This course will give you solid introduction inall aspects of classic mountaineering in the best venue in the lower 48 states, the North Cascades National Park. The immediate access to moderately crevassed glaciers, steep climbing on great rock and exposed ridge travel make the Boston Basin area the ideal setting for a mountaineering course.
Sign up for a course or a trip and receive a 10% discount on purchases and a 20% discount on gear rental. Go to Pro Ski and Mountain Service.
Pro Ski and Mountain Service is our retail specialty store. It has been located in North Bend, WA since 1999.
The past trips and courses have had a large influence on what we sell. Many of our Pro Guiding customers come on trips and courses with gear they purchased from our store. Not only do we want our clients to have the right gear for the job; we also receive direct feedback from them while they are using it in the field. Trust us - if the gear does not work - we won't sell it.
MOUNTAINEERING COURSE IN THE NORTH CASCADES EQUIPMENT LIST
o 1 thermal Bottom - midweight or lightweight
o 1 or 2 thermal Tops - midweight or lightweight
o Sock Liners - 2 or 3 pair
o Socks - 2 pair
o Windshirt, Soft Shell, Fleece Jacket - only one of these is necessary
o Soft Shell type pants
o Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Jacket
o Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Pants
o Warm Hat - should cover ears
o Sun Hat - baseball type or visor
o Lightweight Gloves - wind block or fleece/wool type
o Warm Gloves
o Gaiters - low top or full size
o Down or Synthetic Jacket
o Internal Frame Pack - 50 Liter (3100 cu in.) minimum
o Sleeping Bag - down or synthetic, 20 deg. F. minimum
o Sleeping Pad - closed cell foam or self inflating
oMountaineering Boots - leather or synthetic, crampon compatible
oHeadlamp - lightweight LED recommended with extra batteries
o Water Bottles - 1 or 2 liters, wide mouth
o Water Purification - tablets or filter
o Bowl or Cup
o Small Knife
o Glacier Glasses
o Sunscreen - SPF 25+, waterproof
o Lip Balm - SPF 15+
o Lighter or Matches
o Personal Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, waterless hand cleaner, etc.
o Small Personal 1st Aid Kit - blister repair, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.
o Ice Axe - 55-70 cm length
o Crampons - 10 or 12 point steel, pre-fit to boots
o Anti-ball plates - for crampons (BD Contact Crampons include ABP)
o Climbing Helmet - UIAA approved only
o Climbing Harness - mountaineering style
o 1-2 Ice Screw, 13-17 cm length
CREVASSE RESCUE KIT
o 4 Locking Biners - at least 1 large HMS style and 1 regular locker
o 4 Non-locking Biners - any style, we prefer wire gate type
o 1 - 6 meter Cordelette (6mm)
o 1 - 3 meter Cordelette (6mm)
o 1 Single Length Runner (60cm)
o1 Double Length Runner (120cm)
OPTIONAL ITEMS *We highly recommend these items, but do not require them to participate
o Adjustable Trekking Pole(s) - nice to have for approach/crevasse navigation
o Summit pack – a 25 to 30 liter pack would do
o Camera - we’re always looking for some shots for the PGS website!
o Ear Plugs - essential for sound sleep
o Thermos - vacuum type
o Note Pad and Pencil - Rite-in-the-Rain brand waterproof notebook works
o USGS 7.5’ Cascade Pass Quadrangle
o Ropeman or Tibloc - used in the crevasse rescue system
o Compass - adjustable declination required
o Altimeter - Suunto watch works well
o Map Case - large zip-loc will suffice
o Collapsible Water Canteen – good for storing snowmelt at camp
GROUP GEAR PROVIDED BY PGS *Please contact the guiding office if you prefer to bring your own gear in place of any of our group gear.
o Cooking Pots
o Technical Group Gear (elaborate crevasse rescue kit, VHF radio or SAT phone)
o Group 1st Aid Kit
o USGS Maps for the area
Important: PGS does not provide food on these trips. Please refer to our food suggestion link to figure out your food needs.
