Winter's Wonderland Workout

Class Outside

Feb 1, 2004
Outside Magazine

Dial in winter safety skills at these premier backcountry-adventure schools:

International Mountain Climbing School: Spend a day learning the skills necessary for ski mountaineering and climbing above tree line: route finding, snow camping, and avalanche awareness. The next day, apply them below the famed bowl of Tuckerman Ravine, on Mount Washington. On day three, ascend the 6,288-foot peak itself. ($400 per person, including boots, helmet, ice ax, tent, and sleeping bag rental; December through April; 603-356-7064,

Colorado Mountain School: The only climbing school in Rocky Mountain National Park offers a winter curriculum of two classes: Learning to Thrive in Winter and Backcountry Skiing. The former involves an overnight in the park and lectures on avalanche skills, navigation, shelters, and food. The latter is a two-day introduction to off-piste shredding in the bowls and chutes of the park for skiers and boarders alike. ($300; each course offered once a month, December through April; 888-267-7783,

American Alpine Institute: This season, choose between sessions in Ouray, Colorado, or California's Eastern Sierra. Over eight days, you'll hit the principals of roped climbing—belays, ice climbing, multipitch ascents, single and double ice-ax use. Then you'll move on to winter camping, weather assessment, avalanche avoidance, and route finding. Cap it off with two to four days of instruction on randonnéte;e or telemark skiing in the backcountry. ($1,450Ð$1,770; December through March; 360-671-1505, —E. H.