Basic Alpine Climbing Course - 2021

Climbing Course

Basic Alpine Climbing Course

The Olympia Basic Climbing Course is a combination of online lectures, field instruction and climbing experiences with an emphasis on active, hands-on learning to achieve the goal of teaching students to safely climb rock, snow and the glaciated peaks of the Pacific Northwest.

Update 1-4-21: Registered and Waitlisted students will receive updated information on course changes on 1-7-20 from the course leaders via email.

Course leaders are making every effort to offer the course as outlined below, however we may need to alter the structure of the course which could affect some dates. Please understand this before committing to the course. Note that your number on the waitlist does not indicate your spot in line for the course. 


The goal of the Olympia Basic Alpine Climbing Course is to teach students to safely climb rock, snow, and the glaciated peaks of the Pacific Northwest using a combination of online lectures, field instruction and climbing experiences with an emphasis on active, hands-on learning. 

The course begins with the prerequisite course Wilderness Skills.  Wilderness Skills is included at no extra charge for Basic Climbing students, and the Basic Climbing Chair will register climbing students -- do not self-register. The Wilderness Skills course is a two-day course and Basic Climbing students are required to attend both days, January 16 and 31, 2021.

The course lectures and field trips begin Tuesday, February 2, 2021, consisting of  7 lectures, 7 field trips, the final exam, and additional activities (see below, "requirements and commitments"). Students are expected to put in the necessary practice outside of structured course time for becoming proficient at skills. Topics covered include equipment/gear, backcountry travel and camping, snow camping, glacier travel, belaying, rappelling, rock climbing, crevasse rescue, and more. Previous experience in off-trail hiking and camping is helpful.


Basic Climbing students must:

  • Attend Wilderness Skills on January 16 and 30
  • Attend all lectures
  • Attend all field trips
    • February 13, March 6, March 20, April 10-11 (overnight), May 1 or 2 (choose one), May 15 or 16 (choose one), May 29-30 (overnight)
  • Pass the final exam on June 8
  • Attend the additional practice session at SPIRE Rock (optional but recommended)
  • Attend the climbing clinic at Cirque Climbing (optional but recommended)
  • Successfully complete physical conditioning requirements
  • Participate in three experience climbs (glacier, rock, alpine)
  • Complete Mountaineering Oriented First Aid (MOFA) or equivalent – you must self-register and pay the separate course fee for first aid courses
  • Complete Navigation course – you must self-register and pay the separate course fee for Navigation
  • Complete a stewardship requirement 

Additionally, students must purchase a copy of “Freedom of the Hills, 9th Edition.” Note that there are significant gear and equipment needs for this course that will be required in order to participate in activities. Some examples: mountaineering boots, harness, helmet, crampons, ice axe, etc.


There are no refunds after the first lecture.


In addition to having a desire to learn technical rock and mountaineering skills, successful graduates possess solid overall physical conditioning, good cardiovascular strength, and psychological commitment. This course is challenging; however, the payoff will be opportunities to connect with lifelong climbing partners and friends as well as life-changing outdoor experiences, while learning the skills that can be used to safely travel in the wild for a lifetime.

Interested students are urged to consider taking the Alpine Scrambling course prior to Basic Climbing. Completion of Scrambling allows the student to master a portion of the skills that will be taught in Basic Climbing, as well as provide even more opportunities to meet like-minded outdoor enthusiasts. Additional courses such as MOFA and Navigation will also be completed prior to taking Basic Climbing, meaning fewer requirements for graduation in the same year.

The Olympia Branch climbing program is committed to supporting a diverse climbing community in spaces in which we live and recreate. We strongly encourage applications from people from underrepresented communities. 

For more information about Basic Climbing, potential students are encouraged to contact the Basic Climbing Chair Julie Dasso (

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Required Equipment

Students will need access to a computer with reliable internet access to participate in the course:

  • Students must have a camera and microphone in order to participate in the course.
  • Please have the free Zoom desktop client or mobile app installed and account created. One unique account per student please. 
  • Please have an email address able to utilize Google Classrooms. If this is not your email on your Mountaineers profile please let the course leader know. One unique email address per student please.

Students will not need to purchase gear until after the first lecture.  Gear examples and discussion will be presented at that time, to be purchased for the first field trip in February.  

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.