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Pro Guiding Service
Domestic & International Trips & Courses with Certified Mountain Guides
Trip

3-Day Mountaineering Course on Mt Baker

Overview

Gain mountaineering skills including glacier travel, crevasse rescue, and hazard recognition & mitigation in this 3-Day course. Mount Baker is arguably the best location to attain intensive glacier travel skills in the lower 48.

$715 Per Person
3 Days
Difficulty
Ratio:
4:1, 8:2

Trip Information

$715
Price based on 3-4 climbers per guide. Please contact us directly for private trips. 425-888-6397 x2 | info@proguiding.com

We also offer:- 3-day mountaineering course in the North Cascades HERE.  The bulk of the curriculum is the same, but in the North Cascades the ratio is 3:1 to allow for an introduction to alpine rock and ice. - 3-day Women's mountaineering course on Mount Baker HERE.  - 4-day mountaineering course on Mount Baker HERE and in the North Cascades HERE.  With an additional day you will have the time to learn more advanced cramponing techniques, steeper snow and ice climbing techniques, and more in-depth hazard recognition/mitigation and rescue techniques.

WHY PRO GUIDING SERVICE?

We have been a concessionaire on Mount Baker for 13 years now with a perfect safety record. We offer an optimal participant to instructor ratio at 4:1 or 8:2. This is a very important factor in being able to tailor the program to the participants' needs. We also pride ourselves in creating relevant and movement-based lesson plans. This means that you will not see us standing around in camp talking about crevasse rescue. The glaciers of Mount Baker and Colfax Peak are an amazing classroom and we take full advantage. The curriculum for this course was designed by Martin Volken, a longtime AMGA instructor/examiner, so you can be assured that you will be taught a modern curriculum. Pro Guiding Service's guides are professional mountain guides, meaning they are either certified guides or are actively pursuing a path of professional mountain guiding education by the American Mountain Guides Association. Our three-day course is designed to combine the excellent high alpine instructional environment of Mount Baker with a quality summit climb. You will be fully immersed in the elements of snow, glacier and ice and will be taught the necessary skills to roam around safely in these environments. Please be aware the course curriculum may vary depending on weather and general conditions. We offer multiple dates, but are perfectly happy to arrange this course on a private basis. Please call us or email us to make a private arrangement.

WHY MOUNT BAKER?

1) Easy access: The access from Seattle or Vancouver is very reasonable. This means that you can get to the meeting location in Glacier, WA from the Seattle area in a short 3 hour drive (1 to 2 hours from Vancouver), travel together to the trailhead, hike in, and actually do glacier work that same day on the Lower Coleman Glacier. Our first camp is the comfortable Merkwood Camp which is located about 10 walking minutes from our first ice climbing spot on the lower Coleman Glacier. In other words, the course is 3 days long and you will be immersed in the alpine environment of Mount Baker every day.

2) Big glaciers: Mount Baker is a very heavily glaciated volcano with ten glaciers flowing from its 10,780' summit ice cap to well below tree line. So when we talk about glacier travel, we actually do it. The glaciation is big enough that whatever you learn will be relevant on just about any glacier anywhere.

3) Moderate summit elevation: Mount Baker is "only" 10780 feet high, but it has impressive vertical relief of just over 8000 feet. The moderate summit elevation makes a huge difference in how you feel. You do not need to worry about acclimatization--you can just concentrate on the technical aspects of the course curriculum, which is great. There is a lot to learn.

4) The lower Coleman Glacier: It is rare to find such easy access to the so-called ablated zone (the snow free zone) of a glacier. The lower Coleman Glacier does not only offer this, but you can get there from the car in just over 2 hours. This is important because a critical component of learning how to move around competently on crampons is learning classic crampon techniques, best learned on dry glacier ice, not on soft snow. We may also ice climb on the safe seracs of lower Coleman Glacier, which are nothing short of spectacular.

