Scheduled Courses & Climbs - Mountaineering (Alpine Climbing)

Winter Courses & Climbs

Summer Courses & Climbs

Mt. Olympus, West Slabs Climb:

Join UMA guides and scale the rocky face you’ve admired for years that presides over the Salt Lake Valley.

Mt. Superior Classic Alpine Climb:

The prominent South Ridge of this iconic Wasatch peak rises 3,000 feet from near Snowbird Ski Resort, in Little Cottonwood Canyon, to the 11,050’ summit. Outstanding views, fun climbing moves, and an airy feeling make this a classic route in any season. Only a short approach is needed before class 3 & 4 scrambling and/or steep snow climbing begins.

Grand Teton Prep Course:

Instruction in multi-pitch alpine rock climbing, belaying from a ledge, overhanging rappels and other skills required for climbing the Grand Teton or similar routes.

Private Guiding & Instruction - Mountaineering (Alpine Climbing)

Private Guiding & Instruction - Mountaineering

Guides are available daily for climbs. All of UMA's scheduled courses and climbs can be taught on a private basis. UMA is happy to customize instruction to meet your needs for goals you are working toward.

SNOW MOUNTAINEERING SKILLS:

Location depends on conditions and client needs

$349 for one person plus $133 for each additional person, plus tax

Description:
Excellent preparation for spring / summer climbs in the Rockies, Cascades, Alaska, etc. Instructor will take you through a progression from climbing in balance, using duck-foot, crossover-step, sidestep, and plunge-step, to self-belay with piolet cane, high and low dagger, and piolet traction, and on to flat-footing and front-pointing with crampons. Finally the rope will be incorporated, emphasizing proper tension, stepping over the rope for turns, and limitations / dangers of being roped on steep, exposed terrain. Self-arrest with the axe, a last resort, but an essential skill to know, will also be taught. After building confidence arresting falls on the seat, climbers will progress to upsidedown and backward.

Running Belay on Mt. Rainier

Running Belay on Mt. Rainier

Photo by Tyson Bradley

Knowing how to stop oneself enables a climber to move without anxiety over hard snow.Many groups and individuals choose to spend part of the day working on skills, and then climb a small peak such as Toledo. The start altitude is 8,600 feet in Alta, and the summit elevations are 10,500 and 10,300, respectively. Each route has a mix of snow and rock moves in winter. There are good areas on the approach to learn and practice self-arrest, ice-axe, crampon and rope skills.

SUMMITS:

Popular routes include (many other routes are also available):

West Ridge of Toledo Peak:
$349 for one person plus $133 additional person, plus tax. (max 3 clients per guide)

Combine ice axe and crampon training and a spectacular, rugged, mixed rock and snow alpine climb along the well-protected West Ridge. This 2,000-foot ascent involves an approach from Alta, usually on snowshoes or skis. Along the way, suitable areas exist for a snow mountaineering skills session. Upon reaching the rocky West Ridge of Toledo, the guide will lead a series of Chimneys and rocky aretes. Followers will learn mixed rock and snow climbing, usually in crampons; removal of rock protection and anchors, and reach a spectacular 10,500-foot Wasatch summit. Descent is to the east down Toledo Bowl on foot, glissade, snowshoes or skis.

Mount Superior East Ridge:
$349 for one person plus $133 additional person, plus tax. (max 3 clients per guide)

The 11,050-foot summit of Superior presides over the Snowbird and Alta ski areas, and the standard summit route is via the East Ridge, a rewarding 2,500 hike / scramble. It is a suitable first alpine climb, and is relatively non-technical, except for some exposed, class 3 rock along the summit ridge. An ice axe and crampons are helpful in winter, whereas in summer it can be scaled in light hiking boots.

Mount Superior South Ridge:
$399 for one person plus $133 additional person, plus tax. (max 2 clients per guide)

From mid-November through June, the Suicide Chute, a classic, rock-lined, 40-degree couloir, is usually snow-filled. Crampons and ice axe are used, and we work on snow climbing skills before scaling the classic, alpine, knife-edge, mixed rock and snow ridge. At least 1,000 feet of exposed climbing along the knife-edge crest is roped. Slings, passive protection, snow-pro, stoppers and cams are placed to provide security. The guide will employ a combination of running belays, short-pitching and short-roping. The hardest move is rated 5.6. Descent is along the easier East Ridge and down to Alta via Cardiff Pass. This is a long-day climb. We typically start between 5-7 am and finish around 3-6 pm. The maximum ratio is 2 clients per guide.

