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Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter

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    6 days
    Level 3

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Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter

Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter

RMI's Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter is a six day instructional mountaineering and winter climbing course with a summit attempt of Mt. Rainier.


  • A day of foundational skills training and 5 days of extensive practical training on Mt. Rainier's snowy winter slopes.
  • Utilize the mountain hut at Camp Muir (10,060’), to allow for more comprehensive daily training.
  • Experience the spectacular and pristine beauty of the mountain's winter months, rarely seen by most climbers.
  • An opportunity to make a winter summit attempt of Mt. Rainier if conditions allow.


Mt. Rainier is one of the premier locations in the country for winter mountaineering. Our Expedition Skills Seminar – Winter offers training and mountaineering on glaciers, and in weather and temperature conditions similar to Alaska and the Himalaya; an experience unmatched anywhere else in the U.S.

After a day of technical training, we begin our ascent to Camp Muir where we use the mountain hut as our base while learning mountaineering skills oriented toward cold weather, high altitude expedition climbing, avalanche forecasting, and avalanche rescue. If weather and climbing conditions allow, we make our summit attempt via the Ingraham Glacier as the culmination of our winter mountaineering experience.

Our Expedition Skills Seminars are comprehensive training courses designed to educate climbers to the mountaineering skills needed to tackle the world's greatest peaks. Successful completion of the Expedition Skill Seminar - Winter will make you eligible for many of our expeditions around the world, including Denali, and provides you with a foundation for other major glaciated mountains.


The Mountain Guides at RMI have a reputation as top guides in the United States. RMI Guides participated in some of America's first ventures into the far reaches of the Himalaya. Years of expedition guiding and climbing around the world have built a core of consummate professional guides.

Our guides are celebrated teachers and trainers, known for their leadership as well as their character. They possess the compassion, enthusiasm and ability to empower others and inspire them forward. Such qualities may only be found in people at the top of their profession. Despite their vast experience, RMI Guides still remember their own first steps into the mountains, and enjoy helping other climbers reach new heights.

Our exceptional focus to detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures make our programs truly memorable.


RMI strives to create the safest mountain experience possible. Our experienced team of guides focuses on leading fun and successful climbs without compromising safety. Each climb includes careful pre-trip planning, daily weather forecasts, avalanche forecasts, and diligent attention to detail. All RMI Guides are highly trained in remote medicine and rescue skills and carry comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio communication equipment throughout the program. Regardless of the objective or the destination, safety remains RMI’s top priority.

NPS Authorized ConcessionerAuthorized Concessioner

RMI Expeditions is an authorized concessioner of Mount Rainier National Park.

Address comments to:
Superintendent | Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304

These services are operated in an area under jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior. No discrimination by segregation or other means in the furnishing of services or privileges on the basis of race, creed, color, ancestry, sex, age, disabling condition or national origin is permitted in the use of this facility. Violation of this prohibition are punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.

Climate Change

OffsettersAll of our climbs in Mt. Rainier National Park are 100% carbon neutral. We have partnered with Offsetters, Canada's leading carbon management solutions provider, to purchase offsets for our greenhouse gas emissions. Their projects are verified and validated by third parties to ensure that the emission reductions are real, additional, and permanent, so we know that our contribution is making a real difference.

By supporting this project, we prevent the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emissions that were generated by our operations from being emitted somewhere else. These offsets allow us to achieve our goal of sustainability and further promote responsible environmental practices.

Contact Us

As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or info@rmiguides.com.


Climber Reviews

Filter By
I got just what I was looking for: an introduction to mountaineering. I enjoyed the workshop atmosphere. That was more important to me than reaching the summit.
Jim L.

We weren't able to make a summit attempt due to weather, but the guides did a great job of keeping time we spent in the bunkhouse happy and productive. Getting to know the other climbers and to learn about what drew each of the guides to mountaineering was a definite highlight.
Robert W.

Organisation and guides knowledge and skills are amazing - it felt really safe yet very educative
Borys T.

