Tuesday, June 23, 2015

NMS Trips at Summer Meltdown! - August 2015

August 7-9, 2015 - Darrington, WA

Summer Meltdown is a 4-day music festival in Darrington, WA from August 6-9, 2015.  The concerts take place at the amazing White Horse Amphitheater under the mid-blowing backdrop of White Horse Mountain.  Northwest Mountain School is pleased to be offering rock climbing adventures during the day from Friday August 7th, through Sunday August 9th. A major goal of the festival is to "celebrate life and all of the beauty this region has to offer" particularly in wake of the tragic mudslide that struck the town of Oso, WA in 2014 down valley from the concert venue.

Rock Climbing at Summer Meltdown

Each trip is limited to 6 participants and will take place at Three O'Clock Rock, a short drive from Darrington. Participants will be given the opportunity to learn to rock climb with sampling a variety of crack and face climbs at this beautiful crag. Climbers with more experience can be accommodated on more challenging routes. We can also organize custom trips for a higher price if guides are still available at the time of registration. All programs are led by professional climbing guides.

Rock Climbing Adventure at Summer Meltdown

Performer lineup at Summer Meltdown includes: 

STS9, Iration, Tycho, Greensky Bluegrass, Galactic, Sol, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Slow Magic, The Motet, Minnesota, Phutureprimative, Lyrics Born, Yppah, Brothers Comatose, Fruition, Flowmotion, Current Swell, Surrealized, Cedar Teeth, Polecat, Delhi 2 Dublin, The Dip, Fear and Loathing, A Cedar Suede, The Warren G. Hardings, Valley Green, Choir of Crickets, Jon Wayne & the Pain, Acorn Project, Tubaluba, The Hooky's, Eldridge Gravey and the Court Supreme, Heels to the Hardwood, Theoretics, Goodbye Heart, Wildabeast, Beyond the Woods, School of Rock, The Wooden Sky, & Josh Clauson and Friends. Learn about the performers.

Lead Climber at Three O'Clock Rock, Darrington, WA

How the rock climbing adventures work:

Each day we will run two sessions.  The first session will run from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm and the second session will run from 12:30 pm to 5:00 pm.  Participants must pre-register and meet the guides at the Northwest Mountain School booth at the White Horse Amphitheater.  Your guide will go over everything you need for the day and equip you with a climbing harness, helmet, and rock climbing shoes.  We will then drive to the trailhead for the climbing area (about 30 minutes) and hike for about 30 minutes to the base of the crag.  Our guides will have everything set up so that we can spend as much time climbing as possible.  You will be taught how to belay, how to use your harness and helmet, and will get to climb a bunch of cool routes on top-rope. At the end of the clinic we will hike back to the trailhead and return everyone to the venue. You do not need previous climbing experience to participate, but you do need to be fit enough to him into the base of the climbs. By pre-registering we can send you all the pre-trip details you will need to start the day organized and ready for your adventure.

Cost: $75 per participant

What you get for $75: Use of all required climbing gear, training from the guides of the Northwest Mountain School, transportation to/from the concert venue and the climbing site.

Summer Meltdown Rock Climbing Adventure Schedule:

  • Friday August 7, 2015
    • Class 1: 8:30 am - 1:00 pm
    • Class 2: 11:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Saturday August 8, 2015
    • Class 3: 8:30 am - 1:00 pm
    • Class 4: 11:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sunday August 9, 2015
    • Class 5: 8:30 am - 1:00 pm
    • Class 6: 11:30 am - 5:00 pm

Beautiful Granite at Three O'Clock Rock

How to register: You can visit our website and register online or you can call the office at 509-548-5823 and book over the phone. You can also e-mail us directly with any questions. We expect this to fill quickly as the concert date approaches, so if you are interested be sure to reserve your spot.

Do I still need tickets to the Music Festival? Yes.  The music festival is a separate event from the rock climbing and that requires a separate ticket.  These can be obtained here. Visit the site for details.  There are a range of options. $185 gets you a weekend pass for adults, $65 buys a weekend pass for youth ages 9-15 (8 and under are FREE). There are also options for camping with and without vehicles.

