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Colin on Ruth Mountain summit Shuksan in background FB

Class in the Cascades: Introduction to Mountaineering

Have you ever looked at a moun­tain and won­dered, How do I get up there?”

Over the week­end, Jacob Oram and I co-taught an Intro­duc­tion to Moun­taineer­ing course that includ­ed a sum­mit of Ruth Moun­tain in the North Cas­cades near Mount Bak­er. Our stu­dents came away from the two-day course with some of the foun­da­tion­al skills and a bet­ter idea for what it’s like to get out there and up there.

Col­in, one of our stu­dents, at the sum­mit of Ruth Moun­tain; Mount Shuk­san looms in the background.

Day one, we hiked out to Han­negan Pass and estab­lished our camp in the snow. Instruc­tion began with the basics of mov­ing on snow in bal­ance, and usage of tools like cram­pons and ice axes. Then, we cov­ered the most fre­quent­ly used knots you might employ in the moun­tains. We dis­cussed our objec­tive, prepped our equip­ment, and got to bed for an ear­ly sum­mit push the fol­low­ing morning.

Jacob teach­es basic moun­taineer­ing knots and hitches.

On day two, we woke and ate break­fast before sun­rise. As we were walk­ing, we dis­cussed glaciol­o­gy, prac­ticed some of the tech­niques from the pre­vi­ous day’s les­son and got to expe­ri­ence roped glac­i­er trav­el. Sun­rise on near­by Mount Shuk­san and the val­ley below was gorgeous.

Our team steadi­ly mak­ing progress toward the sum­mit using the skills learned the day before.

On the whole, we cov­ered a lot of mate­r­i­al and suc­ceed­ed in climb­ing our objec­tive. Jacob and I had a great time work­ing with every­one, and hope to see every­one again in one of our Glac­i­er Moun­taineer­ing Cours­es, Crevasse Res­cue Cours­es or begin­ner sum­mit climbs of Mount Bak­er, Shuk­san or beyond.

~Words and pho­tos, MM Guide Mal­lo­rie Estenson