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Frequently Asked Questions

Arrival | General | Travel & Insurance | Experience & Fitness | Gear

Even the most experienced climbers have questions. If this is your first time on a Northwest climb, you’ll certainly have them, too. We provide information about travel dates, itineraries, and required equipment throughout our website. Each individual trip includes a travel information section with a list of trip-specific FAQs for your reference. However, if you cannot find the answers you seek anywhere else, we try to provide them here!

When do I need to arrive and depart?

Domestic Departures

Most climbers will fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) the evening before their program begins and rent a car for the hour and forty-five minute drive to Sedro-Woolley, Washington.

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. Customers on climbs and courses that begin in Sedro-Woolley will meet their guides at our BaseCamp for group orientation and gear check. Please refer to your PreClimb registration email for exact meeting times and location.

Climbers flying to Washington State must arrive the day before their program begins in order to meet the group for an early morning gear check and orientation on the first day of the program. Return times on the final day of the program are difficult to predict. We strongly recommend that climbers book a hotel night on the final day of their itinerary and schedule departing flights on the following day. If departing on the last day of the program, we recommend booking a flight later than 10 p.m.


What type of tent accommodations can I expect?

We provide the lightest available, high-quality mountaineering tents on Northwest climbs and courses. Clients may be asked to help set up tents and establish camp, and participate in cooking.

Do you provide single tent accommodations?

During Northwest climbs and courses, single tent accommodations are typically not available.

How heavy a pack do I need to carry?

On Northwest programs you will be required to carry a portion of the group gear and food, in addition to your personal gear. Please take this into consideration as you choose which personal items and backpack you will bring. Be prepared to carry between 35 and 55 pounds or more, depending on the length of your program and the group size. An adequately sized backpack is required.

Can I hire a porter?

During Northwest climbs and courses, hiring a porter is not feasible. You are responsible for carrying all your personal gear and food, and a portion of group gear, which may include tents, ropes, stoves, fuel, etc. An adequately sized backpack is required.

Is it customary to tip your mountain guide?

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.

I have a group and we have specific dates we would like to climb.

All of our programs can be run on a private basis. The beauty of private programs are that they allow you climb what you want, with whom you want, when you want. We will handle all the details. We are also able to provide you with a custom itinerary depending on your interests. We may require a non-refundable deposit for custom program planning, which will be applied toward your program cost at the time of reservation.

Travel & Insurance

Do you recommend trip cancellation insurance?

Northwest Alpine Guides strongly recommends that you purchase trip cancellation and travel insurance. This comprehensive travel insurance provides coverage for trip cancellation and interruption, travel delays, loss of baggage and travel documents, baggage delays, medical expenses and emergency assistance.

Northwest Alpine Guides does not insure you against cancellation. For more information on current coverage plans and quotes please click the Travel Insurance tab booking page.

Do I need any other insurance?

Make sure you purchase adequate traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for coverage should you have a problem during the trip.

Experience & Fitness

What are climbing grades?

Northwest Alpine Guides provides climbing grades to help you choose programs best suited for your experience level, climbing skills, and overall physical fitness. Mountain travel can be extremely challenging yet profoundly rewarding. We offer programs for climbers of a variety of skill levels. Regardless of which program you choose, we expect our clients to be physically and mentally prepared for the demands of the journey.

Can anyone participate on your NWAG programs?

At Northwest Alpine Guides, we strive to ensure that many of our programs are open to anyone with good physical fitness. On these climbs and courses, we will introduce the basic climbing skills you will need for the program. But please remember that your ability to participate in the program is largely dependent upon your overall health and fitness. Our climbs should not be taken lightly, and we encourage you to prepare for them by training for the most strenuous portions of the program. If you have a pre-existing medical condition or adverse medical history, we strongly recommend that you consult your physician before joining one of our adventures. If you have additional questions or concerns, our office staff would be happy to discuss which program is best suited for you.

What are the minimum age requirements?

Pease contact our office directly. We prefer to talk with you about whether the program you are interested in is an appropriate choice for someone under the age of 18.

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

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

We do not accept participants under 15 years old due to insurance and liability reasons.

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.


Does Northwest Alpine Guides rent equipment?

We provide rental gear on our domestic Northwest climbs and courses. We recommend reserving rental gear in advance from our online rental shop. We do not take rental reservation orders by phone.

Where should I buy equipment?

We can help you find a quality local climbing and outdoor shop where you can purchase the equipment you will need.

  • Gear may be purchased from The Guide Hut in person on the morning of your climb, or in advance via our online gear shop.