The use of an ice axe and crampons is fundamental to not only the mountaineer, but also to anyone who wants to be able to move with comfort and safety in the mountains under any conditions. For the backcountry hiker, this course provides the skills needed to safely cross snowy passes and to deal with the mountain snowfields often found in the summer (especially after a heavy winter).

Those mountaineers with ambitions of climbing the world’s higher peaks will also gain confidence as we work through skills such as self-arrest, crampon technique, and belaying on snow. This is the perfect course for PCT, JMT, and SHR hikers heading in after a high snow year.


high-sierra-climbing-super-topoSMC will provide helmets and group climbing gear. You need crampons, ice axe and a harness with carabiners and a belay device (which we rent if you need, contact us before the course). Food and lodging are not included in the course. We have mountaineering boots available for rental. Please refer to the equipment list for more information. For background reading, we recommend the classic “Freedom of the Hills” written and published by The Mountaineers.

For background reading we recommend the classic bible “Freedom of the Hills” written and published by The Mountaineers.

There are many lodging options in the Mammoth and Lee Vining area, including hotels and camping. Check campground opening dates online, or call ahead if you are not sure; openings vary each year due to differing snow levels and conditions.

We highly recommend that you spend at least one night at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000) just prior to the trip. Though we are not hiking far, we will be constantly active during the day. Being acclimatized will help you feel better during the day, allowing you to learn and practice the skills more efficiently. Spending a night in Mammoth would do the trick or better yet, camped at an even higher trailhead or campsite. There are campsites along Highway 120 on the way to Tioga Pass; check snow conditions and when they open before arriving. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more information.

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