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. Other, like First Aid and Navigation, are separate courses that need to be completed.

  • Workshops. You will attend three weekday evening lectures/workshops. Each is held in Seattle and again the next week in Redmond.
  • Field Trips. You will learn the hands-on skills at a series of 4 one day field trips. 
  • Navigation. You will learn to read a map and navigate with a compass in one evening and one full day outing. These are taught 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. This course is taught year round.
  • 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 sign-up for these online after completing the “snow” field trip in April.

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. See our course handbook for a full list of required recommended and optional equipment. If you need to purchase some of the expensive stuff such as a pack or boots, you may want to wait until after the first lecture to buy them (or at least wait until then to take off the tags). Feel free to bring any of your equipment to the lectures, at which the volunteer instructors can give you some guidance as to their appropriateness.


MOUNTAINEERING: The Freedom of the Hills is required reading. 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 and to have fun, you will need to be in good shape. But don’t worry, all of the scramble trips are rated in terms of how physically challenging they are. Additionally, at the field trips, you can self-select into a group based on how fast and far you want to hike. Want a quick test, go hike up to the view point on Mt Si with a heavy day pack. If you can do it in 2.5 hours with few rest breaks, you are there.

As for commitment, the course modules and required scrambles will demand about 10 full days and up to $1500 in fees and gear.


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