Brent, Chase, Jess, And Solveig were wonderful the entire trip. It trully is the people that make the expereince worthwhile and they were all supportive, knowledgeable, fun to be around Will definately be booking another trip soon.
Michael C.

The instruction was terrific. The guides and fellow climbers all became one big family and supportive to one another. We had a great group. The scenery and Mt. Rainier were beautiful.
Michael P.

While I would have loved to summit Rainier on this climb the training and experience gained was incredible. I feel like I am a better climber because of this trip.
Thomas (Patrick) M.

Ajit N.

The whole experience really. Being physically active and involved in learning was great. Even though we were stuck inside due to weather for a few days they made it much more bearable by using the time to teach various things that they could teach.
James B.

All four of our guides were exceptional. Hilarious, knowledgable, and just all-around enjoyable to be around.
Sarah S.

The leadership and skill set that all the guides have is very impressive, no matter what was the objective, the question or the problem, they always had a solution or an answer and how to do it the safest way. I was very pleased with the whole thing
Marc-Andre B.

Staff is extremely well qualified.
John Scott C.

The guides are world-class. There's nothing better than learning from the best in the biz. In addition to Seth and Elias, Brent and Ben were also incredibly helpful and knowledgable. I chose to climb with RMI because of the vast experience of the guide staff. My high expectations were exceeded because not only were they all incredibly experienced, but also because they were so kind, patient, professional, and fun to be learning from for 6 days.
Michael M.

Everything about RMI is top of class. Guides are great people and always put safety first. No shortcuts. It was great that we spent two days at 6,200, which allowed us to experience the tent environment as well as building ice walls.
Donald S.

The entire trip was enjoyable. I came back to RMI after a summit attempt last year. I let the guides know of my situation/connection to Patrick Nestler. They were very understanding and never made me feel any different from the other clients.I want to finish Patrick's climb. His brother is my sons baseball coach and reaching the summit and returning is a major goal of mine.I'm going to go back and save up and hopefully be able to return next year for a 4-day summit climb. After this seminar I am more than comfortable and ready to go beyond the flats and reach the summit.
Daniel K.

The guides!
David S.

This trip was a much needed focus on myself. I had allowed work, life and anything else that wanted to get in the way of my happiness a front row seat. Our time on the mountain reminded me of the simpler things in life; family, friends and your own personal happiness. To top it off, I had the honor of sharing a rope with JJ again. He was the first person to show me the beauty of Rainier in 2004 and I have climbed with him since then from Ecuador to Argentina and hold those experiences as some of the most special in my life. He brings out the best in you even when you doubt yourself.
Josh J.

I enjoyed talking one on one with the guides and asking questions because I felt like the guides had so much information and knowledge to share.
Peter T.

I think that Adam, Elias, Leah and Nick were really great all the way around. They made it a really good experience and handled things like having to come down from Muir in a white out with professionalism. I can't emphasize enough what a great group of guides they all are.
Rick C.

See comments below.
Jim L.

The training in crampon & ice axe use, training in roped travel, the summit bid, and the variety of weather.
Eric W.

The guides were very professional.
Nick V.

The guides were always willing to make the experience better. They were very helpful.
Matthew B.

A great group of guides, attention to detail, training and good discussions.
Sam L.

Experienced guides comparing the situation we encountered on our trip with those we were interested in, and discussing what we would need to do in order to get there.
Andrew F.

Spending time with skills and camping.
Mark V.

I had a chance to experience intense winter alpine conditions and learned about how to manage them safely.
Fred C.

The enthusiasm of the guides and team to continue even though the weather was hitting us badly.
Fatima W.

Being away from everything, especially at camp Muir
Tony B.

the commadery
David G.

The guides
Betzalel L.

I think it was the next to last day.We had several skills stations- rap, avy, fixed rope. I learned a lot and had fun.
Virgil H.

