Intermediate Alpine Ice - Field Trip 1

Field trip: Intermediate Glacier/Alpine Module

Intermediate Alpine Ice - Field Trip 1 - Heliotrope Ridge and Lower Coleman Glacier & Seracs

Intro to alpine ice climbing

  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 5.5 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft



There is natural progression of things and the focus in this clinic is on the kind of skills you need for alpine ice climbs in the cascades, so working up to leading on low-angle alpine ice and progressing to top-roping vertical or steep ice is the goal for this weekend.

1. Practicing walking in crampons on low-angle ice without rope.
Once on the moraine and our way to the seracs, I anticipate stopping as soon as we hit exposed ice, but while still mostly on some mildly ondulating flats. We'll take off our packs, put on crampons and a single ice tool in hand, and practice 5-10 min. walking around on the surrounding terrain without rope protection until people feel comfortable.
Afterwards, we'll get to the seracs and find a spot to use as the base. Once there, we'll repeat the above again, but now walking on the seracs, still mostly low-angle terrain, without rope, only with an ice tool in hand. This is where you'll have the chance to make sure your crampons fit well, practice proper French technique, explore the limits of where you feel comfortable without the safety of a rope, both on the way up and on the way down.

2. Practicing screw placements, V-threads, and anchor building.
Next, we'll switch gears to placements. Everyone will build at least two different 2 or 3 point anchors out of a combination of screws and V-threads.

3. Next we’ll set up top ropes to practice ice climbing. There will be multiple top ropes and varying degrees of difficulty, so folks can rotate around as they feel.

4. Once folks are feeling comfortable on the ice, we can transition to mock leads or leading on ice.


Heliotrope Ridge and Lower Coleman Glacier & Seracs

  • USGS Mt Baker

    Green Trails Mount Baker Wilderness Climbing No. 13SX

    Green Trails Mt Baker No. 13
  • See full route/place details.
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Each student needs to bring a 60m single-rated rope, minimum 3-4 screws (possibly more, up to 5-6 if you have some for comfort), leaning generally on the longer side (16cm+), with at least one 21cm for V/A-threads, and possibly at least a single shorter one (13cm), and everything else you need for an ice climb and overnight stay, including but not limited to the following:
- helmet,
- glacier glasses,
- harness,
- boots,
- two ice tools,
- ice tool lanyard to attach them to your harness (not wrist leashes - we don't use those),
- steel crampons with front points (horizontal are fine),
- ice screws (for number and length, see above),
- alpine draws to match all the screws,
- A V-thread tool and plenty of 6-7mm cordage for A-threads (plan on making at least 3-4 of those, possibly more),
- lockers, nonlockers, extra slings, etc. as needed,
- belay device (ATC guide or similar),
- cordelette,
- layers, food, essentials, etc. for approach and a full day on the ice.

Trip Reports