North Cascades Ski Touring
We have access to incredible ski mountaineering terrain in North Cascades National Park, including Mt Baker. This range is often compared to the Alps and holds the largest concentration of glaciers in the continental United States.
North Cascades ski programs are offered on a custom basis for private groups and individuals.
A FEW OPTIONS
- Mt Baker Ski Ascent: 1-3 days
- Mt Shuksan Ski Ascent: 2-3 days
- Forbidden Tour: 3-4 days
- Ski Mountaineering Course: 4-6 days
Mt Baker Ski Ascent: 1-3 days, descents up to 8000′ vertical feet! See our Easton Glacier Ski Descent program.
Mt Shuksan Ski Ascent: 3 days, the Sulphide Glacier is one of the classic ski mountaineering routes of North America, finishing with 600 feet of steep climbing on the summit pyramid.
Forbidden Tour: 3-4 day circumnavigation of Forbidden Peak pioneered by Martin Volkin featuring dramatic alpine scenery, huge mountains, and no huts. There’s a reason this has become the most popular multi-day ski traverse in the North Cascades.
Ski Mountaineering Course: 4-6 days. Extensive glaciated terrain, steep peaks and couloirs make the North Cascades an excellent venue for a ski mountaineering course. Designed for skiers who already have a solid foundation of backcountry skiing experience, the goal of such a course is to build proficiency in technical terrain, specifically glaciated terrain – including mountaineering skills, rope systems, steep terrain management, and navigation.
NORTH CASCADES SKI TOURING
Note: This is a general list for multi-day ski mountaineering programs. Each trip will have it’s own specific gear requirements.
☐ Skis with touring bindings – AT, tele, or splitboard: Your setup needs to be suitable for uphill touring and downhill skiing/riding.
☐ Boots: AT, tele or snowboard boots.
☐ Poles: Adjustable poles with powder baskets (ex: Black Diamond Traverse).
☐ Climbing skins: Fit to skis (ex: Black Diamond Mohair Mix).
☐ Ski crampons: Specific to your setup.
☐ Overnight pack: 50-75 liter internal frame pack (ex: Black Diamond Mission 75).
☐ Sleeping bag: Down or synthetic, rated to 0° F (+/-10° depending how warm you sleep).
☐ Compression stuff sack: Sized appropriately for your bag.
☐ Inflatable pad: With a good warmth to weight ratio (ex: Thermarest Prolite Plus), a shorter size works will in tandem with a foam pad.
☐ Closed-cell foam pad: Additional warmth for sleeping on snow.
AVALANCHE SAFETY GEAR
☐ Transceiver: Modern, single frequency [457 khz] transceiver, preferably less than five years old. A digital 3-antennae model is highly recommended (ex: BCA Tracker 2, Mammut Pulse Barryvox, Peips DSP). RENT
☐ Shovel: Lightweight avalanche shovel. A metal blade and extendable handle are recommended (ex: G3 Avitech, BCA Companion EXT). RENT
☐ Probe: Dedicated probe, ski pole probes are not sufficient. RENT
☐ Ice axe: Lightweight 50-60cm mountaineering axe recommended (ex: Petzl Snowracer). RENT
☐ Boot crampons: 10 or 12 point mountaineering crampon, we recommend steel (ex: Petzl Irvis). Aluminum is lightweight but not very durable. RENT
☐ Harness: Lightweight alpine harness with adjustable leg loops (ex: Petzl Adjama). For safety reasons, your harness needs to be less than 10 years old and in good condition. RENT
☐ (2) Locking carabiners: Pear shaped recommended (ex: Petzl Attache or Attache 3D).
☐ (3) Non-locking carabiners: Wire gate recommended (ex: Petzl Ange S or Ange L).
☐ Cordelettes: 5-6m (15-20’) of 6 or 7mm nylon cord.
☐ Climbing helmet: Climbing specific (ex: Petzl Elios or Meteor III +). RENT
There are many possible layering combinations for your upper body. Use the following recommendations as guidelines:
☐ Baselayer top: Light to medium weight synthetic fabric (ex: Patagonia Capiline 1 or 2).
