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The North Cascades Alpine Classic

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  • Show Trip Info

    Price
    $2190
    Deposit
    $400
    Duration
    6 days
    Difficulty
    Level 4
    Type
    Mountaineering
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The North Cascades Alpine Classic

The North Cascades Alpine Classic

Two Northwest classics combined for one climbing adventure. The North Ridge of Mt. Baker is an iconic Northwest climb with multiple pitches of steep alpine ice and snow. Mt. Shuksan's Fisher Chimneys route is an exciting mix of alpine rock, ice, and glacier travel.

CLIMB HIGHLIGHTS

  • On Mt. Baker climb multiple pitches of steep alpine ice above 9,000'.
  • Climb the rocky Fisher Chimneys to a high camp perched on a narrow ridge overlooking the North Cascades and ascend moderate alpine rock to Mt. Shuksan's summit.

Mt. Baker's North Ridge is a thrilling route for the experienced climber. With intricate glacial navigation, steep snow and ice climbing, and a beautiful summit vista, this route rewards climbers with a well-balanced mountaineering skill set.

Mt. Shuksan (9,127') is a stunning massif of ridges, pinnacles, and glaciers located in Washington’s North Cascades. The mountain has become an icon for climbers in the northwest with its rugged beauty and rich mountaineering history.

These climbing routes are appropriate for climbers in great physical condition with general mountaineering knowledge and previous ice climbing experience. Climbers should be comfortable on ice up to 80°. An afternoon to review ice skills and revisit technique is included while on Mt. Baker. Please call and talk with one of our guides if you are undecided regarding your skills.

 

Combining these two great routes into one six-day program ensures greater success and more time to enjoy two of the range's premier alpine adventures.

We lead the Alpine Classic at a 2 to 1 climber to guide ratio ensuring that you receive a high degree of hands-on instruction and have a small, efficient rope team during the summit ascent.

THE RMI DIFFERENCE

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 alpine 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.

SAFETY

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.

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.


Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National ForestAuthorized Special Use Permit

RMI Expeditions is operated under special use permit with the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

“In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination: write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD).”

  • Upcoming Climbs

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  • Price
    $2190
    Deposit
    $400
    Duration
    6 days
    Difficulty
    Level 4
    Type
    Mountaineering
Table of Contents
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Day 1

ORIENTATION & APPROACH  •  5,800' | 1,768m

7:30 a.m.  Meet at the Ranger Station in Glacier, WA

The group will meet at the Glacier Public Service Center in Glacier, Washington. Please see our Travel Details document for driving directions and carpool opportunities. Your RMI guides will meet you at the ranger station for introductions, group gear distribution and personal gear check. From Glacier we follow the Glacier Creek Rd to the Heliotrope trailhead. During our hike into the Hogsback camp we gain approximately 2,200'. The hike winds through old growth forest and up into beautiful alpine meadows. The approach will take us three to four hours and we generally get into camp at 5,800' in the early afternoon.

Our first priority is the safety of all team members. We will spend several hours in the afternoon revisiting general mountaineering and steep terrain climbing techniques. We will continue to assess each team member throughout the course of the training and the climb.

After the afternoon of skills training we return to camp where we make our final summit preparations, enjoy dinner, and go to bed early for the next day's climb.

Orientation & Approach



Day 2

N. RIDGE BAKER SUMMIT DAY  •  10,781' | 3,286m

We're up well before the sun on summit day. Eating a quick breakfast leaves time for last minute preparations before we clip into the rope and settle into the familiar crunch of crampons and ice axes. The first two hours of the day include little elevation gain, allowing our bodies to warm up before the real test. After traversing under the stunning North Face of Mt. Baker, we climb steep rock and snow to the base of the ice cliff. Exciting climbing for several hundred feet, allows us to access the glacial cap and the true summit, Grant’s Peak, at 10,781'. Our descent is via the Coleman-Deming Route, which takes a gentler angle down the western aspect of the mountain.

Summit Day



Day 3

DESCENT TO TRAILHEAD

After the exertion the previous day, we wake to a leisurely breakfast and slowly pack up camp before retracing our steps back to the trailhead. The hike down will take 2-3 hours. We have a celebratory dinner once back in town. Lodging for the night is provided.

Descen To Trailhead



Day 4

APPROACH TO FISHER CHIMNEYS HIGH CAMP •  6,700' | 2,042m

The group meets at 8:00 a.m. at the Glacier Public Service Center in Glacier, WA. Please see our Travel Details document for driving directions.

We then carpool to our trailhead located at Artist Point, the very end of the Mt. Baker Highway. The climb begins with a moderate hike to Lake Ann after which the angle of our trail increases as we switchback and scramble to the base of the Fisher Chimneys. The team ropes up for the Chimneys, a series of 3rd and 4th class rock gullies taking approximately one to two hours to climb and bringing us to the base of the White Salmon Glacier. This moderate glacier leads us to high camp at 6,700 feet. At high camp we prepare relax for the evening and enjoy the spectacular vistas.

