What is the difference between a “scheduled” and a “custom” course/climb?
Scheduled courses and climbs are offered with fixed dates, prices, and structure. They are booked on a first-come, first-served basis, and are generally less expensive. These are our core offerings, and are well-established, and classic objectives. However, we are very excited to explore new terrain and climbs, and welcome your suggestions for new venues or routes.
Custom courses and climbs are booked according to your preferred trip dates and itinerary. The price structure and inclusions/exclusions are discussed in detail in the “Custom Trips” link on our website.
What is included in the cost of my SCHEDULED alpine course or climb?
- Professional guiding and instruction
- Climbing/backcountry permits (except Mount Rainier Climb)
- Transportation from Seattle to the trailhead and back
- All meals, stoves, fuel, and cooking equipment while on the trip (not included for courses)
- Group climbing gear
- Campground fees for summit climbs and courses
What is NOT included in the cost of my SCHEDULED alpine course or climb?
- Transportation within Seattle
- Hotel accommodations
- Meals, stoves, fuel, and cooking equipment while on courses
- Guide gratuities
- Personal climbing gear
What is included in the cost of my CUSTOM alpine course or climb?
- Professional guiding and instruction
- Climbing/backcountry permits (except Mount Rainier Climb)
- All meals while on the trip for Washington climbs
- Tents for Washington climbs
- Group climbing gear
What is NOT included in the cost of my CUSTOM alpine course or climb?
- Transportation for yourself and your guide.*
- Lodging/camping fees
- Parking permits where needed
- Meals for climbs outside of Washington State and on rock climbs
- Restaurant meals for yourself and your guide.
- All personal climbing and camping equipment
*Available at additional cost in Washington
Are my services different on a custom trip from a regularly scheduled trip?
Yes. The costs for a custom trip include professional guiding services, meals, cooking gear, tents, and group technical gear. You are responsible for transportation for yourself and your guide(s), as well as camp fees and park passes. Please call our office for details.
How quickly do the trips fill?
Unfortunately, there is no way to foresee how quickly or which of our trips are going to fill. It is always in your best interest to submit your application and deposit as soon as you have decided which trip date you want to join.
How do I register for a trip?
Sign up directly on our website. You will need to fill out the application form and submit a credit card deposit.
What is the deposit amount to hold my space?
$300. This includes a $75 non-refundable registration fee.
When do I need to pay the balance of my trip?
For most trips, your balance is due 60 days from trip departure. There are certain exceptions. Please refer to the payment policy for your specific trip. Your final balance may be paid by check, money order, ACH or credit card. With a credit card, there is a 3% convenience fee.
What happens if I need to cancel my trip?
If you need to cancel your trip, Mountain Madness must be notified in writing. Your trip will be cancelled from the date we receive written notice. You will be assessed a cancellation fee according to the following schedule:
- More than 60 days from trip departure — $75 fee registration fee
- 60 days or less from trip departure – 100% of trip cost
What happens if I want to change the dates of my trip?
All date changes must be received in writing. There will be a fee of $100 for domestic date changes. Any date change can be extremely difficult and is subject to all additional incurred expenses as assessed by Mountain Madness. Changes will be made at the sole discretion of Mountain Madness and may not be possible. Date changes are for credit only (no refunds) and valid for one year from written change notification.
What happens if Mountain Madness has to cancel my trip?
In the unlikely event that Mountain Madness must cancel a trip due to insufficient participants or other reasons beyond our control, you will receive a full refund. However, refunds for expenses incurred by the participant, such as airfare, are not possible. For this reason, we strongly suggest participants consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance – see below.
Do I need to purchase trip insurance?
Mountain Madness highly encourages the purchasing of trip cancellation and travel insurance. This comprehensive travel insurance provides coverage for trip cancellation and interruption, travel delays, loss of baggage and travel documents, baggage delays, medical expenses and emergency assistance.
When should I plan to arrive/leave Seattle?