Pfeifferhorn East Ridge:
$399 for one person plus $133 additional person, plus tax. (max 3 clients per guide)

Deep in the heart of the rugged Lone Peak Wilderness stands the iconic Pfeifferhorn. A 4-mile hike with 4,000 feet of vertical gain, this ascent includes steep scrambling to reach the top. In winter the approach is on touring skis with skins, split snowboard or snowshoes. An ice axe and crampons provide security up and down the steep summit slopes. In summer light hikers work well for the mostly dry trail and rocky summit triangle.

Pfeifferhorn North Ridge - Overnight:
$899 for one person plus $375 additional person, plus tax. (max 2 clients per guide)

The classic winter mixed snow and rock alpine route in the Central Wasatch Range is the North Ridge of the "Pfeiff." Approach from White Pine Parking Lot on day 1, using skis, split-board or snowshoes for flotation in the snow. A weather-proof snow camp will be established around 9 or 10,000-feet in Maybird Gulch. Enjoy a quiet night in a cozy tent with a warm down sleeping bag.

Rise early, brew up, and warm up on a short approach to the base of the peak. A steep, east-facing snow couloir leads to the rocky summit ridge. The ridge is scaled in 7 pitches of fixed belays, usually wearing crampons and employing a combination of ice axe placements and hand holds on the granite. Finish on a ribbon of moderate snow high in the sky.

Descent is via the more moderate East Ridge, and may include glissading on the northeast face.

EXPEDITION SKILLS:

Learn mountaineering skills and winter camping and climb Wasatch peaks Prices vary with length of expedition and difficulty of routes

During a two-day overnight outing, learn mountaineering skills and winter camping and climb a Wasatch peak in preparation for Rainier, Aconcagua, Denali or other expedition climbing.

The guide will check equipment, review efficient loading of an overnight pack, and lead on skis or snowshoes to a camp at or near 10,000 feet. Sleds may be used, especially if you are preparing to climb Denali.

En route, the guide will review route selection, travel protocols for avalanche terrain, pace and how to climb on skis or snowshoes with a load. A solid, weatherproof winter camp will be established using deadman anchors and snow walls.

The instructor will review the use of crampons and ice axe, self-arrest and crevasse rescue. Ascending out of a crevasse, ascending a fixed line, and Denali / Rainier style running protection and clipping through anchors will also be taught, if desired. Learn how to melt snow for water, cook, and stay warm and comfortable in the high altitude, winter environment.

On the second day we'll ascend a spectacular 11,000-foot Wasatch peak using crampons, ice axe and ropes. We will train for fitness and learn to climb safely and efficiently on moderately difficult snow and rock in exposed terrain. Common objectives include Red or White Baldy and the Pfeifferhorn via the East or North Ridge.

Equipment and Logistics - Mountaineering

Equipment

Summer Mountaineering Gear List

  • Comfortable and flexible pants (no jeans) and top
  • Waterproof/windproof jacket
  • Light fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • 2 liters of water (in a water bag pack (optional))
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Approach shoes (no sandals)
  • Rock climbing shoes **
  • Harness *
  • Belay device and locking carabiner *
  • Helmet *
  • Day backpack

Download Gear List ( pdf-icon PDF)

* UMA will provide a helmet, harness and personal technical gear if you need them.

** Rock climbing shoes are available for rent at local shops.

North Ridge of the Pfeifferhorn

North Ridge of the Pfeifferhorn

Photography by Tyson Bradley

Winter and Spring Mountaineering Skills and Climbs Equipment List:

  • Non-cotton top and bottom under layers (capilene or polypro)
  • Fleece or softshell layer
  • Waterproof/windproof top and bottom outer shell
  • Wool (and liner) socks
  • Waterproof snow gloves and/or mittens
  • Climbing gloves
  • Warm hat and sun cap
  • Sunglasses and goggles
  • Sunscreen
  • 2 liters of water
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Backpack *
  • Avalanche transceiver *
  • Shovel *
  • Full or 3/4 shank crampon compatible boots
  • Gaiters
  • Snowshoes & poles (depending on conditions)
  • Crampons (flexible 10-point will suffice)
  • Ice axe
  • Helmet *
  • Harness *
  • Locking carabiner and belay device *

Download Gear List ( pdf-icon PDF)

* These items are available from UMA at no extra charge. Other items are available for rent at local shops.