Tell me more about Three O'Clock Rock:

Northwest Mountain School began using this area for rock climbing in 1996 when we started running youth programs that rock climbed and then climbed Glacier Peak. Over the years the road fell into disrepair.  In the wake of the Oso mudslide new resources were help the area recover and the road was improved and the Washington Climbers Coalitionhttp://www.washingtonclimbers.org, The Access Fund, and the Washington Trails Association worked on the trail to the crag.  This built on previous efforts by the Everett Mountaineers, the Access Fund, the North Face, and the US Forest Service.  The work they have done is admirable and regular use of this crag will contribute greatly to the local economy.

2014 Volunteer Trail Crew at Eight Mile Creek Trailhead

What if you don't want to climb?

There are also local companies offering Rafting Adventures and Horseback Riding Adventures at Summer Meltdown.

For more details on Rock Climbing at Summer Meltdown

  • Visit our Webpage
  • Call the Northwest Mountain School at 509-548-5823
  • E-mail our office
  • Read the interview on the Summer Meltdown Site

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mt. Baker Mountaineering Courses

New courses for the summer of 2015:

Surveyed participants on our 6-Day Glacier Mountaineering Course suggested they would be well served by having the option to split these popular courses into programs on successive weekends. The guides sat down and divided our 6-day course into two long weekend programs covering the same material. Rather than compress 6 days of training into 3 days we picked the best locations on Mt. Baker for each subject in the longer course. 

Mt. Baker's Coleman Glacier - Ideal location for technical training with a short approach
Each course takes place on Mt. Baker, but on different sides of the mountain. This allows us to use the lower portions of the Coleman Glacier for technical training with a short approach on the north side, and then use the Easton Glacier on the south side of Mt. Baker for route planning and route finding. We included the summit bid in the second course and kept the summit off the agenda for the first course to give us more time to train. 

Mt. Baker's Easton Glacier - Ideal terrain for route finding, navigation, and a summit bid.
Crevasse Rescue and Glacier Travel Course: As the name suggests, the focus is on developing crevasse rescue and glacier travel skills. To safely climb Mt. Baker you need to know how to use an ice axe and crampons and travel roped up. On a normal summit climb we can cover these skills the day before your climb, but we do not have time to go into any real depth on skill such as laying out the climbing rope, using various knots and hitches, learning to predict which routes are most ideal as we travel up the glacier. On short summit focused trips we also do not have time to teach snow and ice anchors and crevasse rescue to a depth that allows clients to retain this critical information. 

Crevasse Rescue and Glacier Travel Course includes:
  • Crevasse Rescue
  • Climbing Rope Management
  • Belaying and Ascending Fixed Lines
  • Knots and Hitches
  • Self-Arrest & Team Arrest
  • Rope Travel on Glaciers
  • Rope Management
  • Snow & Ice Anchors
  • Crampon Technique for Ascending and Descending
  • Dressing in the Mountains
  • Leave No Trace

Crevasse Rescue is part of the foundation of becoming a solid climber.

Why we chose this format for a Crevasse Rescue Glacier Travel Course: There are only a couple places in Washington State where you can quickly and easily hike to a good training site for crevasse rescue that includes work in a real crevasse. The North side of Mt. Baker is the most ideal of all these sites. The hike to camp takes only a few hours and leaves time for dialing in all of the knots, hitches, and concepts that you will need to understand to start to put together crevasse rescue systems. By using the lower Coleman Glacier you are paying for training not hiking to training. While you need to know how to pull someone out of a crevasse, it is more important that you understand how to avoid falling into a crevasse. The lower Coleman is the perfect place to begin to understand glacier movement, get of sense of why crevasses form and where they form, and to build your movement skills with ice axe and crampons to the point where you can easily go where you want to go. 

2015 Dates for our 3-Day Crevasse Rescue and Glacier Travel Course: $595 (4:1 ratio)

  • July 3-5, 2015
  • July 24-26, 2015
  • August 7-9, 2015
  • August 21-23, 2015
  • Sept. 4-6, 2015
  • Custom Dates also available

Baker's wild, beautiful north side.

3-Day Baker Summit Mountaineering Course: If you have taken the first course or already have crevasse rescue and use of the ice axe and crampons dialed, this course gives you the chance to start to understand how the guide decides to take a certain route and manage movement around crevasses. We also train you to use map and compass, gps, and develop a route plan that allows you to move about effectively in fog, snow, or other conditions that require solid navigation skills. The time to do this comes form not having to cover skills like self-arrest, cramping, and crevasse rescue.  We like teaching route planning with the pressure of an actual summit climb as it gives you a chance to understand how each minute, transition, and overall pacing has an effect on your total time. On this course we cover skills related to mountain medicine, cooking, camp construction, and the other common issues that contribute to running a well-organized trip. The Easton Glacier is the ideal location for this as it is just complex enough to showcase these skills, but not so complex that they are hard to learn and practice.

