Become a Rope Climb Leader - Sign Up For Our Modular Intermediate Program

Learn new rock and glacier skills and help lead climbs for The Mountaineers.
Tess Wendel Tess Wendel
Seattle Climbing Committee
October 16, 2021
Become a Rope Climb Leader - Sign Up For Our Modular Intermediate Program
Mountaineers leadership structure

Have you taken the Basic Alpine Climbing Course or the Basic Glacier Travel course? Are you interested in continuing your climbing journey with The Mountaineers? Join the Intermediate Climbing program and become a rope climb leader next year!

The Intermediate Alpine Climbing Course teaches the technical skills necessary to climb on the rock, snow, and ice typically found in the Cascade and Olympic mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The course has a strong focus on developing leadership skills, including technical competence, interpersonal skills, and good judgement. 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 Mountaineers Intermediate climbing curriculum is designed to provide entry points to become a Rope Climb Leader, and eventually earn the Climb Leader position with the organization.

As a Rope Climb your job is to help support the primary climb leader with routefinding or weather decisions, support newer climbers, and ensure a safe outing for all. Each branch structures their Intermediate program a little differently, but for those in Seattle, please read on to find a summary of our modularized program.

Please note that to become a Rope Climb Leader on Basic climbs you do need to be a Basic Alpine Climbing Graduate or equivalent. If you are interested in equivalency, learn more and sign up for one of our upcoming equivalency sessions: 

Equivalency Test - Oct 23

Equivalency test - Nov 13

Glacier Climb Rope Leader

To be a Glacier Climb Rope Leader, you'll want to do three things:

  1. Sign up for AIARE Level 1. Understanding snow conditions and avalanche danger is key for making decisions all year round in the northwest, and is a pre-requisite/co-requisite for Intermediate Glacier Travel. (You want to be signed up for this when you sign up for Intermediate Glacier Travel, or to have taken it previously.)
  2. Sign up for Intermediate Glacier Travel. This course covers snow anchors, improvised belays, advanced crevasse rescue systems, glacier group travel, and leadership skills.
  3. Sign up for new climb notifications on your Mountaineers profile to know when glacier climbs get posted. This allows you to sign up quickly so that you can fulfill the graduation requirement of Intermediate Glacier by being a Glacier Rope Leader on a Basic climb.


Rock Climb Rope Leader

To be a Rock Climb Rope Leader you'll want to make sure that you are comfortable leading 5.7 on bolts outdoors and have your lead card at the gym (usually means 5.9 on bolts inside). Then, to make sure you are ready to get on the sharp end and lead on gear, you'll want to sign up for the following classes:

Once you've completed these courses, you can be a Rope Climb Leader on Basic climbs like the Tooth, Ingalls, or Intermediate climbs like The Becky Route on Liberty Bell, or Spontaneity Arete on Le Petit Cheval. Make sure to sign up for notifications on the website via your profile page.

Still have questions about the Intermediate program? Join the information session on November 9. 


Completion of the FULL Intermediate Program

Self Rescue 2 and Alpine Ice are the final modules to complete the curriculum aspect of the full Intermediate Program.

Intro to Alpine Ice teaches the fundamentals of ice climbing and descending, building anchors and v-threads, and swapping leads on 40-70 degree alpine ice. Alpine Ice usually opens for registration in the summer and the field trips take place in late August and September.

Self Rescue 2 covers high angle rescue techniques for a fallen leader with only your partner available to help with the rescue. Self Rescue 2 will open for registration in early summer and classes will be in October.

More advanced Intermediate climbs listed on the website will often require completion of all six of these modules (examples being the North Ridge of Baker, Lane Peak in the winter, etc.). Fulfilling the full Intermediate requirements is a great way to get mileage towards becoming a full Climb Leader, making lifelong friends, and giving back to this one-of-a-kind climbing organization.

Full Intermediate Program Requirements:

  • Attend in a safe and competent manner all Intermediate Modules, including lectures and field trips
  • Complete AIARE Level 1 Avalanche training.
  • Volunteer at six or more Basic or beginner-level climbing field trips.
  • Complete six  Basic climbs as a Rope Climb Leader or Climb Leader in a safe and competent manner, including at least three  rock and two glacier climbs. Each climb must be of a separate and distinct route. 
  • Complete five Intermediate climbs in a safe and competent manner, including at least two alpine ice and two alpine rock climbs. Each climb must be posted on The Mountaineers website before the event takes place, the student must be registered for the climb, and each climb must be a separate and distinct route. 
  • Demonstrate leadership and technical competence to the satisfaction of the Climbing Committee. 
  • Have current Wilderness First Aid certification or higher when applying for graduation. Maintaining WFA is highly encouraged. 
  • Students taking Intermediate Alpine Climbing need to submit a graduation application to the Climbing Committee within five years of the date that they began the Intermediate Alpine Climbing Course. The application must present the dates, leaders, and events that fulfill the above Intermediate package requirements. Applications are checked by the Intermediate Climbing Committee.

Email Patty Cokus at if you are ready to apply for graduation from the full Intermediate program.

Missing badges?

Did you take Intermediate before the module system and feel like you're missing some badges, or are you having trouble signing up for things online? Email Tess and we can make sure you get Rope Climb Leader badges, even if you haven't finished your last ice climb for the full Intermediate badge.