Summit peaks across the North Cascades while you learn

Alpinism 2 - Intermediate Mountaineering

Alpinism 2 provides a thorough introduction to alpine rock climbing at a moderate standard.

If you have a good grounding in glacier travel and crevasse rescue, take this course to raise your skills to the intermediate level while climbing a series of spectacular North Cascades alpine summits such as South Early Winter Spire, Liberty Bell, Eldorado Peak and Mt. Shuksan.

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Difficulty Level Medium ?
Fitness Level Medium ?
Duration 6 days
Elevation 2,780M / 9,121FT
Large view

Consolidate your skills in a stunning setting - Erin McVoy

From May to September
Departs from North Cascades, Washington
1:5 $1,995 USD $
  • Overview

    This program is designed for climbers who have participated in an introductory level mountaineering course or who have a similar level of skill and climbing experience, the course includes three days on alpine rock and three on glacier routes.

    This course is operated in North America as part of the Adventure Consultants / American Alpine Institute alliance.

  • Why AC / AAI?

    In 2006, Adventure Consultants, based in Wanaka, New Zealand, and the American Alpine Institute, headquartered in Bellingham, Washington, USA, were pleased to announce their formation of a worldwide alliance.

    Over the years the owners of both organisations - Dunham Gooding from AAI and Guy Cotter from AC - have regularly discussed ways to strengthen both organizations by working together, sharing expert guides, and utilizing the special areas of expertise that each company had developed over three decades of work. While both companies were recognized internationally as leaders in the field of mountain guiding, both Guy and Dunham feel that both companies are now even stronger because of the alliance.

    The cooperative efforts of these two companies offer direct and tangible benefits to climbers. Together they offer the world's most comprehensive array of instructional programs, guided ascents, and expeditions. In every category of climbing, from instruction to expeditions, trips are offered at every skill level. Additionally, this spectrum of climbing opportunities is offered on every continent. Once you climb with us, wherever in the world you want to climb in the future, you will have the comfort and assurance of dealing with an organization you already know and trust.

    Because of this alliance, climbers who come to either company have ample opportunity to learn climbing skills or join an expedition from anywhere in the world, in any season. With the two companies based in opposite hemispheres and each operating throughout the world, your choices in terms of both timing and location are nearly limitless.

    Now you might ask yourself, "If I want to call AC, do I call AAI or vice versa? Can I sign up for trips for one with the other?" The answers are a resounding "yes!"

    Our admissions departments maintain daily contact in regard to trip requests, registrations, and climber preparations. What does this mean for you? Let's say you climb Mt. Baker, Rainier, or Whitney one summer with AAI, have a wonderful time, and decide that you would like to climb something higher. You call AAI and ask about options. Depending on what your "next step" will be (driven by your skill level, interests, and schedule), we will then offer you options that may direct you to an alliance trip that is run by AAI or AC.

    If you'll be joining an AC trip, all preparations will be handled by AC's Wanaka, New Zealand office. If it is an AAI trip, we will alert the AAI office in Bellingham about our discussions and your choice of a trip and have them contact you. AAI will know about your background, how your last trip went, your skill level, and your current plan for a next program. AAI and AC will work together to assure that you are well taken care of and that all your planning and preparation goes smoothly, and that everything is in place to help you achieve your goals.

    This is a three-way alliance that you will be joining: AAI, AC, and you. We will assure that from your first phone call or email to us, to the flight home from your course or expedition, you feel supported, encouraged, perfectly prepared, and successful in the pursuit of your goals.

    Join our alliance and let's head to the mountains!

    Best Regards,

    Guy Cotter, Director, Adventure Consultants
    Dunham Gooding, Director, American Alpine Institute

  • Payment Conditions


    The price of your trip includes the following:

    • Group technical climbing equipment
    • Transportation to the climbing areas from our partner American Alpine Institute's headquarters
    • All permits and camping fees
    • The guide fee


    The price of your trip does not include:

    • All personal clothing and climbing gear (including crampons, ice axe, harness, helmet, tent, etc. - personal climbing equipment is available for rent at a nominal charge)
    • Gratuities to guide
    • Meals while on the course
    • Travel insurance
  • Curriculum

    In addition to reviewing skills, throughout this program your guide will help you advance your technique and complete your repertoire of skills for intermediate level mountaineering and ascents. Additionally, we will involve you with route finding and terrain assessment with the goal of helping you further develop good mountaineering judgment. As in all AC/AAI programs, we will also thoroughly cover Leave No Trace skills so that you can minimise or eliminate impacts on the environment whenever you camp and climb.

