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Home » Classes » CMC Classes and Schools » High Altitude Mountaineering - Seminar

High Altitude Mountaineering School

HAMS 2018 is currently fully booked. Applicants are now being added to a waitlist.


The High Altitude Mountaineering School (HAMS) was created for CMC members who are interested in learning and practicing the alpine skills that are needed to safely climb and enjoy high, glaciated mountains, including Mt. Rainier, Denali, the Andes, and the Himalayas!  HAMS culminates in a high peak climb of Mt. Rainier or a similar high, glaciated peak.

HAMS curriculum consists of a series of lectures and practice sessions on “Glacier Travel / High Peak Expeditions” module. The lectures and practices sessions are held at the AMC building in Golden, CO. Several training days for glacier travel, crevasse rescue, and glacier camping practice are also put on the calendar.  Students who complete HAMS will be able to demonstrate proficiency with advanced mountaineering technical skills, including:

  • roped glacier travel (including ice ax and crampon technique for ascending and descending, self-arrest, building snow anchors, executing a running belay, and using ascenders on fixed ropes)
  • crevasse rescue
  • glacier camping
  • basic ice climbing

To complete HAMS , students must also complete a co-requisite module, HAMS Basic Ice Climbing (or have equivalent experience); participate in an Expedition Camping and Couloir Climbing weekend in the spring; have climbed at least three Colorado snow couloirs; and participate on a high peak expedition trip, typically Mt. Rainier.

In addition to the technical skills associated with glacier travel that were listed above, the HAMS program will teach you what it takes to mount a successful expedition: planning, logistics, conditioning, nutrition, awareness of high-altitude medical issues, backcountry risk management, and most importantly, TEAMWORK.



HAMS students should have BMS-equivalent rock and snow experience:  i.e., you must be proficient with climbing knots, belaying, rappelling, navigation, crampon and ice ax technique, self-arrest, glissading, and ascending a rope.
Most importantly, you must have proficiency climbing hard-snow couloirs.

The formal pre-requisites for admission to HAMS are:

  • Successful completion of the Basic Mountaineering Certificate or equivalent.  In particular, students must have completed the following modules (or have equivalent experience) from the CMC’s Technical Climbing School:
    • Navigation 2
    • Intermediate Rock
    • Technical Snow
    • Rock Self Rescue Level 1 (Intermediate Mountaineering Certificate course), since you must know how to ascend a rope.  Note that if Rock Self Rescue is your only missing pre-requisite, we will consider conducting a make-up class to cover the critical skill of ascending a rope.
  • A high peak alpine snow climb (as required for Basic Mountaineering certificate), e.g. Longs Peak via Lamb’s Slide and the Clark’s Arrow route.
  • Ideally, all HAMS students should have climbed at least three couloirs, but at a bare minimum we require at least one completed couloir climb (as required for Technical Snow), with the understanding that no students will be allowed to participate on a grad climb (e.g. Mt. Rainier) unless they have climbed at least three couloirs prior to the grad climb.  A single, incomplete couloir attempt is not sufficient to qualify for admission to HAMS.


HAMS Graduation & Alpinist Certification

To graduate from HAMS, a student must complete the “Glacier Travel / High Peak Expeditions” module, demonstrate proficiency at crevasse rescue and glacier camping, complete at least three couloir climbs, and participate on a self-led (or “lightly-led”) expedition to a high glaciated peak, such as Mt. Rainier.  However, we feel that an accomplished high-peak alpinist should also have basic first aid training and avalanche training, so we award a HAMS Alpinist certificate to HAMS graduates who also achieve the following:

  •  A “D” hiking classification or equivalent experience
  • Completion of Wilderness First Aid course (which also happens to be required to achieve a “D” classification)
  • Completion of AIARE 1 avalanche training


2018 HAMS Schedule

Lecture 1, Monday, Jan 8 at AMC at 6:00pm

  • Introduction to HAMS
  • Fitness and Training
  • High-altitude medical issues
  • Knot test
  • Group formation and Equipment/Gear (needed early so students can begin to plan to purchase gear needed for the class)

