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Winter Backpacking Skills

Where’s a good place to learn winter backpacking skills - navigation, avalanche and snow conditions, proper ice axes and crampon usage - I have not seen an REI course ?

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Re: Winter Backpacking Skills

@MattBromley Great question and good on you for looking to extend your backpacking skills into four seasons! Some of my favorite moments outdoors have come in depths of winter. There is a whole new element of adventure that comes with snow and cold. I highly recommend it!

Because pushing into four seasons brings with it so many new challenges it would be hard to fit all of the skills into one class or article. I would touch base with your local REI to see when winter specific courses will be offered. Typically we start offering them closer to the winter season. I know stores offer Winter Camping and Avalanche Awareness classes. Additionally I recommend picking up a copy of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills to pick up some great knowledge. Lastly, there are many phenomenal clubs and organizations that focus on instruction (such as The Mountaineers in Seattle) that could help set you on the right path. Best of luck in your adventures!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Re: Winter Backpacking Skills

If you are in the northeast, Appalachian Mountain Club has a fantastic winter hiking program comprised of in-class lectures in the fall followed by winter hikes with amazing group leaders to teach you winter hiking skills. I took the program four years ago and very much enjoy winter hiking now.

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Re: Winter Backpacking Skills

@MattBromley If you’re looking into winter hiking/mountaineering, reading up on everything you just mentioned is a great start but it is no substitute for training from professionals. You can go to AMGA.com or just google IFMGA guides to find qualified guides in your area. There are also many guiding companies who offer different courses as well as certain local clubs. I’d also recommend taking the level 1 and 2 AIARE courses for avalanche/snow safety. 

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Re: Winter Backpacking Skills

@MattBromley even though you posted this question on the "Ask an REI Employee" board, you may also get suggestions from other members of the community. We wanted to provide a friendly reminder (from our User Guidelines) that "only posts from a user with the “REI Employee” rank should be regarded as employee-generated content."

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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