Mountaineering courses for teenagers

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of January 23-29, 1997
Exploring north of the Arctic Circle
All-inclusive resorts with kids
Guided trekking to K2 Base Camp
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on foot
Mountaineering courses for teenagers

Mountaineering courses for teenagers
Question: I'm a 16-year-old student and I'm interested in getting into mountaineering. I wanted to take a trip to learn the basics and to do some climbing in the process.

Dean Kolnick
Pleasantville, NY
[email protected]

You'll learn alpine techniques in
REI's Mount Rainier course

Adventure Adviser: Well, Dean, you have a couple of options. For a short trip that'll cover the basics of mountaineering and glacier skills in five days, sign on with REI Adventures' Mount Shasta Climbing Seminar that tackles the U.S.'s second-highest volcano. Starting on Shasta's lower slopes, you'd be briefed in alpine techniques, rope-team skills, ice axe use, and crevasse rescue en route to the summit at 14,161 feet. Trips run during summer break, with four departures from late June through Labor Day, and cost $720 per person; you're on your own for round-trip travel to Shasta City, California.

Also in the summer is REI's seven-day mountaineering course on Mount Rainier. With much the same focus as the Shasta trip, the Rainier program is led by crackerjack climbers from Rainier Mountaineering and is open to climbers of all abilities. Start saving now: Trip cost is $1,025 per person, including all food and accommodations. Airfare to Seattle is extra. REI sets a minimum age of 15 for Rainier and 14 for Shasta, so either way you're okay. For details and departure dates, call REI Adventures at 800-622-2236.

If you've got more time on your hands, say three to four weeks, go whole hog and commit to a mountaineering course with either the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) or Outward Bound. The operative word for both is "course," as these are much more demanding than plush, guided trips. Instead of being a guest, you're a student, which can only mean one thing: You learn by doing, and that goes for everything from setting belay routes yourself, to making fajitas over the camp stove, to pitching your tent. NOLS runs a whole bunch of month-long excursions throughout the Wind River Range in Wyoming, the North Cascades, and Alaska. The minimum age, however, is 17 and trips run all summer beginning in late June, with prices around $2,700. Call 307-332-6973.

Outward Bound's main mountaineering staple is a two- or three-week course in the High Sierra, North Cascades, or British Columbia's Coast Mountains. Minimum age is 16 and trip costs range from $1,695 to $1,995. Call the Pacific Crest Outward Bound School at 800-547-3312.

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