It’s fairly evident that I have developed an addiction like passion for the backcountry and the mountains. So much so that I am interested in pursuing ACMG hiking guide certification. With that comes the need for experience but also legitimate training . The easiest way to do that was to contact Jan Neuspiel at Island Alpine Guides .
I have had previous courses before with IAG and knew that I would receive first class training , therefore I didn’t hesitate to sign up for the Mountaineering course and opted for the helicopter fly in option . This proved to be a great decision.
We headed up to Gold River early Friday morning to board our flight with EB Helicopters up to Matchlee Mountain . We would be staying right up on the Alpine plateau for three days to be immersed completely in our classroom mountain setting.
The helicopter lifted off and away we went to our destination . This was my first time in a helicopter and I can tell you the smile didn’t come off my face.
We set down on a nice open smooth rocky area and unloaded. Once the helicopter was gone we loaded up our packs for a short walk over the knoll and we were treated with our campsite for the weekend. It was a 5-star hotel in my books for sure!
After camp we set straight out climbing the 45 minutes from the glacial lake up to a snow patch along the glacier. Here we worked on proper crampon technique , ice axe usage , building snow anchors and self arrest on snow.
Once we finished on the snow we moved up onto the Matchlee Glacier itself to begin with ice climbing portion of the course. We worked on movement on the ice quickly followed by ice anchors such as screws and abalakovs.
We finished up at this point and made our way back down to camp for supper and relaxing after a long first day. We told stories and sipped on cold cider that we left in the ice cold water earlier in the day.
For our second day we worked our way back up to the glacier to continue with ice climbing 3 pitches to reach the upper section col. Here we found some snow to practice destructive testing on our snow anchors to see how truly good they actually are and to show we can trust them.
After the snow anchor testing we moved into glacier travel in crevasse terrain with the associated roping techniques and safety involved . We did a good distance practicing finishing off with crevasse rescue techniques.
A full day under the bright hot sun baked us pretty good and it was now time to once again retreat to our camp for the evening.
Once back at camp the BBQ was fired up , yes a BBQ !
Lol , the perks of a heli fly-in are plentiful. A swim in the glacial water , some good food and then a beautiful sunset capped off our last night on the mountain.
Our last day on the course would cap off with a rock climb to the summit. During the climb we focused on route finding, short rope techniques and related skills. The day was the hottest of the three and the views were terrific . Matchlee is so close to the Pacific Ocean we could see the surf breaking .
After a summit lunch and short break it was time to head back to camp and pack up for our flight back to Gold River . Discovering yet another beautiful glacial lake on the backside of the mountain on our descent route, I grew to love this place.
We packed up all our tents and gear , I of course enjoyed another swim and then we waited for the heli to swing by to pick us up. Once we were helicopter landed it was a matter of minutes before we loaded all our gear it and then whisked down to Gold River and back to our waiting vehicle and civilization.
I can’t recommend Jan and Island Alpine Guides enough! This course was first class and I learned so much that will benefit me every time I tackle the mountains. If you are remotely considering a mountaineering course look no further.
Get out there and #ExploreBeyondTheUsual