MOUNTAIN SKILLS FLY-IN

As low as:

$1,150.00 / person

(at 5:1 ratio)
  • STRENUOUSNESS
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  • TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY
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Add-ons

Mountaineering Kit Rental $45.00

Ice Axe, Crampons, Helmet, Carabiners, Cords and Sling. All these items are required to participate in the course. See the precise technical gear requirement in the Important pre-trip information .pdf below. We rent complete kits only, not individual items. Once purchased rental is non-refundable.

About 


Gain access by helicopter to remote alpine terrain and the best outdoor classroom around. Atmospheric views and a quick approach to snow, rock, and ice all summer long make this three-day course one of our most popular offerings. The skills learned on this course will allow you to safely tackle glaciated and snow-covered peaks and traverses on the island. Some alpine rock skills may also be covered depending on conditions and how the group moves through the curriculum.

This course typically runs June–September. Check out our Alpine Rock Skills course for additional training on alpine rock. 

Sample Curriculum *content may vary depending on the instructor and/or weather conditions.  

  • Considerations for snow travel 
  • Snow step and ice axe technique 
  • Self-arrest 
  • Snow anchors 
  • Improvised belays
  • End roping and short roping
  • Roped glacier travel 
  • Crevasse rescue 
  • Route selection
  • Understanding mountain hazards 
  • Time for supervised practice
  • Student led climbing of a peak

Included in the price

  • 3 days of instruction with an ACMG guide
  • Return helicopter flights
  • Group technical gear

Not included in the price

  • Transportation to and from meeting point
  • Food
  • Personal gear
  • Personal technical equipment (harness, helmet, ice axe, crampons, etc. – available as an “Mountaineering Kit” add on)*

Questions? Check out our FAQ page for details about our booking and cancellation policy, and other commonly asked questions.

Location


This course is delivered in an alpine setting surrounding Matchlee Mountain. We gain access to this area by helicopter, leaving from the 49 North Helicopter Base in Gold River. 

Here are some details to consider when planning for this trip: 

  • There is no cell coverage between Campbell River and Gold River.
  • Our tent base camp is a short walk from our helicopter landing pad/training area and is close to a tarn to allow easy water access
  • You may bring some luxuries, but please keep your luggage under 18kg (40lbs). Everything should also be packed in such a way that you could carry it downhill a significant distance in the rare instance that weather precludes the helicopter picking us up where it dropped us off. 
  • Since this is an alpine setting, we will be packing out all waste. A bucket toilet will be provided by IAG for this purpose. 
  • If you are looking to camp in the area before or after the trip, there are two pay campsites near Gold River, or there is a free camping location just outside Strathcona Park a few kilometres from Gold River. 
  • Bears have not been an issue in this area in the past, and there are no trees large enough to hang a bear cache. Students typically stash their food in a waterproof stuff sack away from their tents or consider a purpose built canister.

Exact meeting details will be provided in a pre-trip email sent one-week prior to your course.

Itinerary


A typical day starts at 08:30 and ends around 16:30. 

On the first two days of the course, we’ll cover and practice the basics of mountaineering on slopes a short walk from our base camp. On day three, we’ll put it all together to climb a peak. The order of curriculum delivery will depend on the instructor and other factors such as weather and conditions.
 
Exact meeting details will be provided in a pre-trip email sent one-week prior to your course.

Questions? Check out our
FAQ page for details, or send us an email. 

Requirements


This is an intermediate level course. If you are considering taking this course, you will ideally have:

  • Experience hiking in the mountains
  • Taken Intro to Rock or have equivalent experience (recommended but not required)
  • The ability to hike 400-500 m of elevation under a 20 lbs load
  • The capacity to travel on foot for up to 6 hours

Pre-course homework:

Please practice these basic knots at home to maximize efficiency on the course: 

  • Figure 8 follow-through 
  • Figure 8 on a bight 
  • Overhand 
  • Double overhand 
  • Double fisherman’s 
  • Clove hitch 
  • Prussik 
  • Munter or Italian hitch 

We recommend checking out the “Animated Knots” website for instructions. 

Questions about the suitability of this course? Send us an email. We’re happy to help you find a course to suit your needs. 

Gear List


Temperatures encountered on this trip typically range from -5°C at night to the 20s during the day, depending on the time of year your trip is held.  Please ensure that all gear is functioning and in good repair, and be sure to reach out with any gear related questions. 

Technical

Available as a “Mountaineering Kit” rentaladd on ($45) when you book.

  • Helmet – UIAA approved and adjustable
  • Crampons – simple, ten point general mountaineering crampon (either step-in or strap- on are fine depending on your boots)
  • Ice axe – general mountaineering tool, 60-80cm depending on your height
  • 3x locking carabiners – at least one should be pear-shaped
  • 3x regular carabiners
  • Harness – a simple, lightweight alpine seat harness
  • Belay/rappel device
  • 7mm accessory cord – 2 x 5 metre lengths
  • Double shoulder length sewn sling – should be rated to 22kn 

Clothing

  • Long underwear (top and bottom) — merino wool preferred, but poly pro will also suffice 
  • Mid-weight soft-shell jacket — down, wool, fleece or synthetic
  • Insulated jacket - down or synthetic
  • Waterproof shells (jacket and pants) — especially necessary for practicing self-arrests 
  • Warm toque — for cooler evenings 
  • T-shirt or long-sleeved shirt – white cotton can be excellent for cooling and sun protection during the height of summer
  • Hiking pants – nylon or similar
  • 2x Gloves — one lightweight, one warmer 

Footwear

  • Mountaineering boots — stiff, with a sharp cutting edge on the sole to effectively kick steps in snow
  • Gaiters — optional if pants stay over boots with elastic cuff 
  • 2 x warm socks — wool or synthetic blend 
  • 2 x sock liners (optional) — silk or poly pro 

Camping

Groups who book together may choose to share tents, food, and cooking equipment.

  • Sleeping bag — the warmth of your sleeping bag will depend on how you sleep (hot or cold) and the conditions at the time of your course, but at a minimum please bring something warm to at least -5
  • Sleeping pad
  • Tent – 3-season
  • Stove, fuel canister (compatible with stove), and cooking pot – available as an add on 
  • Eating vessels and utensils of choice 
  • Food — 2 breakfasts, 3 ready-made lunches (easily consumable on the go), 2 dinners, enough snacks to suit your individual needs. For tasty, nutritous and locally pre-made meals check out https://wildedgeketo.com/

Packs

  • 30L+ day pack (with waist belt) — big enough to carry your rain gear, fleece, water, lunch, and some of the group technical gear and ropes on day trips
  • 60L+ pack — something large enough to fit the items on this list plus food and fuel

Other

  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses with 100% UV block
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Toilet paper and ziplock
  • 2 x 1 litre water bottles
  • Water purification system — filter, tablets or drops 
  • Pocket knife
  • Headlamp with spare batteries
  • Small first aid kit (optional) 
  • Hiking poles (optional)
  • Reading material (optional)
  • Camera (optional)
  • Feminine hygiene supplies (if needed) 
  • Spare prescription glasses (if needed) 

Rentals


The following items are available for rent as add ons when you book:

  • Technical Gear: Our Mountaineering Kit rental add on includes all the items on technical gear list, and is available for $45 ($15/day). These can be purchased when you book or requested later as an add on. 
  • Mountaineering Boots: If you require other from the personal gear list such as mountaineering boots, you can check out Sports Rent based out of Victoria.

Please note that these rental add ons are non-refundable, but can be requested up to two days prior to the start of your course.

Questions? Send us an email or read our blog for advice on choosing appropriate gear. 

Testimonials

The trip was fantastic! It exceeded my expectations, Andrew is an exceptional guide. The Covid risk management was very well managed and didn’t hinder my experience of the course. Hats-off to Andrew for taking great care of us. I look forward to taking more courses with Island Alpine Guides. Mark Toth, Courtenay, BC.
It was truly a fantastic trip. Thank you again for providing such a great experience. Ben Porcher, Courtenay, BC.
The course was first class and I feel much safer and confident in the alpine now thanks to it. Chris Istace, Chemainus, BC.
Great weekend! Awesome learing opportunities, great terrain, steak and potatoes in the alpine, what more could I ask for? I'd do it again! Patrick Horsefield, Nanaimo, BC.
Thanks again to Jan Neuspiel of Island Alpine Guides for an amazing experience! In the last couple of years I have taken various climbing instruction, an avalanche course and a guided mountain hike/climb on Vancouver Island. All three outdoor educators/guides (Cliff, Karen and Jan) have been outstanding! My most recent adventure was a helicopter fly in to Matchlee Mountain. Three days of excellent instruction at a magical location, all under blue skies and warm weather; and to top it off a climb to the summit! My climbing partner (Albert Pozar) and myself looked forward to this trip as a once in a life time adventure. Now we say a helicopter fly in mountain experience with IAG will be an annual event! Dale Combs, Duncan, BC.
I was amazed at how much you learn in three days of instruction with IAG - not to mention a helicopter access adventure in the mountains. The value from this course is incredible and I now feel confident venturing into terrain that I would have avoided before. Carl Tessmann, Cumberland, BC
Many thanks for the great course. Loved the energy, teaching, ability to adapt to all levels, improvise for conditions and maximize value! We'll see you again. Jordan Anderson and Tida Brisotto, Victoria, BC.
Thanks for an awesome trip. I've gained an immense appreciation for what you do and a thirst to continue on. Carol Ann Patterson, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Thanks for a great trip. I will certainly recommend your outfit to anyone I can, I thought it was first class. It was good to meet new people with similar interests. Awesome group to be with for this trip. Keep me in the loop on the improvised rock anchors course. I am keen to keep learning. Daryl Aason, Shawnigan Lake, BC.
Killer trip, once in a lifetime, I couldn't have asked for a better experience! Jordan Campbell, Campbell River, BC.
"Taking this course was the best decision I've made this year" Duy Tang, Comox, BC.
This 3-day course was an exceptional, informative, and fun experience that was rounded out with world class instruction. I learned more than I could have imagined and am excited to build upon my newfound knowledge with more alpine experiences, many of which will most definitely be with IAG. I strongly recommend this course to anyone who is looking to gain valuable mountaineering skills while enjoying awe-inspiring surroundings! Easha Acharya, Nanaimo, BC.
Course was awesome! Exceeded my expectations and then some. Ken was such an awesome guide. His approach to teaching was perfect. He made you think and process yourself but was there with guidance when you needed a hand. I will definitely recommend this course to others looking for technical skills to advance their mountaineering/backcountry skill set. David Leith, Campbell River
Amazing trip. Not only was the weather and location perfect, our guide Ken was incredible. He was approachable, easy going and had an absolute wealth of experience about life in the mountains. Would recommend for sure. Rob Livingstone, Victoria, BC
Thoroughly enjoyed the course, the instruction and the group overall. Ken was a great instructor and was patient enough with me while the skills slowly returned to me after a long absence from the mountains. John Considine, Victoria, BC
The course was great! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found it very informative, engaging, and fun! As well, it was very well-organized, which I appreciated. I would expect the guide to be knowledgeable and competent. I wasn't expecting the guide to bring such a level of spirituality to the course. I deeply appreciated his perspective on life in the mountains. It was a rich and rewarding experience. I would definitely recommend it as well as consider taking another one of your courses that you offer. I very much appreciated the other participants as well, and am hoping to get up in the hills with a couple of them at least. Jeremy Page, Victoria, BC
Ken was a marvellous instructor. He not only taught us about safety, but also mountain etiquette and trusting in our gut instinct, and philosophies of mountaineering so that when you head out, you have a purpose and the skills to bring you home safe again – and that means leaving our arrogance and ego at home. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to everyone starting out with mountaineering. Anne Nguyen, Nanaimo, BC
Thank you for an incredible weekend. The smile has yet to leave my face. I've now been on two IAG courses and both were phenomenal. I was really impressed with the quality of training, the depth of knowledge we were provided during the course and the incredible location for it to take place. The small delay in departure Saturday was more than made up for by the helicopter ride and the proximity we were able to keep to the Alpine Classroom - what a magical location for the course. I found the course to be the right level of demanding, challenging of my limits and of risk management. While feeling excited and focused, there weren't any moments in which I felt unsafe or over exposed despite the seriousness of the terrain we were in. Andrew did an incredible job of managing the group throughout the course, and I was particularly impressed with how well he was able to monitor and oversee two separate ropes teams traversing the mountain. I've spoken with other guides in the past and I know what an incredible responsibility this can be, to manage the systems and risk for themselves and 5 strangers in their care. Andrew also did an excellent job of monitoring how we each were doing, and assisting us only when necessary or requested. Not only that, but it turned out he had been taking fantastic photos for us the entire time, sharing them with us on Monday at our debrief. Our group is collecting all our photos into a single dropbox, which I may be able to share with their permissions. I've been enthralled by mountaineering for quite some time now, but as a freshwater paddler from Ontario - the mountains have otherwise been inaccessible to me for lack of experience and skill. I'm deeply grateful for the opportunity this past weekend to begin to build the foundation I need to explore these places with as minimal risk as possible. Jonathan Horvatin, Victoria, BC
I had a blast learning these important mountain skills. I can't wait to get back out again. Matthew Lettington, Nanaimo, BC.