☐ Lightweight insulating layer: Light fleece or synthetic layer (ex: Patagonia R1 Hoody).
☐ Softshell or shell jacket with hood: For wind, snow, rain, cold, etc.
☐ Puffy (insulated) jacket: Synthetic or down with a hood (ex: Patagonia Micro Puff).
☐ Baselayer bottoms: Medium weight (ex: Patagonia Capiline 2).
☐ Softshell pant: Light to medium weight (ex: Patagonia Alpine Guide Pants).
☐ Hardshell pant: Should have full side zips.
☐ Socks: 2-3 pairs. Wool or synthetic, they should work well with your ski boots. Keep in mind that warmth comes from good circulation, not heavy socks.
☐ Light glove: For touring.
☐ Ski glove
☐ Heavy trash bags: Cheap, lightweight waterproof lining for your backpack.
☐ Sunscreen: SPF 30 or greater, avoid spray on (ex: Doc Martin’s of Maui)
☐ Lip balm: With SPF protection.
☐ Water bottles(s) or hydration system: Should have a screw top (no bike bottles); hydration system should have an insulated tube.
☐ Thermos (optional)
☐ Camera: Don’t forget extra batteries.
☐ Watch: Altimeter recommended.
☐ Extra batteries: For your transceiver (usually AAA), headlamp, camera, etc.
☐ Headlamp (ex: Petzl Tikka XP2 or Tikka Plus). RENT
☐ See trip details.
☐ Insulated mug
☐ (2) Spoons or sporks
PERSONAL FIRST AID/TOILETRIES
Guides will carry a well-equipped group first aid kit.
☐ Personal first aid/toiletry kit: Toothbrush, toothpaste, small bottle of hand sanitizer, gender specific items, ibuprofen or aspirin, any personal prescription drugs (please discuss with us).
☐ Repair kit: We suggest carrying a small repair kit with items specific to your ski or splitboard equipment. Extra parts, especially for bindings, duct tape, bailing wire, zip ties, etc.
☐ Wax: For skis and to prevent snow from glomming onto your skins.
☐ Journal w/pencil
☐ Book (lightweight)
We will provide all necessary group equipment for you trip such as tents, stoves, ropes, and rescue gear.
- Backcountry skiing/riding experience
- Advanced skiing ability or expert snowboarding ability
- Experience skiing with a moderately heavy pack
- Excellent physical fitness
- You should be able to ascend and descend 3000′ in a day carrying 35+ lbs on your back
Details vary with each trip. In general:
- Guiding and instruction
- Group equipment including tents, stoves, fuel, ropes, and technical gear
- Permits and insurance costs
- Lodging and transportation on either end of the program
- Personal equipment
Lunch Food: In the mountains, “lunch starts after breakfast and ends before dinner”. In other words, on a given day we generally won’t stop for a formal lunch break, and instead we’ll snack all day long. This is vital to maintaining high energy levels in this environment.
Be sure to bring foods that you like and emphasize variety. Energy bars and gels are great but in limited amounts – real food works just as well and tastes better.
Breakfasts & Dinners: Bring meals that can be cooked with just boiling water. Examples include freeze-dried pouches (Mountain House, Backpackers Pantry), ramen noodles, instant oatmeal, etc. The stoves we’ll use are very efficient for heating water but terrible for actually cooking anything.
WHERE TO MEET
Fly in to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. If you intend to fly out on the last day of the program, be sure to schedule an evening flight departing no earlier than 8pm.
Renting a car in Sea-Tac tends to be the easiest option for ground transportation. Let us know if you’re interested in carpooling with other participants on the program and we might be able to help with arrangements.
We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance for your program. Note that many plans require you purchase insurance within 21 days of your initial deposit.
- Selected Climbs in the Cascades: Volume 1 by Jim Nelson & Peter Potterfield
- Cascade Alpine Guide Volume 3: Rainy Pass to Fraser River by Fred Beckey
- Climbing Washington’s Mountains by Jeff Smoot
- Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering by Martin Volkin, Scott Schell, and Margaret Wheeler
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