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Rock Climbing Instruction

1-3 Day Course • Washington State


Rock Climbing Instruction
Pricing Per Day
1:1 – $450 per person
2:1 – $300 per person
3:1 – $250 per person


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Grade: Beginner
1-3 Day Course

Talk to an ADVENTURE expert



Northwest Alpine Guides offers rock climbing instruction tailored to your goals and abilities. Our professional guides can teach you the skills you need to safely transition from indoor to outdoor climbing; set up top rope climbs; lead sport and traditional routes; climb multipitch routes; practice your rescue systems; aid climb; or hone your strength and movement skills as you tackle more difficult grades. Let Northwest Alpine Guides help you explore the wide world of rock climbing!

Rock Climbing • 1-3 Day Course

We offer rock climbing instruction at popular areas across the Pacific Northwest, allowing our guides to tailor their instruction to your goals and find good climbing conditions all year. Among other locations, we can climb with you at the popular Exit 32 and Exit 38 crags near North Bend, not far from Seattle; the sunny, basalt columns of Frenchman Coulee in eastern Washington; the famous spires of Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park; or the granite cliffs of Mount Erie high above the scenic Puget Sound.

We take pride in our ability to customize our itineraries, curricula and pricing to our guests’ goals and the size of the group. Some courses require prerequisites. Please read the information below, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions.

  • Gym to Crag
  • Sport Climbing
  • Traditional Climbing
  • Multipitch Climbing
  • Aid & Big Wall Climbing
  • Rock Rescue

Rock Climbing Curriculum Options

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

Rock Climbing Venues

  • Mount Erie, WA
  • Index, WA
  • Frenchman Coulee, WA
  • Exits 38 & 32, North Bend, WA
  • Snoqualmie Pass, WA
  • Smith Rock State Park, OR

Course Highlights

  • Rock climbing instruction tailored to your skills and goals.
  • Climb at famous crags across the Pacific Northwest.
  • Hone your skills with a professional climbing guide.
  • Enjoy a Northwest Alpine Guides course and adventure!

Sample Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 • Rock Climbing Instruction
Day 2 • Multi-Pitch Instruction
Day 3 • Skills Practice & Multipitch Climbing


The rock climbing areas of the Pacific Northwest offer a variety of routes and objectives suitable for climbers of all skill levels. Whether you want to climb for the first time, develop new skills or climb your dream route, our professional climbing guides will meet you at your level. Read our Goals and Fitness page for recommendations on how to best physically prepare for this adventure.


Rock Climbing Instruction*

Plan to arrive the day before the course begins.

*This is a sample itinerary for a 3-day trip at Mount Erie, Washington. Northwest Alpine Guides can adjust the trip location, length and curriculum to your goals and abilities.

Day 1 • Knots and Movement Skills

Video Resource: What to Expect the Morning of the Climb

Meet at our BaseCamp 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 at Mount Erie takes approximately 30 minutes.

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

Accommodations: Overnight in Burlington or Anacortes (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).

Accommodations: Overnight in Burlington or Anacortes (not included)
Meals Included: (none)

Day 3 • Climbing • Skills Instruction

Today our goal is to enjoy plenty of climbing and solidify the skills we have practiced over the previous two days. Our guides will ensure that each climber can confidently and safely belay, rappel, and build and assess sport climbing anchors and protection. While we firm up these critical skills, we will climb a variety of fun routes. Your guides will tailor the itinerary to the interests of the group, whether that means choosing multipitch or single-pitch climbs. If the group already has a solid grasp on sport climbing skills, we can broaden our instruction to other topics.

Meals Included: (none)

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


Where to Meet

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

For itineraries in northern Washington, we meet at 8:00 a.m. on Day 1 at our BaseCamp in Sedro-Woolley, WA for equipment check and orientation before heading to the trailhead.

Deposit and Payments

  • A non-refundable deposit of $300 per person secures your reservation.
  • The balance is due 120 days prior to start date.
  • The balance can be paid by credit card with a surcharge of 3.0%, or Zelle payment network.
  • If your balance payment is not received 120 days before the start of your program, your reservation will be canceled, and all program fees forfeited.

Price Includes

  • Guided instruction
  • Professional mountain guide
  • Wilderness Permits

Price Does Not Include

  • Transportation
  • Trailhead parking fees (Northwest Forest Pass, Washington State Discover Pass or Oregon State Parks Pass)
  • Meals and snack food
  • Personal gear
  • Hotels or lodging
  • Camping fees
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Medical and evacuation coverage
  • Staff gratuities


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.


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. Your guide team will pool all tips.

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

For Non-US Residents & Citizens – World Nomads

For Canadians and for other non-US residents (enter your country of origin), World Nomads can provide travel and disaster insurance options for mountaineers.

Date Changes

Date changes may be requested at any time up to 60 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 60 days before departure.


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 Terms and Conditions.


During the 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. Video Resource: Mountain Snack and Lunch Ideas

Climbing Lunches

We recommend that you bring a variety of snack food to eat while moving (about 150-200 calories each break). 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.


Getting There

At 8:00 a.m. on the morning of the climb, we meet at BaseCamp 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.

Northwest Alpine Guides | BaseCamp | The Guide Hut
11132 Sterling Road
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Click here for directions

Welcome to BaseCamp and The Guide Hut

What to Expect the Morning of the Climb

Northwest Alpine Guides is excited to announce the opening of BaseCamp, our new meeting location and seasonal guide office in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, the Gateway to the North Cascades!

The Guide Hut serves as our rental shop and retail store for guests of Northwest Alpine Guides. Find a variety of retail items, logo wear, and climbing equipment. Visit our online gear shop for available merchandise and rental gear options.

