|The Mazamas offer classes and activities to both members and nonmembers at all levels of experience. You can find seasonal offerings such as Basic Climbing Education, Intermediate Climbing School, Advanced Snow and Ice, Nordic, Ski Mountaineering, Mountain Running Camp, and Mountaineering First Aid. A variety of short, skill-builder classes are also offered year-round. |
You can also choose from over 1,000 hikes and climbs offered each year. But what if you cannot find a Mazama class or activity that fits your needs or schedule? Both inside and outside of Oregon, there are numerous resources where you can get outdoor training, guided experiences, or a combination of both. The following is a sampling of some of the opportunities waiting for you from Chicks Climbing & Skiing, REI Outdoors, and Timberline Mountain Guides.
Other Local Training Resources:Kaf Adventures
Skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing, backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering.
Next Adventure Outdoor School
Day hikes and overnight backpacking trips in Northwest
Portland Rock Gym
Instruction for climbers indoors and out; guided half and full-day trips.
Rare Earth Adventures
Cascade volcanoes climbing, rock climbing 101, bike packing, rappelling.
CHICKS CLIMBING & SKIING
With so many outdoor programs competing for recreation dollars, I asked Dawn what makes the Chicks program stand out. She emphasized their focus on developing strong women climbers and skiers in an all-female environment. “At Chicks, we strive to make you a confident and competent independent climber and/or skier. We give you the skills so that you can take on challenges and objectives on your own…our guides offer an opportunity for women to learn and ask questions in a fun and supportive environment. By having an all female group, we can break away from societal norms and truly immerse ourselves in the learning process.” Dawn shared how excited she and the other instructors get when a student reaches her goals and experiences that light bulb moment of understanding. “It’s awesome to see a woman get stoked and empowered in one split second. If we can pass on a solid foundation of skills and meet the client goals, then we have had a successful program,” she says.
If learning in an all-female environment has your name on it, Dawn suggests looking at the Chicks’ Red River Gorge Clinic in Kentucky. “The Red River Gorge Clinic is our most popular venue. I believe this is because of the timing and location of the program. The Red is an amazing place to climb and it offers the perfect classroom for the guides. This program sells out every year,” she said.
And that’s not all. The Chicks programs come with an added bonus—the camaraderie doesn’t end after one class. “When you join a Chicks program,” Dawn said, “you become part of a larger community of women who enjoy and pursue mountain sports. This is a great opportunity to gain instruction and meet other women to adventure with.” For more information visit www.chicksclimbing.com.
Not just a great outdoor gear provider, REI also offers a variety of educational programs. Aimed toward adults looking to learn a new outdoor skill, improve on skills they already have, or participate in advanced outings, these programs are staffed by highly trained instructors in a professional, yet welcoming environment. REI also leverages its considerable network of organizational partners to deliver an even wider array of programs. And it doesn’t stop there. Through REI Adventures you can find outdoor adventures around the globe to fit all types of backgrounds. And there’s even a limited number of youth programs.
Via email, I asked Stephen Hatfield, REI Outdoor Programs & Outreach Manager in Portland, Oregon, what one thing REI does better than anyone else: “At REI Outdoor Programs, our goal is to create life-changing experiences. An important part of this is learning a new skill, or discovering a new place. But another critical component is the human connection, meeting new friends and growing your network for outdoor adventures. REI members can be found across the country and beyond. We can help connect you to some great people, regardless of your passion.”
With so many educational possibilities, I probed Stephen for the most popular REI offering, and he couldn’t narrow it down to just one. “Our most popular options are Map & Compass Basics (2-hour class) and Backcountry Navigation with Map & Compass (5-hour field class). In this digital age, a growing number of outdoor enthusiasts see the value in honing this very important analog outdoor skill. Other popular program areas include paddlesports (kayak/SUP) and snowsports (snowshoe/Nordic skiing). Finally, one other very popular class is How to Ride a Bike for Kids—a 2-hour class in which we teach kids a lifelong skill that will help them connect to the outdoors. The success rate is incredibly high, and they don’t want to get off the bike when the class ends!”
