Courses & Activities

Courses & Activities

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Backpackers' Pajama Parties Back by Popular Demand

We're back! The Foothills Backpacking Committee's Backpackers' Pajama Parties helped many of us stay sane during the early days of quarantine, and many of you have told us you want more. We're happy to announce our 2021 lineup, sure to keep you entertained while we wait for the summer season to arrive. Read more…

Backpacking Courses Spring 2021

Although we’re still in the heart of winter, it won’t be too long before the skies begin to lighten and we’re planning our spring and summer adventures. Get a head-start on your summer plans now by signing up for one of our upcoming introduction to backpacking courses, an excellent way to develop your skills and confidence on the trails before heading out on your first over-night or multi-night trip. Read more…

Trip Report: Windy Ridge at Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens is an exciting place to explore; a true-to-life science experiment, fun for both children and adults alike. My hiking partner and I decided to hike and explore the seldom traveled Windy Ridge Side of Mt. St. Helens. Here you get an up-close and personal view of the destruction done by the lateral blast that rolled over the landscape on May 18, 1980. Read more…

Upcoming Olympia Branch Courses and COVID-19 Accommodations

As we navigate COVID-19, our priority is to keep our members safe and engaged in the outdoors. The Olympia branch is excited to offer three upcoming courses in January and February; hear from the course chairs on the safety adjustments made, and what you can expect to learn.  Read more…

Rainy Season Tips for the Summer Hiker

I grabbed my antique wooden snowshoes and headed for the door. Growing up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, solo adventures every weekend were the norm as a kid. Winters were my favorite; a blanket of snow transformed the world into a black and white vintage photo from December through April. My brothers and I would skate on the lake and wander the empty woods surrounding our small cabin until dusk. Read more…

Adjusting for Conditions: Lessons from an Unexpected Year

This year was a hard one. I hit rock bottom mid-May when I unexpectedly found myself crying alone in a tent in the middle of my living room floor. The chasm between the person I had planned to be when I set goals for 2020 and the person I actually was felt insurmountable. My carefully made plans, proudly anticipated fitness milestones, and dreams of adventure were slipping through my fingers. Read more…

Running a Course in the Middle of a Pandemic

This story starts back in 2019 when, as the Hiking Chair for the Tacoma Hiking and Backpacking Committee, I had the idea of offering a Conditioning Hiking Series (CHS) in Tacoma. The goal of a series like this is to help casual or new hikers increase their mileage and elevation gain in a fun, community-oriented way, and I had a feeling it would be popular at our branch.  Read more…

Are We Open? Lodge and Program Centers Update

For many people in our Mountaineers community, spending time at our lodges is a winter and holiday tradition. During a normal year, many of our courses begin hosting lectures and practice sessions at our program centers in the winter months. And without a pandemic our Baker, Meany, and Stevens Lodges would be serving as home base for Mountaineers members and guests for snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, lift-serviced alpine skiing, and other winter adventures.  Read more…

Avalanche Safety | Making Safe Decisions in the Backcountry

The snow rushes past in a swift river of movement. The slough was kicked off by my turns above, and the loose powder is now flowing through a natural gully in the snow, no more than six inches wide. That’s not so bad. I think. It looks like a little creek; totally manageable. Without further hesitation, I turn my skis to cross the stream. Read more…

Different & Able | A profile of Kimber Cross

It’s a chilly March morning in Provo, Utah, 2020. Kimber Cross has been flown here by the outdoor meal brand Peak Refuel to shoot a short film about her journey into ice climbing. As the team walks down the snow-packed trail to a frozen waterfall, Kimber feels the eyes of passersby, and they’re staring. Maybe it’s because of the big, red cameras that stand in contrast to the stark landscape, but an old fear starts to creep into her psyche, a fear that tells her to hide. All eyes focus on the tool strapped to her pack. Read more…

Learn How To Cross-country ski with your youth group this winter!

Forests far away from the rumble of traffic are much different than the asphalt, apartment buildings, and lawns that most of us see daily. Add a layer of freshly fallen snow, and it becomes even more magical! Our goal at The Mountaineers Gear Library is to help youth access incredible places and learn new skills by providing you with the tools and resources needed to get your groups outside. And in winter, what better way to explore than on skis?  Read more…

Olympia Branch Winter Travel, Scrambling, and Skills Clinics - Dec 3-15

Interested in learning scrambling, winter travel, or other basic skills? Look no further than the upcoming Olympia Scrambling Course, Winter Travel Course, and clinics in avalanche safety, outdoor preparation, and more. Read more…

How To: Cut Your Own Christmas Tree in Our National Forests

Did you know that our national forests issue permits each year to harvest your own Christmas tree? In years past, permits were issued at ranger stations but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you will now be able to purchase your Christmas tree permit online at recreation.gov. Search by state or browse the list of national forests to find the most convenient location for you. Read more…

Global Adventures | Among the Nomads of Lycia

Chunks of rough rock covered our trail in the dry, scrubby foothills of the Taurus Mountains. The Mediterranean Sea glittered below us as we climbed, 85 miles into our 115-mile, 14-day journey. Read more…

Trip Report: Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Zion is a national treasure that begs to be explored. It is not only famous for its many hiking trails, including the most dangerous, Angels Landing, but for the milky green Virgin River that shapes what we see today. Read more…

