Introduction to Alpine Rock - Seattle - 2022

Climbing Course

Introduction to Alpine Rock

This course prepares you to participate safely as a follower on basic rock climbs that reach alpine summits in the Pacific Northwest.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.

The window to submit an application for the 2022 course will be from January 5th to February 20tH

Update: The application window is now closed.  We are reviewing the applications we have received, and will email the results soon. 

If you are familiar with other Mountaineers courses, this course is effectively just the rock component of the larger Basic Alpine Climbing course.  It's useful for students who want to participate on Basic Rock climbs, but do not wish to take the entire Basic Alpine Climbing course to do so, as they either do not currently have an interest in glacier travel, or, they already have glacier-travel experience and don't want to repeat that portion of the larger Basic course.  Either way, you are welcome here!


(For more detail, click here.)

  • For 2022, we'll be requiring everyone to have had a COVID vaccine, so be prepared to show an image of your vaccine card
  • Experience moving through scramble terrain*.  (Applicants need to either be a graduate from the Mountaineers Scramble course, or have equivalent experience.)
  • Basic Ice Axe & Crampon* experience on sloped snow
  • At least some top-rope belay experience (i.e. a belay card from any indoor climbing gym)
  • An adequate level of physical fitness for mountaineering.  Alpine climbs often mean 12 hour days, 30lb packs, and ~4000'+ elevation gain.  Later in the course, there will be a fitness test, which requires going up the Mt Si trail (from parking lot to treeline) in under 2 hours while carrying a pack that's  20% of your body weight.

* If you don't yet have experience with scramble terrain and basic ice axe & crampon usage, you would be better served by the Mountaineers Scramble Course.

Application Process

  • Applications can be submitted between January 5th and February 20th.  Please use this link to apply.   The order that applications are received will not matter.
  • After February 20th, we'll review the submissions, and rank them based on their content.  This may take a week or two, and we hope to be able to share results via email by March 6th.   Since we only have capacity for 16 students, the 16 applicants that are the best fit will be offered spots in the course first.   The remaining well-qualified applicants will be placed on a waitlist, or if we feel an improvement is necessary in order for you to be ready for the course, we'll try to send you an email with the suggested improvement and encourage you to apply again in a future year.  For better or for worse, it looks like the number and quality of applicants we'll receive are both quite high, and it's likely we'll end up in the difficult position of having to turn away some well-qualified applicants.
  • After the application review, if you are accepted (we'll let you know by email,) only then do you return to this page and go ahead and register as a student, which will charge you the course fee at that time.
    • (In the unlikely event that we accept someone, notify them, and then don't hear back from them at all for over a week, we'll give the next person down the waitlist the option to take that student spot instead.  Don't worry, we'll try more than once to reach you.  Or if you know you'll be traveling/offline around late February & early March, send us an email heads up about that so we know to expect a longer response time from you.)
  • Course activities will start in April.

Skills taught in this course:

  • Discussion of gear appropriate for alpine climbing.
  • Some basic knots relevant to climbing, especially rope coiling
  • A brief review of belay skills, how to belay a lead climber
  • A backup technique for belaying if you've lost your belay device
  • Belay escape.  (A skill that's an element of self rescue, although complete rescue skills are beyond the scope of this course.)
  • Rappelling  (how to setup an extended rappel, and how to maximize safety)
  • A backup technique for rappelling if you've lost your belay device
  • Cleaning trad gear  (i.e. how to remove trad gear from the rock)
  • The multipitch sequence, and multipitch transitions 


Sometimes more clarity can be gained by explaining what a thing is not.  If you'd prefer that level of detail, click here.

Time Commitment

(For more detail, click here)

  • A few additional supporting courses/activities are required:
    • Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification.  (A 16-hour weekend course.  Separate sign up.)
    • Low Impact Recreation course (a 1-hour online course)
    • One day of a Stewardship activity
  • Ongoing self-driven physical conditioning is strongly recommended
    • doing something to gain at least 2000' at least once every week is strongly recommended as a minimum bar to build & maintain fitness
    • We gently recommend climbing at an indoor climbing gym once a week or so.  It's not required per se, but it will likely increase your enjoyment of the course.
  • The core instructional content of the course (during April & May)
    • 5 weekday-evenings
    • 2 full-days on different weekends
  • At least one actual alpine rock climb during summer 2022 (may require a couple of summer weekends)
    • Optional extras:
      • An evening meet & greet and gear-talk before the core course happens
      • Possibly extra & optional skill-practice evenings
      • Possibly extra & optional conditioning hikes

    Monetary Commitment:

    • The course fee (scroll to the top of this page)
    • There is a gear list of things students need to bring.  Depending on how much of the appropriate gear you already own, you may have to spend anywhere from a couple hundred to up to a thousand dollars buying the necessary gear for yourself.
    • Unless you're already WFA (or WFR) certified, you'll need to take a WFA course.  For example, RMI offers them for $275


    The Mountaineers is committed to making our courses accessible to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Our courses are priced to cover our costs, but we know that costs add up quickly, especially when students also need to purchase gear.  We encourage students to apply for our scholarship program, which is funded by generous donors to make courses more accessible. Applications may take up to 2 weeks to process and Financial Assistance can not be applied to courses or activities already registered for. You can learn more about and apply for a scholarship

    Requirements to graduate:

    • To qualify to graduate from Intro to Alpine Rock, you'll also need to complete a few supporting courses/acivities:
      • Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification.  (a 16 hour weekend course that you must sign up for separately)
      • Low-Impact Recreation course (an online course)
      • Spend one day doing an activity that represents Stewardship of the wilderness.  Participating in a WTA Trail Work Party is the most popular option.
    • Instructional component:
      • Attendance at all the core instructional activities of the course (the 5 weekday evenings, 2 full days on weekends)
      • Some of the later instructional activities will include pass/fail evaluations of skills taught earlier.  Must pass all evaluations to continue.
    • Fitness component:
      • Before you can sign up for climbs, you need to pass a fitness test, which requires going up the Mt Si trail (from parking lot to treeline) in under 2 hours while carrying a pack that's  20% of your body weight.
    • Completion of one successfully-summitting Basic Rock climb with the Mountaineers club during summer 2022

    See also, this FAQ for the larger "Basic Alpine Climbing" course.  Nearly all of it is the same for this "Intro to Alpine Rock" course.

    What is a Basic Rock climb?

    A "Basic Rock" climb is shorthand the Mountaineers use for trip categorization.   To learn what we really mean by that, click here.

    If you have any questions about the course or want to talk about ways to meet the prerequisites, please email Rob & Jessica.  Click on our pictures over in the right-hand column 👉 to get our email addresses.

    Course Requirements

    This course has no scheduled activities.

    Required Equipment

    👉 Here's the Gear List document. 👈

    In that gear list document, the left column on the first page are the hard-requirements for the course. You definitely need to bring everything listed under "Technical Gear for Rock Climbing" to every workshop in the course.  Also bring the 10 Essentials.

    In that gear list document, the right column on the first page lists things that may be required for the Basic Rock alpine climbs we'll eventually go on.  It's a good idea to own that stuff, know how to use it, and be ready to go with it in case you get on a climb that requires it.

    Only the first page lists the required gear.  All pages of that document beyond the first one just go into detail about what that gear means, with some suggestions and recommendations on what to look for, in case it's helpful.

    Course Materials

    You must register for this course to see course materials.