New Mt. Adams Programs

Pacific Alpine Guides - March 14, 2015 - News

Flying over Mt. Adams en route to Chile last fall.

We’re excited about the addition of another big, classic, cascade volcano to our lineup of programs for 2015: Mt. Adams, 12,281′. Through a competitive application process, Pacific Alpine Guides was awarded one of two permits to guide routes on the north side of the mountain.

Options range from the no-experience-necessary North Ridge, to steep snow and ice routes like the Lava Glacier Headwall, North Face of the Northwest Ridge, and the Adams Glacier.

Learn more on the new Mt. Adams page, and come join us this summer!

Winter in the Selkirks: Rogers Pass

Pacific Alpine Guides - February 21, 2015 - Dispatches & Trip Reports


Photos by Julian Hanna and Tyler Reid from two Rogers Pass trips in late January. It’s been a tough winter for the Pacific Northwest, a record-bad snow year for the Olympic Mountains, and overall a strange pattern for North America, but conditions have been pretty darn good in interior British Columbia.





















Olympic Mtns Late Dec Ski Conditions

Tyler Reid - January 1, 2015 - Dispatches & Trip Reports


Happy New Year!

We’ve spent 5 out of the last 6 days skiing in the Hurricane Ridge zone and over the course of that time found some really good skiing. We’ve seen the full evolution from “thin but skiable” to ankle deep powder, to really good powder skiing, to widespread wind affect, to entering spring mode. Overall, even though we’re still well below normal, we have twice the snowpack we had at this time last year. We’ve had a lot of NE winds in the last week which is counterintuitive for where the good skiing usually is, but the upside is this has loaded more snow on the sunny aspects that need it. All in all things are off to a decent start up there and hopefully this next warm spell passes quickly so we can get back to powder skiing.

Some GoPro footage:

Here are a few photos of terrain:





Searching For Winter in the Coast Mountains

Tyler Reid - December 23, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports


Photos from a quick searching-for-winter mission up to Keith’s Hut in the Coast Mountains near Pemberton, BC with Billy, Katrina & Katy







BCA BC Link Radio Review

Tyler Reid - December 15, 2014 - Gear Reviews

BCA BC Link Radio

Ski touring by ski plane in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park last spring with fellow guides Andrew McLean and Eli Potter, we were repeatedly having problems with our guide radios (complicated handheld VHFs). Guides typically need what is basically a ham radio to be able to talk with pilots, other guides, rangers, etc. These are powerful tools but they come with a steep learning curve. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in the presence of malfunctioning radios, transmission issues, technical glitches, antennae problems, user error, etc.

As a backup on this trip I brought a couple of BCA’s BC Link radios and we put them into action.

The BC Link looks like any other small handheld radio with a speaker mic. On closer inspection, you realize the speaker mic controls the radio completely. In addition to transmit and receive, you can change channels, adjust volume, turn the radio on and off, and check battery power. This design allows the body of the radio to live in your backpack all day long, with the speaker mic clipped to your pack shoulder strap.

BCA BC Link Speaker Mic

BC Links operate on the FRS/GMRS (talkabout) frequencies – this keeps things simple and license free, but in high traffic zones finding a clear channel can sometimes be tricky (the sub channels help). This wasn’t an issue in the Wrangells. As soon as we started using the BC Links our radio woes vanished, as did our awareness that we were using radios. We were simply communicating clearly in complex terrain.

A month later on a ski expedition to Mt. Blackburn, BC Links provided easy conversations between the summit ridge and base camp. The radios are USB rechargeable which integrates perfectly with a solar panel, and we were impressed with the battery life of these things (up to 140 hours according to BCA).

For guides, the BC Link won’t replace the complicated guide VHF. But for everyone else, the BC Link is a superior tool for distraction free backcountry group communication.

Olympic Mountains Ice

Tyler Reid - November 16, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Ice climbing in the Lake Angeles cirque in the Olympic Mountains

Jack and I went up to the Lake Angeles cirque today to check on the ice situation. As this was a scouting mission, we almost didn’t bring gear with us which would have been a terrible decision. Despite our late start we managed to get in a few laps. Super awesome to be climbing ice in the Olympics in mid November.

Lake was not trustworthy yet but skirting the edge was not too bad. Temps appear to be getting warmer for the next few days but with the next good freeze it should be good up there.

