Glacier school

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What is Glacier School?

Glacier School is a 2-day (weekend) course intended to teach safe and efficient means of traveling over glaciers. The School is divided into two courses:

  • Glacier 1 (G1)
    • For beginners to snow and glacier travel. It is expected that you have previous backpacking and camping experience.
  • Glacier 2 (G2)
    • For students with previous glacier experience that want to apply these skills by actually climbing a peak.

What do I learn?

Check out the curriculum in the glacier manual

What Happens at Dry School?

There will be a brief introduction to glacier travel before we outline what’s to be expected for the weekend. Then, we’ll arrange transportation, stove and tent groups, collect your fee (probably around $10), sell prussik cords, possibly lend out VOC gear if there's any left (max of 4 items each), and finally we’ll teach a few rope skills that will come in handy on the weekend. If we can find a suitable place (tree) we'll practice prussicking. Please bring cash for all expenses (preferably small change).


Students should expect to learn the following skills:

  • Knots for mountaineering
  • Traveling over snow and ice with crampons
  • Self Arrest
  • Snow and ice anchors
  • Crevasse rescue
  • Belaying techniques for mountaineering

The prerequisites for being a student at glacier school are minimal. Students must have overnight backpacking experience. Some rope skills (such as belaying, common climbing knots, etc) are desirable but not absolutely necessary.

"Instructors for glacier school are club members who volunteer their time, and are not professional guides. If you don't feel comfortable taking responsibility for your own life in the context of an informal course advised by VOC instructors, you should take a mountaineering course offered by a professional guiding service."


For all future Glacier school trip coordinators, logistics and organizational timeline can be viewed from the link cited above.

Past Events


Glacier School 2014 [1].


Glacier School 2013 [2].


Glacier School 2012 [3] was at the glacier at Cypress Mountain.


Glacier School 2011[4] was held at the Anniversary Glacier.


Glacier school 2010 was held at the Anniversary Glacier. It rained a part of the time.


Glacier School 2009 was held at the Anniversary Glacier. Glacier 2 (G2) was at Mt. Baker.

The Anniversary Glacier was pretty well snow-free, making bad conditions for practicing ice axe arrests higher on the glacier - although there remained ample snow on the flats below the glacier for practicing self arrest while being dragged by a rope (Note this area is likely also glaciated, although generally not treated like a glacier). The weather was atrocious on Saturday but Sunday was sunny and warm. We had 40 people camped below the glacier. The Hut was being renovated and re-supplied with firewood, so we were not welcome there.

Glacier School 2009 Logistics


Glacier School 2008 was held at the Anniversary Glacier. Glacier 2 (G2) was at Joffre Lakes. Weather was somewhat miserable both days.


Glacier School 2007 was held at the Anniversary Glacier.


Held at Anniversary Glacier on September 16th - 17th. Photos are available on the VOC Gallery.


Held on Mt. Baker (Easton Glacier) on September 17th - 18th . 3+ hour drive SE of Vancouver. Dry conditions, and no snow patches for instruction and practice off the glacier. Weather was cold and wet.


Glacier School was held at the Anniversary Glacier near Joffre Lakes on September 11th - 12th. In inclement weather conditions, most people stayed in Keith's Hut. There are only a handful of decent camping spots nearby the hut. This would have been a problem had the weather not been so bad that there were no members of the public wanting to use the hut. Despite dry conditions on the glacier, there were good snow patches below the SE face of Joffre.


Glacier school was held at the Easton Glacier on Mount Baker in September.


Glacier school was held at the Coleman Glacier on Mount Baker for the third consecutive year in September. We were fined by the US National Forest rangers for having a group larger than 12 people.


Held at Coleman Glacier in September.


Held at Coleman Glacier in September.


Held at the Anniversary Glacier in September. We camped at the glacial lake formed by the terminal moraine, out of sight of Keith's Hut. Since the winter had seen record breaking snowfall, the glacier was still in "spring" conditions. I am not sure how good of a venue this would have been otherwise (where to self arrest when all you have is ice?).