Basic Course
Basic Refresher
Basic Equivalency
Intermediate Course
Crag Course
Water Ice Course
Aid & Big Wall Course
Small Party Self-Rescue














Intermediate Alpine Climbing Course



Course Description

The Seattle Mountaineers' Intermediate Alpine Climbing Course presents the techniques necessary to lead climb the rock, snow, and ice typically found in the Cascade and Olympic mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In addition to climbing techniques, the course emphasizes leadership, safety, and climbing instruction. Course graduates will have the knowledge and skills to organize and lead basic-level climbs and to participate in intermediate-level alpine, rock, and ice climbs. The Intermediate Climbing Course is also offered by the Everett, Kitsap, Olympia, and Tacoma branches of The Mountaineers.

The goals for graduates are to have the skills to:

  1. Swing leads and descend safely on multi-pitch alpine rock on routes rated at least Grade II, 5.5,
  2. Swing leads and descend ice and hard snow safely on alpine routes that are rated at least Grade II and 45 degrees,
  3. Apply rope rescue techniques to safely raise or lower an injured climber with a team of 4-6 people,
  4. Swing leads on a basic climb in winter conditions including evaluation of avalanche hazard,
  5. Organize and lead basic level climbs, and
  6. Instruct students in the basic crag and alpine climbing course curriculum.


  1. Completion of the Mountaineers' Basic Alpine Climbing Course or Basic Equivalency,
  2. Membership in The Mountaineers,
  3. Mountaineering Oriented First Aid or Wilderness First Aid or equivalent (needs to be current by the Int. Rock II field trip)
  4. Scrambling and climbing experience at the basic level

Am I ready for the intermediate class?

I'm sure you're asking yourself whether you are ready for the intermediate class and what does it mean to have prior "scrambling and climbing experience"? In order to have a good time at the intermediate class, you will want to have a decent level of experience in hiking, backpacking, scrambling, and basic climbing. Having done 3 basic climbs as part of your basic class is definitely not sufficient to succeed in the intermediate class (or to get you admitted). Here are some guidelines to give you an idea whether you are ready.

Scramble skills:

You need to be very comfortable in your scrambling skills &endash; especially around class 3 and 4 scrambles with exposure. Remember, when you are in the intermediate class, you will be the person who needs to set up hand-lines for students and then be the last scrambling down without that support yourself. You also don't want to be the slowest on the team when crossing boulder fields or descending climbers trails.

Alpine climbing skills:

Our advice is that you have at least a full season of basic climbs behind you (several glacier, rock, alpine climbs). Be sure to have your navigation skills down; you'll be mapping out the routes and be the main navigator on climbs (with the assistance of the leader of course). Remember, in case your leader gets incapacitated, you will be in the lead role. This is a big responsibility and you will want to draw on prior experience of having done a good number of climbs in the past.

Rock climbing skills:

Good rock climbing skills are critical before being able to lead comfortably and safely. The easiest basic rock climbs are alpine 5.4's; intermediate climbs start at alpine 5.5 but many are alpine 5.6 and 5.7+. In order to comfortably lead a 5.5 alpine climb, you need to be able to top-rope at least 2+ levels higher (in this case 5.7 alpine). A 5.7 alpine rock climb compares to a 5.9+ gym climb. So be sure that you can easily top-rope 5.9 to 5.10a in the gym and that you have significant indoor and outdoor rock climbing experience. This can either be by having followed alpine rock climbs or also cragging.

We do recommend the crag class strongly prior to joining the intermediate class. The crag class will teach you leading on rock in detail and will give you solid experience prior to attempting alpine rock climbs. As a crag lead, you may skip the intermediate rock lecture and field trips as an added benefit.

We, the intermediate sub-committee, look at all three components when reviewing your application and expect to see all three of them at the level specified. This is as much for ensuring your enjoyment in the class as well as your and your climbing students' safety. Feel free to contact us if you have questions around this.

Course Content

The course consists of both classroom and field components. Lectures and field trips begin in November, 2012 and extend through September of 2013. Course content consists of:

  • Six Intermediate Climbing lectures,
  • Eight Intermediate field trips,
  • Instructing or assisting at seven Climbing Course events,
  • Rope leading on six Basic climbs (rock and glacier), and
  • Swinging leads on five Intermediate climbs (rock and ice).

Most students take three to five years to complete the course requirements depending upon how much time is devoted each year. The intermediate course is intended to serve as a resource in the broader scheme of ongoing learning and enjoyment of climbing rather than as an end in itself. Students are encouraged to take as much time as is needed to comfortably complete and master each component of the course at their own pace.

