Basic Alpine Climbing Course - 2023

Climbing Course

Basic Alpine Climbing Course

The Olympia Basic Climbing Course is a combination of classroom 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.


Please complete the application to be added to the waitlist. Waitlist is open now.


If you cancel the course within these timelines:

  • November 1 through December 31 - refund minus $10
  • January 1 through January 15 - 50% refund
  • After January 15 - no refunds


Course lectures and field trips begin in February, and are completed in June, consisting of seven lectures, seven field trips and additional optional climbing events. 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. 

Graduates must attend all lectures and field trips, pass the final exam, successfully complete physical conditioning requirements, three experience climbs, Wilderness First Aid (April 1 or 2, 2022), Navigation course (May 6 or 7, 2022), and a stewardship project. There is a separate course fee for both FA and Navigation. While Climbing Conditioners are listed as "optional" in the course requirements, all students are required to pick at least one Climbing Conditioner (more conditioners are recommended). Please take this into account when determining your schedule availability before applying for acceptance into the course. Additionally, students must purchase a copy of “Freedom of the Hills, 9th Edition”.

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. The 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.

The course runs for one season beginning with the first lecture in February and ending September 30, and participants must complete the lectures and field trips the first year. If a student is unable to complete course co-requisites in one year, they may apply for second-year student status, which may incur an additional registration charge. 


Wilderness Skills is a recommended course prior to Basic Climbing. Wilderness Skills teaches the basics of traveling in the outdoors and how to prepare for multiple situations. Basic Climbing students interested in taking Wilderness Skills should reach out to the Basic Climbing course leader for a discount on registration costs.

Basic Climbing students are urged to consider taking the Alpine Scrambling course prior to Basic Climbing. Completion of scrambling allows the student to learn a portion of the skills that will be taught in Basic Climbing, have completed the co-requisite classes and activities, as well as provide even more opportunities to meet like-minded outdoor enthusiasts.


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. Please use the Scholarship link to apply for financial assistance, and do this early so you may have your scholarship in time to register if you're accepting into the course.

For more information about Basic Climbing, potential students are encouraged to attend the Olympia Branch open house, held in early January each year at St. Martin’s University in the Worthington Center. In the meantime, direct climbing course questions to the Basic Climbing  course leader.

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.