Already climbed Mt. Rainier, Baker or Mt. Hood? Looking for the next step?

As guides living and working in the Northwest we run into a lot of climbers that have started their climbing careers on one of the big Northwest Volcanoes. For many of these climbers their next steps are to climb higher and higher peaks around the world. Unfortunately, this progression is only possible by choosing climbs that do not involve much more than walking on steep snow.

The “Beyond the Volcanoes” program is set up to help the aspiring alpinist gain the skills needed to competently climb on technical terrain on a variety of mediums.

Morning on the Torment Forbidden Traverse

HIgh on the Torment Forbidden Traverse

The start of the program focuses on rock climbing with a day of training at the granite crag in the valley. This venue gives the participant the ability to focus on new skills without having to deal with heavy packs filled with overnight gear. The skills covered on day one will teach participants all the necessary techniques to safely and efficiently climb and descend multi-pitch rock climbs.


The next day is spent high in the mountains climbing one of the classic climbs in the WA Pass area. There are a number of classic moderate routes in the Washington Pass area from which we will choose a climb for our summit attempt. Among these are the South Arete of South Early Winter Spire, and The Beckey Route on Liberty Bell. Early season climbs may require the use of an ice axe on the approach, whereas later in the season climbs can be reached via a climbers trail in light hiking boots. Once again the overnight gear will be left behind so participants can focus on the technical climbing.


SE Ridge of Shuksan

Climbing the Southeast Ridge of Mt Shuksan

Day three will have participants packing up and heading into the mountains for two nights. The venues NCMG uses for this section of the course include areas such as Mt. Shuksan, Boston Basin, and the Silver Star area. Instead of using the expedition style approach used on many of the volcanoes this overnight trip will use a lightweight alpinist style of travel which will allow for more enjoyment on the approach and will give the participants the ability to climb more technical objectives. Your guide will show you techniques for trimming the weight off your pack while still having everything you need, including a comfortable home in the mountains at the end of the day. The objective of this three day section will be to climb one of the high peaks in the area. This will involve steep snow, glacial climbing and technical rock. Participants will be able to put all of their skills together on one challenging, but obtainable objective. Ratios are kept low so participants can move at their own pace, picking objectives that suit their strengths while allowing them work on their newly acquired skills.
Skills Required

Participants should have basic mountaineering skills. These include climbing and descending on snow, self arrest and the ability to travel as part of a rope team.

Crevasse rescue skills, while beneficial, are not required for this course. If you are feeling like you need a brush up on these skills, consider taking our 3 day Crevasse Rescue and Glacier Travel Course.

High Camp on Mount Shuksan

High Camp on Mount Shuksan


A few words on low ratio guiding

We are frequently asked why low ratio guiding is so important to us here at NCMG. There is obviously a much higher profit margin when maximizing the number of climbers to each guide. Many other companies do successfully guide larger ratios without serious safety concerns. For us, however, there are several reasons that we feel we must maintain our commitment to low ratio guiding.

  1. Climbers are able to learn and develop skills at their own pace. We feel that in both our skills courses and private guiding, students/clients can grasp concepts, have more practice time and get more individual feedback in these small group settings.
  2. Low ratio climbing allows students to tackle more technically demanding objectives and climb in a more realistic setting. It is extremely rare to see parties larger than 3 on technical routes in the mountains,. When clients are learning in a low ratio setting we feel that exposing climbers to this realistic style of climbing will allow them to transition to the world of non guided climbing easier. Many of our clients have commented that they learned more in 2 days with a private guide than in week long courses at a higher ratio. Additionally, this type of climbing provides a better, more realistic experience for all involved, including the guide!
  3. Next, there is an undeniable increase in safety. By definition, a guide’s job is to provide a higher measure of security than would be available to his/her client unguided. That said, it is clear a guide can most effectively accomplish this with the minimum number of clients to provide care for. It also gives the guide the ability to use techniques that will allow the party to move quickly over moderate terrain while maintaining a high measure of security. Not only does this permit low ratio groups to move quickly in the face of an imminent storm, it offers them the option of climbing an additional route, if they are ahead of schedule.
  4. Finally, climbing for us is about the experience. Everyone loves to reach a prized summit, but in the end, it’s the experience that people remember. At NCMG, our clients become friends and trips are about more than just the summit. They are about camaraderie, challenge and providing the confidence and support to help you succeed and forge an experience you will never forget. So, consider this an invitation, hire a guide, make a new friend and climb a route that you have dreamed of. We can take you there.


July 26 – 30 and August  9 – 13

Private courses can be scheduled anytime between May 15 – Oct 1, Contact us via email or call 509-996-3194 for details.


South Arete of South Early Winter Spire

Climbing the Classic Hand Traverse on the South Arete

Beyond the Volcanoes

  •  $1050 per person with a minimum of 2
  • This program is possible as a 1:1 private at $1450

Program Cost Inclusions

  • 5 days of low ratio guiding
  • Use of all technical climbing equipment including Harnesses, helmets, belay devices, ropes, etc.
  • Discounts on clothing purchases through Patagonia

Program Cost Exclusions

  • Travel to and from Mazama
  • Food during the program (this can be arranged by NCMG at an additional charge)
  • Personal climbing and camping equipment
  • Lodging in Mazama

On the third pitch of Liberty Bell

Check out some photos from some of our favorite climbs. (you will find many more on our recent trips page)