Overnight Winter Mountaineering Equipment List:

  • Non-cotton top and bottom under layers (capilene or polypro)
  • Fleece or other insulation layer
  • Waterproof/windproof top and bottom outer shell
  • Wool and liner socks
  • Waterproof snow gloves and mittens
  • Lightweight gloves
  • Warm hat and sun cap
  • Thin hat or balaclava for under helmet
  • Sunglasses and goggles
  • 2 liters of water
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Ski boots or full shank crampon compatible boots
  • Alpine touring, telemark skis, split snowboard or snowshoes
  • Heel risers for tele skis
  • Poles
  • Skins
  • Avalanche transceiver *
  • Shovel *
  • Backpack (min. 5000cu. in.)
  • Crampons (flexible 10-point will suffice)
  • Ice axe
  • Helmet*
  • Harness*
  • Locking carabiner and belay device *
  • Sleeping Bag rated to 0 F.
  • Therm-a-rest inflatable sleeping pad and 1 ensolite pad or 2 ensolite pads
  • Insulated plastic mug w/ Lid, bowl & spoon
  • Headlamp w/ fresh battery
  • Insulated parka
  • Complete change of socks for second day
  • Sunscreen
  • Tooth brush & handy wipe towelettes

Download Gear List ( pdf-icon PDF)

UMA will provide group gear such as tent and cooking equipment. UMA will provide dinner and breakfast

* These items are available from UMA at no extra charge. Other items are available for rent at local shops.

Overnight Winter Mountaineering Equipment List:

Alpine touring skis and skins: $40 plus tax
Split-snowboard, skins and poles: $45 plus tax
Skins only: $10 plus tax
Snowshoes and poles: $15 plus tax

Rental Shops:

Black Diamond Retail

2070 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City

(801) 278-0233

REI

3285 East 3300 South, Salt Lake City

(801) 486-2100

University of Utah Outdoor Rec Center

2140 E. Red Butte Road, Fort Douglas, Building 650

(801) 581-8516

Guidebooks and Map:

Guidebook: Utah Mountaineering Guide. By Michael R. Kelsey

Maps: Hiking the Wasatch. By the Wasatch Mountain Club & University of Utah Press

Accommodations:

These lodges in the town of Alta are very convenient for the Saturday and Sunday venues:

Alta Lodge

(801) 322-4631

Alta's Rustler Lodge

(801) 532-2582

Goldminer’s Daughter

(801) 742-2300

Peruvian Lodge

(801) 742-3333

Snowbird

(801) 933-2222

These accommodations in Salt Lake City area are also close to the Cottonwood Canyons:

Skyline Inn, Foothill Drive, SLC

Foothill Drive, SLC: 2475 E. 1700 South

(801) 582-5350

La Quinta Inn

Midvale: 7231 S. Catalpa Rd

(801) 566-3291

Residence Inn

Cottonwood Heights: 6425 South 3000 E.

(801) 453-0430

Trailheads & Meeting Points - Driving Directions:

To BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON PARK & RIDE LOT:

  • From Salt Lake City, and the Wasatch Front:

    Follow Interstate 215 (Belt Route) either south from I-80 or east from I-15 to the 6200 South Exit. Drive southeast, uphill, toward Brighton, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird ski resorts. Continue through a traffic light at the intersection with Wasatch Boulevard. Turn left (east) at the next light onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (SR 190, also called 7200 South.) Take another left after 200 yards into the UTA Park & Ride lot.

  • From Park City and other points east:

    Go west over Parley's summit and down Parley's Canyon into the Salt Lake Valley. Go south on I-215, and exit at the 6200 South. Drive southeast, uphill, toward Brighton, Solitude, Alta,and Snowbird ski resorts. Continue through a traffic light at the intersection with Wasatch Boulevard. Turn left (east) at the next light onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (SR 190, also called 7200 South). Take another left after 200 yards into the UTA Park & Ride lot.

To Knudsen Corner PARK & RIDE LOT, 6450 South Wasatch Blvd:

  • Follow directions for Big Cottonwood Park & Ride Lot (above), until you reach the junction of 6200 South and Wasatch Blvd. Turn left here and make another immediate left into the large Park & Ride Lot.

To EINSTEIN BAGEL SHOP in Olympus Cove, SLC:

  • From Park City and other points east:

    Drive west on I-80 over Parley's summit and down Parley's Canyon into the Salt Lake Valley. Go south on I-215, and exit at 3900 South. Turn left (east) under the freeway and make a right on Wasatch Blvd then an immediate left into the Bagel Shop, which is next to a mall and Dan's Grocery Store.

  • From Salt Lake City, and the Wasatch Front:

    Follow Interstate 215 (Belt Route) south or north to the 3900 South Exit. Get on Wasatch Blvd, which parallels the freeway on the east, and locate the Bagel Shop, just south of the intersection of 3900 South and Wasatch Blvd. It is at the north end of a mall and Dan's Grocery Store.