Lake Angeles, Olympic Mountains ice climbing

Olympic National Park ice climbing

Lake Angeles ice climbing

Lake Angeles ice climbing in Olympic National Park

New Int’l Ski Expeditions: Mt. Elbrus & the Antarctic Peninsula

Tyler Reid - November 6, 2014 - News

Mt. Elbrus, 18,510′

We’re excited to announce two new international ski expeditions for 2015: Mt. Elbrus, and the Antarctic Peninsula.

At 18,510′ feet, Mt. Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe, and one of the Seven Summits. Situated in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia, this trip combines high altitude ski mountaineering with a heavy dose of Russian culture. The 13 day itinerary starts in Moscow and finishes in St. Petersberg, with ample time for measured acclimatization, skiing time, a 2 day summit window, and city tours. Similar to our Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering Expedition, this program is offered in partnership with RMI Expeditions. 13 days, June 2015.

Learn more: Mt. Elbrus Ski Expedition


Above the ocean on the Antarctic Peninsula

Skiing on the Antarctic Peninsula is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Starting in Ushuaia, Argentina, this trip involves loading your ski gear onto a 331′ ship called the Sea Adventurer, and setting sail across the Drake Passage. Three days later you’re skiing above the ocean on surreal ice clad islands and peaks, shuttling to and from the ship by zodiac. In addition to the skiing, is the fact you’re in Antarctica, in a world of icebergs, penguins, elephant seals, orcas, and killer whales. This 13 day voyage is offered in November 2015 in partnership with Ice Axe Expeditions.

Learn more: Antarctic Peninsula Ship-Based Ski Touring

Chile Volcanoes 2014 Dispatches & Photos

Tyler Reid - October 6, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports
Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering, Climbing Lonquimay

We just returned from a very fun and successful Chile Volcanoes ski trip. Weather conditions were a little tricky with El Niño bringing a particularly wet winter and spring to South America. For us this meant standing on fewer of the summits in our ambitious itinerary, but it also meant excellent snow coverage and even September powder skiing! Hard to complain, really. We’re already looking forward to next year.

Photos (all of the best ones on this page were taken by Katy) and Dispatches from Chile 2014:


Our goal for today was to have skis on our feet, and driving through the lush lowlands in the rain, there was a sense of disbelief circulating through the van that we would soon see snow, let alone be skiing. Next thing we knew, with Sergio at the helm (our Chilean outfitter) we were fully utilizing the Mitsubishi’s 4-wheel drive capabilities to precision glide past stuck vehicles on the steep access road. High snowfall intensity from the sky, high psych intensity from our crew.

Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering, Ski Pucon

We spent the afternoon Volcano Storm Skiing. Not to be confused with below treeline storm skiing, where the forest provides terrain definition and the ability to see; Volcano Storm Skiing involves using rocks, closed chairlifts, other skiers, and/or their tracks for definition. When in doubt, have someone else go first. If your hat says ‘Guide’ on it, that means you are the sacrificial lamb.

Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering Expedition

Get blasted by the wind on the way up, seek refuge in a closed lift station high on the mountain, look up at your teammates and see huge smiles, transition to ski mode. Random outbursts of laughter. Volcano Storm Skiing is awesome. Especially the part about skiing in September.


We got a casual start on our day knowing that the storm was raging on Villarica. That summiting was not going to be an option for today was glaringly obvious in the forecast, but the skiers mind is slightly different from the climbers mind: stormy conditions yield a bunch of new snow, and a bunch of new snow equals powder skiing. Powder skiing equals the polar opposite of defeat. So like yesterday, we set off into the storm, the only skiers on this mountain crazy enough to go touring (the ski areas on these Chilean volcanoes are above treeline, thus relying on good visibility and not too much wind to stay open).

Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering Expedition

Yesterday was Volcano Storm Skiing. Today was just plain storm skiing. We stuck below treeline for most of the day and found some great tree shots. With over a foot of new, dense, fast, springy pow, we put in a skin track, and one lap turned into two laps, then three laps, four laps, five laps… To be skiing in an early succession forest with a cauldron of lava bubbling 5,000’ above your head feels exotic.

Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering

At the end of the day we toured up into the storm to get a sense of how windy it really was in the alpine (and to line ourselves up for a nice glide back to the parking lot). It was windy. Really windy.

Ski touring on Volcan Villarica in Chile


Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering: Lonquimay and Tolhuaca

Lonquimay (center) with Tolhuaca behind (left).

