Alpine Skills Weekend 2020

  • Thursday, January 16, 2020
  • 11:00 AM
  • Monday, January 20, 2020
  • 12:00 PM
  • North Conway, New Hampshire
  • 0


  • Select this if you will be sleeping in a tent ($10/night)

Registration is closed



The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club - Mountaineering Section (PATC-MS) organizes an Alpine Skills Weekend each winter to share our members' mountaineering experiences from Mt. Rainier, Denali, Aconcagua and more.

Signing up is just an application, all participants will be notified of acceptance to ASW soon after the application is submitted. Detailed information about the weekend will be provided once you've been accepted. 

Previous years we have split the group with some camping, and some staying in the Harvard Cabin. This year the entire team will camp outside.   


Course dates: January 16-20, 2020 (MLK Weekend)

Participants will be required to attend 2 full day training hikes and 1 day of training hike and Gear Check (including all personal and group gear).

Training dates are:

  • October 5 - Training Hike 1
  • November 9 - Training Hike 2
  • December 15 - Gear Check and Training Hike 3

Participants must be an active member of the PATC-MS prior to October 1, 2019.

Consider the dates and training carefully. It is imperative that you be available for the training hikes and Gear Check. This is one of the club's most popular events. There will be a waiting list. If you drop out of the course it may affect the other participants.

Remember, climbing, and especially mountaineering, is a dangerous sport. Mt. Washington has recorded many of the worst winds and coldest temperatures - anywhere. Climbers have died on this mountain before (this year!), and they will in the future. Do not underestimate what -20 degrees F air temperature feels like, especially for days on end.

Basic List of Skills Covered

  • Introduction to general mountaineering equipment (crampons, ice axe, ropes)
  • Ascending a snow slope in boots
  • Use of crampons (climbing foot techniques)
  • Use of mountaineering ice axe
  • Self-arrest and glissading
  • Roped travel
  • Anchors (focus on deadman anchors, use of tools, snow pickets, and ice screws)
  • Descending: focus on walk-off (plunge step, side-step, downclimbing), and rappelling (v-thread, bollards) - if time
  • Basic full process of ascending and descending a snow (and ice) gully (putting it all together)
  • Intro to ice climbing (optional - time and weather permitting)
  • Use of avalanche gear (optional - time and weather permitting)   

Experience and Equipment

No prior experience is required for ASW. Participants must obtain (rent, borrow, buy) general mountaineering equipment and winter clothing for possible extreme severe weather conditions. Some equipment (axes, boots, crampons, avy gear) is available for checkout from the Club gear locker. Rental gear is available in North Conway at International Mountain Equipment (IME) and Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS).

A program guide will be distributed to all participants detailing all of the required gear and other logistics for the course.


This year all participants and mentors will camp outside, and will be required to share a tent (unless you bring your own 4-season tent)Camping space is available outside the cabin for $10/night. These are first come, first serve spots. Last resort is to stay at Joe Dodge Lodge and hike up each morning (approximately a two hour hike).

Course Start Time

You must arrive at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center no later than 11am on Thursday, January 16. Several leaders will be arriving in North Conway Wednesday evening (motel stay) to allow plenty of time on Thursday to take care of last minute things. It is recommended participants strongly consider this option.


It is expected that you will train both psychically and mentally for this trip. The trip leaders will help develop and/or recommend the best way for participants to train. We will have 3 required training hikes in Shenandoah National Park where all participants will carry a full pack over a long day of hiking. The goal of the hikes is to help you understand the rigors of a good deal of elevation change and negotiating rugged terrain in colder weather.  

Send all questions to Bill Kessinger ( or Corey Hilz (

©2020 PATC-MS | The Mountaineering Section of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club | All Rights Reserved.