Log In


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.


Check Availability

Check availability for a different party size


Check Availability

Backcountry Ski Course

Backcountry Ski Course

RMI's Backcountry Ski Course takes place on the slopes of Mt. Rainier and takes full advantage of the abundant snow fall and terrain.


  • A day of foundational skills training and 4 days of extensive practical training while ski touring on Mt. Rainier's legendary slopes.
  • Base out of a winter camp near the tree line, allowing easy access to a variety of exciting terrain.
  • Improve you backcountry skills with a solid focus on avalanche forecasting and avalanche rescue.
  • Ski the slopes of Mt. Rainier, one of the premier locations in the world for backcountry skiing.


Mt. Rainier is an incredible classroom and destination for backcountry skiing with its world record snowfalls and wide variety of easy, moderate, and advanced terrain. Throughout the five-day Backcountry Skiing Course, we will learn a vast array of foundational skills such as tour planning, avalanche awareness, avalanche forecasting, terrain evaluation, route selection, individual skiing techniques, and group travel techniques.

This course is designed for intermediate to advanced skiers seeking to safely access the backcountry and lead their own ski tours. No previous ski touring experience is required, but participants need to posses solid intermediate to advanced skiing skills – the ability to ski moderate ungroomed terrain in ski areas comfortably – in order to participate in the program. The course is designed to be both fun and safe. We won't be skiing any slopes that have anyone trembling in their ski boots, but you can count on getting plenty of skiing matched to your comfort level. Our Backcountry Skiing Course functions as pre-requisite to our Ski Mountaineering Course or as a stand-alone program.


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.


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
From top to bottom the program was organized, thoughtful, and full of important information for skiers new to the backcountry.
Micah S.

To be in the presence of experienced mountaineers and skiers such as Seth & Solveig,
Wolfgang H.

  • Upcoming Climbs

  • Price
    5 days
    Level 2
Table of Contents
Print this Page

Day 1


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; instruction regarding Leave No Trace practices and environmental considerations; a safety discussion; an introduction to back country navigation; the creation of a tour plan; and an introduction to avalanche hazard evaluation and companion rescue.

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

Day 2


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. The day's training consists of alpine camping skills, practice with our avalanche transceivers, gathering information on snow stability, and beautiful sunset turns into camp at the end of the day.


Day 3


Today is spent working on foundational backcountry skiing, self care, and efficiency techniques. We cover everything from kick turns to crud skiing; kicking steps to arresting a fall with skis on; skinning and track setting; and safe, efficient transitions from uphill to downhill modes.


Day 4


We focus on what do to if a companion is hurt in the backcountry. We will formulate plans, construct emergency sleds, and build and determine what emergency shelters work the best in the backcountry. During the day's ski tour we continue to work on our avalanche forecasting and avalanche companion rescue practice.


Day 5


On the final day of the program we put all of the weeks' skills into practice. We undertake a longer ski tour and see how much vertical we can log before it is time to return to camp, pack up and head down to Paradise. A shuttle takes our group down to Rainier BaseCamp. In Ashford, we gather as a team to celebrate our adventure

Print this Page

Travel Consultant

RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. In addition to travel arrangements, Erin can also provide information and policies travel insurance. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email at etravel@cox.net.

Travel Insurance

We strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.

Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Policies are determined based upon your home state, check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage*.

*Adventure/Sports Coverage: Most standard policies do not cover climbing or mountaineering. You can purchase Adventure/Sports Coverage as an upgrade to a standard policy. Please be sure to check with your provider and their description of coverage to make sure the policy you are purchasing provides you with adequate protection.

For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.

AIG Travel Guard

Erin Rountree


Getting There

Rainier BaseCamp is located in Ashford, WA and is the home of RMI Expeditions, Whittaker Mountaineering, Whittaker’s Bunkhouse, and Mt. Rainier Visitor Center. Ashford is located 75 miles from the Sea-Tac Airport and most climbers traveling to Ashford in the winter will want to rent a car. This is the most convenient and reliable way to get here.

Ride Share: If you are interested in sharing a ride, please go to our Message Board, then to "Carpool and Ride from Airport" and post your information.

