Basic Alpine Climbing Course - 2024

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.


  • Application opens on October 4th.
  • Seats will be awarded beginning October 18.
  • Application will close on January 19th.

Please complete the application linked below. All applicants are accepted into the course or waitlisted. The required application is information gathering for course leaders. Priority is given to Olympia Branch members and Olympia Scrambling course graduates.

Link to Application


If you cancel the course within these timelines:

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

financial assistance

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 accepted into the course.


Course lectures and field trips begin in February, and are completed in June, consisting of seven lectures, seven field trips and additional optional events. Topics covered include equipment/gear, backcountry travel and camping, snow camping, glacier travel, belaying, rappelling, rock climbing, crevasse rescue, and more. No experience is required. 

Graduates must attend all lectures and field trips, pass the final exam, successfully complete physical conditioning requirements by completing an approved conditioning hike, three experience climbs, Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Navigation course, and a stewardship project. There is a separate course fee for both FA and Navigation. The climbing conditioner hike and all Course Requirements listed below are required to continue in the course. 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 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. 

For more information about Basic Climbing, potential students are encouraged to attend the Olympia Branch open house on October 5th from 6:00 to 8:30 pm at St. Martin’s University in the Worthington Center. In the meantime, direct climbing course questions to the Basic Climbing  course leader.

Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
BC Lecture #3: Mountain Hazards
Lacey Community Center
Tue, Mar 5, 2024
Registration closes Mar 3
0 participants
18 instructors
BC Field Trip #3: Snow Travel
Sat, Mar 16, 2024
Registration closes Mar 14
0 participants
0 instructors
BC Lecture #4: Risk Management
Online Classroom
Tue, Apr 2, 2024
Registration closes Mar 31
0 participants
19 instructors
BC Field Trip #4: Snow Weekend
Dead Horse Creek
Sat, Apr 6, 2024 -
Sun, Apr 7, 2024
Registration closes Apr 4
0 participants
1 instructor on waitlist
Dead Horse Creek
Sat, Apr 13, 2024 -
Sun, Apr 14, 2024
Registration closes Apr 11
0 participants
1 instructor
BC Lecture #5: Intro to Rock Climbing
Lacey Community Center
Tue, Apr 23, 2024
Registration closes Apr 21
0 participants
16 instructors
BC Field Trip #5: Rock Fundamentals
Tacoma Program Center
Sat, Apr 27, 2024
Registration closes Apr 25
2 participants
12 instructors
BC Activity: Rock Gym Climbing Night (optional)
Cirque Climbing Gym
Sun, May 5, 2024
Registration closes May 3
3 participants
4 instructors
BC Field Trip #6: Rock Weekend
Vantage/Sunshine Wall
Sat, May 18, 2024
Registration closes May 16
0 participants
0 instructors
BC Lecture #7: Crevasse Rescue Practice
Burfoot Park
Tue, May 21, 2024
Registration closed Jan 24
3 participants
11 instructors
BC Field Trip #7: Crevasse Rescue
Paradise (Mount Rainier)
Sat, Jun 1, 2024
Registration closes May 30
0 participants
2 instructors on waitlist
BC Final Written Exam
Online Classroom
Tue, Jun 4, 2024
Registration closes Jun 2
0 participants
0 instructors
Required Equipment

See Student Manual gear list.

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.