Approach To High Camp



Day 5

FISHER CHIMNEYS MT. SHUKSAN SUMMIT DAY •  9,127' | 2,782m

Summit day begins with an alpine start to allow ample time for this full day of climbing. We ascend the moderate snow and ice slopes of Winnie's Slide and the Upper Curtis glacier eventually gaining the south side of the mountain. Now on the Sulphide Glacier we continue up to the routes final crux, Mt. Shuksan's summit pyramid. The 600 feet of climbing on the summit pyramid constitutes some of the best climbing on the route. Kicking steps and using ice axes for balance, we move up steep snow and make some belayed moves on the 4th and 5th class rock. From the top we enjoy unparalleled views of Washington's Cascade Range.

The descent involves rappels and belayed down-climbing to gain the glacier. We reverse our route down the Sulphide and Upper Curtis Glaciers back to high camp for the night.

Summit Day



Day 6

DESCENT TO TRAILHEAD

Another alpine start and we reverse our route down the White Salmon Glacier, through the Fisher Chimneys and the four mile hike to the trailhead. The trip concludes with a celebratory lunch in Glacier. Those with a plane to catch should plan for a three and a half hour drive from the trailhead to Seattle, with the group usually arriving there in the evening.

Descent To Trailhead



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Travel Consultant

RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Please call (208) 788-2870 or send email to etravel@cox.net.

Travel Insurance

We strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or while traveling. You can purchase travel insurance at any time prior to the trip departure. Should you need to cancel from a program, Trip Insurance will refund you for any non-refundable cancellations fees when cancelling for a covered reason.

There are several things to note when purchasing trip insurance.

  • Cancellation Insurance is included in the standard Trip Insurance policy if you are injured, or have a medical or family emergency prior to or while traveling. Should you need to cancel your program, Trip Insurance will refund you for any non-refundable cancellations fees when cancelling for a covered reason. Most travel insurance companies provide an option to include coverage that allows you to “Cancel for Any Reason”, but the initial policy must be purchased within 15 days of placing your deposit for the program.
  • In order to cover your trip with RMI Expeditions you may need to include options such as an “Adventure or Sports” upgrade. Not all travel insurance will cover mountaineering, climbing, skiing or trekking adventures. Some will not cover due to gear used (crampons, ice axe), others will not cover above a certain elevation and/or region of the world. Check your policy carefully to make sure your activity is covered.
  • Purchasing Travel insurance is also dependent on your state of residence. If one company doesn’t offer coverage for you because you live in Washington, another company might.

Harbor InsuranceHarbor Travel Insurance covers the following critical benefits:

  • Evacuation to a nearest appropriate hospital once hospitalized.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption, primary medical expense coverage, sporting goods, baggage loss, emergency dental, AD&D and more.
  • Completely integrated one-stop program with a single contact for emergency services to travel assistance and insurance claims
  • 24/7 access to paramedics, nurses and military veterans.

Harbor Travel Insurance is powered by Redpoint Resolutions, a medical and travel security risk company. Their team is comprised of special operations veterans, paramedics, Stanford Medicine affiliated physicians, former intelligence officers, insurance actuaries and global security experts with dozens of years of experience in theaters around the world. The Redpoint network covers the globe, making them uniquely equipped to provide elite rescue travel insurance – in every sense of the word.

TripAssureWe have partnered with TripAssure, a Trip Mate brand, to provide travel insurance for our climbers. TripAssure has created the Assure Adventure Plans to cover travelers participating in climbing, skiing, mountaineering and trekking programs.

TripAssure's Adventure Plan and Adventure Plus Plan differ only in the coverage option which allows you to Cancel for Any Reason. In order to receive Cancel for Any Reason coverage you must purchase the Adventure Plan Plus within 15 days of paying your deposit or payment with RMI. We recommend that you carefully read the Plan Document that applies to your purchase.

Getting There

Our meeting place is the Glacier Public Service Center in Glacier, WA. Most climbers will fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) the evening before the program and rent a car for the 2 1/2 hour drive. Please click here for driving directions.

Ride Share: If you are participating in a climb and are interested in sharing a ride, please post your information in the "Ride Share" forum of your North Cascades Discussion Board by logging into your RMI Account.

Area Accommodations

Spend the night before the trip in either the Seattle area or Bellingham.

Weather

For updated North Cascades weather forecasts, click here.

Tipping

Our guides work hard to ensure your well-being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program. If you would rather not bring the guide gratuity with you on the trip, you can send a check or call the RMI office to pay with a credit card upon your return.