5) The upper camps: We have two choices with the Hogsback Camp at 6000 feet or the Heliotrope Ridge Camp at 7200 feet. The lower camp offers dry comfortable camping with running water and the upper camp offers views to satisfy several Pacific Northwest cliches. You will look at the impressive Coleman Headwall of Mount Baker with the sprawling Coleman and Roosevelt Glaciers below it, then to the west are the endless sunsets over the San Juan Islands and to the Northwest you will see the city lights of Vancouver, BC.

6) A rewarding summit: Climbing to the top of Mount Baker is essentially part of the course curriculum and the scenic route via the Coleman-Deming Col is moderately strenuous and glaciated from camp to summit. The Coleman-Deming Route is a great moderate glacier route in a big mountain environment. Colfax Peak can be an option. It is a seldom visited satellite Peak of the Mount Baker uplift. Because of its lonely feel it is very rewarding.

Duration: 3
Ratio: 4:1, 8:2
Difficulty Level:
Click here to learn more about difficulty ratings.

Overall difficulty: moderate

Skills required: No prior mountaineering experience required; but good physical fitness will make your trip safer and more enjoyable.

Fitness level: Good physical fitness is required; you should be able to hike or climb for more than six hours with a pack varying from 20 to 40 pounds and ascend 3,000 to 4,000 feet of vertical gain per day for up to 3 days. This is an important distinction from the “Easy to moderate overall difficulty level” of the course, which includes technical difficulty, level of commitment, seriousness of the route etc. So while it is rated “moderate” in those regards, the physical fitness component is expected to be relatively high.


Private Trips Available

Pro Guiding Service proudly offers the most diverse ski touring and ski mountaineering programs of any guiding service in the Northwest.
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Itinerary

SAMPLE ITINERARY

Day 1: From the ranger station in Glacier, WA, we will commute together to the end of the road at 3600 feet. A three-hour hike will bring us to the spectacular camp at Hogsback Camp near the base of the Coleman Glacier. We will establish camp and spend the afternoon getting an introduction to basic crampon work and team rope travel.  Other topics are:

  • Gear and food selection
  • Fuel calculations
  • Distribution of group gear
  • Campsite selection
  • Movement skills with crampons
  • Use of the ice axe
  • Principles of “Leave No Trace”
  • Stove maintenance
  • Roped travel and rope management
  • Ropes and rope selection
  • Basic knots
  • Roped travel and correct spacing
  • Prepping for the summit climb

Day 2: This is our summit day and you will be a well prepared rope team member. The spectacular ascent from our camp at 6000 feet to Grant Summit at 10781 feet will take us past the Colfax north face icefall to the Coleman Deming Col at 9000 feet, then up the Pumice Ridge to about 10000 feet and finally to the last stretch up the Roman wall and the summit. The ascent from camp generally takes about 5 hours. From the summit we will obviously have to descend back to our camp.  All in all, a full day that demands a predawn start. Then again, a sunrise at 8000 feet is unforgettable. After a well deserved rest in camp, we will start working on snow anchors and load transfers, which will get us prepared for the crevasse rescue systems on Day 3.  Topics to be covered include:

  • Time calculations
  • Appropriate pacing and rests and staying in control of your time plan
  • Terrain assessment
  • Hazard recognition and terrain management
  • Roped travel and correct spacing
  • Glacier travel in simple glaciated terrain
  • Glacier travel in heavily crevassed terrain
  • Glacier travel in steep and crevassed terrain
  • Recognizing hidden crevasses
  • Technical skills and systems: anchor systems, load transfer

Day 3: After a well deserved full night of sleep we can start working on the final component of crevasse rescue before heading down to car in the early afternoon.  Topics for the last day:

  • Technical skills and systems: anchor systems reviewed, load transfer reviewed
  • crevasse rescue systems with 3 to 1 and 5 to 1 mechanical advantage

Please be aware that the course location might change to the Easton Glacier, Squak Glacier or Boulder Glacier route depending on route conditions.