When asked to sum up the REI Outdoors experience, Stephen told me, “A successful class is one where the participant leaves fulfilled and energized, ready to plan their next adventure and put their new skills to work.”
Find a current list of REI programs at http://rei.com/learn. REI is also able to develop private custom programs for groups of any size. To learn more reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIMBERLINE MOUNTAIN GUIDES, SMITH ROCK CLIMBING SCHOOL, AND OREGON SKI GUIDES
Known for “getting climbers to the top since 1983,” Timberline Mountain Guides (TMG) not only offers accredited guide services leading to summits but also offers a number of climbing classes and programs around the Northwest. As the name suggests, one of TMG’s most popular offerings is a two-day Mt. Hood program. It seems there are a lot of folks who want to stand on top of Oregon’s highest point but don’t have the skills to do it on their own.
I caught up with Cliff Agocs, TMG Owner and Operations Manager, via email to learn more about TMG and its sister organizations, Smith Rock Climbing School and Oregon Ski Guides. With three different entities offering such a wide array of services to the outdoor community, there’s bound to be something for everyone.
Cliff confirmed that folks look to his organizations for a diversity of guided objectives. “I’d say there are a few different goals that people have in mind when they join us for climbing or skiing. Most folks either join us to develop skills that they can take out into the mountains, or they join us to attempt a climb that they wouldn’t feel comfortable leading on their own, or with their regular climbing partners.” Cliff is particularly proud of TMG’s professionalism. In his words, “We’re a small group of career-guides and we take our role as educators and stewards of the mountains really seriously. Every one of our guides is a member of the American Mountain Guides Association and is actively pursuing their own continuing education. I think that putting ourselves in front of our peers for evaluation keeps us connected to the experience of our guests. We all consider ourselves mentees of our colleagues, just as we are mentors to the less experienced climbers who come to us to learn new skills. When you get down to it, we were all brand new to climbing once, and we’re all somewhere on the road toward mastery. That recognition helps to create a respectful environment where sharing knowledge, experience, and responsibility among every member of the climbing team is the expectation.”
He also emphasized the tailored nature of the classes. “We provide really personalized instruction based on your goals and skills—whether you come to us for a day of skiing, rock climbing, or an attempt on a remote summit. Then we pair you with a guide who has a combination of local experience, professional training and a genuine desire to create a positive experience for you. The recipe is simple, but the variety of experiences is infinite.”
This educational philosophy is reflected throughout the organization. Cliff told me he measures success not only when a student gains new skills but when that student leaves with the know-how to apply those skills properly. “Often in an outdoor education setting, participants will come in with varied backgrounds and different levels of knowledge and comfort with the prerequisite skills. This is actually a strength because it allows the instructor to empower students to coach each other and share in the teaching. Everyone leaves with a deeper understanding of the material, empowered to go and use those skills to push themselves just a bit further on their next adventure.”
With a staff roster skewed largely toward male instructors, I asked Cliff if he could accommodate female students looking for a female instructor or women-only groups. Cliff was sympathetic to the issue and told me they have female instructors in both avalanche education and rock climbing courses. He went on to say, “We think there’s a unique learning environment that can be created amongst women in the context of outdoor adventure, and we’re psyched to help create those opportunities. We don’t currently have any women who guide in the alpine on staff but we’re always on the lookout for solid guides of all stripes, so encourage all the great female guides you know to send us a resume!”
Finally, Cliff highlighted a few programs he thought might particularly appeal to Mazamas (see www.timberlinemtguides.com for details): Climber Self-Rescue, Crevasse Rescue and Glacier Travel, Mixed Alpine Climbing Camp, and Advanced Routes in the Cascades.
With this list in hand, there’s no excuse for not getting outside and turning outdoor dreams to reality. Climb high!