2013 Intermediate Climbing Schedule*

Intermediate overview lecture11/14/2012 
Intermediate Evaluation (One day)12/8/2012Mark Scheffer
Intermediate Evaluation (One day)12/9/2012 Jeff Panza
Teaching & Leadership Lecture1/9/2012 
Ropes and Anchors (One day)1/5/2013Deling Ren
Ropes and Anchors (One day)1/6/2013Deling Ren
Level 1 Avy. Lecture (evening)1/28/2013Nick Lyle
Level 1 Avy. Lecture (evening)1/31/2013Nick Lyle
Level 1 Avy. Lecture (evening) 2/4/2013Nick Lyle
Level 1 Field Trip2/9 2/10/2013Nick Lyle
Rescue Methods Lecture (evening)2/20/2013Jeff Bowman
Rescue Methods (weekend)2/23 - 2/24/2013Ron Eng
Winter Mount. Lecture (evening)2/28/2013Timmy Williams
Rescue Methods (weekend)3/9 - 3/10/2013Jeff Bowman
Winter Mountaineering (weekend) 3/16 3/17/2013Timmy Williams
Rock Lecture:4/1/2013 
Rock Lecture:4/3/2013 
Rock Lecture:4/8/2013 
Rock Lecture:4/11/2013 
Rock 1 (weekend)4/13 4/14/2013Stan Hummel
Rock 1 (weekend)4/20 4/21/2013 Matt Palubinskas
Rock 2 (one day) 5/4/2013Susan Chan
Rock 2 (one day) 5/11/2013Matt Palubinskas
Rock 2 (one day)5/12/2013TBD
Ice lecture: 6/19/2013Stan Hummel
Ice 1 (one day) 7/20Stan Hummel
Ice 1 (one day) 7/21Stan Hummel
Ice 1 (one day) 7/27Steve Biem
Ice 1 (one day)7/28Steve Biem
Ice 1 (one day) 8/3TBD
Ice 2 (one day) 8/4TBD
Ice 2 (one day) 8/17TBD
Ice 2 (one day) 8/18TBD
Ice 2 (one day) 9/14TBD
Ice 2 (one day) 9/15TBD

*Dates subject to change based on weather and availability of venue and instructors.

How to Register

  1. Download the application form (2013 Intermediate Application), fill out, and either email to (preferred – it will give a faster turn-around) or mail to:

    The Mountaineers
    Attn: 2013 Seattle Int. Climbing Course
    7700 Sand Point Way NE
    Seattle, WA 98115

  2. Register for the course at the Mountaineers Activity Database and search for: Intermediate Climbing Course - Seattle after receiving approval from the Intermediate Admin subcommittee and pay your course fee.

You will receive a reply within 7-10 days with an approval, a request for further information or a denial with suggestions on areas to improve for a future re-application.

Level 1 Avalanche Skills:

Students are required to complete a Level 1 Avalanche Course certified by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) in order to graduate the intermediate climbing course. This requirement is waived for intermediate students who have completed an AIARE-certified Level 1 Avalanche Course within five years of beginning the intermediate program. AIARE Level I equivalent certification such as from the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) or National Ski Patrol (NSP) is also acceptable.

The Seattle Mountaineers will offer an AIARE-certified Level 1 Avalanche course which includes 24 hours of instruction (3 lectures and a field trip) this upcoming winter 2012/2013. Please sign up for the Level 1 Avalanche course separately; the course fee of the Level 1 Avalanche course is not included in the intermediate class fee. To satisfy this requirement, you may take this course from any other provider in the community that offers an AIARE-certified Level 1 avalanche curriculum.

Intermediate students from 2009 and prior years who have completed the Winter Mountaineering Field Trip are "grandfathered" into this requirement and do not need to take any additional avalanche training to graduate the intermediate course. Intermediate students from 2009 and prior years who have NOT yet completed the Winter Mountaineering Field Trip are required to take an AIARE-certified Level 1 Avalanche course in lieu of the Winter Mountaineering Field Trip requirement in order to graduate.

2013 Avalanche Level 1 Class Schedule:



Level 1 Avalanche Lecture 1 (evening)


Level 1 Avalanche Lecture 2 (evening) 


Level 1 Avalanche Lecture 3 (evening) 


Level 1 Avalanche Field Trip (weekend)

2/9 - 2-10/2013

Continuing Students

This activity is only for intermediate students who started the course in 2007 or earlier. There is no limit on the number of years a student may take to complete the course; however, an annual continuation fee is required to remain enrolled. In order to add another year to your intermediate course, please contact the Intermediate Administration Subcommittee at and sign up online for the extension.

Questions, Comments and Suggestions

Please contact the Intermediate Administration Subcommittee: