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PaulB

Canada West Mountain School - Any Comments?

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Has anyone taken any courses or done any trips with Canada West Mountain School? If so, do you have any comments or criticisms? Was it good value for the $$?

Thanks.

Paul.

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I have only taken one paid course ever in my whole life and it was an Ice Climbing Intro with CWMS up at Lillooet. I had done a fair bit of rock and alpine climbing already at that time, and had spent one previous day TRing some easy ice. With that background I learned fuck all of new stuff on the CWMS Ice course and it was the biggest waste of $165 I ever spent. $20 would have been a better price for the amount of value I received.

One good thing I can say about CWMS is that they have gone out of their way to develop obscure, out of the way cliffs into TRing areas for teaching beginners on so you dont run in to them monopolizing popular crags in the Smoke Bluffs or Murrin. The Mountaineers could probably learn something from that, hint hint?

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Many years ago I took a learning to lead course, a general mountaineering course as well as an alpine ice program from Canada West mountain school. The learning to lead course was fantastic, and the mountaineering course was equally good, the alpine ice course was a was of time and money. Check the ratio of students to instructors, and find out exactly who will be teaching & ask around to find out what their reputation is...as an alternative you might look into getting a group of three friends together and splitting the cost of a guide---it's pretty reasonable in terms of cost, you can set the dates,and the course content to your personal needs & you'll probably learn more in less time. (In addition, you're fellow students are friends so you don't have to worry about spending time in the mountains with someone who is a five star nightmare.)

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I did the complete mountaineering course with them a few years ago. Eight days covering absolutely everything related to climbing and mountaineering. It was very good value, even though it covered some rope-work and rockclimbing stuff I already knew. The crevasse rescue, ice climbing, building snow anchors were all quite valuable for me, and the rockclimbing part was fun anyway.

I agree with Teogo about getting a guide if you can convince friends to join you. I did a short day of instruction for lead climbing that way shortly after the mountaineering course. Instruction is generally cheaper than straight guiding and with more than two you'll probably be cheaper than the mountain school.

If you're by yourself, a ready-made group is pretty convenient but has all the usual trade-offs. They're not the only game in town though. You could check Squamishrockguides.com or look at the BCMC. BCMC will certainly be the cheapest, and they run weekend/evening courses so you won't have to take vacation days for it.

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FWIW Squamish Rock Guides is probably the priciest squamish guiding outfit ... Crazy Creek chairs and fancy sunglasses don't come cheap after all cool.gif" border="0 . There are tons of other ACMG guides in Squamish working independently, ask at Valhalla Pure. If you don't care about ACMG certified instruction you might find even more people willing to take even less of your money, not all are sketchy. Ask at Climb On.If you know clearly what skills you would like to learn you'll be in a better position to find the right instructor and you'll be better off designing your own course rather than signing on with the scheduled courses offered by CWMS. (incidentally, Squamish Rock Guides also have alpine climbing instruction)

I took a mountaineering and snow-camping course with CWMS way back in the day, they were fine but I won't spend any more money with them. I learned rock-climbing stuff for free from cool people I met at the right time. I got a full 9hr day of ice-climbing instruction with 3 friends for about $35 each in the Rockies from one of the top ACMG guides a couple of years back. When I see the CWMS top-roping hordes at Marble Canyon I feel pretty lucky for that deal. CWMS has really been growing in recent years and it seems like class sizes and prices have both been going up. Still cheaper than Yamnuska though shocked.gif" border="0

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Thanks for the feedback. I've been rock and ice climbing for nearly 10 years (and have never paid for climbing instruction before), but am relatively new to the alpine arena. What I've been looking for is a course where I can pick up the tricks/techniques for efficient and safe alpine climbing.

 

CWMS has a 5 day "Advanced Mountaineering" course that sounds like it would be a good way to get a lot of mileage in the company of a guide who can

give advice along the way as opposed to making all the decisions for me. I just wanted to get a feel for how their courses have been received. Seems like a mixed bag so far.

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