Alpine Scrambling Course Details

Alpine Scrambling Course Details

Learn the skills you need to travel safely and confidently in the mountains. The Alpine Scrambling Course will prepare you to summit the hundreds of non-technical peaks in Washington State.

Scrambling does not require ropes or complex climbing equipment other than good hiking gear, a pair of sturdy mountaineering boots, a climbing helmet and an ice axe, (for use on snow, not on ice). Scrambles are, however, strenuous mountain climbs that will get you in great physical condition. Through a series of workshops and field trips, you will learn how to travel off-trail on both steep snow and rocky terrain. If you have any questions after reading through this information, please contact

Curriculum / Requirements

There are several requirements to complete the Scramble Course. Some, like the workshops and field trips, are formally part of the course. Others, like First Aid, Navigation and Stewardship, are separate courses and activities that need to be completed.

  • Workshops. You will learn the basics of each skillset (gear, rock and snow) through 3 lectures/workshops. Workshops are held at the Seattle Program Center and/or Magnuson Park, on weekday evenings and/or weekends.
  • Field Trips. You will learn and practice the hands-on skills  of scrambling through a series of  3 field trips (one rock, one snow and one experience).  Field Trips are held at various locations, in the mountains, on weekends. 
  • Navigation. You will learn to read a map and navigate with a compass and GPS in a separate course, offered by The Mountaineers. These are generally offered on multiple dates from November through March.
  • First Aid. You will learn, (and hopefully never have to use), the important skills of administering first aid when 911 is not just a phone call away in a separate course, offered by The Mountaineers. These are generally offered throughout the year.
  • Stewardship. Help to maintain the places where we play! Spend at least 1-day working on a steward and/or conservation project, like trail maintenance.
  • Low Impact Recreation. Learn how to minimize your impact on the wilderness with a series of online videos and a short quiz.

Additionally, to graduate from the course, you must receive Peak Credit (meaning you made it to the summit) on at least 3 scramble trips between April and the end of October. Most members complete more than 3 and often there are years with students who summit over 20 peaks. You can register for these online after completing your field trips with the Course.

Required Equipment

With the addition of some paper and a pencil the equipment you need for the course is the same as for all of our regular trips - the 10 Essentials plus Mountaineering Boots, a Climbing Helmet, Ice Axe and Crampons. See our course handbook (listed under Course Materials) for a full list of required, recommended and optional equipment. If you need to purchase some of the more expensive items such as a pack or boots, you may want to wait until after the first workshop (or at least wait to take off the tags until then). Feel free to bring any of your personal equipment to the workshop, at which the volunteer instructors can give you some guidance.


MOUNTAINEERING: The Freedom of the Hills has essential reading to support  and supplement your learning. It is available from Mountaineers Books, REI, other mountaineering stores, and of course at Amazon. 


Registration is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis, but no later than the first workshop. Persons younger than 18 must have parental permission and the approval of the Scramble Committee Chair.

Physical Conditioning and Commitment

As mentioned above, scrambling is a strenuous activity. To keep up with the group, be safe and to have fun, you will need to be in good shape. Each scramble trip is rated in terms of how physically challenging they are. If you are uncertain, or looking for a benchmark -- plan to hike up to the view point on Mt Si with 20% of your weight in a day pack. If you can ascend in 2.5 hours with few rest breaks and not completing exhausted or out of breath it's an indicator you are well on your way.  If you experience any trouble - fatigue, shortness of breath - keep hiking and focus on endurance (more miles and more elevation) to help you condition and  work your way there.

As for commitment, the course modules and required scrambles will demand about 10 full days and up to $1500 in fees and gear.  The Mountaineers does offer scholarships, see the Course Registration page for more information.