Mt. Baker Facts

Mt. Baker holds the record for the most recorded snowfall in a single season at 1,140 inches.

Mt. Baker was volcanically active as recently as 1891.

For more facts click here, and for even more click here.

Mt. Baker Resources

General Information on Mt. Baker.

Mt. Baker map.

Communities & Activities outside Mt. Baker, click here.

Mt. Shuksan Facts

North Cascades National Park has over 300 glaciers, more than any other park in the lower 48 states. More than half the glaciers in the 48 states are concentrated in this mountainous wilderness region called the North Cascades.

For more facts click here, and for even more click here.

Mt. Shuksan Resources

General Information on North Cascades National Park.

North Cascades National Park map.

Communities & Activities outside North Cascades National Park, click here.

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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!

If you are planning on renting gear for your climb, there are two options. Please note rental items are not shipped. Pick-up/Drop-off is at the store location. 

Ascent Outdoors - 5209 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107 | Phone: (206) 545-8810. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount for rental items and non-sale products. A discount code will be sent after registering for your climb. Rental items are not shipped.

Northwest Mountain Shop -  829 Metcalf Street, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284 | Phone: (360) 854-8761. Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase. Equipment can be reserved online.

Equipment List

    • BACKPACK

      A 50+ liter pack is the recommended size for this climb. A separate summit pack is not needed.

    • CRAMPONS

      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.

    • AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER

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

    • BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA

      One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.

    • GLACIER GLASSES

      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.

    • GOGGLES

      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.

    • MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS

      Mountaineering specific leather boots are the preferred choices for ascents in the North Cascades. They must provide good insulation as well as a rigid sole for kicking steps and holding crampons. Lightweight hiking boots are not acceptable as they don't work well with crampons, or in very cold or wet weather.

    • SUNSCREEN

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

    • MEALS

      See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.

    • 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.

    • AQUAMIRA WATER TREATMENT DROPS

      Chlorine Dioxide water purification drops. We do not recommend the tablets.

    • ZIP-LOCK BAG (1 GALLON)

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

    • CAMERA
    • TOOTHBRUSH
    • TOOTHPASTE
    • HAND SANITIZER(S)

      Personal size (2 oz.) bottle.

    • SEPTIC-GRADE TOILET PAPER
    • INSULATED MUG

      Stainless steel or plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.

    • Purchase travel insurance.

    • Purchase airplane tickets.

    • Arrange transportation and lodging.

    • Reserve rental equipment.

    • Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!


Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, stoves, group cooking equipment, fuel, climbing ropes and anchors, 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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Payments

Deposit Payments:* A non-refundable deposit payment of $400 per person secures your reservation.

Balance Payments:* The balance payment is due 90 days prior to the start of your program. We will send a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment due date. If your balance payment is not received 90 days prior to the start of you program, your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited. Trips departing within 90 days must be paid in full at the time of reservation.

*Payments $2,500 or less may be made via MasterCard, Visa, e-check, check, or wire transfer. Payments over $2,500 must be made via e-check, check, or wire transfer.

Cancellation

The $400 per person deposit is non-refundable. Written notification is required for all cancellations.

Once RMI receives your written notification of cancellation, the following apply:

  • If you cancel 60 or more days before the start of your program, program fees will be refunded less the non-refundable $400 per person deposit.
  • If you cancel less than 60 days before the start of your program, no refunds will be issued.

Unfortunately, due to the time-sensitive nature of our business, and the difficulty in re-booking a trip close to departure, we cannot make exceptions to this policy.

Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.

Change of Date

Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 30 days prior to your departure date for a $100 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed less than 30 days before departure.

Risk Management

Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.

Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity. 

Climber Responsibilities

Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:

  • is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
  • honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.

Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions

In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines:

  • Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
  • Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
  • Ages 18 & above: No restrictions 

An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.

Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.

A minor climber must be accompanied by their parent/legal guardian throughout the entirety of the program. If either climber must descend at any time during the program, both climbers must descend together.

Summit Attempt

RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person’s own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.’s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.

General Policies

Any Participant under the age of 18 must be accompanied on the trip by a parent or legal guardian and both the Participant and parent or legal guardian must sign all forms.

RMI’s program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.

We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).

If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.

RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.

The Participant understands and agrees that RMI assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with any travel and hospitality service provided to the Participant by others in connection with the trip, including but not limited to the services provided by airlines, hotels, and motor vehicle operators, and that RMI is not responsible for any act, error, omission, or any injury, loss, accident, delay, irregularity, or danger by a supplier of travel or hospitality services to the Participant in connection with the RMI program.

RMI recommends and strongly advises that the Participant have or purchase personal life, medical, accident, travel, baggage, trip cancellation, and other insurance that may pertain to participation in the program. The Participant understands that RMI provides no such insurance coverage in connection with the trip.

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