3-Day Baker Summit Mountaineering Course Includes: 

  • Route planning
  • Time Management
  • Mountain Medicine
  • Glacier Route Selection
  • Pacing and Efficient Climbing
  • Building Secure Snow Camps
  • Use of Climbing Stoves
  • Single Rescuer Crevasse Rescue
  • Leave No Trace
Climbers on Mt. Baker's Easton Glacier Route
Why we chose this format for our Baker Summit Mountaineering Course: It is one thing to deliver training, but another to make sure people are retaining it. The first weekend involves a lot of technical detail that will be lost if it is not revisited. The skills learned on your first weekend can be briefly touched on and tuned up if needed. This will help you retain those skills.  We can then build on that first weekend by adding in new skills and putting everything together on our Mt. Baker summit bid. It makes sense to start with the basics on the first course and then build more toward the big picture on the second trip. The Easton Glacier generally involves a bit more route finding than the Coleman-Deming route, but is not as ideal for teaching movement skills on ice and crevasse rescue.  We also like the idea that you are given basic orientation on each side of the mountain should you choose to come back and do your own climb in the future.

2015 Dates for our 3-Day Baker Summit Mountaineering Course: $825 (3:1 ratio)

  • July 10-12, 2015
  • August 14-16, 2015
  • August 28-30, 2015
  • Sept. 11-13, 2015
  • Custom Dates also available
Time management allows you to start in the dark, but skip finishing in the dark.
Why is the second course more expensive? The first course can be run at a higher ratio of climbers to guides.  We run the first course at a 4:1 ratio as that works best for crevasse rescue training and the basic skills we will be covering.  On the second course we drop the ratio to 3:1 to give each person more individual time with the guide to work on skills such as using their map and compass, developing a route plan, and then actually navigating on the glacier.  

Why would I do this with the Northwest Mountain School?: There are a lot of good guide services in the Northwest. We started in 1994 because we were guiding for some of the bigger companies and felt like we could focus more on the educational side of climbing. We are owned by IFMGA guides, John & Olivia Race. John and Olivia have worked all over the world on big mountains such as Denali (30 combined trips), 8000 meter peaks (8 combined trips to Everest, Shishapangma, and Cho Oyu), and we have worked for the big companies for over 20 years. We have put together a guide staff of AMGA certified guides and guides working toward AMGA certification and very much emphasize being up to speed on the latest technical systems and theories of how people learn. We are a small operation and as such we need to work a little harder, shine a little brighter, and innovate a bit faster to thrive in a really competitive market surrounded by a lot of great guides. We value timeliness, professionalism, and quality in all of our programs. Each trip includes all the group gear like tents, stoves, and food, and our guides train hard to make sure they are doing things in the most current fashion. The one thing we want more than your business is your return business and the way we earn that is by delivering the trip you expect.

IFMGA Guides, John & Olivia Race - Owners of Northwest Mountain School
If you just want to climb Baker: We offer set-date and custom 3-day climbs of Mt. Baker that cover the basic skills needed to climb Mt. Baker with a guide

Still confused or wondering where to start your mountaineering education? Feel free to give us a call at 509-548-5823. Olivia is usually the one that answers the phone and she can help you sort out the best place to start. We think these 3-day Mountaineering courses are a good place to start, but we also offer 1-day crevasse rescue courses taught in the front-country without a crevasse, a wide variety of rock climbing programs, and if all else fails are happy to refer you to one of the big operators. Details on all of our Mountaineering Courses.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Vertfest 2015 - Sportiva Clinics with NMS

Vertfest is coming once again to Alpental on February 14th and 15th, 2015. The program has been changed from the past with clinics now taking place first, on Saturday the 14th, and the randonee race taking place on Sunday, the 15th. Vertfest 2015 - Alpental February 14-15, 2015

Vertfest Race Start - The forecast calls for pain
Sportiva Clinics at Vertfest 2015
In conjunction with Sportiva, John & Olivia Race will be offering two full-day clinics on Saturday from 9 am - 4 pm.  Cost is $80 with all proceeds going to the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC). We teach similar courses at the Northwest Mountain School for $235 so this is a great chance to get a good deal in instruction.