  • Upcoming Climbs

    • Please call our offices at 1-888-892-5462 to inquire about availability.
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  • Price
    6 days
    Level 3
Table of Contents
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Day 1


8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.: Meet at 8:00 a.m. at Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford, WA. Please dress casually and bring your climbing equipment and clothing.

We begin our Technical Training Day with a welcome and introduction of team members and guides. Throughout the day, the guides provide a focused introduction to a variety of topics. These include a detailed equipment discussion and gear check; an introduction to safety practices such as use of helmets, harnesses, and avalanche transceivers; route planning and preparation, instruction regarding Leave No Trace practices and environmental considerations; and a discussion/demonstration of knots, anchors and the first steps toward understanding crevasse rescue. These skills prepare us for our adventure on Mt. Rainier and increase the likelihood of a safe, successful ascent of the mountain.

Please make your own arrangements for the day’s meals and a place to stay in the Ashford area for this evening.

Day 2


Meet at Rainier BaseCamp. After an early team meeting a shuttle takes our group to the trailhead at Paradise.

The hike from Paradise (5,400') to Camp Muir (10,060') is nearly 4.5 miles, and takes us most of the day. As we ascend we work on the foundational skills that make us more efficient and capable climbers. These include pressure breathing and using the rest step, dressing appropriately for the weather and workload, kicking steps and climbing in balance on snow, and efficient pacing that allows us to climb comfortably.

By late afternoon we reach the small mountain hut at Camp Muir that serves as our base for the week. It rests at the edge of several of Mt. Rainier's glaciers. Views of the impressive Cowlitz, Ingraham, Nisqually and Paradise glaciers are inspiring, and the setting is unmatched as an instructional arena. During the evenings we can forget about the wind, wet and cold, and enjoy the basic comforts of the hut.

Climb To Camp Muir

Day 3 - 5


Throughout the seminar we learn and practice various mountaineering skills oriented toward cold weather and high altitude expedition climbing. These include ice axe arrest, cramponing, roped glacier travel, anchor placements, various self- and team- crevasse rescue techniques, belays, snow cave construction, expedition sled rigging, ice climbing, route finding and fixed rope travel. Much of our time is focused on avalanche forecasting and working with avalanche transceivers. Evenings include group discussions on mountain weather, medicine for mountaineering, expedition logistics, and any requested topics that spark your interest. Some of our itinerary is determined by such factors as the weather and route conditions, but much of it is also chosen in consideration of climbers' interests. We intentionally keep the itinerary flexible and guarantee you that there is far more to teach than there is time to teach it!

If conditions are suitable a summit attempt will be made at some time during the week. Factors such as snow and route conditions, weather, temperature, group ability and strength, avalanche risks, etc. all determine whether a summit bid can be safely attempted. We choose either the Ingraham Direct or the Gibraltar Ledge route as our climbing objective. Both these routes are exciting alpine climbs. If the conditions are not suitable for a winter summit attempt we will devote the additional time to training.

Training & Summit Day

Training & Summit Day

Training & Summit Day

Training & Summit Day

Day 6


On the final day of the program we have the option for additional training before we pack our gear and begin our descent to Paradise and return to Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford. After all the gear is unpacked, we gather as a team to celebrate our adventure.

The duration of the climb depends on many variables including snow conditions, the time of year, the route conditions, the weather during our climb, the temperature, etc. Those variables often affect our arrival time to Ashford, which might vary dramatically from climb to climb. For this reason we do not recommend scheduling an airline flight before midnight on the last day of your program.

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What You’ll Need

A list of required personal equipment accompanies every RMI program, and the thought process behind each item is much greater than simply “preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.” The list for your program takes into account factors such as: seasonality, route conditions, weather, elevation and more. As such, this list is framed within the broadest of contexts and is dynamic by its very nature. Therefore, certain variables (additions and/or subtractions) are inherent within such an all-encompassing list. We make every effort to recommend only top of the line clothing and technical gear and it is never our intention for you to buy or rent unnecessary gear.

