Learn with Alpine Scrambling - Intense

This past spring we hosted the fifth year of the Alpine Scrambling Intense (ASI) class teaching 17 students the basics of off-trail travel. Learn more about this course and how modularization techniques are revolutionizing the future of outdoor education.
Tab Wilkins Tab Wilkins
August 03, 2015

This past spring we hosted the fifth year of the Alpine Scrambling Intense (ASI) class teaching 17 students the basics of off-trail travel. Five years and 60 participants later we’ve learned some surprising things, including how modularization techniques could revolutionize the future of outdoor education!

ASI was born in 2009 through the Seattle Alpine Scrambling Committee out of desire to try some new teaching techniques, try a schedule that is more suited to today’s world and create a later deadline or second opportunity in the year for folks to learn to scramble. Our biggest concerns then were conditioning of the participants: could people adequately learn in such a short time? Would people still connect with the Mountaineers through such a short class? 

First some comments on how ASI operates: It’s the same curriculum as the regular scramble class so the students fit seamlessly into the overall Scrambles program through the year. We spend Friday at the Seattle Program Center and then spend the weekend based in one of our lodges for evening lectures and as a base for field trips. We’ve enjoyed the hospitality of both Stevens and Baker Lodges. Because we teach this in late May, our registration deadline is in early May, closer to when many people get excited about going outdoors. Our first lecture on equipment, conditioning and logistics is conducted as a webcast, recorded for folks to listen to if not immediately available.

It’s been really interesting to look back and see some of our results:

  • Our graduation rate is roughly comparable to the regular class at 55%
  • We’ve served members from 5 of our 7 branches,
  • Over 80% of the students take the class because of the format
  • Over 20% of the graduates have gone on to other classes like climbing
  • Over 50% of the graduates have come back to volunteer teach in the Scrambling program
  • Of those who join the club to take the class, over 70% remain members
  • We’ve had a waiting list in four of the five years
  • Our class size is now roughly 20% of the regular program each year

We’ve informally heard from leaders and other Scramble community members that overall the ASI students are just as strong, conditioned and capable as the regular class students.

Some surprising things we’ve learned as well:

  • Several smaller groups of students have connected in the class and become climbing partners for the season
  • Volunteers really enjoy the experience of getting to socialize more with students in the lodges and seeing such progress through the weekend
  • The webcast lecture is a great success as we’ve had people on business trips the world over listening in.

It’s been really rewarding to help develop and run this newer approach to our classes, another approach to modernization like modularization.