Introduction to Backcountry Skiing
  • Presented by La Sportiva/Northwest Mountain School
  • For those itching to leave the lifts and enter the backcountry, this clinic will teach you the basics of backcountry ski travel. We will embark on a short tour into the Alpental backcountry and discuss the necessary equipment, training and techniques needed to travel safely in the backcountry.
  • For: Intermediate and above alpine skiers with little or no backcountry experience.
  • Maximum 8 participants
Advanced Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering
  • Presented by La Sportiva/Northwest Mountain School
  • Are you an experienced backcountry skier or splitboarder ready to take the next step into more technical terrain? This clinic will cover the basics of ski/snowboard mountaineering, including the use of crampons, setting anchors, and basic rope work.
  • For: Advanced skiers and snowboarders with experience in the backcountry.
  • Maximum 6 participants
There are a ton of other great clinics in both half and full-day formats:
Half-day Vertfest 2015 clinics - Saturday February 14th, 2015
9 am - 12 pm: Morning Clinics
1 pm - 4 pm: Afternoon Clinics
Cost: $40
Coed Steep Skiing
  • Presented by Scarpa/Chris Davenport
  • Learn to ski the steeps, navigate steep terrain, and boost your confidence to ski steep lines here in the Cascades and beyond.
  • For: Advanced skiers
  • Maximum 6 participants
Women’s Steep Skiing
  • Presented by Pro Guiding
  • Learn to ski the steeps, navigate steep terrain, and boost your confidence to ski steep lines here in the Cascades and beyond.
  • For: Advanced skiers
  • Maximum of 6 participants
Intermediate Backcountry Ski Touring Techniques
  • Presented by Pro Guiding
  • Ever wonder how experienced backcountry skiers make touring look so effortless? This clinic will teach you the tricks to become more efficient when skinning uphill and making transitions back to ski mode…so you can enjoy the downhill even more.
  • For: Intermediate and above alpine skiers with some backcountry experience
  • Maximum of 8 participants
Introduction to Split Boarding
  • Presented by Chair 2 Boardsports and Voile
  • For those itching to leave the lifts and enter the backcountry, this clinic will teach you the basics of backcountry splitboard travel. We will embark on a short tour into the Alpental backcountry and discuss the necessary equipment, training and techniques needed to splitboard safely in the backcountry.
  • For: Intermediate and above snowboarders with little or no backcountry experience.
  • Maximum of 8 participants

Full-day Vertfest 2015 clinics - Saturday February 14th, 2015

9 am – 4 pm
Cost: $80 (season pass or lift ticket required)
Avalanche Risk Evaluation
  • Presented by Ortovox/NWAC - Scott Schell
  • Learn to make the right observations at the right time; a key component for better decision making, giving you more time to enjoy a day out.
  • For: Intermediate and above skiers and snowboarders with little avalanche training.
  • Maximum of 8 participants
Ski Photography
  • Presented by TBD
  • Learn the nuances of capturing better ski and snowboard photos in our amazing mountains and deepen your understanding of winter photography. Participants must provide their own camera and gear.
  • For: Intermediate and above skiers and snowboarders
  • Maximum of 8 participants
Happy Skiers following 2014 Vertfest
2015 Vertfest Race Schedule - Sunday February 15th, 2015
7:30 am: Racer Check-in / Day-of Registration
9 am: Vendor Village opens. Free demos from Outdoor Research, Scarpa,
La Sportiva, Voile, Osprey, Dynafit and more.  Sign-up at the NWAC tent.
9 am: Racer Meeting
10 am: Race start
2:30 pm: Last racers cleared from course
3 pm: Demo gear return, Vendor Village closes, award ceremony, raffle and beer
Olivia ready to race.

John & Olivia usually do the race and encourage you to participate.  What has always been great about this event is that it attracts some incredibly strong folks, but has a very relaxed, PNW feel.  It is not about winning, but more about giving it all you have and hopefully not collapsing into a heap short of the finish line.  You gotta be able to ski black diamond terrain in whatever conditions the weather presents, and should be able to skin with some proficiency. Beyond that we are always psyched to see the elite crew cheering folks on as they cruise to the finish while many of us are still battling uphill. If you are worried about your skiing or skinning ability check out the Rookie Rally.


