High Altitude Mountaineering School (HAMS)


HAMS is back for 2022

We are excited to announce that the High Altitude Mountaineering School (HAMS) will be accepting applications starting August 1, 2021. Students will be informed of admission into HAMS starting in September 2021.

The High Altitude Mountaineering School (HAMS) is for CMC members who are interested in learning and practicing the glacier travel and alpine skills that are needed to safely climb and enjoy glaciated mountains, including Mt. Rainier, Denali, the Andes, and the Himalayas! HAMS culminates in a  climb of Mt. Rainier, Mt Baker, Mt Adams or a similar high, glaciated peak.

The HAMS curriculum consists of a series of lectures and practice sessions on “Glacier Travel / High Peak Expeditions” module. The lectures and practices sessions are held at the AMC building in Golden, CO. Several training days for glacier travel, crevasse rescue, and glacier camping practice are also put on the calendar.  Students who complete HAMS will be able to demonstrate proficiency with advanced mountaineering technical skills, including:

  • roped glacier travel (including ice ax and crampon technique for ascending and descending, self-arrest, building snow anchors, executing a running belay, and using ascenders on fixed ropes)
  • crevasse rescue
  • glacier camping
  • basic ice climbing

The skills covered in the Glacier Travel module in the lectures and practice sessions can be applied during the training trips in January, February, and March  (schedule for 2022 will be finalized in September 2021). To complete HAMS , students must also complete a co-requisite module, HAMS Basic Ice Climbing; they must participate in an Expedition Camping and Couloir Climbing weekend in the spring; they must have climbed at least three Colorado snow couloirs; and they must participate on a high peak expedition trip, typically Mt. Rainier.

All HAMS Senior Instructors have been on multiple expeditions to climb high, glaciated peaks – learn from those who have been there!

HAMS Pre-requisites:

This is not a school for beginners!  HAMS students should have rock, snow, and anchor experience:  i.e., you must be proficient with climbing knots, belaying, rappelling, navigation, crampon and ice ax technique, self-arrest, glissading, and ascending a rope. Most importantly, you must have proficiency climbing hard-snow couloirs, setting snow anchors, walking in crampons, executing a self arrest, and tying all relevant knots. 

The formal pre-requisites for admission to HAMS are:

  • Successful completion of the CMC’s Alpine Climbing School or equivalent.
  • Successful completion of Basic Anchors. ALL STUDENTS must know how to build a SERENE anchor. An understanding of how to transfer the load and extend the anchor if needed is paramount.
  • A high peak alpine snow climb (as required for ACS certificate), e.g. Longs Peak via Lamb’s Slide and the Clark’s Arrow route.
  • Ideally, all applicants should have climbed at least three couloirs, but at a bare minimum we require at least one completed couloir climb (as required for Technical Snow). A single, incomplete couloir attempt is not sufficient to qualify for admission to HAMS. 

–  While not a pre-requisite, AIARE 1 and Rock Rescue are highly recommended for all applicants. Knowing  how to ascend a rope is a core skill for glacier travel BUT is not one that is taught in HAMS. Rock Rescue teaches this core skill.

2022 HAMS Schedule

If you are accepted into HAMS, you MUST be able to make the dates as scheduled below. If a student misses more than one lecture or field day (unless written permission is given by the Director), the student may not be allowed to participate on a HAMS grad climb. Every year students do not graduate HAMS due to lack of attendance.

  • Wed Jan 5 – Intro Class At CMC in Golden
  • Sun Jan 9 – the Boulder Traverse 
  • Wed Jan 19th – Lecture at CMC
  • Sat Jan 22nd – St Mary’s Glacier field day
  • Wed Feb 9th – Wall Night at CMC 
  • Feb 12th/13th – Ouray weekend
  • Sat Feb 19th – St Mary’s Glacier field day
  • Wed Mar 9th – Winter Camping Lecture at CMC
  • Wed Mar 16th – crevasse rescue practice 
  • Mar 19/20 – winter camping weekend
  • Sun Apr 10th – Test out field day
  • Wed Apr 13th – Final Lecture/Graduation

Activities AFTER the conclusion of the HAMS Lecture and Field Day Series:

Couloir Climbs:  Grad Climb training climbs – April through June, trip schedule TBD (and weather-dependent).    Note:  to participate on a grad climb, you must have climbed at least two couloirs with the teammates and trip leaders on your grad trip.

HAMS Glaciated Peak Grad Climb (N.B. cost of grad climb is SEPARATE from the HAMS lecture series fee)

  • High Glaciated Peak expedition, e.g. Mt. Rainier, Mt Adams, etc:  No HAMS graduates will be allowed to participate on a HAMS affiliated grad climb (e.g. Mt. Rainier) unless they have climbed at least two couloirs after the end of HAMS and prior to the grad climb.


HAMS Class Lectures, Practice Sessions, Ouray Weekend, and Expedition Camping:

Registrations on or before December 1, 2021: $650

Registrations after December 1, 2021: $700

HAMS Glaciated Peak Grad Climb: TBD (N.B. cost of grad climb is separate from the HAMS lecture series fee)

ALL applications must be submitted by December 15, 2021 !  Class size will be limited.
Once approved by the Director, you will be provided a registration link.

For more info, please contact the 2022 HAMS Director, Brandon Daniell at jbdaniell312@gmail.com


HAMS Application Form:

Applicants will be notified of acceptance starting in September 2019 and thereafter.

Application Form – MS Word format (preferred)

Application Form – PDF format

Other Links:

CO Avalanche Info Center

CMC Denver Group

Backcountry Snowsports Initiative