A GOOD Mountaineering Course??? - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: , , Canada.
Posts: 32
Default A GOOD Mountaineering Course???


I'm looking for some info please.

My goal is complete a 5-7 day Basic Mounaineering Course around the May or June time this year and I'm looking at options for instruction at this point.

The course should include things like rope skills, crevasse travel and rescue, self arrest, crampon use, etc. (the normal stuff you would learn on a mountaineering program).

I've looked at Canada West Mountain school obviously, but I'm very willing to travel if need be to get a quaility course from another option, or an instructor or guide that you would recommend.

I've also looked at Alpine Ascents in the Seattle area, and instruction in the Whistler area. As stated I'm willing to travel within BC and Washington. If you do recommend these schools for one reason or another, are there certain Instructors or Guides that you recommend that teach a quality program? Like any school offering any kind of instruction, instructors can vary on thier level of knowledge and thier level of experience. I don't mind waiting out to get onto a course that had that certain instructor or guide. Private message me if you prefer.

Basically if I'm going to spending $1500 bucks or so in the program, I'd like to get the most out of it.

Your recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance!

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 02:42 PM
High on the Mountain Top
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Smurf Village, BC, Canada.
Interest: hiking, exploring, reading, random shiny things
Posts: 2,451

I did my course through Canada West with Jason Kruk as instructor. Last minute cancellation meant it was 2 of us with one instructor. Crap weather, cold and wet, but an excellent experience nonetheless.

Despite Jason being a young guy with some interesting escapades, I found him to be very conscientious, professional and thorough. If he is representative of the quality of people Canada West hires, then I have no hesitation taking another course through the company.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 04:09 PM
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Ryan.in.yaletown's Avatar
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Van, BC, Canada.
Posts: 3,231

Highly, highly recommend Canada West. I did some stuff with lead/owner Brian Jones, and I can't say enough good things.

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post #4 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 06:29 PM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: , , .
Posts: 205

I've never been, but the ACC has a big mountaineering training camp. I think this year they are near Waddington(?)

Can't speak as to whether it's good or not as I've never been.

Also, apparently Ed Viesturs sometimes does guided trips with RMI. My friend signed up for one to find out one of the people with him was Ed!!!
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 08:03 PM
Scaling New Heights
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Smithers, BC, Canada.
Posts: 61

Haven't taken their course but I came within a hair of signing up with IWLS ( Alaska mountain Guides out of Skagway / Haines Alaska). Sadly, I got a severe concussion that drained me financially for over a year and left me unable to run or weightlift. I now live vicariously through the rest of you..The dealings I've had IWLS were amazing and I stop by when I am in their neck of the woods.

They run ski mountaineering / mountaineering course out of southern Alaska . They do mountaineering out of BC as well. I lived in Whitehorse and wanted to complete the course in my neck of the woods. I'd still go north through if I accumulate the funds needed and recover enough to embark of such a venture. Courses run from 7 days to 12 +,

Alaska / Yukon and extreme northern BC is as wild and untouched as it gets.. I miss it up there!! Ski mountaineering would be awesome there as well!
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 09:11 PM
Scaling New Heights
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Posts: 61

I did intro to Mountaineering with Yamnuska in Canmore. We spent a week at Bow Hut (except for one night at Balfour Hut). We did crampon practice, glacier travel, anchor and rope work, navigation, self arrest, crevasse rescue in teams and self-rescue prussik-ing, low angle ice climbing, and two summits - Saint Nicholas and Rhonnda.

I'd say it was just about the best week I have ever had: great instructors, incredible scenery, flawless weather, excellent food, a comfortable hut...

Someone else posted these http://eric-coulthard.com/TripPhotos...k&index=-1&up=... which bring back fond memories.

I enjoyed this so much I would do it again - but I am doing another Yamnuska trip next summer instead!
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 12:11 PM
High on the Mountain Top
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.
Posts: 1,360

I've heard really good things about Canada West and Altus Mountain Guides


I haven't taken a mountaineering course with them but I took a week long ice climbing course with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures last Winter.

Highly professional. I had an amazing experience with them.

