Basic Snow Travel


Many trips in the Sierra require traveling on snow, from peak ascents to backpacking journeys routed over passes along the Sierra Crest. Many passes are over 12,000 feet and snow can stay at these elevations through the middle of summer.

Day One – This course covers the basics of travel on snow. Techniques practiced include use of an ice axe, efficient methods for walking up and down on snow, cramponing skills, travel roped together with other people, and belaying on snow. This course provides practical knowledge applicable whether you plan on climbing snow covered peaks throughout the year, or your backcountry adventures are mainly during the summer months with an occasional snowfield to negotiate.

Day Two – Snow Anchors and Crevasse Rescue Courses

This school covers essential skills needed for anyone planning to climb on snowy terrain steep enough warrant placing anchors for protection, or on glaciated routes. Topics discussed include various pulley systems, and the application of different types of snow anchors. We will also cover related subjects such as rescue priorities and procedures, team management, and safety considerations. The advantages and disadvantages of different types of equipment will be discussed throughout the day.


We meet at the SMI office in Bishop at 8 AM. Since conditions change making them difficult to predict ahead of time we will wait until a few days before the course to make a determination on location. We begin with instruction and practice safely walking up and down snowy slopes using the rest step, step kicking, and plunge stepping. We then introduce the ice axe and practice different techniques for carrying it and using it to stop a fall with various self arrest positions. Crampon skills are taught next. We demonstrate how to correctly attach crampons to your boots then practice effective walking techniques including the crossover step and herringbone techniques. Building on these skills we will then introduce ropes and practice snow travel roped to fellow team members. We also talk about techniques for breathing efficiently at high altitude and other energy conservation tips. This school is equally applicable to people new to snow and ice mountaineering, and to intermediate climbers wishing to refresh their skills for an upcoming trip.


$150 per person.
If a course has less than three participants our private rates apply:  $360 for one person, $250 per person for two people.

$200 as an add-on to a Trip/ Expedition (must have paid a deposit on qualifying trip)


January 19, 2019
February 23, 2019
March 1, 2019
March 6, 2019
March 9, 2019
March 16, 2019
March 20, 2019
March 22, 2019
March 23, 2019
March 27, 2019
March 29, 2019
March 30, 2019
April 3, 2019
April 5, 2019
April 6, 2019
April 10, 2019
April 13, 2019
April 19, 2019
April 20, 2019
April 23, 2019
April 25, 2019
April 27, 2019

And on a Private Basis