We often get this question because most people need to know how much time to take off work. Our Northwest trips begin at 6:30 am in Seattle on the first date of your trip unless otherwise noted. Therefore, you will want to arrive the day before your climb or course begins. Due to the nature of mountaineering, our return time to Seattle on the last day is often unpredictable. We suggest you make a hotel reservation for the night of the last day and plan to return home on the day following the end of your course or climb.
What if I want to arrive earlier or depart later than the trip dates?
No problem! There is a lot to see and do in the Seattle area, and we would be happy to recommend our favorite attractions, restaurants, and day trips.
Where should I stay in Seattle?
For our Northwest trips, we recommend the Hotel Ballard. Let them know that you are climbing with Mountain Madness for our special group rate. Their contact information is included with your trip confirmation. We will pick you up at the Hotel Ballard at 6:30 am the morning of the first day of your trip. If you choose to stay elsewhere a pick-up may be possible, or you will need to arrange transport to the meeting spot on your own.
How do I get where I need to be?
For scheduled courses and climbs, you should fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac). You are responsible for your transportation to downtown Seattle. We meet as a group at 7 am for our orientation meeting and equipment checks.
Can Mountain Madness help make my airline and hotel reservations?
No, Mountain Madness is not a travel agent, and does not book airfare or hotels. We are happy to help you with arrival and departure dates/times and highly recommend our company travel agent, Pirjo Dehart at CTT Destinations to help with any travel arrangements you need to make. We have worked with Pirjo for years, she knows our trips well and has booked countless airline miles for both our clients and guides. Please call Pirjo at (800)909‑6647 or email her at email@example.com.
Who will my guide(s) be?
All of our guides are highly skilled professionals who have been selected based on their technical proficiency, proven climbing experience, careful judgment, patient and supportive teaching styles, and great personalities. At a minimum, all of our guides hold current Wilderness First Responder certification and are proficient in technical rescue and evacuation skills. Our guides are dedicated to the world of alpinism, many having first ascents and successful summits on major peaks from the Cascades to Mt. Everest. In addition to their broad scope of personal achievements in the field, many Mountain Madness guides have educational backgrounds in fields such as natural history, environment and wilderness education, and cultural anthropology that can enhance your learning experience. Mountain Madness is accredited with the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and many of our guides hold professional certifications with the AMGA in the rock, alpine, and ski disciplines, or are in the process of obtaining certification. The AMGA is part of the IFMGA which is the international body of certified mountain guides.
How much should I tip my guides?
Tipping is considered standard practice in the guiding industry. Tipping amounts vary, so ultimately it is up to your discretion, and how satisfied you are with the quality of your trip. Our experience indicates that 15 – 20% of the course cost is a good rule-of-thumb.
What do I need to bring?
A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your trip will be sent to you in a pre-departure packet upon registration. Every year we review our lists and assess feedback from our clients and guides for updating these lists, giving you the most complete and up-to-date guidelines. Feel free to call us if you have questions or need help locating any of the items on the list. For a successful trip, it is extremely important that you adhere strictly to the equipment list.
How do I know if I have the right equipment for a course or climb?
Prior to departing on your trip, our staff will contact you a call to discuss the particulars of your course or climb. This typically happens about 10 days out. At this time you can review the equipment you have selected. Before purchasing any equipment, you are welcome to call us and ask for recommendations. We know that selecting the right gear can be a challenge and we are happy to help.
Can I rent equipment from Mountain Madness?
Mountain Madness has gear available for rent for our Northwest courses and climbs. These items include mountaineering boots, crampons, ice axes, harnesses, helmets, backpacks, sleeping bags and sleeping pads, and trekking poles. Quantities are limited and in high demand during peak season, so please contact us as soon as possible if you are interested. We do not rent rock climbing shoes. Please see our rental page for pricing.
How heavy will my pack be?
You will be required to carry a portion of the group gear and food in addition to your personal gear. This should be taken into consideration when deciding what you will bring. A good rule of thumb is to try to keep your pack weight below 40 pounds, which will allow for adding the group equipment.
