.

Ski Gear

  • Skis: Lightweight alpine touring (AT) recommended. 90-110 mm underfoot depending on snow conditions.
  • Bindings: Lightweight alpine touring (AT) bindings with uphill and downhill modes. Ski brakes and/or leashes recommended. Must be compatible with your boots.
  • Climbing Skins: For ascending on skis. Must be properly sized for your skis.
  • Ski Poles: Lightweight and adjustable with snow baskets.
  • Avalanche Beacon: With harness system. Ortovox, BCA, Pieps, Mammut, etc.
  • Avalanche Probe: Lightweight aluminum or carbon fiber. At least 6 feet / 2 meters long.
  • Avalanche Shovel: Lightweight metal or heavy-duty plastic. Collapsible handle recommended.
  • Helmet: Lightweight. Many popular climbing helmets are certified for skiing.

Climbing Gear

  • Alpine Harness: Lightweight alpine harness with adjustable leg loops.
  • Locking Carabiners: (2) Large pear-shaped, screw gate locking carabiners.
  • Non-Locking Carabiners: (1) Wire gate non-locking carabiners.
  • Nylon Slings: (2) 60 cm nylon slings
  • Crampons: 12-point steel with anti-balling plates.

Note: Please read our Crampons guide for recommendations.

Hydration

  • Water Bottles: (2) 1-liter, wide-mouth plastic bottles. NALGENE©

Note: CamelBaks and other bladder-style hydration systems may be used in addition to two water bottles, but are not sufficient. Bladders may pop and hydration hoses freeze in the cold.

Personal Health and First Aid

  • Small personal first-aid kit with medications and blister kit
  • Plastic bowl, insulated mug, and spoon
  • Toilet paper, blue bag or wag bag
  • Earplugs
  • Camera
  • Pee Funnel (for Women), optional
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Personal Items

Note: Pack basic medical supplies in a compact package. We recommend basic painkillers, Moleskin, first-aid or athletic tape, Band-Aids, and anti-septic wipes or gel.
Note: All solid waste must be carried out of the backcountry. One waste kit per 1-3 days is typically sufficient.

FITNESS

Physical fitness is the foundation of every mountain adventure. A strong cardiovascular system, endurance, core strength, flexibility and balance let us safely enjoy the spectacular terrain and close camaraderie we find in the planet’s highest places.

Backcountry skiing is a strenuous activity that imposes unique demands on our bodies. Skinning uphill requires aerobic fitness, while descending demands powerful, lower-body, ski muscles. Since we encounter a wide range of snow conditions in the backcountry, all participants must be strong resort skiers. To train for the ascents, we recommend hiking with a weighted pack. Running, swimming, cycling and other sports will help you prepare for your trip, but they are usually not sufficient. Even strong runners may struggle to carry a heavy pack over steep, uneven terrain for hours at a time. Do not underestimate the importance of mountain-specific training.

For your safety and the safety of your team, you must be able to maintain the pace set by our guides while maintaining reserves of strength. Moving more slowly can be dangerous. As the skiing day lengthens, we become fatigued and dehydrated. We lose precious daylight hours and we expose ourselves to quickly shifting mountain conditions and weather.

Training Resources:

Please read our Goals & Fitness guide for strategies to help you train for your climb.

Many climbers, particularly those who are new to the sport, will benefit from a workout plan designed to prepare you for the rigors of mountaineering. We recommend the following training resources:

Uphill Athlete
Mountain Tactical Institute

Frequently Asked Questions

What about safety?

No matter if you have never climbed before, our instructors are prepared to help you learn mountaineering from the ground up. In addition to professional instruction in climbing skills, most importantly, you will learn skills that will keep you safe in the mountains. With an adventure sport like mountaineering, safety is paramount.

All our instructors have advanced avalanche training, wilderness medical training, and will instruct you how to be self-reliant in the mountains. Mountain climbing can be unpredictable – weather conditions can change in a moment and one wrong step can lead to an injury. Northwest Alpine Guides will instruct you how to climb safely and successfully.

Peaks of the North Cascades

Click to read more about the Peaks of the North Cascades in Washington State.

MOUNTAINEERING COURSES

3 Day Mount Baker Intro to Mountaineering Climb

5 Day Mount Baker Glacier Mountaineering Course

7 Day North Cascades Alpine Climbing Course

All Northwest Courses

Leave the crowds behind and learn how to backcountry ski! During this course we will introduce the critical equipment and skills that allow us to safely enjoy the vast and exciting world of backcountry skiing.

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National ForestMount Baker