3-Day Winter Mountaineering Course With IMCS at Mount Washington

After climbing Mt.Marcy in tough winter conditions and surviving the night in snow cave in -25C temperatures, I knew that my passion and love for winter outdoors won’t stop here. I’ve gained a lot of experience and learned a great deal over the past few years about outdoors. But I always felt like I might have missed the basics. With these thoughts in mind, I’ve reached out to International Mountain Climbing School and signed up for their 3 Day Basic Mountaineering Skills Course.

3-Day Course Information:

  • DAY 1Most of the first day will be spent outside learning technical skills such as self arrest and use of an ice axe. You will also learn how to walk in crampons, understand different walking technique, such as French stepping or International Step. You will also learn and practice the basics of Ice Climbing (I highly recommend taking an indoor rock climbing class at your local gym, so you know how to put on harness, how to use belay device or even repel)
  • DAY 2You will meet at IMCS headquarter in the morning and will sort and pack gear. You will plan your food for the next day and half and prepare yourself before heading over to Mount Washington to set up a base camp. You will learn how to set up a tent on the snow, make anchors, cook dinner and spend the night in freezing temperatures.
  • DAY 3You will wake up very early in the morning and attempt to summit Mt.Washington.

General Information:

❖ DAY 1: Learning Technical Skills

You will meet at IMCS headquarters around 10:00AM and will be assigned all of the necessary equipment and given course instructions. After the final check, If guides find that your clothing is not warm enough, they will provide a warmer options. *Please do not count on IMCS completely dressing you up, they have limited availability of different sizes. Once ready, you will drive toward The Cathedral Ledge and start practicing all of the basic techniques. It will be a very fun day and you will learn a lot! Make sure to dress very warm and bring lots of extra clothing. You can always ask a guide for any questions you may have prior to heading out. ]

❖ DAY 2: Setting Up Base Camp around Harvard’s Cabin near Pinkham Notch

You will meet at their headquarters around the same time as yesterday and get yourself ready before heading out toward the base camp. It’s important to have a backpack that can fit a lot of gear. I think you can also rent one from IMCS. *Or maybe ask nicely and they will provide one for you :). Once you all done packing, you will drive toward Pinkham Notch, which will be the starting point of your 2 mile hike toward Harvard’s Cabin. Once at the location, you will be given further instruction such as learning how to find a tent site, how to set it up and secure the tent with snow anchors.

❖ DAY 3: Mount Washington Summit Day

In the morning the weather didn’t look to good and it was already snowing. Our guide was able to check the weather at Harvard’s Cabin, but it didn’t look to promising. A big snowstorm was slowly moving in and we only had few hours to get to the top. I was very afraid that our summit ascent might be cancelled. Luckily, we had an awesome guide, who is also a really cool guy, his name was Grant Simon. I don’t know if it was the enthusiasm in my eyes that he saw, but despite the odds, he decided to still give us a chance so we could try to summit. Out of most, if not all the guiding expeditions that day, ours was the one that had actually summited the peak in a pretty tough conditions as you may see from the photos.

As we were going up, it was snowing hard and the visibility was decreasing. The wind was slowly picking up the speed as we were passing by the lions head. 45min – 1hr later, we were standing at the top of Mt.Washington with the snowstorm steadily intensifying every minute. We only had few minutes to spend at the summit, before turning around. The snow was dumping very hard! It took approximately 20 minutes for our previous tracks to completely disappear. It was very challenging to navigate in such condition even for our guide who knew every inch of this mountain. At one point we found ourselves in a complete whiteout and our guide didn’t want to risk us getting to close to the ravine as there is chance of falling through the windblown, newly formed snow cornices. At this point, our guide had to pop out a GPS device in order to get us back on trail, which we were able to find very quickly.

Soon after, we safely got back to our base camp. Packed up all of the our gear and headed back down toward the parking lot, laughing and chatting about how awesome this experience was!