Crevasse rescue training at the MCA's Basic Mountaineering School.

Photo by Dean Carman.

Snow travel school at the MCA's Basic Mountaineering School.

Photo by Brian Aho.

Resurrection Bay Day Harbor from Peak 2316. Kenai Fjords National Park.

Photo by Wayne Todd.

Bird Peak from Esbay Peak. Chugach State Park.

Photo by Wayne Todd.

Basic Mountaineering School

Photo: Brian Aho

The MCA's Basic Mountaineering School (BMS) merit program is designed to give individuals new to mountaineering an introduction to the basic skills required to travel in the Alaska mountain environment.

NOTE: The required training is NOT designed to prepare an individual for an ascent of Denali or any other major undertaking. This course is taught by competent experienced volunteers, not by paid professionals.

Don’t worry, the Basic Mountaineering School (BMS) hasn’t gone away, instead the training department has developed a merit based BMS program. Students can mix and match the required BMS training at their own pace and schedule, but are required to complete training within 14 months of enrollment in the BMS merit program. The BMS merit based program offers a variety of classes in the evenings and weekends with the idea a student can design their program around their work schedule and school. Participation in required training will be recorded by the training department and certificates will be awarded once all required training is completed. Some training can be credited with prior experience and or training sources outside of MCA, upon submission and approval of the MCA training department.

Check-out the link to the left, "Seminars" for upcoming BMS merit based training offerings.


Required Basic Mountain School (BMS) training includes:

Nutrition and Equipment for Travel in the Snow Environment

Winter Camping and Snow Shelters

Navigation and Map Skills

Avalanche Hazard and Recognition


Basic Snow Travel

Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue

Intro to Ice Climbing*

Backcountry Skiing Skills*

Wilderness First Aid*

*Participants enrolled in the BMS merit program must take one of these courses, all other courses are required to complete the program.

The MCA charges a fee for clinics/seminars in order to cover the cost of materials and equipment.

A jubilant mountaineering class. Photo © Dean Carman Climbers self rescue out of a crevasse, Matanuska Glacier. Photo © Travis Taylor Travis Taylor digs out his home. Photo © Travis Taylor Students ski in to a temporary homestead, Turnagain Pass. Photo © Jayme Mack
Students probe and dig for a buried avalanche subject. Photo © Jayme Mack Students probe avalanche debris for buried subjects. Photo © Jayme Mack Students pinpoint a buried subject with beacon, time to probe and dig. Photo © Brian Aho A student self arrests a tensioned partner. Photo © Brian Aho
Students pull test a buried anchor. Photo © Brian Aho Student examines snow crystals. Photo © Seth Weingarten Dean Carmen continues instruction at the Long Rifle Lodge. Photo © Seth Weingarten A leader directs a probe line on a glorious day. Photo © Seth Weingarten
A V thread under tension. Photo © Seth Weingarten A climber belays his team to a safe spot. Photo © Tony Lutes Students prepare for a Rutschblock snow stablilty test. That's a lot of snow. Photo © Brian Aho A climber approaches the edge, a difficult transition. Photo © Brian Aho
Students practice ice climbing and belaying. Photo © Jayme Mack Ralph Tingey demonstrates the boot axe belay. BMS 09. Photo © Wayne Todd Val heads out clothed for the storm. Photo © Wayne Todd Students stop for adjustments in a serious storm. Photo © Wayne Todd
Richard Baranow demonstrates clipping thru protection from the middle position. Photo © Wayne Todd Wayne steps on a students hand who is not following instructions. Photo © Tony Lutes Marco Carter makes tracks ahead of his team. Photo © Wayne Todd A rope team ascends the skiers gully on O'Malley. Photo © Wayne Todd
Tony Lutes briefs his students before the final ascent. Photo © Wayne Todd

© 2021 Mountaineering Club of Alaska     Box 243561,  Anchorage, AK 99524-3561     Contact Us

Many thanks to: Wayne Todd, Tim Silvers, Ross Noffsinger, Steve Gruhn, Carrie Wang, Billy Finley and many others who provided information, ideas and photos. And thanks to Willy Hersman who created, managed and hosted the first MCA website, without which this site's development would have been so much more difficult. Current website donated by Couloir Graphics.