×

Log In

Or

Register With Us

    *required fields
    • Keep up to date with information about our latest climbs by joining our mailing list. Sign up and we'll keep you informed about new adventures, special offers, competitions, and news.

×

All Dates Full

All of our Ski Mountaineering Course dates are currently full. If you would like to receive information when our 2017 dates are announced, please sign up for our email alerts.

×

Check Availability

Ski Mountaineering Course

Ski Mountaineering Course

RMI's Ski Mountaineering Course is a five-day ski mountaineering program on the slopes of Mt. Rainier.

COURSE HIGHLIGHTS

  • A day of foundational skills training and 4 days of extensive practical technical training while skiing and climbing Mt. Rainier's legendary slopes.
  • Base out of a winter camp near the tree line, allowing easy access to a variety of exciting and technical terrain.
  • Ascend to Camp Muir (10,060') on an overnight tour of Mt. Rainier's alpine terrain and enjoy an exciting 5,000' descent the next day.

Skiing
Skiing
Skiing
Skiing
Skiing
Skiing

Our Ski Mountaineering program explores Mt. Rainier's incredible winter snowpack and accessible but challenging technical terrain. Throughout the course we learn how to safely access mountaineering destinations on skis while increasing the speed and efficiency of climbing and skiing technical mountaineering terrain. We also learn and practice a variety of ski specific technical skills including roped travel, rappelling and belaying, route finding, anchors, and crevasse rescue.

This program is designed for skiers who posses solid intermediate to advanced skiing skills, and are able to comfortably ski moderate ungroomed terrain in ski areas. The Backcountry Ski Course or equivalent experience is required for participation. This course is designed to be both fun and safe with a focus on training, not skiing "big lines". We will ski plenty of terrain matching our comfort levels in Mt. Rainier's pristine winter backcountry.

THE RMI DIFFERENCE

The Mountain Guides at RMI have a reputation as top guides in the United States. RMI Guides participated in some of America's first ventures into the far reaches of the Himalaya. Years of expedition guiding and climbing around the world have built a core of consummate professional guides.

Our guides are celebrated teachers and trainers, known for their leadership as well as their character. They possess the compassion, enthusiasm and ability to empower others and inspire them forward. Such qualities may only be found in people at the top of their profession. Despite their vast experience, RMI Guides still remember their own first steps into the mountains, and enjoy helping other climbers reach new heights.

Our exceptional focus to detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures make our programs truly memorable.

SAFETY

RMI strives to create the safest mountain experience possible. Our experienced team of guides focuses on leading fun and successful programs without compromising safety. Each program includes careful pre-trip planning, daily weather forecasts, avalanche forecasts, and diligent attention to detail. All RMI Guides are highly trained in remote medicine and rescue skills and carry comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio communication equipment throughout the program. Regardless of the objective or the destination, safety remains RMI’s top priority.

As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or info@rmiguides.com.

NPS Authorized ConcessionerAuthorized Concessioner

RMI Expeditions is an authorized concessioner of Mount Rainier National Park.

Climber Reviews

Filter By
05/17/2015
Guide's sharing of helpful tips, anecdotes, and info. Learning crevasse rescue skills.
Sarah K.

04/16/2014
Everything!
Jennifer F.

  • All Dates Full

    All of our Ski Mountaineering Course dates are currently full. If you would like to receive information when our 2017 dates are announced, please sign up for our email alerts.

    Upcoming Climbs

    • Please call our offices at 1-888-892-5462 to inquire about availability.
  • Price
    $1344
    Deposit
    $350
    Duration
    5 days
    Difficulty
    Level 2
    Type
    Skiing
Table of Contents

Day 1

TECHNICAL TRAINING DAY

8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Meet at 8:00 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford, WA. Please dress casually and bring your equipment and clothing.

We begin the day with a welcome and introduction of team members and guides. Throughout the day the guides provide a focused introduction to a variety of topics. This includes a detailed personal equipment discussion and gear check; Leave No Trace and environmental considerations; mountain hazards and safety; back country navigation; and tour planning. There will be an avalanche awareness refresher, an introduction to avalanche forecasting, and an introduction to basic rope systems used in mountaineering.

Please make your own arrangements for the day's meals and a place to stay in the Ashford area for this evening

 

Day 2

APPROACH TO CAMP

Meet at 7:00 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp. After an early team meeting our shuttle departs for Paradise at 5,400'.

We ascend to our camp approximately 1,500' above Paradise which offers some of the best backcountry skiing in all of Washington. We work out of this camp to practice our avalanche companion rescue, learn basic mountaineering techniques such as self and team arrest, cramponing and rope travel, and go for a ski tour to make snow stability observations and get in some nice turns. The day concludes with a mountaineering lecture in the evening.

APPROACH TO CAMP

Day 3

TECHNICAL PRACTICE & DESCENTS

Today we travel on our skis to the different slopes, couloirs and cliffs around camp. We tour from site to site, learning roped travel with skis, rappelling, mountaineering anchors, and introduce crevasse rescue for skiers. Our evening is spent developing a tour plan to take us to Camp Muir the next day.