First summit of the trip! We may or may not have had a slight mechanical advantage on the approach this morning (chairlift) to Volcan Lonquimay. We were teased with beautiful views of the mountain, although the wind was clearly howling up high. The visibility started to deteriorate as we climbed high above the ski area.

Ski Mountaineering on Volcan Lonquimay in Chile

Ski Mountaineering on Volcan Lonquimay in Chile

We transitioned from skins to boot crampons where the broad terrain gives way to a semi-sharp ridge, and we climbed up and up into the clouds. The wind came in waves with periods of eerie calm in between.

Ski Mountaineering on Volcan Lonquimay in Chile

Ski Mountaineering in Chile on Volcan LonquimaySki Mountaineering in Chile on Volcan LonquimaySki Mountaineering in Chile on Volcan Lonquimay

Ski Mountaineering in Chile on Volcan Lonquimay

Ski Mountaineering in Chile on Volcan Lonquimay

We climbed until we could climb no further, enjoyed some nice celebratory summit time, and clicked into our skis. The upper mountain required careful turns in the limited visibility, but 3,000’ lower we were able to finally open it up and just ski.

Ski Mountaineering in Chile on Volcan Lonquimay

Ski Mountaineering in Chile on Volcan Lonquimay

The lifts were still spinning after our huge descent, so we snuck in a few extra laps at the ski area before heading for the lodge for chocolate caliente and cervezas. Lonquimay!

Sierra Nevada as viewed from Malalcahuello

View of Sierra Nevada from the lodge in Malalcahuello.


We didn’t take Sergio seriously when he said “I have a snowcat”. We were discussing the approach to Sierra Nevada, which would typically involve four-wheel drive pickups to get to where the snow starts.  As our Chilean outfitter and local guru, Sergio has been with us the whole trip, and here in Malalcahuello we are staying at his ideally positioned lodge, the SuizAndina.

Volcan Lonquimay seen from Malalcahuello

It turns out Sergio has two mini snowcat-like vehicles he recently acquired, and he was psyched to give one of them a try in getting us to Sierra Nevada. If all went well, it seemed possible that we’d found a loophole in the “No Shortcuts to the Top” argument. The mini snowcat would deliver us to treeline, we could spend more time touring in the alpine, and maybe get a few bonus turns at the end of the day.

Views from ski mountaineering on Sierra Nevada of Chilean volcanoes Lonquimay and Tolhuaca

Apparently the universe is on Ed Viesturs’ side. Before we even hit the snow, the mini snowcat had lost one of its tracks. These are the moments where us skiers start to panic internally. Will we make it to the snow? Will we ski today?

Ski mountaineering on Sierra Nevada in Chile

With one track down and Sergio at the helm, the mini snowcat still performed amazingly well in getting us up the gnarly road. When we hit the snow, it was time to earn our turns.

Ski mountaineering on Sierra Nevada in Chile

We ascended through mysterious Araucaria forest (monkey puzzle trees) and out on to a long alpine ridge. Cornice on one side, rocks on the other. The terrain became particularly interesting on the upper mountain, with a series of intersecting ridges, alpine bowls, and mushroomy ice features. The weather was perfect, the views endless, and we were able to ski from the highest point beneath the summit (the last 50’ was steep rime ice).

Sierra Nevada is one of those descents that just goes on forever. Photos tell the story better than words.

Chilean ski adventure to the max.

Ski mountaineering on Sierra Nevada in Chile

Ski mountaineering on Sierra Nevada in Chile

Ski mountaineering on Sierra Nevada in Chile

Ski mountaineering on Sierra Nevada in Chile

Skiing Sierra Nevada in Chile with Volcan Lonquimay in the background.

Volcan Llaima as seen from Sierra Nevada (Chile)

Volcan Llaima from Sierra Nevada.


We launched for the north side of Volcan Llaima with overnight gear, optimism, and our fuel tanks filled to the brim with carne. Our send off from Malalcahuello was the asado of all asados: Chilean grass fed beef, homemade sausages, and lamb slow cooked over a wood fired grill masterfully by Sergio (our Chilean outfitter and owner of the lodge in Malalcahuello).

Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering Expedition with Pacific Alpine Guides and RMI

The wind was steady and the views nonexistent as we toured up an expansive lava field that just five years ago was flowing red. Above the monkey puzzle trees the wind was whipping, and feeling energetic we opted for the storm camping experience. We carved tent platforms into the leeward side of a small rock outcrop and proceeded to build Alaska style wind walls around our camp.

