Friday, June 20, 2014

Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership Part 2

I just recently returned from a 12 day Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership course. The Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership course at American Alpine Institute is a four part course that covers most aspects of climbing and can take a beginning climber from top roping basic climbs to summiting some of North America's most sought after peaks in under two months. This course was part two of the series where we teach students how to lead safely on alpine rock and ice climbs.

For more on the course click here:,-part-2/

These are some of my favorite courses to teach due to the fun objectives we get to climb and it always gives me great photo opportunities.

We started the course with four days of rock climbing. We split our time between Leavenworth and Index, covering the basics of lead climbing, multi pitch anchors and basic rock rescue techniques.

On the fifth day we heading into the Colman Glacier on Mount Baker to learn some more advanced glacier travel techniques, crevasse rescue and ice climbing. The first day was amazing and after hiking in we managed to do a very technical tour through part of the Colman Glacier Icefall using good glacier travel techniques.

The next day we woke up to rain. Lots and lots of rain. We were able to cover ice climbing, crevasse rescue and ice anchors and then made the call to hike out rather than spend a wet night in the tents.

We drove to Mazama to cover alpine rock climbing, but had to start the next day with a little gear drying. The Washington Pass area contains some of the best alpine rock climbing in Washington and despite a less than perfect weather forecast we managed to get some pretty good climbing done in the area. We climbed the classic Beckey Route on Liberty Bell. The following day we climbed the 11 pitch route Prime Rib on Goat Wall and then the amazing 5.8+ SE Rib of South Early Winters Spire the following day. All of these routes were climbed with students leading. Its not often guides get to sit back and climb on top rope all day, but thats exactly what I got to do on Prime Rib.

For the final two days of the course the weather dictated our objectives and we ended up in Washington's desert climbing area near the town of Vantage Washington. Here we worked some more of some difficult rappelling problems and lead climbing. Overall this was an amazing 12 days and despite some weather challenges we covered a huge amount of material and climbed a lot of objectives. I look forward to teaching another one of these soon.

All images ©Alasdair Turner Photography. Please go to my website if you would like to purchase images.

Alasdair Turner, AAI Instructor and Guide

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