About the Northwest Mountain School.  
The Northwest Mountain School is owned and operated by IFMGA guides John & Olivia Race.  We are based in Leavenworth, WA and sponsored by Sportiva. We run a variety of backcountry ski programs near Stevens Pass, WA as well as AIARE Level 1 and AIARE Level 2 avalanche courses. 

Stevens Pass Backcountry Programs

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2015 Europe Summer Climbing Schedule ~ Mont Blanc, Matterhorn, & Monte Rosa

Our 2015 dates have been posted for climbing in the Alps. We will once again be offering the following programs:

Climbers on Breithorn Half-Tranverse - Warm-up for the Matterhorn
For 2015 we have gone to all-inclusive pricing meaning that the cost of your huts, hotels, ground-transportation during the trip, trams and lifts, and most of the meals are included in the price. Each trip includes lodging the night before and after your trip.  This gives you the chance to estimate your total cost accurately before the trip and avoids any difficulty making reservations for lodging during the trip.

Nearing summit of Wiessmies - Zermatt-Saas 4000'ers (Monte Rosa Ascent)

Mont Blanc Climb
We have been guiding Mont Blanc for a long time and have come up with a program that gives you the best possible chance to summit. This is a 6-day itinerary beginning from the quieter Champex side of the Trient Plateau that starts with 3 moderate days of climbing to acclimate and polish your climbing skills in advance of the ascent. During the Mont Blanc climb itself we spend 2 nights at the Tete Rousse Hut, one before and one after the climb, which allows for a bit less rush to make the train at the end. We are avoiding the three Mont Blanc route, site of many avalanches in the past few summers in favor of the Gouter Route.  Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps and by default the highest peak in France. If conditions indicate the three Mont Blancs route is better in summer 2015 we will entertain that option, but it has not been the case for the past few summers.

Climbers on Aiguille du Tour, warm-up for Mont Blanc Climb
2015 Mont Blanc Climb Dates ($4070 per climber)
  • July 1-6, 2015
  • July 16-21, 2015
  • August 8-13, 2015
  • August 17-22, 2015
  • Custom Dates Available

Just below the summit of Mont Blanc - Mont Blanc Climbs
Matterhorn Climbs
In 2014 we were one of the few American companies to put a client on the summit when Mark Allen made a successful ascent with his client in July.  We spend 3 days training, acclimating, and sampling some of the great climbing in Zermatt with ascents of Castor, Pollux, and the Breithorn in advance of our climb on the Matterhorn. In the acclimatization period we stay mostly in high huts to maximize our chance to acclimate in advance of this challenging and rewarding climb. If for some reason the Matterhorn is out of condition, we have alternate climbs nearby that are excellent alternatives.

Climbers on Matterhorn Summit - Matterhorn Climb
2015 Matterhorn Climb Dates ($5700 per climber)
  • July 8-14, 2015
  • July 23-29, 2015
  • July 31-August 6, 2015
  • August 24-30, 2015

Magnificent Matterhorn - Matterhorn Climb
Zermatt-Saas 4000'ers Climb w/ ascent of Monte Rosa
We reformatted our traditional 4000'ers week to not overlap with the Matterhorn summits, allowing people the chance to do this as a trip by itself or to link to either the Matterhorn or Mt. Blanc. We start with warm-up climbs in the Saas Valley on the Jagihorn, Lagginhorn, and Wiesmiess before moving back over to Zermatt to finish on Monte Rosa, the highest peak in Switzerland.

Excellent Rock on Jagihorn - Zermatt 4000'ers warm-up
2015 Zermatt 4000'ers Climb w/ Ascent of Monte Rosa Dates ($4995 per climber)
  • July 8-13, 2015
  • July 23-28, 2015
  • August 8-13, 2015
  • August 24-29, 2015
  • Custom Dates Available

Lagginhorn sunrise - Zermatt 4000'ers
New! The ability to link multiple itineraries to put together a longer trip.  
Our 2015 programs were laid out so that you can combine your climb of any one of these iconic peaks with another. If you link two trips you have 1 or 2 days between trips to rest and get to your next destination. If you link courses we will give you 5% off the total amount of your trip.

