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Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter

Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter

RMI's Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter is a six day instructional mountaineering and winter climbing course with a summit attempt of Mt. Rainier.


  • A day of foundational skills training and 5 days of extensive practical training on Mt. Rainier's snowy winter slopes.
  • Utilize the mountain hut at Camp Muir (10,060’), to allow for more comprehensive daily training.
  • Experience the spectacular and pristine beauty of the mountain's winter months, rarely seen by most climbers.
  • An opportunity to make a winter summit attempt of Mt. Rainier if conditions allow.


Mt. Rainier is one of the premier locations in the country for winter mountaineering. Our Expedition Skills Seminar – Winter offers training and mountaineering on glaciers, and in weather and temperature conditions similar to Alaska and the Himalaya; an experience unmatched anywhere else in the U.S.

After a day of technical training, we begin our ascent to Camp Muir where we use the mountain hut as our base while learning mountaineering skills oriented toward cold weather, high altitude expedition climbing, avalanche forecasting, and avalanche rescue. If weather and climbing conditions allow, we make our summit attempt via the Ingraham Glacier as the culmination of our winter mountaineering experience.

Our Expedition Skills Seminars are comprehensive training courses designed to educate climbers to the mountaineering skills needed to tackle the world's greatest peaks. Successful completion of the Expedition Skill Seminar - Winter will make you eligible for many of our expeditions around the world, including Denali, and provides you with a foundation for other major glaciated mountains.


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 climbs without compromising safety. Each climb 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
Staff is extremely well qualified.
John Scott C.

The guides are world-class. There's nothing better than learning from the best in the biz. In addition to Seth and Elías, Brent and Ben were also incredibly helpful and knowledgable. I chose to climb with RMI because of the vast experience of the guide staff. My high expectations were exceeded because not only were they all incredibly experienced, but also because they were so kind, patient, professional, and fun to be learning from for 6 days.
Michael M.

Everything about RMI is top of class. Guides are great people and always put safety first. No shortcuts. It was great that we spent two days at 6,200, which allowed us to experience the tent environment as well as building ice walls.
Donald S.

The guides!
David S.

This trip was a much needed focus on myself. I had allowed work, life and anything else that wanted to get in the way of my happiness a front row seat. Our time on the mountain reminded me of the simpler things in life; family, friends and your own personal happiness. To top it off, I had the honor of sharing a rope with JJ again. He was the first person to show me the beauty of Rainier in 2004 and I have climbed with him since then from Ecuador to Argentina and hold those experiences as some of the most special in my life. He brings out the best in you even when you doubt yourself.
Josh J.

I enjoyed talking one on one with the guides and asking questions because I felt like the guides had so much information and knowledge to share.
Peter T.

I think that Adam, Elias, Leah and Nick were really great all the way around. They made it a really good experience and handled things like having to come down from Muir in a white out with professionalism. I can't emphasize enough what a great group of guides they all are.
Rick C.

The guides were very professional.
Nick V.

The guides were always willing to make the experience better. They were very helpful.
Matthew B.

Experienced guides comparing the situation we encountered on our trip with those we were interested in, and discussing what we would need to do in order to get there.
Andrew F.

Spending time with skills and camping.
Mark V.

I had a chance to experience intense winter alpine conditions and learned about how to manage them safely.
Fred C.

The enthusiasm of the guides and team to continue even though the weather was hitting us badly.
Fatima W.

the commadery
David G.

  • Upcoming Climbs

      • March 6, 2016
      • Full
      • March 20, 2016
      • Full
      • April 10, 2016
      • Full
  • Price
    6 days
    Level 3
Table of Contents
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Day 1


8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.: Meet at 8:00 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford, WA. Please dress casually and bring your climbing equipment and clothing.

We begin our Technical Training 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. These include a detailed equipment discussion and gear check; an introduction to safety practices such as use of helmets, harnesses, and avalanche transceivers; route planning and preparation, instruction regarding Leave No Trace practices and environmental considerations; and a discussion/demonstration of knots, anchors and the first steps toward understanding crevasse rescue. These skills prepare us for our adventure on Mt. Rainier and increase the likelihood of a safe, successful ascent of the mountain.

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 Rainier BaseCamp. After an early team meeting a shuttle takes our group to the trailhead at Paradise.

