Placeholder Course Templates

Climbing Course

Sport Climbing

This course introduces the fundamental skills necessary to lead climb single pitch routes protected by bolts. **Accepting applicants for waitlist**

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.

The application period for this course has closed, but we are accepting applicants to the waitlist on a rolling basis. Please read all the following information, then fill out the linked application form and finally email the course leader. The leader will let you know if you can then register.

This course introduces the fundamental skills necessary to lead climb single pitch routes protected by bolts. Please read this information in total before applying. Info on the application process is at the end.

Who should take this course?

This course is targeted at students who have been top rope climbing, inside or outside, and want to lead climb bolted sport routes, outside, at places like Exit 38, Vantage, Mt. Erie, Leavenworth, etc. If you successfully complete this course, then by the end you will be able to safely and confidently plan and execute a trip where you lead single-pitch sport routes that are within your climbing grade.

You do not need to have taken the Mountaineers Basic Alpine Climbing course, and you definitely do not need to be an expert climber. In fact, we want students who have little-to-no experience leading routes outside.

The Foothills Climbing Committee is committed to building and fostering a representative climbing community that reflects the spaces in which we live and recreate. We recognize that outdoor recreation has historically excluded communities of color, women, and LGBTQ people. Hence, we strongly encourage applications from people with these identities or who are members of other underrepresented communities.



  • Safe top rope belaying. For us to admit you into the course, you will need either the top rope belay skill badge from the Mountaineers or a top rope belay card from a climbing gym granted created within the last 2 years. Students will be asked to demonstrate their top rope belay skills at the beginning of the course.
  • Confident climbing ability. Much of our educational time will be spent with you climbing rocks. To get the most out of this course, the routes we climb will need to be well within your climbing ability so that you can focus on the mechanics of leading. We'll spend most of our time on routes rated 5.7 and below at areas like Exit 38 and Vantage, venturing into more difficult terrain as time and skills allow. All climbing grades are subjective and are relative to the local area and historical context when the route was graded. A 5.7 outside can feel much harder than a 5.7 you'd find at the gym.

    You should be able to comfortably top rope climb 5.8s in the gym and be able to successfully complete some 5.9s in the gym without falling.


Instructors should meet the minimum climbing ability above. In addition, instructors should:

  • Safe lead belaying. Instructors should have a Lead Belay badge or a Lead Belay certified card from a local climbing gym within the last year.
  • A commitment to creating an emotionally and physically safe environment. We will follow best practices safety practices to the best of our ability. In addition, we are fostering a community of new lead climbers. We want to create an environment where everyone is included, who has equal opportunity to learn, and feels safe in an environment where they can push outside their comfort zone.


The following skills will be covered.

  • Lead belay technique, dynamic belay
  • Lead climb essentials, clipping, rope management
  • Climber / Belayer communication
  • Sport Anchor systems and top-rope rigging in straightforward environments
  • Route cleaning
  • Strength training and general fitness

Student Commitment

This course consists of an introductory lecture and three days outside. Because of the progressive nature of the course, it is difficult to make up any missed days. Please do not sign up for the course unless you can attend all events. We understand that unexpected things happen, but we cannot allow you to continue if you miss any day or the substantial part of any day.

The course will provide climbing ropes, but the rest of the gear is personal and usually essential. You will need to purchase several hundred dollars worth of gear. We've outlined this in the required gear section below. If you cannot afford the gear please get in touch with the course leads prior to applying and we can see what we can do.


Successfully completing this course means that, by the end of the course, you have demonstrated comfortable proficiency in the following skills. The instructors are committed to teaching each student with the required skills. Unfortunately, sometimes students do not progress quite to the level necessary to receive a graduation badge. Instructors will work with those students on a case-by-case basis to help develop a plan for them to be able to graduate.

  • Belaying/rappelling/cleaning/equipment
  • Clipping techniques
  • Route risk assessment
  • Clipping
  • Face climbing techniques
  • Leading a route


Applications will be open through January 1, 2021, or until we receive 24 total applicants (whichever comes first). At that point the Foothills Climbing committee will meet to evaluate all applications. We will evaluate applications, following these values:

  • Creating a diverse student cohort, including considering access issue for traditionally under-represented groups.
  • Prioritizing Mountaineers members who volunteer for the club.
  • Prioritizing applicants who volunteer in their community.
Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Sport Climbing Intro Zoom Session
Online Classroom
Wed, Jun 2, 2021
Registration closes May 31
3 participants
Sport Climbing FT #1
Seattle Program Center
Sat, Jun 12, 2021
Registration closes Jun 10
0 participants
0 instructors
Sport Climbing FT #2
Exit 38
Sun, Jun 20, 2021
Registration closes Jun 18
1 participant
1 instructor
Sport Climbing FT #3
Vantage (Frenchman Coulee)
Sat, Jul 10, 2021
Registration closes Jul 8
0 participants
0 instructors
Required Equipment

This list of gear sets you up for success in the course and to go sport climbing with friends or Mountaineers. Please don't buy any gear ahead of the first lecture.

Personal gear

This is stuff that every climber needs when sport climbing. This gear is mandatory for the course.

  • UIAA-rated Climbing Helmet
  • UIAA-rated Climbing Harness
  • Personal Anchor (PA) with a locking carabiner
  • Belay device (tube style (such as the ATC, ATC guide, Reverso) or assisted braking cam device (such as the Gri-Gri)), with a locking belay carabiner appropriate for the device
  • Belay gloves
  • Rock climbing shoes (not mountaineering boots)

Group Gear

This is stuff that every group needs when sport climbing. You usually want one set per 2 people. With the exception of the rope, the student cohort as a whole will need to supply about 4 sets of this gear for the course:

  • Anchor material (a quad-length runner* is best, or a 20' 7mm nylon cordelette) with 4 locking carabiners. Sometimes you need a little more**, so it's a good idea to have a double runner, a couple single runners, and 2 - 4 non-locking carabiners also
  • Quick-draws (10-12 total) (not Alpine draws)
  • UIAA-rated climbing rope ("single" rated) (we will supply ropes for the course)

* A runner is a loop of 1" nylon webbing or ~10mm dyneema cord. These are sold as pre-sewn to a specific length (for nylon or dyneema) or as bulk material you can tie to your own length (usually nylon only). These are also called "slings". A "single" length sling is 60cm (2 feet) in length then tied into a loop. A "double" is 120cm, and a "quad" is 240cm.

** Most anchors for sport climbs have two bolts at the top that are placed neatly so a couple quick draws or a double runner makes a nice anchor. Sometimes you need to adjust the anchor's point of focus to a different location, or sometimes the bolts are set back a ways (especially common at places where you can walk to the top, like Mt. Erie). You may need to "extend" your anchor or come up with a slightly more complex arrangement. You need extra runners / cord to make this happen.

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.