Is it possible for me to store extra gear and clothing that I will not need?
In most cases, yes, but that is not guaranteed as the option of storing extra gear and clothing varies depending on the hotel. You will also be able to leave a small amount in our vehicle at the trailhead (such as a change of clothes). We do not, however, recommend leaving valuables at the trailhead.
What kind of food will there be on my trip?
At Mountain Madness, we pride ourselves in preparing great mountain cuisine and we offer this added level of service on our summit climbs and custom trips. Our many years of mountain travel have provided us with time-tested and nutritious meal plans. Be sure to bring along your favorite munchies, energy food, and after dinner treats. If you have specific allergies/restrictions/preferences, please note that on your application and your guide(s) will do their best to provide meals accordingly.
What will the weather be like on my trip?
Like all large mountain ranges, the Cascades tend to generate and attract their own weather, making conditions impossible to predict. Typically July, August, and September have the best weather, but optimum or adverse weather can occur at any time. You should be prepared for a wide range of temperatures, from freezing nights and snowy and windy conditions, to bright sunshine intensified by high altitude. These wide fluctuations make it especially important to bring everything on the equipment list. Because our climbs and courses take place in the unpredictable mountain environment, your guides will make decisions regarding the trip itinerary based on current weather and route conditions. Mountain Madness guides will make every attempt to follow our trip itineraries, but the decision to amend an itinerary is always at the discretion of your guide. Summits are not guaranteed, and failure to summit is not sufficient cause for a refund.
What if someone on my rope team gets sick? Will I have to descend/lose my summit opportunity?
For all of our climbs and courses, participants must remember that they are part of a team and that the well-being of everyone on the team is more important than any one individual reaching the summit. If the entire group is required to get a team member down, they will be called upon to assist the guides and staff. If it is extremely important that you have the highest chance of success we suggest you consider arranging a custom trip to ensure the best possible client to guide ratio.
Are Mountain Madness trips rated in accordance with their level of difficulty?
Yes. The following outline indicates how we rate our trips and what the recommendations are for participation on a climb or course.
Climbing Grades Defined:
- Beginner: no previous mountaineering skills required
- Advanced Beginner: basic mountaineering skills recommended including self-arrest, cramponing, ice axe use, rope and glacier travel experience
- Intermediate: basic mountaineering skills recommended in addition to experience on technical terrain consisting of 40 – 50 degree snow/ice slopes.
- Advanced Intermediate: intermediate mountaineering skills recommended and proven experience on technical terrain.
- Advanced: intermediate/advanced mountaineering skills recommended in addition to experience on technical terrain, including rock and ice climbing.
How physically fit do I have to be to participate on a Mountain Madness Trip?
Most of our trips are physically demanding, and your ability to enjoy the adventure depends on your health and fitness. Your trip will be more rewarding if you prepare for it by conditioning properly well in advance. We believe that the best form of training is simulating the activity you are training for, and then increasing the Indonesia of exertion as the routine becomes easier.
For example, walking up hills and stair climbing are excellent ways to condition your lower body, heart and lungs for climbing. Begin slowly, without the weight of a pack, and eventually add weight as you increase your training pace. Then begin taking longer hikes several times a week with a weighted pack. Use water containers for uphill hikes, then empty the contents for the descent to reduce knee stress. Supplement these workouts with running, swimming, bicycling, or other forms of aerobic activity. Additionally, we highly recommend that you incorporate a weight training régime into your training program to build upper-body strength.
Begin your daily training several months prior to your trip. If you have questions, contact Mountain Madness to discuss how best to help you prepare for your course or climb.
Please see our training page for detailed information.
Is there a minimum age requirement?
We will accept participants 15 years or older on our regularly scheduled trips, if they are accompanied by a legal guardian. You must be 18 years or older to attend a Mountain Madness trip on your own. We will be happy to accommodate people under the age of 15 on custom trips only.