Other transportation options are:

Harbor Town Car
Phone: 253-255-5665
Email: taxi@harbortaxicab.com
Seattle Airport Car Service
Phone: 206-375-4000
Email: mail@seattleairportcarservice.com

Keven - Tacoma Yellow Cab
Phone: 253-678-2631
Email: kevtacyelocab@hotmail.com

Ashford Area Accommodations

Whittaker's Bunkhouse

(360) 569-2439

Nisqually Lodge

(360) 569-8804

Jasmer's at Mt. Rainier

(360) 569-2682

Alexander's Country Inn & Restaurant

(800) 654-7615

Guest Services Inc: (Paradise Inn and National Park Inn)

(360) 569-2275

Camping: SW Area


You may also go to VisitRainier.com to search for accommodations in the Ashford area.


For updated Mt. Rainier weather forecasts, click here.

Please click on the links below to see the Mt. Rainier webcams:


Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.


Mt. Rainier became the nation's fifth National Park in 1899, some twenty-nine years after it was first climbed. Mt. Rainier National Park encompasses 235,625 acres and is 97% wilderness and 3% National Historic Landmark District. Mt. Rainier, at 14,410', is the most prominent peak in the Cascade Range. It is a dormant volcano that last erupted approximately 150 years ago.

Guided mountaineering activity has taken place from the late 1800's, and The Mountain is still considered a prime training ground for climbing in Alaska, South America and the Himalayas.  With more than 20 active glaciers encompassing some 36 square miles of ice, Rainier boasts the largest ice cover of any peak in the lower 48 United States.  Its weather can be deceptively gentle or as fierce as encountered on any high mountain anywhere in the world. There is a wealth of information on the Mt. Rainier National Park website. We encourage you to enhance your enjoyment of the climb with some fun facts about the Park and history of climbing there.


General Information on Mt. Rainier National Park (MRNP)

Publications, videos, etc. on the flora, fauna, history, etc. of MRNP
Northwest Interpretive Association -   www.nwpubliclands.org

General Mountaineering: publications, videos, etc.
The Mountaineers Book - www.mountaineersbooks.org

Gateway Communities & Activities outside Mt. Rainier National Park

Recommended Reading

            The Challenge of Rainier, by Dee Molenaar

            Mt. Rainier - A Climbing Guide, by Mike Gauthier

            Mt. Rainier: The Story Behind the Scenery, by Ray Snow

            National Geographic Trails Illustrated MRNP topo map

Print this Page


This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition, with solid intermediate to advanced skiing skills. Participants should have the ability to comfortably ski moderate, ungroomed terrain in ski areas.

  • 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 this Ski Touring Seminar, you are preparing for:

  • A short ski into a base camp with a 35-45 lb load.
  • Ski touring with a 20-25 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
3 - 4 Hours
Gain = 2,000'
Loss = 1,000'
4 Miles
40 lbs
6 Hours
Gain = 2,500'
Loss = 2,500'
4 Miles
20 - 25 lbs
5 - 7 Hours
Gain = 1,000'
1.5 Miles
20 - 25 lbs
8 + Hours
Round Trip
Gain = 3,500'
Loss = 4,500'
8 Miles
Round Trip
20 - 25 lbs

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


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. This offer excludes sale items.

  • RMI Climbers Get 10% Off
    All New Equipment At
    Whittaker Mountaineering

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

Equipment List


      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.


      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.


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


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


      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.

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

    • 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.

    • 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.


      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.


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


      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.


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


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

    • CAMERA

      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.

    • 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


On the Backcountry Ski Course you will need four mountain lunches, three dinners,  three breakfasts and several snacks while on the mountain.

Below are some examples and suggestions of the types of food that work well.


Your "lunches" are taken in the field throughout the day during short 10 to 15 minute breaks. We suggest crackers, pizza, candy bars, jerky, chips, cookies, trail mix, fruits, Gu, energy bars, and hard candies. Drink mixes such as Gatorade and Kool-Aid help flavor your water. Add peanut butter, cream cheese, hard cheese, or pepperoni for additional calories and taste. If you enjoy bread items, bagels work well. Include some salty snacks to replenish lost salts.


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.


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. In addition, bring coffee, tea, cocoa or cider to warm you up before bedtime.

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


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.


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: