What Student Testimonials Mean:
If I’m about to buy something, I want to read about the experiences other people had with the item. If I’m planning a trip somewhere, I want to know what other people experienced when they went there.
So, for your encouragement, enlightenment, empowerment, and curiosity, here are a few testimonials from our Alumni about Mountain Education, its Courses, and how their lives were changed. If you would like to send us your testimony, use the “Contact Us” page and type away!
2016: PCT Thru-Hike post SBC course
Hi, Ned! Thank you for helping me gain confidence on snow. One of the highlights of our PCT hike was the snowy Sierra! In fact, we loved it so much we are considering a JMT thru hike in the “Secret Season.” Hoping to connect again in the future, Ned. Happy Holidays!
Andy & Laurie
Ned! I wanted to express how grateful I am to have been a student in your PCT [snow] skills course this past spring [SAC-PTO]
The skills I learned in your class helped me to navigate and thrive on the snow for 3 weeks across the Sierras, having never snow camped prior to the PCT learning how to pitch a tent on snow, safely traverse the snow, and water crossings. I also had to self arrest on a few occasions, and once saving my bacon by being able to stop on a fall.
By not waiting for the melt, I as able to experience a true wilderness experience, avoid the herd, and not have the concern of carrying water in NorCal. I also valued your advice on difficult passes, as well as water levels through Yosemite. The real sleeper in there for me was Kerrick Canyon in North Yosemite. It was very deep in snow and [the creek was] moving fast and deep with melt
Thanks again for all.
“Early Man,” PCT class of 2016
“Hey Ned! Had such fun this past weekend. Thanks for leading the trip, I learned a ton! Was great hearing everyone’s stories/insights on the PCT as well. Wasn’t really on my radar before the trip, but definitely is now!”
“I Spent this past weekend in one of Mountain Education’s Snow Basics Courses on Stevens Pass, Washington. If you are somewhat uncertain of your abilities to deal with snow while backpacking, it would be well worth your time looking into one of these classes! The link below will give you some idea as to what you might expect.”
“I took the 3 day Snow Basics Course from Mountain Education this weekend. It is described here: http://mountaineducation.org/?page_id=381
“We had the course on the PCT near Tamarack Lake (ignore the mileage this link gives, it assumes the road up to Echo Lake is open, it was not, we had to hike in from the Echo Sno-Park parking area–hike was about 7 to 7.5 miles one way) by South Lake Tahoe, although the course is also taught at other places (see link and links there for other locations/times).
“We based camp at Tamarack Lake and hiked north on the PCT the next day to where we could view Pyramid Peak (and other peaks). Just beautiful.
“I learned an awful lot that I did not know before. I was trained in snow hiking in upstate NY in the Adirondacks and Catskills but what Ned had to teach went far beyond my earlier training. In NY’s mountains, I learned how to snow shoe hike, use crampons and micro-spikes. But the following is what I learned from Ned (think of Mountain Education as basically being Ned) is this:
– Over-snow Navigation (without using a GPS or Compass, just sight awareness and map)
– Avalanche Awareness & Avoidance
– Safe & Easy Creek Crossing (I knew a lot beforehand but learned more)
– Getting Water (I knew a lot beforehand but learned more)
– Balance, Traction & Edge Control (I knew a lot beforehand but learned more)
– Hypo/hyperthermia (I knew a lot beforehand but learned more, especially how crazy some of the symptoms get)
– Emergency Shelters
– Snowblindness & Exposure
– Emergency Communications
– Snow Pit Analysis (how it can tell you the safety of the snow vs. avalanche risk)
– Self-Arrest (probably the most important things learned, how to self-arrest with or without an ice axe, with or without a Black Diamond Whippet, with or without your pack on)
– Risk Assessments
– Cooking Inside a Tent
– Glissading (the act of descending a steep snow-covered slope via a controlled slide on one’s feet or buttocks) — this was a blast, we glissaded from a significant peak all the way down to the lake.
“Ned packed about 80 lbs of gear and used a Pulk and even though all the students (except me) were young — all are scheduled to do the PCT this spring except myself and another hiker, who are both scheduled to do the JMT, especially the PCT hikers, were very fit, yet, Ned consistently led the pack. He pulled that Pulk like he was fastpacking with only 10 lbs of gear. Incredible, I swear Ned is the strongest hiker I’ve ever met.
“Ned gave his impressive background, which he brings to teaching the course (he’s done it over 20 years): past Ranger, Search and Rescue (SAR), PCT hiker (1974), CDT hiker (I forget when he did this), First Aid, Wilderness First Aid Responder, and if I am not wrong, either a EMT or darn near close to being one.
“Not only was the course extremely informative, it was a blast!
“Check out his web site and description of the course. He has an intermediate and advanced course too, plus he talked about a post-advance class where they do the Sierra High Route.
“I recommend as many of you take this course as can, and join me in pressuring Ned to offer a course in backcountry skiing. We used snowshoes and ice axes on this course. By the way, I learned how to size an ice axe for use in hiking versus climbing (a super big difference)–so many do the PCT with a climbing ice axe versus a hiking ice axe, which is a big mistake. He also explained the differences between climbing crampons versus hiking crampons. Another big difference.
“Plus he covered the different styles of snowshoes too.”
“I enjoyed the course on Basic Camping & Snow Skills! I’m putting it into test this weekend at Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park in a group of 5 women and 2 sleds! I hope to learn more about avalanches and navigation!” Carrie Mackay
“Thanks for the excellent Snow Basics Course in the Washington Cascades! I’ve since been hoping for more snow in Washington DC so I can get some more self-arrest practice in this season!
“I’m sending you a donation. I hope to see you around the trail and elsewhere! Hopefully hitting the PCT for a few weeks in May!” Jay Davis
“Hi Ned, it was a true pleasure getting to know you and thank you for the snow skills you taught me over the three days at Echo Lake. From your direction and training, I have become a more confident snow hiker and I can’t wait to get into the the Sierra to hike over the passes on my way north on the PCT this year. Terry Sparks
“Thanks for an amazing Snow Basics Course! It really gave me the skills and confidence to charge through a tough PCT thru-hiking year. The Sierras were so special for me and knowing many other hikers didn’t make it through made it even more my own adventure! Thanks!” Neil “Queso” Peterson
“It was my good fortune to attend Mountain Education’s Snow Basics Course two weeks ago. I thought that I had learned some things about the wilderness over my years and decades of personal experiences, yet after two weeks of reflection on my SBC experience, I was struck with how much I learned and re-learned! The Course format is ideal, the conditions beyond real (especially the 16 straight hours of snowfall!), and you skillfully communicated your expertise with sensitivity, humility, and just the right touch of humor. Plus, it was cool to learn from others in the class, watch Snowball enjoy the snow as only a dog can, and marvel at the tranquil beauty of winter wilderness magic. I value and appreciate all the things you taught us! To be in one of your Courses on the snow in the gorgeous Desolation Wilderness while staying warm, hydrated, and fed from my pack, allowed me to learn new things and remember old things. Hopefully those things are securely lodged in my memory banks! My three-day learning experience in the SBC cannot be put into words. Ya gotta be there! Thank you!” Barney Hope
“This weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of Mountain Education’s Snow Basics Courses. What a weekend!!! To begin with, I was joined by some of the nicest people that are going to be part of the 2011 PCT thru-hiker community. I was a little apprehensive of Ned as he does have his opinions in his on-line presence, but there are some definite reasons for this. His experience level in the mountains and snow are incredible, his PCT thru was in ’74, and since then, he’s been saving lives both in the real world and teaching others to save their own. In person, he loves sharing his experience, but listens and learns along with the rest of us. The best part of the weekend was sitting around the snow-table and sharing stories and information. We were also blessed with the presence of his wife, Juliee. Man, can that lady keep the pace up! She had great stories and always a smile and a helping hand. Ned and Juliee make a heck of a couple! They also brought along their pet “polar bear,” Snowball. Talk about a slave-driver! He let us know when we weren’t moving fast enough in his opinion (remember, don’t feed the bears!). The first day was the hike in, 4 1/2 miles across frozen lakes, snow-covered hills and lots of stops for questions, information, and relevant skills training. For anyone that has never snow-shoed, let me tell you it’s not a walk in the park! There are muscles that I didn’t even know that I had that are still sore! We set up tents and pretty much were in our bags by 6:30pm. On Saturday, after a long, relaxing breakfast, we did the Self-Arrest Clinic. Learning to walk along bowls in your snowshoes, in your boots and feel safe, and then sliding down the hill, on your stomach, back, head-first, then upside down (I so sucked at that one!), you start to see that if the worst case scenario happens and you do happen to fall and start sliding, you don’t have to panic! There were lots of seriously fun moments sliding around. After lunch, we did a hike around the lakes in the area, focusing on navigation with a topo map (no compass required–you learn to orient yourself without one). The only thing I’ll say about that is, don’t believe anyone’s opinion about where they think you are after you’ve learned to orient yourself by “reading” a topo map! The Desolation Wilderness where the class is taught is so incredibly beautiful in the middle of winter! That night we got to experience a winter storm! Between 8 in the evening and 8 in the morning on Sunday we had at least 8 inches of wet snow and winds that were pretty intense (they sound like a train coming off the mountains, then suddenly they’re upon you–pretty cool!) It was “iffy” at times whether we were going to stay another day because of the storm, but during a break, we broke camp and about 3 hours later, we were at the parking lot. The lesson learned was, if the weather is bad and you’re not sure if you can make it out without getting cold and wet, then stay put, ride it out, and when you can safely get out, do it then. There’s no hurry. On a more personal note, on a cold and windy night it is handy to have a tent with a vestibule in which to store your gear and cook your food! LOL. This Course taught me a lot, both about snow, hiking, and the people I’ll be thru-hiking with afterwards. It made me re-evaluate my choices of gear, clothing, and food. To sum it all up, I’d highly recommend Mountain Education’s Snow Basics Course to any hiker, thru-hiker, day-hiker, weekend warrior, or just everyone who expects to have to deal with snow someday. I learned lots of new things and it was time well spent! Thanks, again, Ned and Juliee, along with my fellow snow campers!” Steven Mueller
“I treasure the weekend of fine instruction with Ned and Juliee during Mountain Education’s Snow Basics Course that I attended in March of 2011. I felt they were in a continuous mode of adaptation to the changing weather conditions which quickly established a sense of trust in their ability to safely navigate us through all conditions. The simple goal to stay warm and dry became the major effort during the training because of the continuous snowfall. Their verbal and physical instruction emphasized the basic goal consistently which was achieved by the group. While friends and family are in disbelief as they view my photos, I continually tell them that it was a very “safe” experience/training because of Ned and Juliee’s wisdom and sound judgement garnered from years of learning through experience. It would be hard to simulate these blizzard conditions, the secure anchoring of tents, continuous monitoring of them to keep the snow off, frequent shoveling, staying warm and dry, staying hydrated and fed to stay warm, and knowing the importance of pacing one’s activities to remain safe. Ned and Juliee’s ability to pace all of the activities (training when we had a few hours of sun) demonstrated how we can be safe in adverse conditions when we respect those conditions and know our abilities. Ned, you excel in your enthusiasm and desire to share your love of the wilderness experience teaching us how to live richly and safely with nature in all seasons. Juliee, your love of these outdoor experiences is energizing and your support to Ned and the students contributes to the success of the Course! I am smarter and stronger for sharing a weekend in Mountain Education’s SBC course–new skills learned to use and to cherish.” Gratefully, Mary Clements
“Hopefully you remember me from a Snow Basics Course earlier this year! I dug a snow cave and had a great time. I’m writing you from the middle of Montana as I head into the last 600 miles of the Continental Divide Trail. It has been one great adventure and many, many times along the way I’ve thought back to the SBC and have been so grateful that I’d taken it! I had to deal with massive amounts of snow in Southern Colorado’s San Juan Range and patches continued through the rest of the State. Instead of being frustrated or scared of it, I enjoyed the challenge and had the confidence to take on whatever came my way. From crossing steep traverses to long, long stretches of post-holing, I always felt I had a good sense for what was going on around me out there and knew I could handle it–even the good sense to stay put a few days as the snow fell! I thought I was finished with the snow after Colorado, but there was plenty left for me in the Wind River Range of Wyoming! There, too, the knowledge from the Snow Basics Course gave me confidence that I could handle it. Mountain Education’s course was a great gift to me and I don’t believe I would have made it as far as I have without it! Not only did it make me safer on snow, it made me enjoy it. I love the snow, now, and love being in it! With the right gear and right mindset, it is not something to be feared, but rather, something to be enjoyed. So many of my fellow thru-hikers were paralyzed by fear, and I would have been, too, if not for your course. Thank you so much for opening my eyes! Daniel “Out of Order” Alvarez
“The Snow Basics Course for our Scout Troop was just excellent! We all thank you for your meticulous preparation, all the scout training, the self-arrest clinic, snow cave direction, and general leadership of the trip. Jeff had an exciting and very positive first snow camping experience, Nick gained a great deal of confidence, and Ken and I thoroughly enjoyed it all. We know it takes a lot of pre-planning for a trip to run so smoothly and we really appreciate your efforts. Few Troops get experiences like that! We also appreciate the high standard of safety you adhere to. We’re comfortable sending our boys anywhere with you. Kudos and many thanks!” Ken and Susie Perry