New for 2018!

The 1-day Snow Advanced Clinic at Chicken Spring Lake!

Full Course Description:PR09891101819


There is an ever increasing number of very die-hard adventurers against whom little bars their path. They have a deep and true yearning to get outside, even if there are some known hazards and difficulties present. For each challenge, they research and investigate, then get their feet dirty learning how to find, study, and enjoy it.

This one-day clinic provides the needed threshold of outdoor savvy that will take the eager PCT thru hiker all the way to Canada, the wanderlust John Muir Trail backpacker 211 miles from Mt. Whitney to Yosemite Valley, and be the needed skills class to calm every mother’s worries.

What will be taught:

  1. Steep snow ascent, descent, and traverse skills with Whippet, Ice axe, microspikes, or hiking crampons (to include glissading, boot-skiing/skating, heel-plunge, self-belay, and self-arrest)
  2. Snow types, bonds, daily condition, and travel logistics
  3. Over-snow Navigation principles (how to read a topo map and GPS)IMG_1779
  4. Trail Sign Identification & Discovery
  5. Safe Route Selection principles
  6. Avalanche Awareness & Avoidance
  7. Identifying safe creek crossing locations
  8. Safe creek crossing methods and logistics
  9. Hydrology: know what’s coming against you
  10. Watching the weather: How to know when a storm is coming your way
  11. Wilderness Medical Emergencies, sign & symptoms, and treatment
  12. Emergency Communications for SAR Rescue
  13. Trail details ahead: Discussion of passes and creeks to the north

Where:   Chicken Spring Lake (CSL), Inyo National Forest; 11,296 feet

  • PCT mile 750
  • 17 miles south of the JMT
  • 0.6 miles west of Cottonwood Pass
  • 4 miles west from the Horseshoe Meadows trailhead
  • 45 miles north of the Kennedy Meadows trailhead
  • 36.4562 – 118.2280IMG_3151
  • 11S 0389962E – 4035255N

Title of Course:  SAC/CSL

When:   8am – 6pm

How:  Apply, be approved, check Gear List, pay tuition, stay in touch, show up, have fun!

Dates:  Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm, starting April 18 and ending when the snow/creek dangers on the PCT/JMT are manageable (mid-July?) or we have taught 200 students (limited by the USFS). For the course date on the application , enter the date you expect to arrive at CSL.

Cost:  $150

Bring:  SAC/CSL checklist


Your Zero-Day Training!

You are attending this SAC clinic because there are safety hazards ahead that you need to prepare for.

  1. The day begins at 8am at the bench on the west side of the lake. Bring listed gear and clothing.
  2. You will have breaks between Discussions and Skills Trainings, so bring a sit pad and lunch.
  3. You can take notes, if you wish, but no audio/video recording.

The Morning Program 

Skills Training:  Steep snow techniques (full suits, gloves, hood, SA tool, poles, tractionIMG_1603 devices)

  • Ascent: switchbacks, toe-in, self-belay
  • Traversing: edging, cutting steps, kicking/scratching
  • Descent: heel-plunge, traversing switchbacks, boot-ski/skate, glissade
  • Self-Arrest & crampon use


Discussion:  Snow

  • Types of snow
  • Snowpack composition & bonding
  • Daily changes & logistics
  • Weather sign: What’s going on above you
  • Wilderness Medical Overview (signs/symptoms, treatment)
  • Wilderness Emergency Medical Response (patient care, SoS, coordinating with SAR)


Afternoon Program:IMGP3558

Discussion:  Topo map and GPS reading skills

Skills Training:  Following a snow-buried trail (afternoon hike)

  • Trail sign identification & discovery
  • Safe route selection principles
  • Avalanche awareness & avoidance


Discussion:  Creek Crossings

  • Hydrology, S.T.O.P., and timing
  • Selecting safe creek crossing locations
  • Safe creek crossing methodsDSCF1578

Skills Training:  Creek Crossing methods


Discussion:  Trail details ahead

Apply Now!

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