TECHNICAL PRACTICE & DESCENTS

Day 4

ASCENT TO CAMP MUIR

We follow the team's route plan to ascend to Camp Muir (10,060'), our camp for the night. From this spectacular place we have glaciers, snowfields and a variety of ski mountaineering and training options. For the afternoon, we construct rescue sleds and shelters, practice our skier crevasse rescue, or get some steeper skiing in around camp. In the evening we discuss further mountaineering topics and develop a tour plan for the next day's descent.

ASCENT TO CAMP MUIR

Day 5

SKI DESCENT

We evaluate the weather and snow conditions to determine our descent to Paradise. The descent offers great skiing and teaching opportunities as we put the weeks' skills into practice. A shuttle takes our group down to Rainier BaseCamp. In Ashford, we gather as a team to celebrate our adventure.

SKI DESCENT

 

Print this Page

Print this Page

Qualifications

This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition with intermediate to advanced skiing skills. The ability to comfortably ski moderate, ungroomed terrain in ski areas is required. Participation in a multi-day backcountry ski course or equivalent is also required.

Qualifying Programs

Recommended experiences prior to the Ski Mountaineering Course include:

  • Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life
    And Then Go
    Climb A Mountain

    Create A Fitness And Training Program

    Go To Fitness Resources

Physical Fitness Training

Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.

  • Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
  • Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
  • Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.

For the Ski Mountaineering Course, you are preparing for:

  • Ski mountaineering with a 35-45 lb load.

Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!

Below are approximate outlines of the program's physical demands that will be helpful in planning your training schedule and goals:

Total Skiing Time
Elevation Gain / Loss
Total Distance
Pack Weight
DAY 1
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
DAY 2
3 - 4 Hours
Gain = 2,000'
Loss = 1,000'
4 Miles
40 lbs
DAY 3
6 Hours
Gain = 2,500'
Loss = 2,500'
4 Miles
20 - 25 lbs
DAY 4
4 - 6 Hours
Gain = 4,500'
Loss = 1,000'
3.5 Miles
40 lbs
DAY 5
8 + Hours
Gain = 1,000'
Loss = 5,500'
4.5 Miles
40 lbs

Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.

Acclimatization

No acclimatization is necessary for this program.

Print this Page

What You’ll Need

The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.

Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering when they use code RMI2016 at checkout. This offer excludes sale items.

  • Use Code RMI2016
    To receive 10% off
    All New Equipment

Shop Your Equipment List // Rent new equipment for your climb

Equipment List

    • DAY PACK (OPTIONAL)

      An optional item for use on the ski tours above camp. It should be large enough to carry food, water, clothing, and rescue gear for the day. A strapping system for carrying skis is a nice feature.

    • SLEEPING BAG

      A bag rated to 0° F. Either goose down or synthetic, with ample room for movement. Most guides prefer down, because it is lightweight and compactable. A waterproof bag is superb, but not mandatory.
      The temperature rating system for sleeping bags is arbitrary and is not a guarantee of warmth. Base your selection on how well you do in the cold. If you tend to sleep on the cold side, choose a bag rated on the lower end of the temperature range.

    • ICE AXE

      A shorter 50-60cm ice axe is preferable for ski mountaineering, as this is a tool we tend to only use in steeper terrain. Avoid aggressive ice climbing tools in favor of a simple mountain axe with an adze.

    • HELMET

      A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet or a ski mountaineering helmet rated from both rock fall and skiing falls. Standard ski helmets are not acceptable. They are not rated for rockfall and are too warm to be worn during ascents.

    • CLIMBING CRAMPONS

      12 point adjustable crampons which fit your ski boots and are designed for general mountaineering. If using a ski boot - a "fully automatic" clip-in crampon with metal toe bail works best. If using snowboard boots - a strap-on crampon with plastic toe and heal bails works best.

    • SKIS WITH AT BINDINGS, TELEMARK SKIS, OR SPLITBOARD

      All skis and boards need to have brakes or retention straps.

    • SKI CRAMPONS

      A crampon specific to your ski binding which is used for ascending firm slopes with skis on.

    • SKI SKINS
    • GLACIER GLASSES

      You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.

    • HEADLAMP

      Be sure to begin the program with fresh batteries.

    • Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.

    • HEAVY WEIGHT GLOVE

      Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.

    • We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.

    • INSULATED PARKA with HOOD

      This expedition-style heavy parka should extend below the waist and must have an insulated hood. While the parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day, it serves as an emergency garment if needed. We recommend down rather than synthetic fill as down weighs less. The parka does not have to be waterproof, though that is a nice feature.

    • We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.

    • ALPINE TOURING, TELEMARK BOOTS, OR SNOWBOARD BOOTS

      Telemark boots flex at the toe for more efficient striding uphill and to allow the "telemark turn" on descent. Telemark boots should be of contemporary plastic design. No leather "Nordic" boots please. Alpine Touring boots are a cross between a downhill ski boot and a hiking boot. AT Boots have rigid, lug soles, and are crampon compatible for climbing steep snow slopes. If renting boots it is recommended that you demo the rentals at your local ski area before taking them on this program. Please call our office to speak with a guide about ski and snowboard boot recommendations.

