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

See Category:Glacier School for both past events and the next trip. The new trip page for the year is usually posted in August.

Year G1 Location G2 Location Comments
2020 Cypress Glacier

Brandywine Glacier

Due to COVID, G1 was organized as several completely independent groups, going to two locations (Cypress and Brandywine). Brandywine was excellent but had limited camping except on the glacier; Cypress hardly had enough snow to self-arrest and may not be a suitable location in the future.
2019 Cypress Glacier Warren Glacier Heavy rain made crossing Roe Creek unsafe and so the school retreated to Skook Hot Springs instead. A second weekend for G1 was planned for October, but then it rained all weekend then too.
2018 Anniversary Glacier Mt. Baker In contrast to the year before, a shorter than usual winter over 2017-18 made for a rocky Anniversary Glacier that wasn't so great. Rained heavily both days. Camped near the tarns and the terminal moraine and we did not use the hut.
2017 Cypress Glacier A longer than usual winter over 2016-17 made for a good glacier at Cypress. Nice weather on day 1 turning to rain day 2.
2015 Easton Glacier Anniversary Glacier
2014 Cypress Glacier
2012 Joffre Lakes
2011 Anniversary Glacier
2010 It rained a part of the time.
2009 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.
2008 Joffre Lakes Weather was somewhat miserable both days.
2006 Photos are available on the VOC Gallery.
2005 Easton Glacier 3+ hour drive SE of Vancouver. Dry conditions, and no snow patches for instruction and practice off the glacier. Weather was cold and wet.
2004 Anniversary Glacier 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.
2003 Easton Glacier
2002 Coleman Glacier We were fined by the US National Forest rangers for having a group larger than 12 people.
1999 Anniversary Glacier 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?).