High Altitude Ski Mountaineering

Peru is one of the most spectacular places in the world to learn the complex art of ski mountaineering. With challenging crevasses, white-outs, highly variable snow conditions, and incredibly steep and wild skiing, the Cordillera Blanca is the perfect location to develop skills that are critical to any aspiring ski/snowboard mountaineer! Due to the fact that the mountains are so easy to access, our expeditions to this region enjoy more time in the alpine zone learning technical skills and less time on long approaches to base camps. We will aim to climb and ski/snowboard Yanaphaqcha (~18,000′), Pisco (~18,900′) and/or Copa (~20,000′). The ultimate goal of the expedition is for students to lead the summit bids on these glaciated peaks, to ski the majority of the descent (some rappels and/or down climbing is usually mandatory), and to learn the skills needed to lead similar expeditions with friends or clients in the future.


Dropping in from the Summit of Pisco, ~19,000′


Highlights include:

  • High altitude climbing and skiing up to ~20,000′
  • Rescue skills for professional mountain guides (avalanche and glacier rescue)
  • Avalanche terrain and snowpack assessment
  • Snow and ice climbing techniques
  • Leadership skills for aspiring guides/outdoor educators
  • Belayed skiing techniques
  • Anchor building, assessment, and station management 

College Credit: 3-4 (Contact us for details)

Prerequisites Apply: Ski Mountaineering Prerequisites

2022 Dates: June 16-29  

Tuition: $2,900 with 4 or more students, $3,300 with 3 


Scholarships available:

SIET General Scholarship App 2020
50-50 Scholarship 2020

Certificates of Completion Available:

  • Avalanche Level 1
  • Companion Rescue
  • SIET Advanced Ski Mountaineering Course Diploma

Gear List:

SIET Ski Mountaineering Gear Check List



Course Description:

This course starts in Huaraz, Peru (~10,000′) where all expedition members will meet on the first day of the course for an orientation. We will stay in a family-run bed and breakfast called Familia Meza. We will spend the following 2-3 days acclimatizing, organizing food and gear, and preparing for the mountains. After an easy 2-3 hour trek, we will arrive at our base camp at about ~15,300′ near the Refugio Pisco. After spending a couple days acclimatizing, we will make an attempt on Nevado Pisco, ~19,000. We will then move basecamp across the Llanganuco Valley and practice the skills needed to climb and ski the extremely wild, West Face of Yanaphaqcha, ~18,000. We will spend the remainder of the trip developing educational outcomes that will be tailored to the students’ needs. The expedition will be supported by porters and/or burros and burro drivers, known as ‘arrieros,’ as well as a camp cook!

Course Curriculum:

  • Crevasse Rescue
    • advanced pulley systems
    • rescue drills
    • common industry standards
  • International Travel Considerations
    • respecting culture specific etiquette
    • cultural expectations: the dangers of bringing U.S. expectations to other cultures 
  • Avalanche Level 1
  • Organizing an Expedition
    • obtaining food, fuel, and transportation
  • Camp Craft: Advanced techniques
    • tents, kitchens, snow camping, storm proofing, etc
  • Leadership Techniques
    • creating and maintaining an effective group dynamic
    • expedition behavior
    • communication
    • conducting meaningful debriefs
  • Risk Management
    • risk assessment
    • conducting evacuations
    • creating route time plans
    • common industry standards
    • acceptable risk
    • case scenarios
  • Rope Team Management
    • belaying
    • movement
    • communication
    • running protection
    • creating 
  • High Altitude Physiology
    • acclimatizing strategies
    • AMS, HAPE and HACE: signs and symptoms, treatment, evacuations and common industry standards
    • heart rate and oximeter charts
    • case scenarios
  • Nutritional Considerations
    • carb/fat/protein ratios for high altitude
    • formulas for creating a meal plan
  • Glaciology and Basic Geology
    • glacier dynamics and features
    • reading glaciers
    • mountain building
  • Glacier Travel and Rigging
    • route finding
    • rope team drills
    • common industry standards
  • Meteorology: Mountain Weather
    • forecasting
    • charting local trends
  • Snow/Ice Climbing
    • crampon and ice axe techniques
    • movement
    • track setting
  • Snow/Ice Anchors
    • picket placement techniques
    • ice screw and abalakov anchor assessment
  • Security in Developing Nations
    • personal and group security
  • Equipment
    • appropriate use and care
    • common industry standards

Skinning up the lower glaciers on Pisco


Note: all curriculum and logistics will be decided upon by group members, this allows each course to be custom tailored to the needs of each student group. Thus, specific mountains, locations, curriculum, and certifications (such as level 1 avalanche, LNT, etc.) may be altered to create the best student outcomes possible. 


Costs Include:

  • All in-country transportation during expedition
  • All hotels during the expedition
  • All group climbing gear
  • All meals while in the field
  • Park fees
  • Permit fees
  • Porters
  • Burros
  • Camp Cook

Costs Do Not Include:

  • Wire transfer fee or PayPal fees
  • Round-trip airfare
  • Hotels before/after the course ($8-40/night)
  • Meals in Lima or Huaraz (plan on $10-20/day)
  • Personal gear (listed on the gear list)
  • Bottled beverages
  • Excess baggage charges and airport fees
  • All expenses incurred in the event of early departure or delayed arrival (evacuation fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc)
  • Fees associated with college credit or credit transfer

Please note: any expedition that is under enrolled will be canceled 6 weeks before the expedition begins. In such a case, a full refund will be available. This has yet to happen on any SIET expedition.