Lecture/Practice Session 2, Wednesday, Jan 17 at AMC at 6:30pm

  • Mountain weather  (this lecture topic will be presented via a pre-recorded video and should be viewed outside of class)
  • Roping up (divide ropes; kiwi coil), basics of roped travel
  • Avalanche Discussion
  • Review self-arrest
  • Review snow anchors
  • Intro to crevasse rescue, Z-haul

CMC Training Trip 1, Saturday, Jan 20

  • Rope up
  • Roped travel
  • Self arrest
  • Snow anchors
  • Crevasse Rescue (if time allows)

Lecture/Practice Session 3, Wednesday, Jan 24 at AMC at 6:30pm

  • Field Day 1 Debrief
  • Nutrition
  • Z-haul practice

HAMS Basic Ice module wall night, Wednesday, Jan 31 at AMC at 6:30pm
HAMS Basic Ice module field trip, Friday – Sunday, Feb 2-4 at Ouray Ice Park
Targeted for beginner ice climbers.  For those with ice climbing experience, you may submit a request for a HAMS Basic Ice Climbing module waiver, and you are welcome to accompany us on the trip to Ouray, which tends to be a highlight of the program.   Note:  a HAMS-specific Basic Ice module will be taught by HAMS, so do not register for this module at this time. (N.B. Cost of the HAMS basic module is separate from the HAMS lecture series fee)

Lecture/Practice Session 4, Wednesday, Feb 7 at AMC at 6:30pm

  • Running belay / passing pro
  • Use of ascenders
  • Sleds
  • Z-haul practice

CMC Training Trip 2, Saturday, Feb 10

  • Rope up
  • Roped travel with belay to cross a snow bridge
  • Running belay
  • Self arrest
  • Ascend / descend a fixed line
  • Crevasse Rescue

Lecture/Practice Session 5, Tuesday, Feb 13 at AMC  at 6:30pm

  • Team Dynamics
  • Risk Management and Lessons Learned in the Backcountry
  • Z-haul practice

Lecture/Practice Session 6, Wednesday, Feb 21 at AMC at 6:30pm

  • Expedition planning (including guided vs. unguided)
  • Wrap-up and plans for remainder of the class
  • Climbing 6000m – 8000m peaks

CMC Training Trip 3,  Saturday, Feb 24

  • High peak ridge climb
  • Glacier travel skills practice

Expedition Camping Lecture,  Wednesday, March 07 at 6:30pm

Mt. Rainier Planning Meeting:  Wednesday, March 14 at AMC at 6:30pm

Expedition Camping Weekend Field Trip (2 nights),  Friday Night – Sat – Sunday,  March 23-24-25
(This class is required of ALL students so please reserve the ENTIRE weekend. Crevasse rescue final exam will take place during the weekend)


Activities AFTER the conclusion of the HAMS Lecture Series:

Couloir Climbs:  Mt. Rainier training climbs – April through June, trip schedule TBD (and weather-dependent).  Note:  to qualify for a Mt. Rainier climb, you must have climbed at least three couloirs with the teammates and trip leaders on your grad trip.

HAMS Glaciated Peak Grad Climb (N.B. cost of grad climb is separate from the HAMS lecture series fee)

  • High Glaciated Peak expedition, e.g. Mt. Rainier, Mt Adams, etc:  June or July


Costs & Registration

HAMS Class Lectures & Practice Sessions:
On or before December 1, 2017: $400
After December 1, 2017: $425

HAMS Basic Ice Module: $100 (not require for students with ice climbing experience and who are given exemption by the HAMS director).

HAMS Glaciated Peak Grad Climb: TBD (N.B. cost of grad climb is separate from the HAMS lecture series fee)

ALL applications must be submitted to the HAMS Director by December 31, 2017 !  Class size will be limited.
Once approved by the Director, you will be provided a registration link.

Download Application here

To apply or for more info, please contact the 2018 HAMS Director, Brandon Daniell at