How to Register:

Register Online

Utah Alpine Climbing Guides Private Guiding & Instruction - Utah Mountaineering

Frequently Asked Questions - Mountaineering

What type of Crampons should I use?

10-point, hinged, flexible, lash-on spikes made of light metal (including aluminum) are ideal, and adaptable to almost any boot. Step-in crampons are fine, but they won’t fit on softer boots that lack heel and toe rands for attachment. 12-point water-ice crampons are fine, but heavier than necessary.

What type of Ice Axe and Leash is best?

A mountaineering axe usually has a straight shaft (as opposed to the radically curved shafts and reverse-droop picks designed specifically for water-ice and mixed climbing.) Some newer mountaineering axes include a bend only in the upper shaft, and this is fine. Preferable length is 50-75 cm.

Given that many Wasatch routes are on a mix of rock, ice, and snow, a shorter axe is easier to stow for pure rock moves. For this reason, a RETAINER leash connected to the harness is required so the tool can’t be dropped. The best type is a 5’ long, single-strand of 1/2” webbing attached with a water knot on the pick side of the axe head. Wrist loops are for steep ice, and NOT helpful for mountaineering.

Climbers on Wasatch Summit

Climbers on Wasatch Summit

Photography by Tim Walton

How much experience do I need for the South Ridge of Superior?

This is an “Alpine-style,” intermediate to advanced climb. Ice-axe and crampon experience is helpful for winter and spring ascents. Rock-climbing or scrambling background and comfort with exposure is important in any season. The climber needs to be fit enough to handle 3,000 feet of ascent, mostly on technical class 3 & 4 terrain. Deep, unconsolidated snow makes the climb considerably more physically demanding.

Can I ski off the top of Superior?

Ski descents of Superior’s highly visible South Face are very popular, and UMA does guide this and other steep, challenging ski lines when conditions are right. However, carrying skis (or a snowboard) make climbing the South Ridge MUCH harder. We recommend climbing the East Ridge or Cardiac Bowl if a ski descent is sought.

In order to ski Mt. Superior, UMA requires that the participant has gone out with UMA previously in order to be comfortable in the assessment of their capability. Skiing from the summit into Cardiac Bowl or Mill B South is a safer, more benign option.

Does UMA offer multi-pitch rock mountaineering climbs?

Yes, there are many excellent rock routes in the higher terrain. The Sundial -- above Lake Blanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon -- and Arm and Hammer in Bells Canyon are two of the more popular climbs. These are aesthetic, intermediate to advanced routes needing solid fitness and rock-climbing skills. They are described in more detail on the rock-climbing page.

Contact UMA if you have any questions:

Call (801) 550-3986 or email us at uma@UtahMountainAdventures.com

Utah Mountain Adventures

P.O. Box 521809

Salt Lake City, Utah 84152-1809

Phone: (801) 550 3986

Fax: (801) 486 8505

Email: uma@utahmountainadventures.com

Utah Mountain Adventures | Patagonia Utah Mountain Adventures | Forest Service Backcountry Skiing Utah, by Tyson Bradley
Mountaineering (Alpine Climbing) - Utah Mountain Adventures

In summer and fall, we wear sticky-rubber approach shoes or alpine boots and travel primarily on dry rock. Popular moderate routes include Mt. Olympus West Slabs (Northwest Face) and Mt. Superior South Ridge. Climbers comfortable up to 5.8 may enjoy the Sundial and other remote Wasatch multi-pitch classics.

The feeling of elation upon reaching a summit is heightened by the challenges of winter conditions. November-May mountaineering is climbing on a mix of snow, ice and rock using crampons and ice axe, typically after an approach on skis, splitboard or snowshoes. Mt. Superior’s knife-edged South Ridge is our classic single-day alpine route, and the airy North Ridge, or the friendlier East Ridge, of the Pfeifferhorn is usually a 2-day climb.

The skills and experience gained on Wasatch ascents are ideal preparation for future climbs on the major peaks of the world, including Denali, Rainier and the Grand Teton. UMA prepares students in the rigors of snow mountaineering by instructing them in the use of crampons and ice axe, self arrest, belayed climbing, snow anchors, crevasse rescue and winter camping.

Crampons, ice axe and boots are available for rent at local shops. UMA provides all technical team gear as well as tents, stoves, dinner and breakfast for overnight climbs.

For more information on mountaineering classes in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, please view our Mountaineering Courses.

We also offer private Guided Mountaineering & Alpine Climbing Instruction in the Wasatch Range in and around the Salt Lake area.