Skills for the Big Lines

This course is designed for the experienced backcountry skier or splitboarder looking to get into more technical objectives in glaciated terrain. Skis are the perfect tools for climbing (and descending) peaks as they allow us to move quickly and cover a lot of terrain. These camps typically take place utilizing both Washington Pass and Mount Baker, and if the weather cooperates, we finish up with a descent of Mount Baker, truly one of the most classic snow descents in the lower 48. While skiing or riding off the summit is an unforgettable experience, this course is decidedly skill-focused with ample time spent learning and practicing the skills necessary to plan and execute a trip in glaciated terrain.

Ski Mountaineering Course

We typically begin this course with a day tour in the Washington Pass area where we work on steep skinning and skiing techniques including the use of ski crampons (however, we sometimes run the entire course on Mount Baker). That afternoon/evening, we work on the critical skill of tour planning so you can take a leadership role during our next three days. We then switch venues for to Mount Baker where we cover a range of technical skills from rope team travel to crevasse rescue to whiteout navigation. In addition to being guides, we are all educators and work hard to create a useful and accessible progression of skills – we will take you from the most basic snow anchor to mechanical advantage while highlighting realistic, simple systems.

Gear List

Ski Mountaineering




  • Ski Mountaineering Course
  • NCNP Ski Traverses (e.g. Forbidden Tour, Isolation Traverse)
  • Mount Baker & Mt. Shuksan Skiing

A NOTE ABOUT EQUIPMENT LISTS: Nothing can ruin a trip faster than having the wrong gear for the conditions at hand.  All our programs are subject to rapid and severe changes in the weather.  Select garments that are warm, lightweight and durable.  Generally speaking, the best arrangement is to think in terms of layers – a system that dries quickly, allow flexibility and resists wind, water and abrasion. All of us have different tolerances for heat or cold; for example, you might choose warmer gloves than specified here if you tend to get cold hands. If you have doubts about a specific garment’s appropriateness, please talk to your guide in advance about conditions you are most likely to experience. This list is built for a trip with an unsettled weather forecast.  With a good weather forecast some of these items may be left behind to save weight. All trips require that you bring adequate food and water, please see our “food” equipment list for details.


Head, Hands & Feet

  • Warm Hat
  • Sun Hat
  • Buff
  • Lightweight Gloves (for uphill; softshell)
  • Midweight Gloves
  • Heavyweight Gloves (for downhill; waterproof and breathable)
  • Ski Socks

Upper Body Layers

  • Lightweight Base Layer Top
  • Lightweight Fleece jacket
  • Softshell Jacket with Hood
  • Puffy Jacket with Hood
  • Hardshell Jacket with Hood

Lower Body Layers

  • Lightweight Baselayer Bottom
  • Softshell Pants
  • Hardshell Pants


  • Backpack (30-40 Liters, designed for skiing)
  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles

ACCESSORIES continued…

  • Sunscreen and spf lip balm
  • Water & Food (we strongly recommend not using drink hoses during winter trips)
  • Headlamp
  • Blister Kit
  • optional: Ski Helmet


  • Skis or Split Board (we recommend tech/pin bindings and skis > 105mm waist width for winter conditions)
  • Climbing Skins (sized and cut for your skis or board)
  • Ski or Snowboard Boots
  • Ski Poles (collapsible for split boarders)
  • Ski Strap (rubber voile style)
  • Ski Crampons (sized to fit your ski width and binding type)

AVALANCHE SAFETY (these may be rented from NCMG)

  • Transceiver (3 antenna, less than 5 years old)
  • Shovel (metal blade required)
  • Probe (240cm or longer)




CLIMBING / TECHNICAL (these may be rented from NCMG)

  • Ice Axe (lightweight)
  • Boot Crampons (recommend aluminum for weight savings)
  • Climbing harness (a lightweight ski mountaineering model such as the Black Diamond couloir)
  • 2 Locking Carabiners

CREVASSE RESCUE GEAR (this is required for our ski mountaineering course and recommended for skiers that have crevasse rescue experience)

  • 3 additional locking carabiners (5 total)
  • 6 non-locking carabiners
  • 1 Double-Length (120cm) dyneema/spectra sewn runner
  • 1 cordalette 18—21 feet long, 6mm—7mm
  • 2 Friction hitches (recommend sterling hollowblock)
  • Optional: 1 Petzl micro traxion ratcheting pulley




  • Tent (4 season, lightweight)
  • Sleeping Bag (15-20 degree rating)
  • Sleeping Pad (inflatable)
  • Stove (recommend isobutene stoves over liquid fuel)
  • Fuel (adequate for cooking and melting snow for water – the quantity will vary with the trip length; please consult your guide)
  • Pot
  • Utensils


Ski Mountaineering Course
Skills Required

Experience with backcountry skiing or splitboarding, preferably at least 2 seasons of backcountry experience. Ability to ski/ride downhill in control on steep slopes in highly variable snow conditions. No glacier experience is required.

Ski Mountaineering Course