What is the difference between the Mount Baker Mountaineering School and the North Cascades Mountaineering Course? We answer this question on the phone regularly, so let us try to answer it here: The basic topography of the two venues is quite different. The Mount Baker course venue happens on almost exclusively glaciated terrain on the north side of this 10780 foot volcano. The Coleman, the Deming and potentially the Roosevelt Glaciers are our training ground and with that the focus is centered around all things snow and ice. Glacier travel, crampon work and crevasse rescue is a large topic on the Mount Baker Course. It certainly is an important topic in the North Cascades Course as well, but you will take a deeper dive into these topics on Mount Baker.
The North Cascades Mountaineering Course takes place in the Boston Basin in the shadow of the famous Forbidden Peak. The area essentially holds every element that you might encounter on a “classic mountaineering adventure”. The Boston Basin holds glaciers, steep couloirs, glacier polished slabs, narrow ridges, big faces and sharp peaks. Just like on Mount Baker, we teach very much what the terrain demands or rather we chose an extremely diverse zone of the North Cascades National Park to give the course participant a rounded introduction into world of mountaineering.
Both of the approaches into the camps are moderately strenuous, with the Boston Basin trail being a bit steeper. Both camps have running water and the views are stunning either way.
As soon as you leave camp, things start feeling a bit different. While you might have to commute for about 45 minutes up slabby rocks to reach the lower margins of the Quien Sabe Glacier and the amazing Sahale and Sharkfin summits beyond, you will find yourself wearing the crampons on the lower Coleman Glacier ice of Mount Baker almost immediately.
If you are looking for a great course to make you feel more comfortable on large glacier ascents (Rainier etc.), the Mount Baker Course is most likely for you, but if you are looking for an all-around introduction to the world of mountaineering and would like to summit classic peaks like Forbidden Peak, the Matterhorn, the venue we offer in the North Cascades is hard to beat.
In summary; if you want to truly learn the craft of mountaineering, you should take both courses. We are not saying this to sell more courses. Either one of these courses is a great start and there is some overlap, but together they build a fantastic mountaineering skill foundation.
Where in the world is Marblemount? Marblemount, WA is located on the western slopes of the North Cascades along State Hwy 20. Driving time from the Seattle area is about 2.5 hours. CLICK HERE for Google Map Location.
Are there places to stay in Marblemount if I get there a day early? Yes, there are reasonable accommodations. You can stay at:
Totem Trail Motel: www.totemtrail.com
57627 State Route 20, Rockport - (360) 873-4535
Buffalo Run Inn: www.buffaloruninn.com
PO Box 133, 60117 State Route 20, Marblemount - (877) 828-6652
Skagit River Resort: www.glacierpeakresort.com
(North Cascades Hwy, WA St Rte 20, Mile 103.5), 58468 Clark Cabin Road, Rockport - (360) 873-2250
Does PGS provide food for the trip? No, we do not provide food, but are perfectly happy to make food suggestions. You can CLICK HERE to check out our food recommendations for packing for your trip.
Can I buy food for the trip in Marblemount? There is a small grocery store in the local Shell Station, but it only carries basic things. The last bigger grocery store is located near Concrete, WA.
I see that your ratio is smaller than Mountaineering Courses offered by some of the other guiding companies – does this mean that we will get to summit some peaks? Yes, you will most likely summit a couple of peaks over the course. These peaks might be Sahale Peak and Sharkfin Tower. It also means that the entire nature of the course is more movement based and that you will be applying new concepts right away.
I do not have any prior mountaineering experience. Can I still come on the trip? Yes, the trip is designed for novices and mountaineers with limited experience. The course is by nature of the terrain physically demanding. Good fitness is a prerequisite to your enjoyment of the week.
Where will we be camped? We will be camped at around 5500 feet near tree line in the Boston Basin. Our camp is located right next to a small creek. This makes cooking and hydrating very easy.
How long is the approach? 2 to 3 hours from the trailhead.
When can we expect to be out of the mountains on the last day? We will start heading down from our base camp at around noon. This means that we will start driving at around 3pm and be back in the Seattle area in the early evening.
Should I tip my guide? and how much should I tip them? Although tipping is not a requirement it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or flat price tip that you are comfortable with.