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.