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Expedition Skills Seminar - Sahale

Expedition Skills Seminar - Sahale

RMI's Expedition Skills Seminar – Sahale is a six day instructional mountaineering course with a summit attempt of Sahale Mountain via the Quien Sabe Glacier.


  • Spend six days climbing in the heart of the North Cascades.
  • Expedition-style climbing allows us to establish successive tented camps as we ascend the Quien Sabe Glacier in preparation for our summit bid.
  • The diverse terrain of Sahale and the North Cascades is ideal for learning mountaineering skills and techniques on a program suited for novice mountaineers.
  • Apply the skills learned throughout the trip with an ascent of Sahale, climbing the rolling terrain of the Quien Sabe Glacier to the final alpine rock pitches leading to the summit.
  • Learn from RMI's skilled and experienced guides while building a solid foundation of mountaineering skills.

The Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale Mountain
The Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale Mountain
The Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale Mountain
The Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale Mountain
The Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale Mountain
Making the approach into Boston Basin
The views of Boston Basin
The Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale Mountain
Climbing the Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale
Climbing the Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale
Coiling the rope on the summit ridge of Sahale Mountain
Nearing the summit of Sahale Mountain
Climbing the final pitch of Sahale Mountain
Climbing the final pitch of Sahale Mountain
An RMI Climber nearing the summit of Sahale Mountain
An RMI Team on the summit ridge of Sahale Mountain

Our Expedition Skills Seminar on Sahale Mountain places emphasis on developing foundational mountaineering skills while ascending an iconic peak of the North Cascades. Establishing tented camps, we ascend the Quien Sabe Glacier using the mountain's terrain to learn mountaineering skills such as snow and ice anchors, crevasse rescue, ice climbing, fixed line travel, belaying and other technical skills. Our summit attempt entails scaling the rock and snow of Sahale.

RMI's Expedition Skills Seminar – Sahale is ideal for climbers interested in building their mountaineering skills while visiting one of the jewels of the National Park system - North Cascades National Park. The diverse terrain and flexible itinerary provide excellent training opportunities.

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 – Sahale will prepare you 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 alpine 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.

  • Upcoming Climbs

    • Please call our offices at 1-888-892-5462 to inquire about availability.
  • Price
    6 days
    Level 2
Table of Contents
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Day 1


8:00 a.m     Meet at Marblemount Ranger Station.

The group meets at the Marblemount Ranger Station in the North Cascades. Please see our Travel Details for driving directions and carpool opportunities. Your RMI guides will meet you at the ranger station for introductions, group gear distribution and personal gear check.

From Marblemount we follow the Cascade River Road to the trailhead. During our hike in to Boston Basin we gain approximately 3,000'. The hike through the forest and up into the alpine meadows takes half a day and gets us into camp in time for an early dinner. For many people this will be a physically demanding day as we ascend slowly to an elevation of 6,000' with 50-55 lb packs.

As we move up towards camp we review 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 when on snow, and efficient pacing that allows us to climb comfortably. After setting up a solid mountain camp we spend a relaxing evening learning about camp craft, knots, and other subjects which we will put to use during the week.

There are no opportunities to purchase or rent gear in Marblemount. Participants should be confident with the fit and choice of their gear prior to arriving for the program. Please refer to the program Equipment List and then call the RMI office to speak with a guide about any gear questions you may have.


Day 2 - 4


Our skills training begins with the introduction and practice of basic mountaineering skills including efficient mountain travel (rest-stepping and pressure breathing), various safety practices including use of helmets, harnesses, and avalanche transceivers, cramponing, climbing in balance, proper use of our ice axe, self and team arrest, and steep snow cramponing techniques.

