Alpine Expedition Prep Course
Essential Training for Successful Expeditions
This course is designed to prepare participants for technical alpine climbing objectives. With trips to Alaska’s Moose’s Tooth and Peru’s Alpamayo in mind, we direct our curriculum to specifically prepare climbers for these kinds of significant expeditions. Our four day itinerary will cover many topics surrounding technical alpine ice & mixed climbing. Emphasis will be placed on the acquisition and refinement of skills, as well as, the proper selection and use of your personal climbing gear and clothing. We also include content about self – directed training and an extensive gear overview for alpine climbing expeditions.
The course takes place in Ouray, Colorado in the magnificent San Juan Mountains. The instruction will focus on topics that apply to alpinism and expedition climbing. We understand it is critically important that you feel confident in your process of gaining the knowledge and skills to perform to your highest ability on your expedition.
Success on expedition climbs requires many elements – including a solid foundation of mountaineering skills and an experiential background that allows you to develop the right mental attitude for the rigors of a long expedition. We have developed this program with that end in mind, and the exceptional terrain, climate, and altitude of the San Juan’s provide the ideal setting in which to thoroughly prepare yourself both mentally and physically.
- Ice & Mixed Climbing Techniques
- Multi-pitch transitions & efficiency
- Expedition Style Ascents
- Team Roped Travel
- Anchor Construction in Alpine Terrain
- Alpine Snow and Rock Climbing Technique
- Crevasse Rescue Protocol
- Route finding and Navigation
- Gear selection for expeditions
- Training program to prepare for the trip
- Avalanche Awareness and Hazard Recognition
Both Andres and Leon were extremely professional and knowledgeable. Their respective experience was clear throughout the course. I left the course with a better understanding of systems and transitions, as well as a better idea of what I need to work on to be a competent member of an alpine expedition.” – Gus D., Alpine Prep Course Dec, 2017
Expedition Prep Course Itinerary
Ice Climbing in the Ouray Ice Park. Practice ice climbing movement skills & techniques.
Ice & mixed climbing in the Ouray Ice Park. Continue to develop efficiency while climbing and perfect your movement skills. Introduce and practice multi-pitch ice climbing. Rappelling considerations. Build ice & alpine anchors.
Backcountry multi-pitch Ice Route. Climb a classic ice route in the San Juans. Apply the knowledge and skills that you have learned in the previous two days.
Backcountry Ice Climbing in the San Juans. Gear Overview. Training program overview.
Please note that this is an approximate itinerary and may be changed in order to suit the needs of the group and the current conditions in the mountains to maximize the learning opportunities for the course.
Expedition Prep Course Equipment List
- Water Bottles: 2, 1 liter size Nalgene w/bottle insulators.
- Small Thermos: can sub for one nalgene.
- Backpack: Approximately 50 – 70liters.
- Lunch Food: Bring a selection of energy bars, GU’s, Clif Shots, and other high calorie quick energy foods.
- Personal First Aid Kit
- Sunscreen and Lip Balm: At least SPF 30.
- Digital Camera
- Socks: A pair of heavy wool or polypropylene.
- Long Underwear: One pair of tops and bottoms. Midweight, synthetic material.
- Mid-Layer: Versatile fleece or similar mid-layer piece.
Guides Pick: OR Centrifuge Jkt
- Down Jacket & Pants
- Shell Jacket: Be sure that it will fit over all your other clothes. Gore-tex recommended.
- Shell Pants: With side zippers are best. Gore-tex recommended.
- Gloves &/or Mittens: A pair of heavy gloves and a pair of medium weight gloves.
- Hat: Warm pile or wool hat. Try to size it so that it will fit comfortably under your helmet.
- Balaclava or BUFF: A must have for cold days and wind.
- Gaiters: N/A for ice boots with integrated gaiter systems.
- Sunglasses: Category 3 or 4 lenses
- Harness with ice clippers
- Locking Carabiners: Pear shaped, wide mouth.
- Belay / Rappel device: ATC or similar.
- Personal Attachment System & Rappel Extension
- Boots: technical alpine climbing or ice climbing boots
- Crampons: ice climbing boots with vertical front points
- Ice Climbing Tools
Training & Follow Up Climbs
As always, being in excellent physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great climbing trip.
1Before Your Trip
Completion of our Introduction to Mountaineering Course, Intro & Intermediate to Advanced Ice Climbing Courses is a superb way to jump-start your experience repertoire. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina, and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For the Expedition Prep Course you should be ready for:
- Climbing and snow/winter travel
- A 10+ hour summit day
- Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility
2Follow Up Climbs
We very much enjoyed our time in Ouray! The private 2-day climbing program was impressive. Our guide, Mark, was/is an excellent teacher. He took the time to build the skills for each of us, listened to the concerns and course corrected to ensure we were achieving what we wanted to achieve. Basically, Mark rocks! We look forward to coming back. – J. Bowers, 2011 Private Program
Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here
Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.
Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO. It is also possible to fly into Durango, CO, Telluride, CO, or Albuquerque, NM. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of either of these airports.
Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.
- Montrose, CO: 45 mins
- Durango, CO: 2 hours
- Denver, CO: 6 hours
- Albuquerque, NM: 4.5 hours
- Salt Lake City, UT: 6 hours
Hotels: Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suite you best for this trip!
- Cost Includes:
- Guiding and instruction
- Transportation from Ouray to the TH and back
- Group climbing equipment (ropes, ice screws etc.),
- Climbing Gear
- Not Included:
- Transportation to Ouray, CO
- Hotel costs before or after the courses
- 5% land use surcharge
- Trip cancellation insurance – recommended
- Personal climbing clothing
- Costs associated with early returns, weather delays, or other factors beyond our control
- Guide gratuity
- Registration and Cancellation:
- Advance Registration is required for this program. You have the option to either call our office and register via phone, fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email, or utilize our secure Online Reservation System. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.