How We're Reducing Our Carbon Footprint: Transportation

The Mountaineers made a commitment to reduce our organization’s carbon footprint as part of Vision 2022. In the Carbon Footprint Reduction Committee’s last blog post, we discussed the carbon footprint of food and what we can all do to make a difference. This month we’re excited to talk about another area where The Mountaineers, and most of us, can reduce our carbon footprint: transportation. Read more…

Shook: Everest's Deadliest Day with Jennifer Hull & Dave Hahn - Nov 17

Join Jennifer Hull, author of Shook: An Earthquake, a Legendary Mountain Guide, and Everest's Deadliest Day, and mountain guide Dave Hahn for a virtual event to benefit the Juniper Fund, Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation, and The Mountaineers. Read more…

Failure and Growth, Courtesy of El Cap

In the past several years, climbing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park has blown up in the mainstream consciousness. With Free Solo winning an Oscar and the Dawn Wall ascent getting publicized in The New York Times, it seems as if everyone has a clear picture of what climbing El Cap is like. It is easy to imagine being up on the side of the wall when you see it on a high definition movie theater screen. But is it as easy as people make it look?  Read more…

What Are The Ten Essentials?

The Mountaineers Ten Essentials™ dates back to our climbing courses of the 1930s. This widely respected safety and packing system was formalized in the third edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, released in 1974. Each of the nine editions of Freedom, as it is affectionately known, was written entirely by volunteers and reflects the collective wisdom of hundreds of outdoor skills instructors. The list has always sought to answer two basic questions: Read more…

Trip Report: Successful New Hybrid Navigation Course

Due to COVID-19, our Olympia Navigation course had to be postponed indefinitely. Following safety guidelines, we were able to hold the course using online tools, which led to great success. In an interview with Navigation Chair Mike Kretzler, he shared what tools and changes led to the new, successful course in September.  Read more…

Remembering Mountaineer Shari Hogshead

This  spring, longtime Mountaineer, beloved friend, and trip leader Shari Hogshead passed away at the age of seventy-nine of an aortic aneurysm. At just 5'0" tall, she was still the biggest person you'd ever hope to meet. Read more…

Hit the (Urban) Trail with the Urban Trails Series

Urban Trails is one of our most popular hiking series - each book features trails from one particular area. They are equally great for people visiting a new place for the first time and long-time locals looking to get to know their area even better.  Read more…

Your Rescue Practice May Look Like an Emergency to Someone Else

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

How To: Entertain Kids While Hiking & Backpacking

Backpacking with kids is an exciting and eye-opening experience for both parents and children. Sharing the love of nature, exploration, and adventure is special, but not always the easiest thing to get kids exited about. These activity ideas will help you have a great time the next time you head into the backcountry with kids. Read more…

Seattle Climbing Committee: Reunion, Recruitment, and Summer Activities

While it's been a slower summer than usual for our Seattle Branch Climbing Committee and community, we have taught a number of students and enjoyed a handful of socially responsible trips together. Here are a few highlights from our summer, along with an invite to our reunion party and a call to join our committee as a leader: Read more…

How To: See Golden Larches This Fall

Crisp days and bright fall foliage call hikers out onto the trails each autumn, but few trees draw crowds like our much-loved larches. Located primarily on the sunny eastern slopes of the Cascades, larches are deciduous conifers whose needles turn a rich gold each year. Their stout frames and bristling branches dot hillsides with color each October, and make alpine scenes all the more magical. Read on to learn more about these unique trees and the best hikes to spy them on. Read more…

Trip Report: Lake Ingalls

Lake Ingalls in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness is one of the most striking hikes for fall foliage. In fact, this area is stunning no matter what time of the year you go. In the spring the blooming flowers make a striking contrast against the craggy mountains, and in the fall the huckleberries are ripe, juicy, and delicious. Do not wait to hike this trail! Read more…

Climbing Holds Grab Bag Sale & Climbing Walls Improvements

UPDATE 10/15/20 - CLIMBING HOLDS HAVE SOLD OUT. 

Over the past year, Mountaineers volunteers and staff have chipped in to help clean, update, and repair our various climbing structures at the Seattle Program Center. The goal of the ongoing project is to improve the safety of the climbing structures with safe, clear color coded routes. Additionally, we hope the improvements will facilitate better teaching with more anchor stations, cleaner climbing lines, and offer more technical routes.  Read more…

Out of the Ashes: Creating a New Life in the Mountains

Every night after putting my boys to bed, I ran. On dark nights my feet would thud against the pavement, headlamp shining through the rain. I did it because I had to – it pushed out the despondency and grief that had been following me for almost two years. I knew pushing my body would bring me closer to what I needed: self-confidence, a distraction from the pain, physical and emotional strength. I moved toward my goal, one foot at a time. Read more…

Climbers of Color: A Partnership to Support More Leaders of Color

We're excited to be partnering with Climbers of Color in support of their mission to create more leaders of color in mountaineering. Established in 2017, Climbers of Color is a Washington State nonprofit that aims to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the climbing and mountaineering community by developing leaders of color. To accomplish its mission, Climbers of Color provides supportive mentorship, technical training from BIPOC professional guides, and access to key resources including gear and scholarships. Read more…