PRICE

Rock Climbing Instruction
Price per person, per day
1:1 $375
2:1 $225
3:1 $175

SCHEDULE

Inquire for private dates

DETAILS

Grade: Beginner
1-3 Day Course

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425.749.7421

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OVERVIEW

The emphasis of this course will be learning fundamental alpine rock climbing skills. The instruction is designed for climbers seeking to gain experience in an alpine mountaineering environment.

Rock Climbing • 1 Day Course

Come discover the thrill of alpine rock climbing on the diorite cliffs of Mount Erie, high above the scenic Puget Sound.

Located about 1.5 hours north of Seattle on Fidalgo Island near the charming city of Anacortes, Mount Erie is home to an excellent range of single- and multipitch routes. Over the course of two days, our professional guides will help you review and expand your rock climbing skill set. We focus on the variety of techniques essential for safe and efficient travel on alpine rock, including protection, anchors, rope management, movement skills, belaying, lowering, rappelling and more.

As an alternate location, we may move our training to the Snoqualmie Pass area, just 45 minutes east of Seattle on Interstate 90. On Day One, we practice skills at the popular Exit 38 climbing area. On Day 2, we drive up to the pass and climb one of several classic, multipitch routes on the Tooth, Chair Peak or Snoqualmie Mountain.

The Tooth • 5,604 feet

After two days of training at Mount Erie, consider applying your skills on a one-day extension to climb the Tooth above Snoqualmie Pass just east of Seattle. A short early morning hike into the Source Lake area near Alpental ski resort leads to a view of our objective, the steep and blocky Tooth towering hundreds of feet above the surrounding landscape in the central Cascade Range.

Depending on climber ability, we choose one of several routes to the top of the pinnacle. We enjoy panoramic views from the summit, then descend safely with a mix of rappelling and hiking. We pack our gear and retrace our steps to the trailhead, generally arriving back at our cars by late-afternoon.

Twin Sisters Mountain • 7,004 feet

Twin Sisters Mountain is an outlier from the main spine of the Cascades located just south of Mount Baker on the edge of the Puget Sound. Composed of ancient olivine rock, “the Twins” offer a unique climbing experience. The reddish orange olivine is solid and extremely textured, making for excellent moderate, alpine rock climbing. Most climbers choose to ascend the popular west ridge of South Twin, the higher of the two summits. North Twin may also be climbed via moderate terrain on its west ridge, and more experienced climbers can link the two summits via the scenic and sometimes exposed North Twin to South Twin Traverse.

Depending on climber ability, we choose one of several routes to the top of the pinnacle. We enjoy panoramic views from the summit, then descend safely with a mix of rappelling and hiking. We pack our gear and retrace our steps to the trailhead, generally arriving back at our cars by late-afternoon.

Rock Climbing Curriculum

  • Movement on rock
  • Climbing equipment & clothing
  • Climbing knots & hitches
  • Traditional multipitch climbing
  • Belaying, lowering and rappelling
  • Introduction to anchors and protection
  • Using a guidebook and trip planning
  • Climbing communication
  • Leave No Trace

Course Highlights

  • Learn basic rock climbing skills.
  • Develop multipitch rock climbing techniques including belaying, rappelling and anchors.
  • Enjoy a Northwest Alpine Guides adventure training high above the scenic Puget Sound.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 • Rock Climbing Instruction
Day 2 • Multi-Pitch Instruction
Day 3 • Alpine Rock Climb

Qualifications

This course is an entry level training course and is suitable for climbers in excellent physical condition with no prior mountaineering experience. A one hour climbing skills training will be taught. No extra acclimatization is necessary for this program. Read our Goals and Fitness page for recommendations on how to best physically prepare for this adventure.

3 to 1 Climber to Guide Ratio

We lead the Intro to Alpine Rock Climbing Course at a 3 to 1 climber to guide ratio to ensure that you receive personal attention and hands-on instruction throughout the course.

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

“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 Alpine Rock Climbing

Plan to arrive the day before the course begins.

Day 1 • Knots and Movement Skills

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 trailhead takes approximately 30 minutes.

After a short approach hike to the crag we will cover equipment selection, knots, belaying, rappelling, and practice some movement skills by climbing some shorter pitches. Throughout the course, your guides will host discussions on climbing topics.

Accommodations: Overnight in Burlington or Anacortes, or at Snoqualmie Pass, WA (not included)
Meals Included: (none)

Day 2 • Traditional Multipitch Climbing

We meet early in the morning and return to Mount Erie. We begin the day by climbing shorter routes and expanding upon the technical and movement skills we learned on Day 1. After lunch we embark on a traditional multipitch route, allowing us to practice route-finding, anchors, protection, rope and team management and movement skills on a longer climb. Depending on climber ability, we may choose any one of a number of different routes, from October Sky (5.6, 2 pitches) to Gotta Keep Dancing (5.9, 4 pitches).

