Basic Snow Travel


Many trips in the Sierra require traveling on snow, from peak ascents to backpacking journeys routed over passes along the Sierra Crest. Many passes are over 12,000 feet and snow can stay at these elevations through the middle of summer.

Day One – Snow Travel School

This course covers the basics of travel on snow. Techniques practiced include use of an ice axe, efficient methods for walking up and down on snow, cramponing skills, travel roped together with other We people, and belaying on snow. This course provides practical knowledge applicable whether you plan on climbing snow covered peaks throughout the year, or your backcountry adventures are mainly during the summer months with an occasional snowfield to negotiate.

Day Two – Snow Anchors and Crevasse Rescue Course
We offer this course as a second day add-on to our Snow Travel School or as a stand alone day.

This is school covers essential skills needed for anyone planning to climb on snowy terrain steep enough warrant placing anchors for protection, or on glaciated routes. Topics discussed include various pulley systems, and the application of different types of snow anchors. We will also cover related subjects such as rescue priorities and procedures, team management, and safety considerations. The advantages and disadvantages of different types of equipment will be discussed throughout the day.


We meet at the SMI office in Bishop at 8 AM. Since conditions change making them difficult to predict ahead of time we will wait until a few days before the course to make a determination on location. We begin with instruction and practice safely walking up and down snowy slopes using the rest step, step kicking, and plunge stepping. We then introduce the ice axe and practice different techniques for carrying it and using it to stop a fall with various self arrest positions. Crampon skills are taught next. We demonstrate how to correctly attach crampons to your boots then practice effective walking techniques including the crossover step and herringbone techniques. Building on these skills we will then introduce ropes and practice snow travel roped to fellow team members. We also talk about techniques for breathing efficiently at high altitude and other energy conservation tips. This school is equally applicable to people new to snow and ice mountaineering, and to intermediate climbers wishing to refresh their skills for an upcoming trip.


$150 per person.
If a course has less than three participants our private rates apply:  $360 for one person, $250 per person for two people.


January 18
January 25
February 1
February 8
February 15
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March 7
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April 4
April 11
April 18
April 24
May 2
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And on a Private Basis