Climbers on Riffelhorn with Monte Rosa in background - Zermatt-Saas 4000'ers (Monte Rosa Climb)
Examples of how climbs can be linked:
Mont Blanc + Matterhorn July 1-14, 2015 
Mont Blanc + Zermatt-Saas 4000'ers July 1-13, 2015 
Matterhorn + Mont Blanc July 8-21, 2015 
Zermatt 4000'ers + Mont Blanc July 8-21, 2015 
Mont Blanc + Matterhorn July 16-29, 2015 
Mont Blanc + Zermatt 4000'ers July 16-28, 2015
Matterhorn + Zermatt 4000'ers July 31-August 13, 2015
Matterhorn + Mont Blanc July 31-August 13, 2015
Mont Blanc + Matterhorn August 17-30, 2015
Mont Blanc + Zermatt 4000'ers August 17-29, 2015

Interior of Monte Rosa Hut - Zermatt-Saas 4000'ers w/ Monte Rosa Ascent
Custom Climbs available
Don't like any of the above dates and want to do a custom program? If we have the guides available, we are happy to set up a custom experience. We can offer all-inclusive or custom pricing depending on how deep you want to go into the logistics. Call the office at (509)548-5823 for details.

IFMGA Guides John & Olivia Race - Northwest Mountain School
About the Northwest Mountain School: The Northwest Mountain School has been in operation since 1994 and is owned by IFMGA guides John & Olivia Race. We are based in Leavenworth, WA and run  spring and summer programs in the Alps in addition to our regular offerings in the Pacific Northwest and other locations in the Western US.  Feel free to call us at 509-548-5823 with any questions.

Links to Climbs Described above:

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Winter 2014-15 AIARE Level 1 & 2 Avalanche Course Dates

We have posted our AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course dates for winter 2014-15. While the content of the course still hits on all the same material, we have tweaked things a bit to allow for more field time. This is a 24-hour course with a focus on making more effective decisions in the backcountry. Participants should have some previous touring experience, but this is not a ski touring course. Suitable equipment for field activities includes AT skis, Telemark Skis, Splitboards, or Snowshoes. Groups will be divided for field activities into similar equipment types to facilitate movement in the backcountry. 

All classroom sessions will once again take place at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort and all field activities will take place on US Forest Service Land near Stevens Pass, WA. 

Winter 2014-15 AIARE Level 1 Courses - $325 

  • December 5-7, 2014
  • December 12-14, 2014
  • December 19-21, 2014
  • January 9-11, 2015
  • January 17-19, 2015
  • Jan 30 - Feb 1, 2015
  • February 6-8, 2015
  • February 20-22, 2015
  • March 6-8, 2015
  • Custom Dates Also Available

2014-15 AIARE Avalanche Course Poster - Call if you want one

We will also once again be offering our AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Refresher Courses.  This is a 10-hour commitment that allows you to sit in on the planning component of the second touring day and then undertake the tour with the current Level 1 course. This gives you a chance to polish your beacon skills, tour with a guide, revisit tour planning and get up to speed on current thinking about backcountry travel. People often ask us how often they should refresh and we feel it depends on how much you are touring each year.  At a bare minimum you should seek some sort of continuing education each season and either increase your education by moving on to an AIARE L2 course or consider retaking the entire AIARE L1 every 4-5 years. If you are diligent about attending avalanche education seminars, tour often, and stay abreast of current avalanche education then you may never need a refresher.  If you feel you could use a bit of fine-tuning at the start of the season, then these courses are a good way to get back into the swing of things.

Winter 2014-15 AIARE Level 1 Refresher Courses - $195

  • December 6-7, 2014
  • December 13-14, 2014
  • December 20-21, 2014
  • January 10-11, 2015
  • January 18-19, 2015
  • Jan 31 - Feb 1, 2015
  • February 7-8, 2015
  • February 21-22, 2015
  • March 7-8, 2015
  • Custom Dates Available

This year we are offering two AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Courses.  On the first course we will break the program into two consecutive weekends allowing you to fit the entire program into a weekend schedule.  The second course will be the more traditional 4-day push from start to finish.  Our 2015 courses will be led by Dallas Glass, currently a professional observer for the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC), as well as a full-time mountain guide and Harlan Sheppard, longtime AIARE L2 Course leader, hell-ski guide, ski patroller, and member of the WA DOT crew that does control work along US highway 2 over Stevens Pass. This is a professional level avalanche course, but is very open to recreational skiers and boarders that are moving more into thinking about forecasting. This includes the the prerequisite components for advancement to AIARE level 3 programs.

