Introduction to Leading Water Ice Course - Seattle - 2023

Climbing Course

Introduction to Leading Water Ice Course

Introduction to Leading Water Ice Course

This focuses on "Leading" water ice -- Designed for those who have proficiency in moderate alpine/water ice and wish more on "Leading".   This differs from "Intro to Water Ice" due to a focus on leading vs top-rope practice.

-- Click "MORE+" to see all details --

This course focuses on leading techniques for water ice, applying your gear on lead, assessing the ice, and dealing with the strenuous nature of leading multi-pitch waterfalls. 

 This will progress through mock and actual leads, typically up to WI3.  It is intended to augment or advances your alpine ice experience and prepare you for more advanced outings.

The main part of this course is in Bozeman, MT (Hyalite Canyon), climbing the holiday weekend Feb 18 and 19.  Friday Feb 17 is a travel day. Saturday and Sunday are required climbing days. Monday Feb 20 is a travel day.


The required badges and skills listed to the right are recommendations to help you decide if this course is right for you. We're looking for candidates who have completed the Mountaineers Alpine Ice Course or Intro to Water Ice  Course; however, we'll also be looking at those who have similar experience.  Equivalent experience will be considered. Please send a detailed email to the course leader - Brian Starlin - that includes:

  • Why you want to take this course
  • What experience you have climbing with emphasis on alpine and water ice - ice, glacier, rock (trad and sport).
  • What winter training or experience do you have, such as avalanche awareness, safe winter travel, etc.
  • What type of experience are you looking for?
  • What roped climbing skills do you have that should apply to "leading" on water ice - belaying, setting up and cleaning anchors, setting protection, first aid, navigation, etc...

(Click "request permission" or Brian's name to send information to Brian.)

We will be reviewing applications and letting folks know by Nov 22nd. Registration and review of applicants continues until Dec 7th if more time is needed to fill the roster.

A few other things to note:

  • The course fee does NOT include travel or housing.  We will talk about this in the first meeting.
  • Proof of vaccination is required to attend this course.

"Activities" listed below:

The course will consist of three activities. 

  1. An online (zoom) session to discuss logistics, gear, techniques  and exercises to prepare for ice climbing.
  2. Foam wall practice at the Seattle Program Center.  It is very helpful for yourself to gauge your technique and just practice tool and crampon placements.
  3. The main field trip to Bozeman, Hyalite Canyon.


The better shape you're in, the more ice you'll be able to climb and be better able to handle the conditions.  Hyalite canyon ranges from 7000 to 9000 feet elevation.  It is a beautiful canyon, but the climbs are not all at the valley floor.   After all, they are waterfalls :-).  A set of basic training techniques to prepare for ice climbing itself will be sent out but also be prepared for spending time at 7,000 to 9,000 feet elevation in a remote winter environment.

For more information on other water ice climbing courses, seminars, and activities visit Mountaineers Water Ice Climbing.

Participation in this course requires a positive attitude to deal with changing conditions and logistics. Water Ice climbing is cold. Hazards and team skills must be assessed constantly. Leaders and instructors are volunteers who wish to share our time, knowledge and skills and it helps to be flexible and engaged as the course goes along.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Required Equipment

A detailed list will be discussed in December.  Water ice climbing typically involves gear suited for water ice vs alpine ice, although there are similarities. Depending what you already have, it may mean acquiring or borrowing items like:

  • Ice tools suited for water ice
  • Crampons suited for front pointing
  • Stiff and warm boots
  • A good mix of gloves for belaying, leading, and swapping out.
  • Light but functional clothing suited for colder conditions and potentially running water along with the ice.
  • A variety of ice screws in different sizes
  • Avalanche Safety Gear (dependent on conditions and forecasts)

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.