Trip Report: Alpine Ambassadors 2020 Hyalite Canyon Trip

Each year our Alpine Ambassadors host skills development trips for our volunteer leaders. This year's Hyalite trip made a big difference to one of our Tacoma Branch Climb Leaders Kimber Cross.
Kimber Cross Kimber Cross
Climb Leader, Adaptive Climber
February 03, 2020
Trip Report: Alpine Ambassadors 2020 Hyalite Canyon Trip

Alpine Ambassadors are a group of climbers who lead 5.10+/WI3+ and are looking to push their limits together, learn from the mentorship of guides and highly accomplished climbers, and mentor others. This talented group is comprised of leaders from all branches with climbing programs, and committed to helping our leaders push their climbing limits. One way we do this is by hosting skill development trips.

Alpine Ambassadors offer skill development trips for our volunteers who are competent climbers but are not yet leading 5.10 or WI3. These trips are designed to provide climbing growth and mentorship for top Mountaineers volunteers, often beyond what typical courses with The Mountaineers can provide. Through Ambassadors-hosted trips, our dedicated volunteers have a chance to focus on their personal growth as climbers under the mentorship of the Alpine Ambassadors who are coordinating the trip. 

Hyalite Canyon 2020

My name is Kimber Cross and I am a climb leader for the Tacoma Branch of The Mountaineers. I was incredibly stoked and honored to get to be a part of Hyalite trip this past January. The experience was exactly what I was hoping for and more when it came to learning to lead on ice. First off, Kyle and the other volunteer instructors/guides were incredibly kind, patient, knowledgeable, and supportive. The morning of our first day in the canyon, we gathered at breakfast in our Airbnb to go over the plans for the weekend of climbing and share our group and individual goals for this trip. Gaining experience and confidence on the sharp end and honing in my ice climbing techniques were my overall goals, which matched the other members of our team. 

The next two days we spent dark to dark in Hyalite, in two groups, one group on each side of the canyon and switching the next day. The progression each day, from reviewing ice climbing techniques to mock leading to having multiple opportunities leading a pitch of WI3, proved smooth, safe, and were high quality. The guides/instructors gave excellent instruction and let us put in the laps.

My experience on this Ambassadors trip was slightly unique as I am an adaptive climber who uses a custom made prosthetic ice tool. It's pretty amazing. The last year and a half I have been climbing WI3+ on follow and swinging leads on alpine ice back in Washington, but had been feeling confident it was time to put myself on the sharp end. I'm incredibly grateful for the support of everyone else on this trip to be stoked with me at how well the prosthetic works on the ice.

My take away, aka my big goal met, was leading on Fat Chance WI3 in the canyon near the end of our second day. I had been on the sharp end of a few shorter pitches in a different area we climbed in during the morning. Fat Chance was a much longer line and leading it was one of the greatest moments in my ice climbing experience thus far. It was a lead I felt super confident on with just the right amount of scared stoke. After finishing the line and coming down, receiving the excitement from my team and the guide's was beyond encouraging. This weekend of focused practice absolutely bumped up all of our abilities to lead on ice. 

Kimber Hyalite2 (2).jpg

What I appreciated on this trip was that each participant was skilled, generous and helpful as belay partners, and eager to push themselves leading. We had a great time at dinner each night discussing lines we climbed, techniques we learned, and what goals we met. To have time with members from all the branches on this trip was really awesome. I've gained new climbing partners for sure.

In the future, I look forward to participating more Alpine Ambassador trips for waterfall ice. I also plan to lead trips up the various alpine ice routes in Washington when they come in.

The investment in this new section of The Mountaineers is invaluable, especially to me, as I build my skills and experience in ice climbing. It's a sport I am growing a deep love and respect for, so to feel the support and inclusion The Mountaineers and its members have shown me is sincerely priceless in my growth as a climb leader and overall alpinist. I highly recommend Alpine Ambassador trips to others because the experience gained is solid and valuable to what you can pass on as a leader and volunteer in The Mountaineers.

Can't wait to go back to Hyalite and swing some tools!


Alpine Ambassadors are a group of climbers looking to push their limits together, learn from the mentorship of guides and highly accomplished climbers, and mentor others. Those climbing at a 5.9/WI2 level or above can apply to join a Gateway Trip and become a part of Alpine Ambassadors. All Mountaineers climbing volunteers are encouraged to apply for Ambassadors-hosted trips like this January trip to Hyalite Canyon.

Alpine Ambassadors is funded by generous donors who believe that investing in our volunteers helps us have the greatest positive impact on our community. Thanks to this generous investment, there is no fee for our volunteers to be a part of this program.

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Vik Sahney
Vik Sahney says:
Feb 04, 2020 12:30 PM

Thanks for sharing. I'm so glad that you had a great experience will be bringing that back to share with your home branch!