Meals Included: (none)

Day 3 • Alpine Rock Climb

We meet early in the morning and return to Mount Erie. We begin the day by climbing shorter routes and expanding upon the technical and movement skills we learned on Day 1. After lunch we embark on a traditional multipitch route, allowing us to practice route-finding, anchors, protection, rope and team management and movement skills on a longer climb. Depending on climber ability, we may choose any one of a number of different routes, from October Sky (5.6, 2 pitches) to Gotta Keep Dancing (5.9, 4 pitches).

Meals Included: (none)

Plan to depart the day after the course 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 instruction
  • Professional mountain guide
  • Wilderness Permits

Price Does Not Include

  • Transportation
  • Trailhead parking fees (Northwest Forest Pass)
  • Meals and snack food
  • Personal gear
  • Hotels or lodging
  • Camping fees
  • 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

During the Intro Alpine Rock Climbing Course, Northwest Alpine Guides does not provide group meals. You will need to provide your own lunch and snack food during days at the crags.

Climbing 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.

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
Additional 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 Alpine Rock Climbing 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.
  • Sun Hat or Baseball Cap
  • Sun Glasses: Essential eye protection for a day outside. Full spectrum UV protection is recommended.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm: SPF 30+
  • Climbing LED Headlamp: Bring one extra set of batteries.

Upper Body

  • Lightweight Tops: Two lightweight T-shirts for warm days.
  • Baselayer Top: One synthetic long-sleeve shirt. 
  • 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 recommended.

Note: Proper hardshell rain gear is required on all trips.

Handwear

  • Lightweight Softshell Gloves: One pair. Leather palms offer durability and grip.

Lower Body

  • Baselayer Bottom: One pair. Synthetic, no cotton.
  • Softshell Pants: One pair. Synthetic, stretchy, non-insulated.
  • Hardshell Pants: One pair of GORE-TEX© pants. Full-length side zips are required; you may need to take off your hardshell pants without removing your shoes.

Footwear

  • Rock Climbing Shoes: Velcro, lace-up, or slipper-style rock climbing shoes with sticky-rubber soles. A snug but not painful fit is recommended.
  • Approach Shoes: Light hiking boots or sturdy trail running shoes.
  • Lightweight Socks: Two to three pair. Synthetic or wool recommended.
  • Mediumweight Socks: One pair of wool or synthetic socks for chilly days.

Packing and Backpack

  • Backpack: One 40- to 50-liter pack for personal and group gear. Should have an effective waist belt, fit properly and provide good support while carrying roughly 25 pounds.

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 (ropes, protection, etc.).

Climbing Gear

  • Climbing Helmet: Lightweight
  • Rock Climbing Harness: Padded rock climbing harness.
  • Locking Carabiners: (3) Large pear-shaped, screw gate locking carabiners.
  • Non-Locking Carabiners: (4) Wire gate non-locking carabiners.
  • Belay Device: Tube style belay device.
  • Cord: 6 mm, 30 feet
  • Nylon Slings: (1) 60 cm nylon sling, (1) 120 cm nylon sling
  • Trekking Poles: Adjustable and collapsible for approach hikes to alpine rock climbs. (Optional)

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 and medications
  • Toilet paper, blue bag or wag bag
  • 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.

Alpine rock climbing is a strenuous activity that imposes unique demands on our bodies. Carrying a heavy pack over steep, uneven terrain for hours at a time can be challenging even for very fit individuals. Do not underestimate the importance of climbing-specific training, such as hiking with a weighted pack.

For rock climbing, hand and arm strength are important, but our feet usually bear most of our weight. Good footwork is essential. To move lightly and gracefully on the rock, you should develop a base of general fitness, balance and agility. Aerobic sports such as running, cycling and swimming will keep you trim, while activities like yoga can improve your core strength and flexibility. For a climbing-specific workout, it’s hard to beat an indoor climbing gym. Lifting weights can be useful, too, but pure muscular bulk is heavy and not helpful. Instead, focus on your core, and exercises such as pull-ups that are directly applicable to rock climbing.

Your physical fitness contributes to your safety in the mountains, and the safety of your partners. By moving gracefully and efficiently, you minimize the risk of slips, bumps and bruises while maximizing your enjoyment. 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 climbing 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

The emphasis of this course will be learning fundamental alpine rock climbing skills. The instruction is designed for climbers seeking to gain experience in an alpine mountaineering environment.

Mount Erie ParkAnacortes, Washington