Snow Intermediate Course, 2017

You’ve taken Snow Basics…
You know how to camp in the snow, chose safe routes, avoid avalanches, self-arrest, and even cook in your tent, if need be.  So, now we hear you saying, ” I want to go somewhere, you know, like backpacking, but on snow!”

You need this Course!

What is the Snow Intermediate Course (SIC)?

It is classic, early-season backpacking where you’ll learn how to safely deal with snow-covered and dry trail, mud, and challenging creek crossings while developing a sense of “mountain wisdom” and accomplishment as you follow the Pacific Crest Trail north-bound from Echo Summit (hwy 50) to Donner Pass for 7 days!

PCT Section K, 7-day, Echo Summit to Donner Pass

If you are interested in thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail someday and want to get a taste of what it’s like to do the lower altitude, PCT Section K during typical “thru-hiker” conditions, half snow, half mud and swollen creeks, then this is your training hike!


  • May 23-29
  • June 10-16
  • July 1-7


$1,100 per person

PCT Section K, full course description

General Information:

Average Elevation:  7,000 feet
Daily Mileage:         10 miles or less
Exertion Level:        Moderate – Strenuous

You will have the opportunity to apply all that you learned in Snow Basics while hiking 5-7 days and covering the 66 miles through snow-dappled forests, past pristine alpine lakes, across high-volume creeks on snow-bridges, over one above-timberline pass, along exposed, windy ridges, and even get the chance to stay in a backcountry cabin or two!

Format & Constraints:

We snow-hike with you and teach you how to recognize, avoid, and stay safe while walking on consolidated, spring snow above and below timberline. We show you what the hazards look like right when we run into them. We stop and talk often as we go about our day so you get your skills down right the first time, then practice on your own, asking questions and getting help as you need it.

Depending on the daily, ever-changing condition of the snow, how soft or hard it is, and the weather, how hot, cold, or windy it is, the amount of time we get to spend on snow constrains how long we can stay, learn, and practice. Although the intent of your course is to teach snow and other wise, wilderness skills, your safety and trip logistics at any given moment is paramount. So, keep in mind that SIC courses early in the season may have many miles of snow on which to practice, courses offered later may only have snow at the high elevations. Thus, on some trips we may have limited practice time and locations and can make no guarantee that you will have enough of both to develop a sufficient command of a particular skill.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to find and follow a trail buried in the snow above timberline,
  • How to find “Signs of Man” in the woods to know where the trail is located,
  • Personal Safety & Enjoyment = Wilderness Awareness,
  • How to walk on snow without slipping, falling, postholing, or even getting wet,
  • Ascent, Descent, and Traverse skills on steep snow,
  • Self-Arrest, Glissading, Boot-Skiing, Self-Belay, and Heel-Plunge techniques,
  • How to find and get water from a lake or creek without falling in,
  • Where and how to hike and camp on snow and still stay warm and dry,
  • Topographical Navigation on volcanic, magnetic surfaces without a compass,
  • Hypothermia, Frostbite, Exposure, Dehydration, Altitude Sickness, Trail Trauma/Illness, etc
  • How to use an Ice Axe, Hiking-Crampons, Microspikes, and a Whippet Self-Arrest Pole,
  • Avalanche Awareness and Avoidance,
  • How to make wise wilderness travel decisions in the middle of nowhere, and
  • Emergency Communications, Search & Rescue, and Wilderness Medicine.

Pre-Trip Information, Preparation, and Instructions:

Anticipate lots of group email to you and your fellow students about the course’s details, organization, and itinerary. We start training and preparing you before you leave home!


  • Snow Basics or equivalent.
  • Weekend backpacking in your past.
  • Excellent personal fitness with no health concerns.

More Information

Snow Intermediate Gear List
Gear Rentals
Apply Now!

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