    In sum, by the time you have completed the classic ascents in this program, you will have become a climber who is safer, more highly skilled, a better judge of hazards, and very adept at applying LNT techniques in a variety of mountain environments. You'll also have climbed some of the most beautiful peaks on the continent.

    • Map, compass, altimeter and GPS use
    • Self-arrest from all positions
    • Belaying techniques on rock, snow and ice
    • Rappelling in complex terrains
    • Principal ice axe positions
    • Cramponing techniques
    • Overnight backpacking experience
    • Familiarity with the basics of rock climbing
    • Previous experience with self-arresting, cramponing, crevasse rescue and glacier travel
    • Good physical fitness. See our Fitness Training Programs for information on how we can help you prepare for your course.

    After a brief meeting and introductions at the American Alpine Institute offices in Bellingham, WA, your instructor(s) will take the first part of the morning to check over your equipment, finalise any rentals and purchases you may need for your programme, and get packed up for the day.

    From the institute's office, we drive to the small town of Mazama (3hrs), which is on the east side of the Cascade Crest, about 20 minutes past Washington Pass. We then spend the day practising rock climbing skills at a cragging area called Fun Rock. Depending on the group's skill level and goals, we will practice belaying, rappelling, anchor building, placing protection, climbing techniques, and will talk about multi-pitch transitions in preparation for the next day's alpine rock climb.

    We will camp at one of the Forest Service campgrounds between Mazama and Washington Pass.


    We drive 20 minutes back up to Washington Pass and climb the South Arête of South Early Winter Spire. Often photographed, the Early Winter Spires (North and South) and Liberty Bell stand out among the granite towers, which cluster south of Washington pass. Although less well known than routes on it famous neighbour to the north, this arête offers a satisfying ascent for less experienced climbers. Our approach takes us through a beautiful larch forest to the southernmost and highest rampart of the Liberty Bell massif. After a challenging 5.5 move early in the ascent, we enjoy stimulating, but moderate class 5 climbing with firm holds and increasing exposure on the way to the summit, where – from 7807 feet – we can trace the course of the Early Winters Creek some 2000 feet below and admire walls of Cascade peaks rising from the valley.

    We will camp at the same campground as the night before.


    We’ll venture back up to Washington Pass, but this time to climb the Becky Route on Liberty Bell, a true classic. Long famous among the Northwest rock enthusiasts, the 7720-foot granite spire called Liberty Bell puts a variety of routes at our disposal. This route up the Southwest Face is a more sustained climb than the ascent on South Early Winter, but rock climbers who have had some experience (or who have just done the South Arête) will find it very rewarding. The slabs, cracks, and chimney on the route warrant a variety of techniques with moves up to 5, 6 and every pitch is different. The summit affords broad views of this very photogenic alpine region.

    We will camp at the same campground as the night before.


    We wake, pack and drive to one of three areas for the glacier portion of this course. Though we typically climb Mt. Shuksan for this portion, we will occasionally climb Eldorado Peak or Sahale Peak.

    After driving to the trailhead for one of these three mountains, we will hike in and set up our Base Camp. If there is time, we will start our review of glacier travel procedures. Your instructor will discuss glaciation, navigation and geology over dinner.

    5 Our full glacier skills review and training day. We will review cramponing and ice axe technique, and then will move onto the more advanced skills of snow and ice screw anchor building and running protection, and will practice team crevasse rescue. We will also discuss the next day’s route to the summit and will go to bed early in anticipation of an early rise the next morning.
    6 Summit day! We will climb either Shuksan via the Sulphide Glacier, Eldorado Peak via the Eldorado Glacier/East Ridge, or Sahale via the Quien Sabe Glacier. We will plan on summiting early, then will return to camp, pack up, hike back to the van at the trailhead, and then drive back to AAI’s headquarters in Bellingham. We aim for getting climbers back to town by about 5 pm. This can vary a bit based on how the last day of the trip goes.
  • Travel & Rescue Insurance

    Finding the right travel and rescue insurance for your mountaineering adventure can be tricky! Rest assured when you book with the expedition specialists here at Adventure Consultants we'll help by sending through advice on what you'll need, including:

    • Travel insurance including trip interruption and cancellation cover
    • Medical Evacuation and Rescue Insurance

    For further information check out our Travel and Rescue Insurance page or contact us.

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