Private Trips

Pro Guiding Service proudly offers the most diverse ski touring and ski mountaineering programs of any guiding service in the Northwest. Smaller, more intimate custom itineraries or instructional tours are available for any of our destinations. Tell us what you want to do, and we can create a customized plan for you.
View Private Trips

Pricing

$715
per person
Price based on 3-4 climbers per guide. Please contact us directly for private trips. 425-888-6397 x2 | info@proguiding.com
View Dates & Availability
Payment Policy
If booking a domestic trip that is over 30 days away or an international trip that is over 60 days away, you can book your trip by paying a 20% deposit.  View Full Policy
Cancellation Policy
If you cancel for any reason 30 or more days before domestic trips or 60 or more days before international and Alaska trips, we will refund everything you have paid minus half of your deposit. No refunds will be provided if you cancel your trip for ANY REASON (this includes but is not limited to illness including CoVid-19, injury, or work-related issues) within 30 days of the start of domestic trips or 60 days of international and Alaska based trips.  View Full Policy

Equipment List

Clothing
Base Layer
  • 1 Bottom - midweight or lightweight
  • 1 or 2 Tops - midweight or lightweight
  • Socks - 2 pair
Mid Layer
  • Windshirt or light soft shell jacket
  • Fleece or similar warm layer
  • Synthetic climbing or hiking pants
Outerwear
  • Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Jacket
  • Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Pants
  • Warm Hat - should cover your ears
  • Sun Hat - baseball cap or visor
  • Lightweight Gloves
  • Ski Gloves/Mittens
  • Down or Synthetic Puffy-type Jacket
  • Gaiters - low top or full size
Personal Gear
  • Internal Frame Pack - 50 Liter/3100 cu.in. minimum
    • Everything must fit inside except ice axe, crampons, helmet, and pad
    • If approach shoes are worn, mountaineering boots may be on outside of pack as well
  • Sleeping Bag - down or synthetic, 20º F or warmer
  • Compression Sack - for sleeping bag
  • Sleeping Pad - closed cell foam or self inflating (or both)
  • Headlamp - lightweight LED recommended
  • 2 Water Bottles - liter bottles, wide mouth recommended
  • Water purification - tablets or filter
  • Bowl and Cup - bowl is optional if eating from freeze-dried meal bags
  • Spoon, Fork, or Spork
  • Small Knife
  • Sunglasses - adequate for snow travel
  • Sunscreen - SPF 25+, waterproof
  • Lip Balm - SPF 15+
  • Lighter
  • Personal Toiletries - keep it simple: toothbrush, tiny toothpaste, hand sanitizer
  • Small Personal First Aid Kit - just the basics: blister care, ibuprofin, prescription meds, etc.; your guides will have a substantial group first aid kit
  • Toilet Paper (blue bags provided by PGS)
Technical Gear
  • Ice Axe - lightweight, 45-70cm
  • Mountaineering Boots - crampon compatible
  • Boot Crampons - 10-12 point steel with anti-ball plates, pre-fit to boots
  • Climbing Harness - mountaineering style preferred (no padding; ex: BD Alpine Bod)
  • Adjustable Trekking Pole(s) - nice to have for approach/crevasse navigation
  • Helmet - climbing helmet UIAA approved
  • Crevasse Rescue Kit:
    • 4 Locking Carabiners - 2 large/2 small with at least 1 large HMS style
    • 4 Non-locking Carabiners - any style, we recommend wire gates
    • 1 Single Length Dyneema/Dynex Runner/Sling (60cm/24in diameter loop)
    • 1 Double Length Dyneema/Dynex Runner/Sling (120cm/48in diameter loop)
    • 1 Cordelette - 6 mm cord, 6 meter length
    • 1 Cordelette - 6 mm cord, 3 meter length
    • 1-2 Prussik Loops - 3-4 feet of 6mm cordelette tied in loop with double fisherman's knot or a Sterling Hollowblock
    • 1-2 ice screws - 13-17 cm long
Optional Items
  • Camera - we’d like some shots for the PGS website!
  • Ear Plugs - essential for sound sleep
  • Camp Booties
  • Thermos - vacuum type
  • Electrolytes - tablets/powder/gel/blocks
  • Note Pad and Pencil - Rite-in-the-Rain brand waterproof notebooks work well
  • Compass - adjustable declination a must
  • Altimeter - Suunto watch works well
  • Map Case - large Ziploc bag works well
  • Maps - contact guiding office for appropriate quadrangles
  • Tibloc and/or MicroTraxion devices - used for crevasse rescue
  • Collapsible Water Canteen - good for storing snowmelt at camp
  • Liner socks - if blister-prone
  • Warm Socks - to sleep in
  • Approach shoes--lightweight running shoes work well
  • Foot Powder
  • Neck gaiter - for protecting your face from sun, wind, cold
  • Post-course care kit (to leave in car): cotton T-shirt, flip flops, favorite treats
Equipment Sales & Rental