After gaining proficiency with basic foundational skills we begin to introduce the techniques that allow climbers to safely attempt their own summit climbs or be solid expedition team members on peaks like Denali. These techniques include anchor placements, various self and team crevasse rescue techniques, steep technical ice climbing, belays, rappelling, knots, route finding and fixed rope travel. Evening lectures in camp include group discussions on mountain weather, medicine for mountaineering, altitude wellness, equipment and any requested topics that spark your interest


Day 5


Our summit ascent usually takes place on the fifth day of the program, allowing us to put to use on the climb the previous four days of training. Our day begins with a pre-dawn alpine start to give us ample time for this full day of climbing. The route consists of navigating past the crevasses of the Quien Sabe Glacier to access Sahale’s summit ridge. The summit ridge involves 4th class rock (defined as easy but still requiring a rope) and a traverse along the ridge to one of the more spectacular summits in the North Cascades.

After spending some time on top to enjoy the views and take photos, we begin our descent. We rappel and down climb the ridge, make our way back down the glacier, and then into camp for an early dinner and to watch the sun go down over the peaks to the west.


Day 6


On our last morning we rise early for breakfast, break camp, and if energy levels are high, get in some more ice climbing or crevasse rescue practice. We then take two hours for the hike back down to the trailhead. The trip concludes with a celebratory lunch in Marblemount. Those with a plane to catch should plan for an arrival in Seattle around mid-afternoon.



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Travel Consultant

RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide our clients with comprehensive travel support. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure traveler's across the globe. We have been working with Erin for many years and she is very knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. 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

Our meeting place is the Marblemount Ranger Station, 7280 Ranger Station Road, Marblemount WA 98267-9755.

We meet at 8:00a.m. Most climbers will fly into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport the evening before the program and rent a car for the 2 1/2 hour drive. The town of Marblemount is approximately 125 miles from SeaTac. Please click here for driving directions.

Ride Share: If you are participating in a climb and are interested in sharing a ride, please post your information in the "Ride Share" forum of your North Cascades Discussion Board by logging into your RMI Account.

Area Accommodations

You can find inexpensive camping at the Wilderness Village RV Park. This is where our guides stay. Click here for more info.

There are also motels in Marblemount:


For updated North Cascades weather forecasts, click here.


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.


North Cascades National Park has over 300 glaciers, more than any other park in the lower 48 states. More than half the glaciers in the 48 states are concentrated in this mountainous wilderness region called the North Cascades.

For more facts click here, and for even more click here.


General Information on North Cascades National Park.

North Cascades National Park map.

Communities & Activities outside North Cascades National Park, click here.

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This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition. There are no technical climbing prerequisites to join this program.

  • 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 6-day Expedition Skills Seminar – Sahale Mountain, you are preparing for:

  • Steep hiking, climbing and glacier travel with a 50-60 lb load
  • A 6+ hour summit day
  • Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility

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 Hiking Time
Elevation Gain / Loss
Total Distance
Pack Weight
DAY 1 - Hike to Boston Basin
4+ Hours
Gain = 3,000'
3.5 Miles
50 - 60 lbs
DAY 2 - Skills Training
5 - 6 Hours
Gain = 1,000' / Loss = 1,000'
2 Miles
20 - 25 lbs
DAY 3 - Skills Training
5 - 6 Hours
Gain = 1,500' / Loss = 1,500'
2 Miles
20 - 25 lbs
DAY 4 - Skills Training
5 - 6 Hours
Gain = 1,500' / Loss = 1,500'
2 Miles
20 - 25 lbs
DAY 5 - Summit Climb
8 - 10 Hours
Gain = 2,480' / Loss = 2,480'
3 Miles Round Trip
20 - 25 lbs
DAY 6 - Descend to Trailhead
3 Hours
Loss = 3,000'
3 Miles
50 - 60 lbs

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


No acclimatization is necessary for this 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

    • 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.


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

    • MEALS

      See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.

    • 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.


      Chlorine Dioxide water purification drops.


      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
    • Purchase travel insurance.

    • Purchase airplane tickets.

    • Arrange transportation and lodging.

    • Reserve rental equipment.

    • Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!

Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, stoves, group cooking equipment, fuel, climbing ropes and anchors, 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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On the Expedition Skills Seminar – Sahale Mountain you will need six trail lunches, five dinners and five breakfasts.

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


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.

Lunch / Snacks

Your "lunches" 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.


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.

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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.

Under-aged participants on Private Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.

Summit Attempt

RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person’s own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.’s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.

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.

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