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Intro to Ice Climbing and Winter Mountaineering Course

Early Season Powder Skiing in the San Juan Mountains
December 23, 2009
Level 1 AIARE Avalanche Course in Durango and the San Juans
January 5, 2010


The end of the year brought snow, cold, and another successful winter mountaineering course in the beautiful San Juan Mountains of Colorado.  Six aspiring mountaineers from Chicago to Texas to Colorado are now ready for bigger, bolder, and more committing climbs after successfully completing our four day Introduction to Winter Mountaineering course.

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Day one consisted of students learning the basics of Ice climbing in beautiful Cascade Canyon.  Students practiced everything from basic anchors to ice screw placement and spent the day refining techniques on vertical water ice.

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Day two started the winter camping and second portion of the course.  Students loaded packs and headed off into the wilderness snowshoeing up to the base of Engineer Mountain where they learned about setting up a “Quinsey” or snow cave and about the basics of setting up a winter camp.

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Day three consisted of snow travel in avalanche terrain, basic avalanche forecasting (digging a pit), Avalanche Becon usage and searching techniques, snow anchors, and self arrest.


After three days of instruction, students finally set off to attempt Engineer Peak via the impressive Northeast Ridge.  There, the learning continued with rope travel techniques and efficient travel in steep terrain.  Though cold and windy,  smiles were ear to ear as the techniques from the past few days were applied and practiced while we negotiated the ridge to the summit.  Later, after down climbing back to the base of the peak we all reflected on the ascent, packed camp, and made our way back to the cars.

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Well done guys!