Basic Climbing Course - Kitsap - 2021

Climbing Course

Basic Climbing Course

The Basic Alpine Climbing Course is a year-long course preparing students to be competent climbers reaching rock and glacier summits.

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.

Basic Climbing Course

As a basic climbing student, you will meet interesting and goal-oriented people that share a common interest - mountaineering.  The course is a combination of reading, online knowledge tests, classroom, and field trips that prepare you for safely climbing rock, snow, and glaciers.  The course is taught by experienced mountaineers, assisted by newer mountaineers, that share their knowledge and time as volunteers.  Students will progressively gain knowledge and technical skills throughout the course and ultimately apply them to actual climbs.  The course utilizes the book, Freedom of the Hills, 9th Edition as part of the instruction.  Classes are held at the Mountaineers Kitsap Program Center (aka Olympic Mountain Rescue Center and Harold Brooks Community Center) located at 1550 Rocky Point Rd. NW. in Bremerton.  Field trips occur at a variety of locations to meet the specific training requirements.

Participants must have a desire to learn technical mountaineering skills and understand this course requires a significant investment in time, energy, and requires the purchase of at least a couple thousand dollars of clothing and gear, especially for those who do not already have backpacking gear. Even those who have some equipment can expect to spend several hundred dollars on gear.

Not all things need to be purchased right away and some things can be rented from local shops or borrowed from friends. But be aware our course requires an investment of both time and money.

Solid overall physical conditioning, good cardiovascular strength and psychological commitment are needed as the participants will experience travel in difficult terrain with vertical exposure while carrying a heavy pack in all types of weather conditions.

The course is set up to be completed in roughly eight months and skills taught include; selection and care of equipment, wilderness travel and camping, rope handling, snow climbing, glacier travel, belaying, rappelling, 5th class rock climbing, crevasse rescue, guidance on gear purchases and conditioning, and many other topics.  During field trips and actual climbs the student will put these skills to practical use with experienced mountaineers.

One of the many things the Kitsap branch offers is smaller class sizes and great student to instructor ratio. In many cases, you’ll see close to a 1-2 student to instructor ratio. Our instructors have a huge commitment to you and spend a lot of time and resources to ensure your safety while providing a rich learning environment. With this level of instructor commitment, we expect a high commitment from you as well.

This course requires a commitment to the following:

  • 5 classroom lectures
  • 7 field trips; 2 overnight weekend field trips
  • Many extra hours of reading, study and practice
  • Passing all tests that includes written and practical elements
  • Successful completion of 3 graduation climbs, including at least one glacier and one rock climb
  • Purchase of climbing gear necessary prior to date required
  • Complete the Low Impact Recreation online course prior to the first field trip
  • Fulfill at least 1 Stewardship activity on public lands (priceless)
  • Passing score on skills and tests
  • Complete a separate Wilderness First Aid or Mountain-Oriented First Aid course
  • Complete a separate Navigation course
  • A strong level of fitness that will allow you to safely and effectively participate in the field trips and climbs
  • A personal commitment to a regular & disciplined training program to ensure the necessary fitness level
  • Pass conditioning tests. Mt. Walker timed roundtrip, 4 miles total with 2000 feet elevation gain and 30# pack in 2.5 hours. Later increasing to two consecutive Mt. Walker roundtrips with 45# pack in 5 hours. A good article on conditioning is at
  • Participants have 2 years to complete the course

 Please keep this in mind as you complete the application. As instructors, our goal is to ensure that you have the best experience possible where you can learn to climb safely. A big part of accomplishing that goal is your participation and your commitment to the class, your fellow students and the instructors.

Please consider the time commitment, course schedule, and cancellation policy (see below) before registering.

***Please do not register for the course unless you can commit to the items mentioned above and attend ALL field trips and ALL lectures.


Graduation Requirements;

  • Current Mountaineers membership
  • Complete the Low Impact Recreation online course
  • Fulfill at least 1 Stewardship activity on public lands
  • Attend all field trips and lectures
  • Successful completion of all field trips
  • Passing score on skills and tests
  • Complete a separate Wilderness First Aid or Mountain-Oriented First Aid course
  • Complete a separate Navigation course
  • Completion of 3 required climbs, including at least one glacier and one rock climb
  • Petition the Climbing Committee
  • Climbing Committee Approval


Course Schedule - 20xx


While the course is challenging and demanding, the skills acquired provide the participants opportunities to meet lifelong climbing partners and gain the skills to safely enjoy mountain environments for a lifetime. Climbing with the Kitsap branch of The Mountaineers is an awesome opportunity to confidently and competently climb challenging mountains all while pushing your physical limits and achieving personal goals. During the course and climbs with the Kitsap branch you will experience high levels of fellowship, trust, bonding, and community. Welcome to your new adventures. We look forward to sharing them with you.

The course fee does not include the cost of a Mountaineer’s membership, text for the course, personal gear and equipment, Wilderness First Aid (WFA), and Navigation course.

Cancellation from the course will incur a $100 fee prior to December 31, 2019. Cancellation after December 31, 2019 may result in no refund, subject to the Co-Chair's decision. No refunds after first class meeting in January.


Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Basic Rock 2 Field Trip
McCleary Cliffs
Sat, Jun 26, 2021
Registration closed Jun 11
0 participants
0 instructors
McCleary Cliffs
Sun, Jun 27, 2021
Registration closed Jun 11
0 participants
0 instructors
Required Equipment


  • Climbing helmet
  • Climbing harness with belay loop
  • Mountaineering boots (not hiking boots, make sure they fit comfortably and are returnable if they don't)
  • Non-locking carabiners (6 - wire gates are best, not minis)
  • Locking carabiner pear shaped (1)
  • Locking carabiner - oval or D-shaped (3)
  • Approved belay device (i.e., Petzl Reverso 4, Black Diamond ATC Guide, or similar)
  • Chock pick
  • Belay gloves (big box leather gloves work)
  • 10 essentials (see info on approved compasses)
  • Overnight pack (suggest 60 to 75 liter)
  • Day pack (suggest 35 to 40 liter, may also use Overnight pack)
  • Ice axe (sized appropriately) with leash
  • Crampons - 12 point steel with horizontal front points that fit your boots
  • Gaiters
  • Snow shovel (metal, not plastic)
  • Picket - 24" aluminum
  • Rescue pulley - prusik minding (will have square shoulders)
  • 6 Slings, 3 - 60cm single, 3 - 120 cm double (dyneema, spectra, or nylon)
  • 2 Personal anchors - (sewn nylon double runners, a Metolius PAS or approved equal may substitute for one runner)
  • Webbing (nylon - we will go over what is needed in class)
  • Perlon cord (we will go over what is needed in class)
  • Snow shoes (can be rented or borrowed too)
  • Glacier glasses (or other effective eye protection for extended time on snow)
  • Appropriate clothing
  • Camping items that fit into pack (some items are shared such as tents, stoves, and water filters so may not need to purchase)
  • Fleece or puffy jacket
  • Rain jacket and full-zip rain pants
  • Belay gloves
  • Warm gloves or mittens (plus second pair)


  • Microspikes

Disclaimer, not possible to list every item we may need on a climb. The items are dependent on numerous factors such as; weather, activity, route, skill level, month, etc..