Not only did I find the instruction at Yamnuska exceptional, it also felt like I got to steep myself in the culture of Canadian Mountaineering through them, with the mountain climbing legend of Barry Blanchard at their helm. The commutes to the trailheads listening to the guides relay their stories about ascents in Patagonia to epics in the Scottish Highlands were equally as good to the days of instruction on the ice.

Highly recommended.


I wrote a short story about my experience with them also here:
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 12:25 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Climbing, a mountain, Canada.
Interest: climbing and spraying
Posts: 16,175

You can't swing a cat in Canmore or Squamish without hitting a mountain guide, and some of them are even decent human beings.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 12:26 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: , , Canada.
Posts: 2,670

Locally Altus Mountain Guides and Canada West are pretty top notch. If you're looking for interesting terrain Altus does a lot of their coursework in the Tantalus. You'll certainly get some pretty dialled crevasse rescue practise there
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: , , Canada.
Posts: 32

Excellent responses so far thank you everyone.

Canada West, Alpine Ascents, Yamnuska, and Altus all seem to get rave reviews for thier programs and guides.

For Yamnuska, although staying in a hut the whole time seems luxurious and all, I'm wondering if backcountry tenting it in the programs is valuable being "out in the elements"??

Also, the Altus Mountaineering program seems to be one long weekend, not the 5-7 day format that most places offer.
Thier website says that you cover all the normal skills, but it seems much less time, possibly crammed in?


Thank you!!
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 07:20 PM
High on the Mountain Top
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada.
Interest: general mountaineering/ hiking/ backpacking/ skiing/ kayaking
Posts: 1,704

The nice thing about staying in a hut is that you'll spend less time making your household work and more time for instruction, even if the hut is only used for cooking & eating. Huts also make for great evening class discussion.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 03:02 PM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Posts: 187

Hey AlpineTrekker,

I did six day mountaineering course organized for the BCMC by Justin Bennett and Winifred Swatschek. This was back at the beginning of August 2013.

We covered:
- Self Arrest
- Glacier Travel (rope teams, en-echelon travel)
- Snow Anchor Building (T-slots, Snow Bollards)
- Ascending/Descending Steep Snow (Hip Belay, Boot-Axe Belay)
- Rescue/Haul Systems (compound and complex systems, Canadian drop loop system, x-to-1)
- Rappelling (For rescues how to block off the rappel, full length rappels)
- Ice Anchors (using ice ice screws)

The cost was $250. In my experience, Justin and Winifred are superb instructors with a huge array of knowledge. They didn't simply state to do something, but rather went through explaining why things are done in a certain way. Justin is also a former North Shore Rescue member, and has stories of many interesting mountain trips. We also summitted Mount Matier!

Hope this helps,
Pardeep Longia
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 04:10 PM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Burnaby (of course), , .
Posts: 208

I was looking for the same thing last summer. In the end I decided against the week-long group program and just hired a guide for an individual 1-on-1 three-day trip to the Joffre group. I went with Connie Amelunxen of Canada West Mountain School. I was very pleased with the amount we covered in three days, and we also bagged three peaks as noted in this trip report:

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post #14 of (permalink) Old 01-30-2014, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: , , Canada.
Posts: 32

Once again, I thank you all for your help.

I haven't come to any conclusion yet, but I've narrowed it down. It would be for myself and my girlfriend.
Not in any order of priority here are my choices:

A) Canada West 7 day Mountaineering Course (Group) $1300pp
B) Altus Mountain 3 day Long Weekend Mountaineering Intro (Group) $450pp
C) Yamnuska Mountain School 6 day Mountaineering (Group) $1500pp


Hire a professional Guide to instruct from Canada West or BCMC/ACC for 3-5 days (Private) $300-800pp

What would you do?

AlpineTrekker is offline  
post #15 of (permalink) Old 01-31-2014, 09:17 AM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada.
Posts: 387

Another nod for Canada West - I did the Alpine Skills Week up at Joffre/Matier with John Furneaux. Great outfit, good practical mountain sense and accomplished instructors (John was fresh back from guiding a Type II diabetic to the summit of Everest and back).

I'd also done some rock skills courses with CWMS. All highly recommended.

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