    • SUNSCREEN

      We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.

    • 2 WATER BOTTLES

      Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required. Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content and BPA-Free are recommended.

    • 2 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE)

      We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.

    • ZIP-LOCK BAG (1 GALLON)

      Please use the Zip-Lock as your personal trash bag.

    • CAMERA
    • REPAIR KIT

      Bring a small repair kit with parts specific to your ski or snowboard boots and bindings.

    • 2 STRAPS

      Voile style ski straps for you carrying your skis and poles, and longer straps for lashing foam pads and tents to the outside of your pack.

    • TOOTHBRUSH
    • TOOTHPASTE
    • TOILET PAPER
    • Purchase travel insurance.

    • Arrange lodging in Ashford.

    • Reserve rental equipment.

    • Arrange transportation to Ashford.

    • Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!


Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, stoves, fuel, shovels, climbing ropes, and blue bags (for solid waste disposal).

Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a cell phone for emergency contact.

Print this Page

MEALS

On the Ski Mountaineering Course you will need 4 mountain lunches, 3 dinners, and 3 breakfasts while on the mountain.

MOUNTAIN LUNCHES

Mountain lunches are eaten during short breaks throughout the day. We continually snack to keep our energy levels up while we climb - lunch begins just after breakfast and ends just before dinner! Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.

The importance of having foods that are genuinely enjoyed cannot be overstated. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength while in the mountains. In order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude we aim to have a variety of foods that stimulate the whole palate, from sweet to sour to salty.

Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, toffees, Life Savers), gummy bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).

Breakfast

Single-serving instant oatmeal or Cream-of-Wheat makes a good main course fare. A variety of granola bars, pastries, fruit and a hot drink mix of coffee, tea, cocoa or cider are suggested.

Dinner

Freeze-dried entrees are very convenient; it is best to be familiar with their taste (and the effects they may have on your stomach) in advance of your program. Instant soups and Cup-o'-Noodles are popular supplements to your main course. As an alternative, you might consider bringing a cold main dish such as chicken, pizza, sandwiches, pasta salads or stir-fry. We also recommend your bring hot beverage mixes such as coffee, tea, cocoa, or cider.

Don't worry too much about the nutritional aspect of meals; concern yourself more with a high calorie intake. Most importantly, choose a variety of foods that you like to eat. One of the normal, albeit disconcerting, adjustments to altitude is a slight loss of appetite.

Ample cold water is available for drinking and replenishing water bottles. Hot water will also be provided for your meals (freeze-dried dinners, instant soups, instant oatmeal, etc) and hot drinks. When planning your menu, don't bring any items that require extensive preparation, cooking or simmering. We are able to provide you with boiling water, but do not have the ability to actually cook food items.

Print this Page

Payments

Deposit Payments: A deposit payment of $350 per person secures your reservation. Deposit payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, e-check, check, or wire transfer.

Balance Payments: The balance payment is due 90 days prior to the start of your program, and we will send a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your balance payment is not received within 90 days of the program, your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited. Trips departing within 90 days from the reservation date must be paid in full at the time of reservation. Please note that balance payments may be made via check, e-check or wire transfer only.

Cancellation

Once we receive written notification (e-mail or mail) that you are canceling an individual participant or your entire reservation the following fees will apply:

  • A fee of $350 per person will be charged for cancellations made more than 60 days before departure.
  • There will be no refunds for cancellations made less than 60 days before your program.

Unfortunately, due to the time-sensitive nature of our business, and the difficulty in re-booking a trip close to departure, we cannot make exceptions to this policy.

Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.

Change of Date

Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 30 days prior to your departure date for a $100 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed less than 30 days before departure.

Risk Management

Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.

Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity. 

Climber Responsibilities

Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:

  • is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
  • honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.

Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions

RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.

  • Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
  • Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
  • Ages 18 & above: No restrictions 

An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.

Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.

General Policies

Any Participant under the age of 18 must be accompanied on the trip by a parent or legal guardian and both the Participant and parent or legal guardian must sign all forms.

RMI’s program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.

We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).

If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.

RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.

The Participant understands and agrees that RMI assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with any travel and hospitality service provided to the Participant by others in connection with the trip, including but not limited to the services provided by airlines, hotels, and motor vehicle operators, and that RMI is not responsible for any act, error, omission, or any injury, loss, accident, delay, irregularity, or danger by a supplier of travel or hospitality services to the Participant in connection with the RMI program.

RMI recommends and strongly advises that the Participant have or purchase personal life, medical, accident, travel, baggage, trip cancellation, and other insurance that may pertain to participation in the program. The Participant understands that RMI provides no such insurance coverage in connection with the trip.

Back to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

    *required fields
    • Keep up to date with information about our latest climbs by joining our mailing list. Sign up and we'll keep you informed about new adventures, special offers, competitions, and news.
      privacy policy

Thank you for subscribing to the RMI Expeditions Newsletter!

While you're at it, you can sign up some of our other mailings as well:

Please choose the programs you'd like updates on: