INTERMEDIATE / ADVANCED WINTER MOUNTAINEERING
The Sawtooth Range, Eastern Sierra Nevada California - 5 days
California Alpine Guides
a division of International Alpine Guides.
Intermediate/Advanced Winter Mountaineering Course Overview
A technical winter mountaineering course for those some previous climbing experience who are looking to do more techincal climbing in the winter.
Winter mountaineering instruction for those who want mountaineering training at a higher level - perfect for those with Denali goals or other mountain climbinggoals outside of California. This extended 5-day mountaineering course allows more time to be spent in the winter environment and more time to learn valuable climbing skills.
Winter climbing training includes:
- Waterfall Ice climbing & Mixed Climbing
- Snow & Ice Anchors
- Crevasse Rescue Basics
- Rope Work & Belayed Travel
- Avalanche Rescue & Snow Stability Evaluation
- Expedition-style Winter Camping & Snow Caves
This technical climbing course is conducted in California's alpine wonderland of the Sawtooth Ridge in the Eastern Sierra near Bridgeport. We begin in the front country with a day of waterfall ice climbing in the June Lake or Lee Vining area. Learn from our professional mountain guides how to use ice tools and crampons to ascend near vertical ice falls as well as making solid climbing anchors in ice.
We then spend 4 days in the High Sierra backcountry of the Sawtooth Ridge area. You will be trained in how to properly set up an expedition style base camp to withstand the worst weather and also how to construct an emergency shelter with no more than shovels minimum gear. After more skills practice and avalanche awareness training and rescue, we attempt the Dragtooth or Matterhorn Peak on the spectacular Sawtooth Ridge via a technical winter climbing route involving the use of ice axe, crampons and rock scrambling skills. We also introduce some glacier travel training such as crevasse rescue training for those who may be moving on to bigger glaciated climbs in other mountain ranges.
Learn the proper winter climbing techniques from mountain guides trained by the American Mountain Guides Association. Some guide services may claim "the best" guides, but can they back it up with outside training by the US's mountain guide training organization? All our technical mountain guides have training by the AMGA in the terrain they are working.
SKILL & EXPERIENCE LEVEL
No previous alpine climbing experience is required. Previous off trail backpacking experience on uneven terrain is required. Previous rock or snow climbing experience is highly recommended but not required. You should be in very good physical shape.
Recommended prior courses and trips:
- Professional AMGA trained or certified mountain guides
- Breakfast & dinner prepared by your guide
- Ice ax, crampons, harness & Helmet
- Use of backpack, winter climbing boots, sleeping bag & Pad if needed.
- Tents and all group gear
INTERMEDIATE ADVANCED WINTER MOUNTAINEERING ITINERARY
We meet first thing in the morning in town of June Lake (Time and exact location TBD by your guide) for a day of waterfall ice climbing. You will spend the day swinging ice tools on top rope and learning the fundamentals of ice climbing including proper footwork. Waterfall ice climbing can be loads of fun and it's great for your mountaineering technique. The evening is spent at a local hotel (not included). We can make lodging arrangements for you if you wish.
We meet in the nearby town of Bridgeport (time and exact location TBD by your guide). After a short drive to the trailhead, we begin our snowshoe/hike into our base camp in the Horse Creek Drainage. We spend the afternoon establishing a bombproof winter basecamp and discussing expedition-style winter camping techniques as well as snow caves and other snow shelters (which you may sleep in if you wish).
Today is a comprehensive skills day. After a review of ice axe use and cramponing, we work on more advanced winter climbing skills such as ropework and belayed travel, snow and ice anchors, and will get to practice some mixed climbing. We will also spend a good amount of time evaluating the stability of the snowpack by digging snow pits and perfroming stability tests as well as avalanche rescue techniques.
Today is an early alpine "alpine start" as we attempt a mixed snow and rock route on the nearby Sawtooth Ridge. We put all our skills together as we climb a challenging ascent of the Dragtooth, a 12,000 ft peak on the Sawtooth ridge (or another peak depending on conditions). The route involves a sustained 45 degree snow/ice couloir and 4th class rock climbing in winter conditions.
We finish up with more winter climbing skills such as an introduction to crevasse rescue and winter white-out navigation with map, compass and GPS.l. We then break camp and descend to the trailhead. Usually we arrive at the cars by 4pm.
Itinerary subject to change