Camped on Volcan Llaima, ski mountaineering in Chile

Camped on Volcan Llaima, ski mountaineering in Chile

The next morning was frigid. The sun came out and as we packed up our gear for the summit ascent, we had the feeling that everything was lining up. Almost. The nice springlike snow surface we’d skinned up the day before was now a skating rink. Our ski crampons, even under full body weight, were not biting into the ice. This was not the type of frozen snow that softens throughout the day.

Ski mountaineering on Volcan Llaima in Chile

Ski mountaineering on Volcan Llaima in Chile

Ski Mountaineering on Volcan Llaima in Chile

About 600 vertical feet above camp it became apparent that the snow wasn’t getting any better. Getting on the face above us – which Katy and I had learned the year before is deceptively enormous and quite steep at the top, was out of the question.

Ski Mountaineering on Volcan Llaima in Chile

Ski mountaineering on the Chile Volcanoes

Sierra Nevada above Lago Conguillio in Chile

We ripped our skins and skied east coast style “packed powder” (very loud turns) 1,000’ down to a small sub peak to the east. Views across the way of Sierra Nevada rising above the beautiful Lago Conguillio (a huge lake) began to the open up. We cramponed to the summit of our mini peak, skied down, and as we contoured back to camp, the decision not to go higher on Llaima was further reinforced. The winds ramped up, and visibility dropped to ping-pong ball status. We packed up camp and skied down out of the clouds.

Ski mountaineering on Volcan Llaima in Chilechile_katy-33

Ski mountaineering on Volcan Llaima in ChileSki mountaineering on Volcan Llaima in ChileSki mountaineering on Volcan Llaima in Chile

Araucaria (Monkey Puzzle Tree) on Volcan Llaima in Chile

Araucaria (Monkey Puzzle Tree)

El Niño has had some influence on every one of our ski outings on this trip, whether providing powder turns in September, a deep snowpack and fantastic coverage… or a moist wind that turns a big beautiful face into a sheet of ice. We’ve had a blast every day of this trip, whether standing on summits, or touring in stormy weather.

Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering Expedition

Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering Expedition

Overused statement of the trip, uttered multiple times at the end of every ski day: “Well that was an adventure.”

This is a truly amazing place to have skis on your feet.

Sound interesting? Learn more about this trip here.


Mt. Constance, Mt. Olympus, Mt. Shuksan & Mt. Baker

Pacific Alpine Guides - September 4, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports
Mt. Constance climb

Tim on Mt. Constance

August was a busy month of summit climbs, alpine routes, and mountaineering courses in the Olympic Mountains and the North Cascades. Here a few photos from guides Eric Frank, Elias de Andres Martos, Tyler Reid, and Katy Reid from successful climbs on Mt. Constance, Mt. Olympus, Mt. Shuksan, and Mt. Baker.



Jen and Tim finishing a beautiful summit day on Mt. Olympus.


View from the tent on our Alpine Mountaineering Course on Mt. Shuksan.


Another team low on the Easton Glacier on Mt. Baker.



The Bailey Range Traverse: Sol Duc to the Hoh via Mt. Carrie, Queets Basin & Mt. Olympus

Tyler Reid - August 9, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Humes Glacier and Blizzard Pass on the Bailey Range Traverse

I just returned from an amazing 6 days on the Bailey Range Traverse along with Ross from Montreal. An additional member of our crew unfortunately had to bail at the last minute due to illness, but hopefully will be back to experience one of the best alpine traverses in North America.

Heart Lake in 7 Lakes Basin High Divide Loop

Heart Lake

We started at the Sol Duc trailhead, ascending into the alpine past Heart Lake, up onto the High Divide. We shared a camp perched above a terrain feature called the Catwalk with a volunteer ranger and a family of goats.

Mountain Goat in Olympic National Park

Mt. Carrie (6,995') in Olympic National Park

Mt. Carrie

The next day we crossed the Catwalk and passed through a camp known as “Boston Charlie’s” as we ascended onto the west shoulder of Mt. Carrie. Rather than follow the standard route from here which consists of sidehilling beneath Mt. Carrie, we took the high line over the summit.

Glacier on Mt. Carrie on the Bailey Range Traverse

We descended this glacier on Carrie to the icy headwall beneath Mt. Ruth.

