Seattle Glacier School - Mt Rainier Expedition to Learn Glacier Travel, Rescue & Ice Climbing Skills

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Seattle Glacier School - Mt Rainier Expedition to Learn Glacier Travel, Rescue & Ice Climbing Skills

  • Summer Glacier School: Ice and snow camping, climbing, summit attempt, with Dan Mazur

  • Our free week long glacier schools and 1, 2, and 3 day courses are offered at various times throughout the year.
  • Special one and two day Glacier Ice refresher courses. With Dan Mazur and Staff.
  • All courses, Winter and Summer. Free of cost, no charge
  • Learn, practice or master glacier travel and ice climbing skills.
  • Take part in a summit attempt on one of the most glaciated mountains in North America, a 4000 metre/13,00 foot high snowy volcano near Seattle.
  • Test your equipment in the mountain environment while we live and travel on snow.

Seattle Glacier School - Mt Rainier Expedition to Learn Glacier Travel, Rescue & Ice Climbing Skills Overview

High-altitude mountaineering requires skills that can only be harvested on the unforgiving face of a glaciated mountain. Learn the skills necessary to cross gaping crevasses and climb to the summit Mount Rainier 14,411 feet (4,393 meters) under the guidance of SummitClimb volunteer leaders, such as Dan Mazur. Members spend a week with the SummitClimb staff preparing gear, learning, and practicing glacier travel skills in the Mt. Rainier National Park. This course is ideal for those looking to meet new climbing partners, practice skills, and learn both classic and modern techniques.

Cascade Glacier School Cost

We provide a school free of charge in order to encourage people to join the climbing community and be inspired by the mountains. We also want to get people who might already be familiar with the sport of mountaineering to come out and share their knowledge with the group. This school serves as a steppingstone for perspective climbers to see how they feel at altitude and test out their equipment. Feel free to come out, ask lots of questions, meet and climb with the expedition leaders of SummitClimb.

What is included?

  • Six days climbing with expedition leaders, including senior leader, Dan Mazur
  • Clinics on self rescue, rope travel, snow anchors, and crampon technique
  • Use of group climbing equipment, like ropes, anchors, and tents
  • The use of SummitClimb’s stoves and cooking pots
  • Summit attempt on Mt. Rainier
  • The ability to ask as questions to experienced professionals and share your knowledge

What is not included?

  • Transportation to and from Olympia Washington
  • Permits, National Forest entry fee, or camping fees
  • Food and meals while on the mountain and in town
  • Travel insurance, mountain rescue, accident coverage
  • Personal equipment and glacier travel equipment

Rappeling into a crevasse

Proposed Itinerary: Seattle Glacier School Itinereay

Day 1 - Arrive at Sea-Tac International Airport and make your way to Olympia Washington. Members may choose to camp in the expedition leader’s backyard/ garden, or we can advise members on a local hotel at your own expense.

Day 2 – We start the day with some of the coffee or tea, and then meet the group for a mandatory meeting at 8:30. After breakfast at a local café, the expedition leader will check the members’ equipment and clothing. Next, the group carpools up to Seattle where participants can buy, try out, or rent equipment at many of the reasonably priced shops like Ascent Outdoors or REI. We will finish the day with dinner at a local restaurant before making our way back to Olympia.

Day 3 - We pack our rucksacks and cars in Olympia and caravan to the Mount Rainier National Park. Along the way, we will stop at a grocery store for last minute food shopping. At the park, we start by getting group gear sorted and permits organized. After learning and practicing snow travel techniques, we will arrive at the glacial moraine where we set up camp, cook dinner, and get a good night’s rest for school the next day.

Day 4 - After an early breakfast, we go over roping up and walking as a team on a glacier. We climb some of the hills surrounding camp and practice building snow anchors. We finish the day by practicing self arrest and glissading with our ice axes as we descend back to camp.

Day 5 - After a morning breakfast, we pack up our camp and spend the day moving through the clouds to the upper mountain where we will build a high camp in preparation for our summit attempt. The path is up a variety of non-technical snow terrain with excellent views of the surrounding glaciers.

Day 6 -We use the technical icefall near camp to teach crevasse self-rescue techniques in the morning. We end the day early so that we can melt snow and fill water bottles for our evening climb. The leaders spend the rest of the day answering any questions that have come up over the week.