The hike from Paradise (5,400') to Camp Muir (10,060') is nearly 4.5 miles, and takes us most of the day. As we ascend we work on the foundational skills that make us more efficient and capable climbers. These include pressure breathing and using the rest step, dressing appropriately for the weather and workload, kicking steps and climbing in balance on snow, and efficient pacing that allows us to climb comfortably.

By late afternoon we reach the small mountain hut at Camp Muir that serves as our base for the week. It rests at the edge of several of Mt. Rainier's glaciers. Views of the impressive Cowlitz, Ingraham, Nisqually and Paradise glaciers are inspiring, and the setting is unmatched as an instructional arena. During the evenings we can forget about the wind, wet and cold, and enjoy the basic comforts of the hut.


Day 3 - 5


Throughout the seminar we learn and practice various mountaineering skills oriented toward cold weather and high altitude expedition climbing. These include ice axe arrest, cramponing, roped glacier travel, anchor placements, various self- and team- crevasse rescue techniques, belays, snow cave construction, expedition sled rigging, ice climbing, route finding and fixed rope travel. Much of our time is focused on avalanche forecasting and working with avalanche transceivers. Evenings include group discussions on mountain weather, medicine for mountaineering, expedition logistics, and any requested topics that spark your interest. Some of our itinerary is determined by such factors as the weather and route conditions, but much of it is also chosen in consideration of climbers' interests. We intentionally keep the itinerary flexible and guarantee you that there is far more to teach than there is time to teach it!

If conditions are suitable a summit attempt will be made at some time during the week. Factors such as snow and route conditions, weather, temperature, group ability and strength, avalanche risks, etc. all determine whether a summit bid can be safely attempted. We choose either the Ingraham Direct or the Gibraltar Ledge route as our climbing objective. Both these routes are exciting alpine climbs. If the conditions are not suitable for a winter summit attempt we will devote the additional time to training.


Day 6


On the final day of the program we have the option for additional training before we pack our gear and begin our descent to Paradise and return to Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford. After all the gear is unpacked, we gather as a team to celebrate our adventure.

The duration of the climb depends on many variables including snow conditions, the time of year, the route conditions, the weather during our climb, the temperature, etc. Those variables often affect our arrival time to Ashford, which might vary dramatically from climb to climb. For this reason we do not recommend scheduling an airline flight before midnight on the last day of your program.

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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


      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

      The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.


      The 10 to 12 point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. We highly recommend anti-bot plates to prevent snow from balling up underfoot. Rigid frame crampons designed for technical ice climbing are not recommended.


      A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.


      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.


      Insulated double boots are required for ascents on Mt. Rainier at this time of the year. They provide the best insulation and a rigid platform for kicking steps and fitting crampons. If purchasing your own boots, size them large enough to accommodate heavy socks with liners. Allow plenty of room for your toes. Those who are planning for a high altitude expedition will want to choose a boot with a cold weather liner that does not absorb moisture.


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

    • 2 - 3 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.


      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

      For lighting in snow caves.

    • 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: 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.

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How cold will it be?

Daytime temperatures at Camp Muir are typically in the 20’s and 30’s but can vary considerably depending on conditions. If we’re enjoying high pressure, it may be clear, yet considerably colder. If stable weather and snow conditions allow a summit attempt, temperatures will no doubt be hovering around zero (or colder) en-route to the summit.

What are the chances of making the summit?

We’re brutally honest about this: on average, one Seminar out of four each winter may reach the top; some years none will make it.  While the training on an Expedition Skills Seminar - WInter can be excellent, if your goal includes a more certain summit attempt, you might consider an alternative Expedition Skills Seminar. 

Can I bring my skis or snowboard along?

Please bring snowshoes only. One of the important goals of this program is to provide the best possible training for a Denali adventure. Because snowshoes are the method of travel on Denali, that’s what we practice here. On a side note, RMI also offers ski mountaineering programs!

What is the Climber-to-Guide Ratio on this program?

Our climber-to-guide ratio is 3:1 on the Disappointment Cleaver and Ingraham Glacier routes.

What is the maximum group size?

The maximum group size of any program anywhere on Mt. Rainier is 12 individuals, including guides.


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