View from the summit of Mt. Carrie on the Bailey Range Traverse

From the summit of Mt. Carrie we descended east on a glaciated ridge feature formed by years and years of consistent wind patterns, passing beneath Mt. Ruth, and up a steep headwall that in a good snow year would typically involve steep snow climbing in early August. This year it was melted down to glacier ice.

Steep headwall on Mt. Carrie, Olympic Mountains

Steep headwall.

Anticipating this section, I was psyched to have brought along a 19cm ice screw which came in handy for drilling V-thread anchors. 3 short pitches (30m) of 45° ice and snow put us on the lower angled glacier above, where we popped through a notch in the ridge.

Alpine ice climbing on Mt. Carrie, Olympic National Park

Alpine ice climbing on Mt. Carrie, Bailey Range Traverse

From the notch, we had a beautiful descent into the Stephen Lake basin, where stopping for a swim in the lake was very tempting on this hot day.

Stephen Lake Basin and Stephen Peak in Olympic National Park

Stephen Lake basin and Stephen Peak

Bailey Range Traverse in Olympic National Park

Stephen Lake in Olympic National Park on the Bailey Range Traverse

We contoured around the basin, ascending 1200′ of steep snow and scree to the ridge, where we were able to set up our tent a couple hundred feet beneath the summit of Stephen Peak.

Stephen Peak on the Bailey Range Traverse

Summit of Stephen Peak on the Bailey Range Traverse

Summit of Stephen Peak

The next day we cruised on the ridgeline from Stephen Peak to Upper Ferry Basin with the occasional sections of scrambly bushwhacking. In Upper Ferry Basin we ascended past many beautiful lakes and tarns to the true crest of the Bailey Range, passing beneath Mt. Ferry and Mt. Pulitzer.

Frozen lake in Upper Ferry Basin on the Bailey Range Traverse

From Mt. Ferry to Queets Basin is one of the most fun and awe-inspiring sections of the traverse. The views are dramatic and constantly evolving. Travel for the most part is straightforward, following the ridge crest, with sections of steep snow and glacier travel mixed in.

Bailey Range Traverse with Pacific Alpine Guides

Crest of the Bailey Range

Beyond Bear Pass we dropped into Upper Queets Basin and set up camp in a killer location next to a beautiful alpine tarn.

Upper Queets Basin on the Bailey Range Traverse with Pacific Alpine Guides

Upper Queets Basin on the Bailey Range Traverse with Pacific Alpine Guides

Happy feet.

Upper Queets Basin on the Bailey Range Traverse with Pacific Alpine Guides

The Humes Glacier and Blizzard Pass in the background, our objective for the following day.

Bailey Range Traverse with Pacific Alpine Guides

That evening provided one of the best sunsets of the trip.

Upper Queets Basin, Bailey Range Traverse

Quartz in Upper Queets Basin on the Bailey Range Traverse in Olympic National Park

Wildflower in Upper Queets Basin on the Bailey Range Traverse in Olympic National Park

Camped next to a tarn in Upper Queets Basin on the Bailey Range Traverse

Wildflowers on the Bailey Range Traverse in Olympic National Park with Pacific Alpine Guides

Day four is one of the navigation and sanity cruxes of the route involving a contour to the base of the Humes Glacier, through steep, densely vegetated terrain, avalanche paths choked with slide alder and downed trees, and game trails that appear and disappear without warning.

Silhouette on the Bailey Range Traverse

Mt. Queets on the Bailey Range Traverse in Olympic National Park

Mt. Queets

Once on the Humes Glacier it was easy climbing to Blizzard Pass.

Climbing the Humes Glacier on Mt. Olympus on the Bailey Range Traverse

A steep descent to Camp Pan, and we were comfortably situated on the Mt. Olympus Massif, in one of the more dramatic camp locations in Olympic National Park.

Camp Pan on Mt. Olympus on the Bailey Range Traverse

Camp Pan

Camp Pan on Mt. Olympus on the Bailey Range Traverse

Camp Pan on Mt. Olympus on the Bailey Range Traverse

The next morning we dropped to the Hoh Glacier, ascended through Glacier Pass, down the mighty Blue Glacier, and onto the lateral moraine.

View from Camp Pan on Mt. Olympus on the Bailey Range Traverse

We spent our last night along the Hoh River and had our car shuttle ride waiting for us at the Hoh Visitor Center on day 6 (thanks Dave!).

Mt. Olympus on the Bailey Range Traverse, Olympic National Park