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 Oregon Mountaineering Association

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OMA Basic Mountaineering Class

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Our entire class/climb program is currently limited and the only infrequent classes we do offer are only announced to the membership and are not publicly promoted. So if you are interested then join.

OMA Alternatives

Commercial (See the guides page) - We are unfamiliar with the details of their programs, but Timberline Mountain Guides and Northwest School of Survival offer mountaineering instruction on Mt Hood. Expect the full course series to be 3+ days, often not consecutive, at over $150 per day. (Our complete course was $150 when it was last publicly promoted.) Note that while summit climbs of Mt Hood (or Mt Rainier) include some instruction it is usually very minimal and is offered only in the interest of a safer climb. If you want a comprehensive course enroll in a course which is entirely instructional and not a summit climb. You can also arrange a private class very much like those the OMA offered through

Clubs (See the links section for the websites) - The Mazamas and the Chemeketans both offer introductory classes. The Mazamas are a large group and registration is reported to be difficult. The Chemeketans may only offer theirs once per year. They charge a similar fee to what we did for a mix of classroom and field instruction.

Universities - OSU offers a Mountaineering I and II series, with each one costing at least $130-$140 (a few years ago) despite being partially funded by student fees. May or may not be offered in summer. Reports of quality vary widely. These are often taught at times of the year which are less than ideal.

Original Information for our course

This is what we were offering publicly a couple times a year, often to very small groups. We continue to offer this on an infrequent basis within the club if there is adequate interest and committment.

This course has a minimum of 20 hours of instructional time for a cost of $225. The number of hours on field days depends on the enthusiasm of the group and ranges from a minimum of 6 to as many as 12. The class ratio is no more than 6-1 and usually less.

This is an ambitious schedule which many schools take at least three days to cover (typically at over $150 for each of 3+ different one-day sessions). Classroom and field sessions are both very full days. There is some suggested reading from "Mountaineering, Freedom of the Hills" which we recommend you do prior to the class. Our class time in the field emphasizes hands-on technical skills rather than things which can (and should) be learned through reading.

Compare - We have had a few members who had recently taken the first of three parts in a similar course, at a cost of $150 or more for one day. Being rather disappointed in it they then signed up for our class. They found the quality and quantity of instruction to be much better than their previous one day experience. One woman took a full day course on crevasse rescue on Mt Rainier but understood it far better after an OMA session of a few hours.

Self-Arrest: We will spend considerable time practicing self-arrest with an ice-axe in the event of a fall on snow or ice. Arrest from different falling orientations will be covered. This is one of the most essential skills of mountaineering.

Descending Snow: Plunge stepping, the sitting glissade and the standing glissade are covered. These are very efficient methods of descending snow when executed in a safe manner in appropriate snow conditions.

Use of ice axe: Various positions and techniques for using the axe will be covered, including the basic grip, support (piolet canne), brace position (piolet ramasse), anchor position (piolet ancre), hooking (piolet traction), dagger position (piolet panne/poignard), and descent support position (piolet rampe).

Use of crampons: French technique (pied a plat), German technique (pied en avant), and American technique (pied a trois).

Anchors and Belays on Snow: Pickets, flukes, ice screws, Abalakov (hourglass or v-thread), and bollards as anchors. Belay methods including the body belay, figure eight or ATC, boot-axe, and Munter hitch.

Climbing on Snow: Traveling as a rope team including placing and removing protection anchors, belaying, use of running protection.

Rappelling: Rappelling from snow or ice anchors using both a rappel device and a carabiner brake.

Knots: A number of knots will be covered as the need for them arises. The Figure Eight knot and the Munter Hitch will be covered, others taught may vary.

Basics of Glacier Travel: We will discuss the nature of glaciers and crevasses, route finding on glacial terrain, and roped travel on glaciers.

Ascending a rope: We will use accessory cord to construct a system for ascending a rope (for climbing out of a crevasse). We will learn and practice using this prussic system to climb out of a crevasse. (Using the Texas system).

Pulley Systems: We will construct "Z" and "C" pulley systems and haul a person out of a crevasse with them. If time permits we introduce compound systems. We emphasize understanding of the principles rather than rote memorization.

Ice climbing: A bit of climbing on the steep (more or less vertical) ice of a crevasse wall using and two ice tools and German crampon technique.

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