At BaseCamp:

  • Guests may pick up pre-reserved rentals, try on rental boots, and shop for last-minute items.
  • Gear Check: There is ample time to pick up items during the gear check the morning of the climb.

BaseCamp exclusively serves Northwest Alpine Guides customers. It is not open to the public and operates only during scheduled 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 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. If you are trying to coordinate a ride, feel free to send an email to and we can forward it to your fellow climbers.

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
Follow I-5 North to Burlington, Skagit County
Take exit 231 from I-5 N, Merge onto N Burlington Blvd, 3 min (0.6 mi)

Turn left onto State Rte 20 E, Head East towards Sedro-Woolley
Follow State Rte 20 E to Sterling Rd, 7 min (3.0 mi)

Turn right onto Sterling Rd, 2 min (0.8 mi)
Turn right into BaseCamp / Northwest Alpine Guides

From Bellingham
Follow I-5 South to Burlington, Skagit County
Take exit 232 from I-5 S, Head East on Cook Rd towards Sedro-Woolley, 4 min (2.7 mi)

Turn right onto Collins Rd, 2 min (1.0 mi)
Turn left onto State Rte 20 E, 1 min (0.3 mi)

Turn right onto Sterling Rd, 2 min (0.8 mi)
Turn right into BaseCamp / Northwest Alpine Guides


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

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.


These items are required for our 1-3 Day Rock Climbing course.

Discover premium retail and rental equipment at The Guide Hut’s online store. Order today, and your gear will be ready for pickup at BaseCamp on the morning of your climb. Don’t miss our Guide Picks blog for brand-specific gear recommendations. Gear up with us for your next adventure!

Shop the Guide Hut »Rental Reservation »Gear Recommendations »

Head and Face

  • Sun Glasses: Essential eye protection for a day outside. Full spectrum UV protection is recommended.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm: SPF 30+

Upper Body

  • Lightweight Tops: Lightweight T-shirts for warm days.
  • 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, optional
  • Check out our video resource on Down Jackets for more.

Lower Body

  • Softshell Pants: One pair. Synthetic, stretchy, non-insulated.


  • 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: One pair. Synthetic or wool recommended.

Packing and Backpack

  • Backpack: One 35- 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.
  • On-Route Daypack: One lightweight, 15- to 20-liter pack for multipitch climbs.

Climbing Gear

  • Climbing Helmet: Lightweight
  • Rock Climbing Harness: Padded rock climbing harness.
  • Chalk bag (optional)
  • Locking Carabiners: (3) Large pear-shaped, screw gate locking carabiners.
  • Belay Device: Tube style belay device.
  • Nylon Slings: (1) 120 cm nylon sling


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

Note: CamelBaks and other bladder-style hydration systems may be used.

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.


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:

Evoke Endurance
Mountain Tactical Institute

Frequently Asked Questions

Is rock climbing for you?

If you have never climbed before and are curious to sample the beauty and thrill of scaling rock walls, our climbing courses offer an excellent introduction to the sport. Rock climbing is a physical and psychological adventure sport that blends enjoyable, gymnastic movement with technical skills and exceptional scenery. It can be challenging, but your efforts are rewarded by the exhilaration and camaraderie of moving as a rope team through beautiful mountain terrain.

Which rock climbing trip should I choose?

Our flexible, 1- to 3-day rock climbing itineraries allow us to offer custom climbing instruction at popular crags around the Pacific Northwest. These trips are ideal for individuals or small groups interested in booking an itinerary tailored to their specific goals.

We also offer rock climbing courses with pre-designed curriculums intended to introduce you to specific aspects of the sport. In our 3 Day Intro to Alpine Rock Climbing we introduce the skills you need to negotiate vertical, high-mountain terrain. Our Smith Rock Intro to Sport Climbing is perfect for first-time climbers or those who are transitioning from the climbing gym to outdoor crags. Our 7 Day North Cascades Alpine Climbing will introduce you to a wide range of mountain skills, from multipitch rock climbing to glacier travel and crevasse rescue.

Please note that prerequisites may be required for some rock climbing courses.

What about safety?

In rock climbing, safety is paramount. Our professional guides will provide a safe learning environment while tailoring their instruction to your goals and abilities, whether you are climbing for your first time or attempting to send your first 5.12. 

Our guides are dedicated climbing professionals and all of them maintain current wilderness medical certifications. They will teach you the skills you need to be self-reliant in the mountains. Climbing can be unpredictable – weather conditions can change in a moment and one wrong step can lead to an injury. Northwest Alpine Guides will teach you to climb safely and successfully. 

Why Northwest Alpine Guides

Mountain climbing blends physical and mental challenge with teamwork and unparalleled opportunities to immerse yourself in the natural world. Our group sizes are often smaller than those of other guide services, allowing us to provide our customers with rewarding, personalized adventures that make the most of all the mountains have to offer.

Our mountain guides have decades of experience and have climbed the peaks of the Northwest hundreds of times. They have completed many expeditions to the world’s most challenging summits, including Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua. Our guides are knowledgeable and personable. Northwest Alpine Guides will ensure you enjoy your climbing experience as you develop your skills. To learn more about our services, history and philosophy please visit: Why Northwest Alpine Guides.

Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing

North Cascades Alpine Climbing Course

Learn advanced alpine climbing skills and test them on North Cascades classics.

Trip Length: 7 days

Rock Climbing

Intro to Alpine Rock Climbing Course

Learn the art of rock climbing on the beautiful alpine routes of the Cascades.

Trip Length: 3 days

Rock Climbing

Smith Rock Intro to Sport Climbing Course

Learn to rock climb in the birthplace of American sport climbing.

Trip Length: 3 days

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