The Guide Pick is an example of the listed item, giving you an idea of the material and specifications of the item. This exact item does not need to be purchased or used; however, any item you choose must have similar characteristics and performance abilities to the Guide Pick.

RMI Guides concur on the potential necessity of every item, thus every item on the list is required at gear check. However, guides may also have suggestions derived from their experience, some of which will vary from a given list. The guides’ recommendation whether to bring along or leave behind certain item(s) comes during the gear check, when the team first meets. Occasionally this recommendation comes at the expense of having previously purchased an item. If a guide presents the option of leaving behind certain item(s) on the list of required equipment, it is for a reason. Their recommendation may be related to the weather, route conditions, freezing level, perceived strength of the party, or desired pack weight.

Ultimately, there will never be a consensus for a “perfect” equipment list for an ascent. It does not exist because of the multitude of variables faced by climbers throughout the climb. Please follow this equipment list closely so that you will arrive for the gear check with all the required items. Keep in mind the list is not black and white, fine tuning will occur once you meet with your guide. Have a great climb!

  • Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering when they use code RMI2019 at checkout. This offer excludes sale items, rentals, meal packages, and Feathered Friends.

Shop Your Equipment List // Rent new equipment for your climb

Equipment List


      A bag rated to 0° F. Either goose down or synthetic, with ample room for movement. Most guides prefer down, because it is lightweight and compactable. A waterproof bag is superb, but not mandatory.
      The temperature rating system for sleeping bags is arbitrary and is not a guarantee of warmth. Base your selection on how well you do in the cold. If you tend to sleep on the cold side, choose a bag rated on the lower end of the temperature range.


      Full-length inflatable or closed cell pad.

    • ICE AXE

      The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.


      The 10 to 12 point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. We highly recommend anti-bot plates to prevent snow from balling up underfoot. Rigid frame crampons designed for technical ice climbing are not recommended.


      A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.


      You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.


      Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.

    • Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.

    • We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.

    • We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.


      Insulated double boots are required for ascents on Mt. Rainier at this time of the year. They provide the best insulation and a rigid platform for kicking steps and fitting crampons. If purchasing your own boots, size them large enough to accommodate heavy socks with liners. Allow plenty of room for your toes. Those who are planning for a high altitude expedition will want to choose a boot with a cold weather liner that does not absorb moisture.


      We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.

    • 2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES

      Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required. Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content and BPA-Free are recommended.


      Please use the Zip-Lock as your personal trash bag.

    • CAMERA

      For lighting in snow caves.


      Personal size (2 oz.) bottle.


      We recommend packable, biodegradable, personal size rolls.

    • Purchase travel insurance.

    • Arrange lodging in Ashford.

    • Reserve rental equipment.

    • Arrange transportation to Ashford.

    • Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!

Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following equipment for your program: climbing ropes, and blue bags (for solid waste disposal).

Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a cell phone for emergency contact.

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How cold will it be?

Daytime temperatures at Camp Muir are typically in the 20’s and 30’s but can vary considerably depending on conditions. If we’re enjoying high pressure, it may be clear, yet considerably colder. If stable weather and snow conditions allow a summit attempt, temperatures will no doubt be hovering around zero (or colder) en-route to the summit.

What are the chances of making the summit?

We’re brutally honest about this: on average, one Seminar out of four each winter may reach the top; some years none will make it.  While the training on an Expedition Skills Seminar - WInter can be excellent, if your goal includes a more certain summit attempt, you might consider an alternative Expedition Skills Seminar. 

Can I bring my skis or snowboard along?

Please bring snowshoes only. One of the important goals of this program is to provide the best possible training for a Denali adventure. Because snowshoes are the method of travel on Denali, that’s what we practice here. On a side note, RMI also offers ski mountaineering programs!

What is the Climber-to-Guide Ratio on this program?

Our climber-to-guide ratio is 3:1 on the Disappointment Cleaver and Ingraham Glacier routes.

What is the maximum group size?

The maximum group size of any program anywhere on Mt. Rainier is 12 individuals, including guides.


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