Winter 2014-15 AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Courses - $525

  • January 10-11 & 17-18, 2015
  • February 12-15, 2015
  • Custom Dates Available

Instructors for 2014-15: We have assembled a good group of guides all returning from last season. All are AIARE credentialed for the courses they instruct on, but what we are particularly proud of is the diversity each instructor brings to our courses. Unlike straight guiding, avalanche education dips into knowledge gained from guiding, ski patrol, mountain rescue, and more industrial level control work and forecasting such as that done by DOT crews. We have assembled a very experienced crew with a nice mixture of backgrounds.
  • Dallas Glass (NWAC Pro Observer, Full-time Mountain Guide)
  • Matt Hartman (Full-time Mountain Guide, Senior NOLS Instructor)
  • Chris Meder (Full-time Mountain Guide)
  • Ian Nicholson (IFMGA Aspirant)
  • Nick Pope (IFMGA Guide)
  • John Race (IFMGA Guide)
  • Olivia Race (IFMGA Guide
  • Harlan Sheppard (Heli-Ski Guide, WA DOT Technician, Ski-Patrol)
  • Dan Veenhuizen (NPS Climbing Ranger, Ski Patrol)
These programs have limited space and fill on a first-come, first-serve basis.  If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 509-548-5823 to discuss course content, availability, lodging, your equipment, and anything else you are curious about with regard to these AIARE Courses.

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Trip! Powder Betty ~ Women's Backcountry Ski Camp

We are pleased to announce a new Women's Backcountry Ski Camp called Powder Betty that Olivia will be offering in the winter of 2014-15. This in a 3-day intensive backcountry ski course with all backcountry ski activities taking place in the mountains near Stevens Pass Ski Area and Leavenworth, WA and all lodging and food taken care of by Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. The first course will run from January 23-25, 2015 and will cost $895 per participant.

Olivia wanted to address an observation she has made each winter that women seem to hold back a bit more than men when getting into ski touring. Many references (we hesitated to add to it) have been made recently to an article in Atlantic Magazine called The Confidence Gap.  As stated on Atlantic's website, "The problem, argue the broadcast journalists Katty Kay and Clair Shipman in the Atlantic's May 2014 cover story, is that women are less self-assured than men - and that this persistent disparity between the genders is what keeps women from achieving at the highest levels." 

When you start to look at backcountry skiing it immediately occurred to Olivia that while women may lack self-assurance the solution is not simply to bolster women's confidence as there are no shortage of examples of men using their confidence to find all sorts of hazard in the mountains. Her women's ski courses have the less lofty goal of simply providing a fun, educational environment for women to gain comfort with their touring skills and identify areas they can work on to become solid in the backcountry.

Included in the cost of the program are 2 nights lodging at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort located at the mouth of Icicle Creek Canyon. This has long been a favorite place for our family to celebrate special occasions and provides a level of luxury that is hard to find on a ski touring trip. All meals are prepared on site in the kitchen that services the lovely Kingfisher Dining Room with many of the ingredients grown onsite, sourced locally, and reflecting their commitment to sustainable and organic food. Sleeping Lady may have the coolest outdoor hot tub in Central Washington and our lodging is a cosy, comfortable "bunk" cabin with its own bathrooms and showers. Participants will have the run of the place including use of the hot tub, dry sauna, Grotto Lounge, and other facilities. The entire resort has wi-fi.

During the three day course we will undertake increasingly significant tours beginning with some training at Stevens Pass Ski Area. Your lift ticket for the day is also included as we utilize the lifts to access the backcountry surrounding Stevens Pass. Each evening and morning we will review the weather and avalanche forecasts and tie it in with what we saw in the field and what we expect to see on upcoming tours. This review, combined with time in the field is at the core of developing a solid touring foundation.

The course is intended for women that already feel comfortable skiing inside the resort and have a decent fitness base. While it is not required that participants have taken an AIARE Level 1 Course Olivia thinks they will get more out of the ski camp if they take it after they have taken and AIARE Level 1.  Completion of another companies AIARE Level 1 is no issue, but if you decide to take the course with her company, the Northwest Mountain School, she can offer a 10% discount on the avalanche course. The Northwest Mountain School is offering courses on most weekends from early December through early March each season.

For more details, visit Powder Betty or call the office at 509-548-5823 to discuss the trip with Olivia.