Snow and Ice Climbing Essentials

Cisco Butte - our local mountain gym. Join us to climb rock and snow with the crew by going up the steep west chute and down the northwest ridge. This will be an instructional climb focusing on snow climbing technique, and we'll also practice self-arrest on the slopes. Maximum 20 climbers. RSVPs open Wednesday. Dec. 19th at 8:00 pm.

How RSVPs work: Prospective members who have joined on Meetup but not yet paid for any membership may attend one event for free. Beyond this, you must be a current official SMG "MEMBER" to attend. All events open for RSVPs at 8:00pm on the Wednesday approximately three weeks prior. RSVPs are first-come first-served and are subject to event organizer review and final approval. All attendees must meet the pre-requisites. Prospective members will still need to sign the SMG Waiver / Assumption of Risk and provide emergency contact information to attend. Please provide the required information when you RSVP. Because this event occurs on public lands it is open to the public.

Not an official SMG member yet? Join the club here.



Dates: Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Location: Cisco Butte

Route: West Chute - 3 pitches of 35-40 degree consolidated snow

Appropriate For: Basic to Intermediate Climbers


Fitness and Difficulty Level: Easy

Max Elevation: 6,646 ft

Starting Elevation: 5,600 ft

Weather: NOAA Forecast for Cisco Butte

Pre-Requisites: Participants must meet ALL the following

  • Ability to climb 40-degree snow with an ice axe and crampons
  • Appropriate equipment, gear and clothing (or if you are a member, reserve loaner gear from the club)
  • Be a member of SMG or be a prospective member on your free trip



Saturday, January 12th: This is the perfect time and place to come out and get some focused intruction and practice in snow climbing and self-arrest, both essential skills for mountaineering. Fortunately for us we have a mountain just off I-80 that provides an opportunity for a couple pitches of moderately steep snow climbing, some rock scrambling, and some fun ridges and slopes to get your head wrapped around mountaineering. With a short approach and only a 1,000 foot climb, it is doable as a day trip with plenty of time to focus on the details.

We'll meet at our posted location in Roseville to carpool up only an hour to the Eagle Lakes exit, and park at the snow berm on the south side. We'll undertake a short but steep approach on snowshoes through timber and gullies to the start of the west chute. There we will go over snow climbing technique and all the boot and axe positions as well as self-belay, self-arrest, roped team travel and snow belays.

We will tie in as rope teams and ascend the west chute on snow and scrambly rock to the summit. We'll lunch and rest, then tackle the northeast ridge for practice descending snow. We'll have another self-arrest practice session high on the slopes before returning to the cars, and back to our meetup point.

2012  SICE curriculum link here




  • Wicking, breathable baselayers, top and bottom
  • Insulating, weather-resistant mid-layer, top and bottom
  • Wind and waterproof shell layer, top and bottom
  • Insulating fill jacket
  • Socks, liners
  • Mountaineering boots, or approved sturdy backpacking boots
  • Lightweight liner gloves
  • Waterproof gloves or mittens
  • Glacier sunglasses
  • Warm hat - the touque!
  • Sun hat
  • Balaclava


  • 30 - 50 liter pack
  • Trekking poles with snow baskets
  • Food
  • Water bottles or containers. Water bladders not recommended in freezing weather.
  • Headlamp w/extra batteries
  • Compass, GPS also recommended if available
  • Map
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera, extra batteries
  • Small knife
  • Personal items, medications
  • Emergency items - keep it small.


  • Lightweight mountaineering harness
  • Hard shell mountaineering helmet
  • Ice axe
  • Steel crampons, fit to your boots
  • 2 large locking carabiners
  • Two 48” loop runners or 5-7mm prusik cords
  • Snowshoes

Group items provided by the SMG

  • Technical climbing gear: ropes, protection for rock and snow, assorted slings and cordage, locking carabiners
  • First Aid Kit
  • Snow shovel
  • Radios


For questions or more information, please contact: Darren Shutt, SMG Organizer, [masked] or (916)[masked]

Climb on!

Join or login to comment.

  • Darren S.

    Here's the report I filed with Sierra Avalanche Center. I'll write up a trip report soon and file it with the few pictures we have - wish we had more! When I get all the video I'll put one together specifically for avalanche awareness purposes. This was a unique situation to see the beast in the cage and poke a stick at it.

    January 14, 2013

    • Rob R.

      Heres my video that I threw together - just another perspective.­

      January 14, 2013

    • Wayne

      Nice video Rob! Looks like even more snow flowing through that gully from your view.

      January 15, 2013

  • GaryG

    And here's a link to Rick's video:

    January 14, 2013

  • Brad

    Had a lot of fun today. Thanks!

    January 12, 2013

  • Troy B.

    Great day everybody - Lots of fun! Thanks Darren!

    I did some reading on the US and Canadian Avalanche classification to try and determine the difference between a slough (or sluff - they are both used) and a true avalanche. Here's what I learned. Sloughing snow is considered a type of avalanche - a class I avalanche to be exact. I believe ours was a class II due to the length and volume of the slide. The smallest is class 1 (aka sloughing) and the largest is class 5. I'll post a screen shot of the classification chart.

    Here is a link to a short article on avalanche classification.

    January 12, 2013

  • Rick S.

    What time are we meeting in Roseville?

    January 11, 2013

    • David

      The Roseville time I believe is 6. Is the plan to be at the trailhead at 7, since I am coming from reno I need to plant departure time.

      January 11, 2013

    • Darren S.

      Roseville at 6, and probably TH at Eagle Lakes Exit around 7.

      January 11, 2013

  • Troy B.

    I'll have my minivan. Room for 5 plus driver or 3 plus driver and lots of gear...

    January 11, 2013

  • Brad

    Anyone willing to scoop me up at my Sac house for extra carpool cash? I'm just 4 blocks from 80/50 on S & 10.

    January 8, 2013

  • Ryan W.

    Anyone driving from the Bay Area and want to carpool? I live in Oakland.

    January 7, 2013

  • Darren S.

    Just significantly increased the trip maximum to accommodate more folks! If you are on this trip please check your inbox for an important email. Weather and conditions are looking good so far!

    January 7, 2013

  • Cathy

    I am going up signal peak that day. It is right across the highway, maybe I will pop over to say hi.

    December 21, 2012

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