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FAQs

What is the difference between the Mountaineering Course on Mount Baker and the North Cascades Mountaineering Course?

We answer this question on the phone regularly, so let us try to answer it here: The basic topography of the two venues is quite different. The Mount Baker course venue happens on almost exclusively glaciated terrain on the north side of this 10780 foot volcano. The Coleman, the Deming and potentially the Roosevelt Glaciers are our training ground and with that the focus is centered around all things snow and ice. Glacier travel, crampon work and crevasse rescue is a large topic on the Mount Baker Course. It certainly is an important topic in the North Cascades Course as well, but you will take a deeper dive into these topics on Mount Baker.

The North Cascades Mountaineering Course takes place in the Boston Basin in the shadow of the famous Forbidden Peak. The area essentially holds every element that you might encounter on a “classic mountaineering adventure”. The Boston Basin holds glaciers, steep couloirs, glacier polished slabs, narrow ridges, big faces and sharp peaks. Just like on Mount Baker, we teach very much what the terrain demands or rather we chose an extremely diverse zone of the North Cascades National Park to give the course participant a rounded introduction into world of mountaineering.

Both of the approaches into the camps are moderately strenuous, with the Boston Basin trail being a bit steeper. Both camps have running water and the views are stunning either way.

As soon as you leave camp, things start feeling a bit different. While you might have to commute for about 45 minutes up slabby rocks to reach the lower margins of the Quien Sabe Glacier and the amazing Sahale and Sharkfin summits beyond, you will find yourself wearing the crampons on the lower Coleman Glacier ice of Mount Baker almost immediately.

If you are looking for a great course to make you feel more comfortable on large glacier ascents (Rainier etc.), the Mount Baker Course is most likely for you, but if you are looking for an all-around introduction to the world of mountaineering and would like to summit classic peaks like Forbidden Peak, the Matterhorn, the venue we offer in the North Cascades is hard to beat.

In summary; if you want to truly learn the craft of mountaineering, you should take both courses. We are not saying this to sell more courses. Either one of these courses is a great start and there is some overlap, but together they build a fantastic mountaineering skill foundation. 

How much prior mountaineering experience is required?

No substantial prior mountaineering experience is required, but solid fitness will enhance the quality of your week substantially.

Will we be able to do some ice climbing?

Yes, possibly.  The lower Coleman Glacier is probably one of the best spots for summer ice climbing in the lower 48 states and we will likely take advantage of it.

Does PGS provide food?

No, you are responsible for your own food.  We are glad to help with food suggestions though.

What size pack should I bring?

Try to fit your gear into a 50 liter pack. If the week is conducted out of an established basecamp, you could consider a bigger pack along with a summit pack.

Should I tip my guide?

Although tipping is not a requirement it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or a amount that you are comfortable with.

Why Book With Us? 

Certified Professional Guides & All Access
All of our guides have the highest quality training and certification in the industry, and you can be sure that we have the permits, licenses and insurance in every location we operate.
Safe, Well-Planned Tour Design
Every tour has a carefully thought-out guide-to-customer ratio. You always get a safe, high-quality trip or learning environment with us.
Pioneers In The Industry
You will travel and learn from experts. We've pioneered several alpine climbing routes, ski descents, and traverses and we've written books on skills and routes in the industry. 
Read Our story
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