Bellingham  is home to the American Alpine Institute (1515 12th St., 360/671-1505, www.aai.cc ), the nation’s preeminent center for mountaineering education. The school’s staff is made up of accomplished mountain climbers and educators who teach courses from the basics to advanced monthlong programs. Classes are taught all over the world, with beginning mountaineering courses in the North Cascades. AAI also rents outdoor equipment.
Learn to rock climb indoors at Leading Edge Rock Gymnastics (1409 Fraser St., 360/733-6969).