Day 7 - We will walk through the night, taking advantage of optimal snow conditions as well as using all hours in the day, hopefully arriving at the summit before lunch. The route has steep snow to 40 degrees and includes portions of volcanic rock that we will scramble over to gain the summit ridge. After arriving at the summit, we can celebrate, and rest in the crater for bite to eat. We walk back to camp while enjoying the alpine vistas, pack up our high camp, and head back to the parking lot for the drive to Olympia. Some members choose to head back to Seattle this day, but do not schedule a flight on day 7 as we may get in very late.

Day 8 - We have a final group breakfast in Olympia, and we say goodbye to new friends, then make our way to the airport for our journey home.
Itinerary notes:

  • All members must participate in the full 8-day itinerary. It is not possible to arrive later, nor is it possible to depart earlier.
  • We are not able to accommodate people who wish to arrive in Seattle earlier, nor are we able to help those who wish to stay later. If you choose to make a longer trip, you will be "on your own". We ask that you arrive at Daniel Mazur's house in Seattle during reasonable hours, that is, before Midnight on Saturday.

Seattle Glacier School Leadership & Staff
The expedition leaders of the Seattle Glacier School have teaching experience on all seven continents, have organized multiple Himalayan expeditions, and are happy to share knowledge with people of all abilities. During the glacier school, leaders will be close at hand to help you with alpine cooking, building a comfortable home in the snow, explaining technical mountaineering skills, and answering any questions that you may have. Throughout the school, you will be climbing with the leaders of Summitclimb, but you will also be close to some experienced climbers that have come out to join us as well. With so much knowledge around even the most experienced of climbers are bound to get new useful tricks out of the school.

Dan Mazur, senior expedition leader, will be leading the glacier school. Dan is a relaxed, friendly and organized person, and a highly-skilled professional with years of experience in getting people to the summit and back down with the highest attention to safety. He has been leading and organizing successful and safe overland, trekking, and mountaineering expeditions for 20 years, to Tibet, Nepal, Tadjikistan, Pakistan, India, China, Africa, and North America.
Cascade Glacier School Personal & Team Equipment


  • Climbing harness
  • One 3 meter/ 10 foot sling and three 2 meter/ 6 foot slings. This is made from 6-7 millimeter accessory cord or 11/16 inch tubular nylon webbing
  • Figure 8/ Abseil belay device
  • Large ascender(i.e. PetzlAscention)
  • 2 locking carabiners. 1 large and 1 small
  • 4 regular carabiners
  • Mountaineering ice axe with leash
  • Steel crampons with anti-balling plates
  • Helmet
  • Trekking poles (Optional)
  • Cooking stove (optional). We will have stoves available if you do not have one. Please provide your own fuel for cooking
  • 4 season tent (optional). You may choose to use our expedition tents if you do not have one


  • One pair of lightweight poly-liner gloves
  • One pair leather/ waterproof sturdy working gloves
  • One pair summit mittens


  • A warm hat/ beanie. Either wool or synthetic
  • Sun hat or baseball
  • Glacier sunglasses
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Face shield/ balaclava
  • Bandana, buff, or headscarf
  • Ski goggles

Upper Body

  • Two cotton t-shirts for wearing in town
  • Polypropylene t-shirt. For warm days on the mountain
  • Long sleeve polypropylene shirt
  • Polar fleece or medium weight insulating layer
  • Soft shell or micro-puff jacket
  • Waterproof/ breathable jacket with hood
  • Down insulated puff jacket / parka with a hood.

Lower Body

  • 2 pair synthetic underwear
  • Lightweight polypropylene or wool thermal bottoms
  • Medium weight or expedition weight thermal bottoms
  • Fleece or micro-puff trousers
  • Waterproof / breathable pants or bibs
  • Gaiters (optional) for snowy conditions and crampon protection
  • Walking shorts (optional).
  • Your clothing should be kept dry using waterproof stuff sacks, bin-liners, or large plastic bags.


  • Double boots. Modern composite or plastic boots.
  • Trainers, running shoes, or sandals. For walking around Seattle, or taking a break in camp.
  • 2 pair medium-heavy polypropylene or wool socks
  • 2 pair lightweight trekking socks
  • 2 pair liner socks (optional)
  • 1 pair down booties (optional)


  • Sleeping bag (good to -18 degrees C or 0 degrees F);
  • At least 1 closed cell foam kari-mats. If you want to bring an inflatable make sure that you also bring a puncture proof foam pad as well.
  • Your sleeping bags should be kept dry using waterproof stuff sacks, bin-liners, or large plastic bags.


