Alpine Climbing Information

 Basic Alpine Climbing
Education based and non-education based climbs

The MWR Alpine program is designed for DoD ID card holders, their immediate family members and no more than 3 guests per card holder.  It will provide summit attempts through leader led trips into the alpine regions. Through two different programs participants can either progress to the basic level of rope team member on glaciated terrain or participate in small group climbs without training.  Climbing courses are two weekends and consist of forty hours of training.  Signing up for a course allows participants the ability to register for a climb pending successful completion of the course.  Successful completion of the basic course or prior climbing knowledge will qualify the participant for inclusion in advertised MWR Alpine Mountaineering summit climbs.
Non-education based climbs require three participants to schedule with a max of six.  All climbs include the equipment listed below.  Private climbs must be scheduled in person at the northwest adventure center with one of the certified guides four weeks in advance of requested climb date and must be paid for in full at the time of scheduling.

Please see the MWR webtrac system for published dates and times.

Cost for climbs (Route Dependent and varies):

Per Person;
Basic Course         $250.00
Basic Rainier Climb $750.00 
    (Nonrefundable Permit fee $150.00 and $600.00 Climb)
Independent Climb         $1000.00 

Medical Disclosure and Waiver:  All participants will complete a medical disclosure stating they understand the rigors and difficulties of the activity.  
Mountaineering Physical requirements: Mountaineering requires long days of continuous physical exertion often carrying heavy loads in extreme weather at altitude.  This places serious demands on the body and limited physical ability endangers other climbers.  Participants are required to be able to carry forty five pounds up four thousand feet in five hours.  Participants are required to have experience at altitudes of ten thousand feet prior to climbing mountains above that altitude. 

Trip Duration:

Varies depending on route selected.  Basic routes are three days in length from departure of JBLM to return.  More remote routes consist of four days.  Scheduled climbs run anywhere from Thursday to Monday over the weekends.


Basic routes 
Disappointment Cleaver – 3 Day
Kautz Glacier – 4 Day
Emmons Glacier – 4 Day
Tahoma Glacier – 4 Day

Dates and Times - Course:

Building 8050 NCO Beach Rd. JBLM North
Classroom start @ 08:30- 12:00 & 13:00- 19:00 Saturday & Sunday 
Bring clothing appropriate for short outdoor sessions locally.
Outdoor Skills Day Meet Building 8050 07:00 Saturday/ Return 19:00 Sunday 
Bring all required equipment as annotated below.

Outdoor Skills Practice:
Conducted over a twenty four hour period at Mount Rainer’s Paradise area.  Elevation of 6000 feet on the shoulder of the massive Nisqually Glacier.  Physical performance of skills learned in the classroom in the alpine environment and a short hike across the Glacier for terrain hazard identification.  Lessons in snow camping and avalanche awareness.

Requirements Education exemption:
Broken into three parts the course covers Classroom based education, Skills activities, and an Outdoor overnight practicum.  In order to exempt from the course you must display the required skills.
Skills tests will be periodically done by appointment and those designated critical must be successfully completed without error.  The critical skills are listed below.
Belaying in all formats
Proper use of Ice axe
Proper use of Crampons

Once you have passed the skills you are qualified to sign up for a mountaineering trip.  You may be asked to demonstrate these skills prior to any technical movement on a trip in order to ensure the safety of all participants.

Ten Essential System: Required to carry during trips!

    Navigation (map and compass)
    Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
    Insulation (extra clothing)
    Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
    First-aid supplies
    Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
    Repair kit and tools
    Nutrition (extra food)
    Hydration (extra water)
    Emergency shelter

Equipment list:

Items in bold are participants responsibility, checked items we will provide.

Backpack - Approximately 5-6000 Cu In. We'll be carrying quite a bit of gear to our camps.
Small Additional Duffle Bag - To store items you leave behind, such as travel clothing.
Sleeping Gear:
Sleeping Bag - Rated to 20 degrees. Down or Synthetic. Depends on expected condition.
Compression Bag - To shrink sleeping bag and save pack space
  • Sleeping Pad - Foam or inflatable. Bring repair kit if inflatable.
  • 3/4 or 4 Season Tent or Bivy.
 Technical Gear:
  • Climbing Helmet
  • Lightweight Climbing Harness
  • Crampons
  • Ice Axe (mountaineering/glacier travel)
  • Trekking Poles (not optional, please bring to save your knees, we'll have big loads)
  • 3 Locking Carabiners 4 non locking
  • Slings 3x Single, 3x Double
  • Snow Shovel & Saw
20' 5-6mm Cord
Head Wear:
Warm Fleece Hat - ideally thin enough to also work under helmet.
Balaclava or Neck Gaiter - 
Buff – Very thin neck gaiter for sun protection.
Sunglasses - Full wrap or glacier glasses. Don't skimp here. UVA and UVB protected.
Goggles - Amber lenses help in mixed and stormy weather
  • Headlamp - with spare batteries. The cold can really eat them up.
Extremities Gear:
Gloves (insulating) - 1-2 pairs of fleece. I bring three different weights of fleece that fit inside each other. The heavier pair should be wind/water resistant or proof.
Gloves (shell) - Waterproof/Windproof. 
  • Mountaineering Boots - Plastic or leather but must be completely rigid (full shank), and insulated. 
Shoes/ Hiking Shoes – For transit to from mountian
Camp Shoes - Crocs work well as do Down Booties. (Optional)
  • Gaiters - Knee length, gore-tex or equivalent and fit over your big boots.
Socks - Wool or synthetic. Find ones that work for you. Need multiple pairs for trip. Liner socks are optional, some people like them, and some don't.
Core Gear:
Base layers - Synthetic, long sleeve, lightweight. Ventable if possible
Insulating Layers - have several options 2- 3 Layers fleece or similaar
Long-sleeve lightweight shirt with collar - synthetic. To protect yourself from the sun.
Shell Jacket - With hood, Gore-Tex or equivalent.
Street Clothes - for travel times
Leg Gear:
Base Layers - same as above but long leg vs. long sleeved
Insulating layer - fleece pants or equivalent
Shell Pants - Gore-Tex, full side zip if possible. 
Lightweight synthetic pants for non-summit days but on snow still
Other Gear:
Sunscreen and lip protection. Bring spares.
Utensils, cup, bowl
2-3 quart sized water bottle, wide mouth. Hydration bladders are fine but can freeze so still have 2 bottles with you.
Several Large Garbage bags and zip-locks for keeping things dry
Toiletries - toothbrush, deodorant, etc.
Bio-degradable toilet paper. We'll also be using the blue bags on Rainier.
Ear Plugs (Optional)
Camera - if you're into that sort of thing, spare batteries/memory cards.
Personal Medical supplies - first aid kit (especially for blisters) and any prescription/non-prescription items
  • Water Purification Source
  • Stove - per cook group
  • Fuel Bottle (we'll get fuel in Tacoma)
  • Cooking Pots
Reading Materials
Stuff sacks for organizing gear
Knife/Leatherman (put in checked luggage, not carry on).
Ski Mountaineering: Option
  • AT Skis or Split Snowboard
  • AT Boots
  • Whippet, Ski Pole
  • Ski Crampons
  • Ski Skins

Glop Stopper Wax


  1. I checked the MWR site and I can't find any Basic Alpine Climbing course, only a basic rock climbing course. Am I mistaken?

    1. Greetings, The current summer schedule only covers out to the end of September. The next schedule is going to be released soon and it will have basic courses. We can only run Basic Alpine in the winter months, that is why there is none currently on the schedule. The first Basic Alpine course is going to be in the beginning of February.