Intensive Basic Alpine Climbing Course - Seattle - 2023

Climbing Course

Intensive Basic Alpine Climbing Course

An intensive, 9-day compressed version of the Basic Alpine Climbing Course.

Welcome to Intensive Basic!

Applications to Intensive Basic have closed.

Admission results have been emailed to applicants, and registration has opened for those admitted.   Please do not register for the course unless instructed to do so by the course leads.

If you did not apply for the program during the application period, any email inquiries to join will not receive a response.

About Intensive Basic

The Intensive Basic Climbing Course takes the same curriculum as the standard Basic Alpine Climbing Course and compresses it into 9 continuous, full days. It is designed for those interested in experiencing alpine climbing and learning fundamental mountain skills. This course works well for those who may not have the availability necessary for the 6 month standard Basic Alpine Climbing Course. It is also ideal for those seeking the benefits that a smaller course size provides: personalized instruction and camaraderie amongst a community of like-minded climbing enthusiasts. Many former students meet lifelong climbing partners and friends through the course.

The aim of Intensive Basic is to prepare participants who are already comfortable with hiking and backpacking to be competent followers on technical rock, snow, and glaciated terrain. To achieve this, we teach belaying, rappelling, rope handling, 5th class rock climbing, snow and glacier travel, as well as backcountry and snow camping. We also provide students with guidance on gear purchases and steps towards conditioning for the alpine climbing season.

The format of the course is a combination of lectures, Seattle-based workshops, and climbing trips to regional crags and Kulshan “Mount Baker” to put these skills into practice in the alpine. After completing the coursework, you will have the opportunity to participate in alpine climbs during the summer and early fall. Should you complete all of the graduation requirements, there is a graduation celebration in the fall.


Course Requirements


Traveling in alpine environments comes with inherent risk. Often times, we can mitigate those risks by moving quickly and efficiently through terrain. In order to participate in the course, you will be required to complete at least one timed conditioning hike with a member of the course leadership team before the first day of the course. This hike will be a benchmark, with the goal of reaching the top of Mt. Si (or equivalent) in under 2 hours, with a pack weighing at least 20% of your body weight or 25lbs, whichever is heavier.


In addition to the course fee, you may expect to spend at least $1000 on gear that is required for the course, if you do not already have rock climbing or glacier gear. If you aren’t sure what to get, don’t worry! We will provide many opportunities for you to talk with instructors and see what gear we use, in addition to providing information on used gear and other ways to reduce your gear costs.


You will be assigned chapters to read from Freedom of the Hills that you will need to complete before the first day of formal instruction. While it is not all of Freedom, it is a solid portion of it so please start it as soon as you receive your copy in your welcome package.


Climbing requires solid familiarity with a large selection of knots. As it takes more time than we have in the 9 course days to develop the muscle memory needed to efficiently and correctly tie and dress the required knots, we require that you learn and practice the knots used in the course before the first official day. You will be provided a small section of rope to practice with.


Leading up to the course, we will host practice nights at the Seattle Mountaineers Program Center. These will give you the opportunity to start working on skills before the start of the course itself. This is a great opportunity to practice knots as well! Additionally, you can attend any of the weekly skills nights that the standard Basic Alpine Climbing Course offers. Skills nights are optional but are highly recommended.

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate from Intensive Basic in the fall, you must satisfy the following requirements:

Additional Courses

Both the Wilderness First Aid and Navigation course fill up quickly and early in the year. We strongly encourage you to register for both courses now, well in advance of admission into the Intensive Basic. Keep in mind that both of these courses have their own associated costs.


It is important that our community serve as good stewards of our public lands. As such, all Basic Alpine climbing students are required to complete one full day of volunteer outdoor stewardship. Typical activities are trail work, habitat restoration, tree planting, or invasive species removal.  To find stewardship activities, check The Mountaineers web site at:


During the summer after the course, you will be expected to participate in at least two climbs: one alpine rock climb and one glacier climb. These serve as experience climbs for you to demonstrate your mastery of the course material. While only two climbs are required, we strongly encourage you to participate in as many climbs as you can.


What's Included

  • A welcome package with Freedom of the Hills, 9th Edition, a knot practice rope, and some extra goodies
  • Continental breakfasts and catered lunches provided each day we are at the Seattle Program Center
  • Snacks each day of the course, including on field trips
  • One night at the Mountaineers Baker Lodge, which includes breakfast and dinner


Intensive Basic and The Mountaineers are committed to making our courses accessible to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Scholarships are available for all Mountaineers courses and typically cover between 30%-70% of the course registration fee, based on need. Click here to learn more about scholarships, including how to apply.

Refund Policy

Full refund up to 30 days prior to the course start. 50% refund from then until 7 days prior to the course start. No refunds within 7 days prior to the start of the course.

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Course Materials
2023 IB Handbook.pdf