Basic Snowshoeing - Olympia - 2024

Snowshoeing Course

Basic Snowshoeing

This series of lectures will include an introduction to winter activities, avalanche awareness, safety, equipment, 10 essentials, cold weather ailments and winter recreation etiquette. We will also have a brief overview of what to expect on the field trip. The lectures will be followed by a field trip, during which students will learn, practice and demonstrate basic snowshoe techniques.

Learn how to snowshoe and basic winter travel techniques. Even if you already know how to ski or snowshoe, the training in avalanche terrain recognition and avalanche avoidance is well worth taking the class and improving your safety in the backcountry.

Night 1:  Tuesday, January 16th, 6:30 - 9:00

In-person lecture at Lacey Community Center

Joint lecture with Olympia Cross Country Ski Course

Introduction to Winter Activities and avalanche awareness.
We will cover winter hazards and weather, winter ailments, a brief introduction to avalanche awareness, ten essentials for winter and day pack items.

Night 2:

Monday, January 22nd, 6:30-8:30

Friends Meeting House, 3201 Boston Harbor Rd NE, Olympia, WA 98506

Ten essentials: clothing, gear and a snowshoer's day pack; Snowshoes: styles, adjustment and use; Choice of routes (avalanche avoidance);  Trail etiquette and  what to expect on the field trip.

Avalanche Awareness Course:

Thursday, January 25, 6:30-8:15 pm at Friends Meeting House, 3201 Boston Harbor Rd NE, Olympia, WA 98506.

Olympia Basic Snowshoe Course and Cross Country Ski Course students must either already have an Avalanche Awareness badge or successfully complete an Avalanche Awareness class in order to graduate from the course.  This is best done before the field trip, but may be done afterwards.  We have arranged with the North West Avalanche Center to present this class at no charge for our Ski and Snowshoe students before the field trip. Class time is about an hour and a half.  If you cannot attend this one, please let the course leader know, and take one of the other classes, which are available in person or via Zoom.  Our class will be on Thursday, January 25, 6:30-8:15 pm at Friends Meeting House, 3201 Boston Harbor Rd NE, Olympia, WA 98506.  Register for this NWAC class here:

Full day field trip: Saturday, February 3rd, or Friday, February 16th, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Mount Rainier National Park, WA. 


 Class will be divided into small groups, each with one or more instructor-leaders.  Students will learn, practice and demonstrate basic snowshoe techniques.   Avalanche test pit and avalanche transceiver demonstration, time and conditions permitting.

Graduation (Badge) requirements:

You will get a Basic Snowshoe Course Student badge when you enroll. To graduate and get the Basic Snowshoe Course badge, attendance at both classroom sessions and successful completion of the field trip are required. You must also successfully complete at least two Mountaineers-led snowshoe trips before the end of the calendar year following the field trip. An Avalanche Awareness course (90 minutes) is also required. Please see registration instructions below.

Course fees:

The course fee is $85 for Mountaineers members, and $135 for non-member guests.  The Mountaineers may award scholarships in some cases.  A link to the Mountaineers Financial Assistance Program is here.  Depending on location, a trail fee or vehicle entry or parking fee may be required for the field trip.  There is no fee for the Avalanche Awareness class presented by NWAC.

Registration instructions:

The following is not as complicated or difficult as it might seem.  Mostly, it is a matter of a few mouse clicks to do each registration.  To join and complete this course, you must do four separate registrations, plus two more if you are taking the connected Avalanche Awareness seminar.   Register for the course using the "register" button in this course listing.  You must then register for each of the three course activities in the course listing: Session 1, Session 2, and the Field Trip.  All are required.  An Avalanche Awareness class (90 minutes) is also required to graduate.  We are offering one in connection with this course.  You must also register for this unless you have already taken or will take the Avalanche Awareness class elsewhere.   Use the link in the course description above.  That will get you to a listing for the Avalanche Awareness class.  Register for that with The Mountaineers, and also please click on the link in that listing to register for the same class with NWAC. 

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Additional badges needed to graduate


Required Equipment

Every person's clothing needs are different. Some people get colder more quickly than others. Remember: NO COTTON.  If you don't have any of this gear, try borrowing it from friends before you spend money.   Thrift shops, used gear stores (two good ones in Ballard, Seattle; one in downtown Olympia), garage and estate sales are possibilities.  Mountaineers branches have used gear sales annually. 

For the field trip, you must bring the Ten Essentials and clothing, equipment, lunch, snacks and a  day pack large enough for all winter gear.

TEN ESSENTIALS: Map (will be provided by leader), compass, sunglasses and sunscreen, extra clothing, emergency shelter, headlamp/flashlight, first-aid supplies, fire starter, matches, knife, extra food & water. Sun protection is a must. Snow reflection is highly damaging to eyes; UV damage and sunburns are common if proper protection is not used.

Snowshoes: metal frame or molded plastic.  Ski Poles/Trekking poles with snow baskets. Both available at White Pass gear rental shop, or at REI  stores. 

Clothing and other gear will be covered in classroom sessions.  A list will be provided.

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.