  • Internal frame rucksack (70+ liters / 4500+ cubic inches)

Personal Hygiene

  • Lip sun cream or 15+ spf chap stick
  • Sun cream. Minimum of factor 30
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer gel
  • Bar of soap and small towel. For showering in town
  • Other female/ male hygiene supplies
  • Earplugs (optional)
  • Hand wipes (optional)
  • Anti-mosquito cream (optional)
  • Face Mask
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Disposable gloves
  • Disinfectant wipes


  • Small personal first aid kit. Aspirin, first aid tape, plasters (band-aids), personal medications, etc. The leaders will have extensive first-aid kits, so leave behind anything extra, but do let the leaders know about any medical issues ahead of time;
  • Blister repair kit. Moleskin, tape, and plasters are fine;
  • Small bottle of water purification tablets, or filter;
  • Extra prescription glasses or contact lens supplies. Contact lens wearers, please bring glasses in case of emergency.


  • A small roll of repair tape and sewing kit
  • Compass or GPS;
  • Cigarette lighter or small box of matches (waterproof)
  • Battery powered alarm clock or watch with alarm
  • Nylon stuff sacks for food and hygiene items. Ziploc bags are also useful
  • 3 water bottles (1 liter). We recommend the wide mouth Nalgene. One of these bottles is a pee bottle
  • Plastic cup, mug for hot drinks, and spoon
  • Small folding knife. A leatherman or swiss army knife is fine
  • 4 large waterproof rubbish sacks
  • Travel clothes for in town
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Book, MP3 player, cards (optional)

Group Equipment:

SummitClimb will provide group gear to use throughout the school. You may borrow one of our expedition tents. Participants may borrow stoves from SummitClimb, however fuel may need to be purchased. Leaders will organize climbing equipment like pickets, flukes, and ice screws to experiment with during classes.

Cascade Glacier School - Your Experience and Training

No previous technical mountaineering experience is required for the school, but previous camping experience is necessary. Members should be comfortable living outside for the week, staying in a tent, and cooking their own food.

Participants will carry their personal gear as well as some group gear. Stronger participants will carry more of the group gear than smaller members, but you should expect to carry around forty to fifty pounds. If you enjoy walking outside with a backpack for three to six hours with twenty minute breaks thrown in, then you should have no problem on this trip.

It is important to exercise regularly 60 days before the trip begins, at least 4 days per week, in order to get in the best physical condition possible and truly enjoy the trip. Please contact us if you are at all skeptical about your fitness for this trip as we are happy to advise and explain.

Seattle Glacier School Application

Please fill out an application and return it to us with your refundable ten-percent deposit to hold your place on the team.

In addition to your application, we will need the following at least two months before the trip begins:

  • Trip Registration form
  • 1 Passport sized photo
  • A scan of your passport identification pages
  • Complete flight itinerary
  • Proof of travel, accident, and repatriation insurance. We strongly recommend Global Rescue, with at least $50,000 worth of helicopter rescue insurance.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance is recommended

Please contact us with any questions you may have.

Fill out the application as soon as possible and send it back to us to be put on the waiting list. We will contact you to let you know 60 days before the school begins if you have been accepted into the program.

Here is what Brent has to say: Everyone, It was great climbing with everyone and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. If anyone wants to climb out here in the Great Northwest in the future, contact me and I will be happy to climb with you or just get you the latest route beta. That goes for rock, snow, ice and alpine routes.

As to , I plan on joining some of their trips to Nepal and China in the future. If anyone else has these aspirations, please let me know.  Stay clipped, Brent

Here is what Stephen says: Thank you SummitClimb for the incredible experience and friendship. I can't wait to do it again. –Stephen
Here is what Harry has to say: Dear SummitClimb, Thank you very much for leading our Glacier School. I appreciate all the experience you shared with us, and your leadership on the climb. Best Regards, Harry 
Here is what Sarah has to say:  Hello Dan! I just wanted to say thank you so much for teaching me for a WEEK long... for free. It was an incredible trip, and I am so happy that I got to learn about glacier travel from you. I will sign up for one of your other trips sometime in the future:) Here are some of the pictures that I took. Sarah
Here is what Scott says: What an adventure! Thank you for your tremendous hospitality and hope to see you soon. -Scott
Here is what Lenchik has to says: Great to see the pictures from our Glacier School! The skills I learned were pretty handy on my recent climb. Thank you to SummitClimb - you are an amazing leader, role model, mentor! Highly recommend. -Lee