Become a Climb Leader - Seattle Branch

Learn how to become a climb leader with Seattle Climbing.

Purposes of leaders

Climb leaders serve several purposes on trips. The number one responsibility of leaders on all trips is to maintain safety of the group and others around them. Leading climbs and field trips is a tremendously rewarding experience and an excellent way to volunteer and give back to the Mountaineers. Even with experienced participants and especially with new students, it is a great opportunity for teaching. Finally, climb leaders are responsible for representing the Mountaineers in the outdoors.

The leadership experience

Leading trips has a variety of experiences. It all starts with planning and communicating with participants and then progresses to the trip itself. Many trips go as planned, but leaders should always be aware of surprises and unexpected events. It’s very rewarding to help a whole group reach a shared goal and orchestrate everyone to work together to do so.

However, trip planning is not to be overlooked. It takes a large amount of time but is crucial for the success of the trip. It’s also tough to be a leader when things don’t go as hoped, and you have to take charge of the situation. Putting safety first is paramount, but it may yield disappointment in others, so it’s important to help everyone understand how decisions are being made.

Types of climb leaders

The Seattle branch has two types of climb leader: a front-country leader and a regular climb leader. A front-country leader can do the following:

  • Lead conditioning hikes and snowshoe trips for the climbing committee (open to climbing students only)
  • Set up top-rope cragging
  • Run rock and snow field trips for the Mountaineers courses

A regular climb leader can additionally lead trips into the backcountry, including climbs. This requires a full set of skills, including rock and glacier.

Application requirements

All climb leader applicants must be members of the Mountaineers and must have currency in first aid (MOFA, WFA, WFR, WEMT, or equivalent).

Front-country leaders

Applicants must fill out this application form.

They will need to provide:

  • information about their education and experience in:
    • conditioning hikes
    • top rope setups
    • snow skills (including AIARE Level 1)
  • references of others who have observed the applicant.

 

When the application is submitted, the leadership committee will evaluate the application and will also reach out to references for any feedback. A summary of this feedback is shared with the applicant at the end of the process.

 

Successful applicants tend to have a wide variety of experiences and skills, along with positive feedback from their references.

Regular climb leaders

Applicants must fill out this application form.

They will need to provide similar information as front-country leaders, along with a climbing resume.

Applicants must have:

  • A minimum of 3 mentored leads of successful summits.
  • The mentored leads must be a combination of glacier and rock climbs
  • The mentor cannot be the same for all of them.

Exceptional circumstances will be considered.

Education and experience with rescue techniques are highly recommended.

 

When the application is submitted, the leadership committee will evaluate the application and will typically have a brief phone conversation with the applicant. After that, the committee, will reach out to mentors on mentored climbs, the climb leader community at large and all participants of the mentored climbs, asking for feedback. A summary of this feedback is shared with the applicant at the end of the process.

 

Successful applicants tend to have a very solid skillset and years of experience, with strong teaching and interpersonal skills, along with multiple mentored climbs. They also tend to have at least one experience where things didn’t go as planned. Successful applicants also have very positive feedback from references, climb leaders at large and participants of their trips.

Maintaining climb leadership

Climb leaders must remain active and must be up to date on current climbing techniques and instruction. Leaders must lead a trip at least every 3 years to maintain their status as climb leader. Exceptional circumstances will be considered.

Climb leader reinstatement

If a climb leader is inactive for more than 3 years and has been removed from the climb leader roster, they can apply to be reinstated. This is a similar (but lighter-weight) process as the initial application.

Applicants will need to do at least one mentored (refresher) climb with an active climb leader and a regular set of participants. When they feel ready, applicants can email seattle-mountaineers-climbing-leadership-committee@googlegroups.com.

The leadership committee will talk with applicants and will seek feedback from references, other climb leaders, and participants.