Intermediate Alpine Climbing

Intermediate Alpine Climbing

Learn the techniques necessary to lead climb the rock, snow, or ice typically found in the Cascade and Olympic mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Intermediate Alpine Climbing consists of a series of modules that combined teach the skills to lead climb the rock, snow, or ice typically found in the Cascade and Olympic mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In addition to climbing techniques, the course emphasizes leadership, safety, and climbing instruction. Course graduates will have the knowledge and skills to organize and lead basic-level climbs and to participate in intermediate-level alpine, rock, and ice climbs. These course modules are a good next step for those who have completed the basic climbing program and have gotten additional climbing and scrambling experience in addition to the basic climbing courses 2 required climbs. The Intermediate Climbing Course is also offered by the Everett, Foothills, Kitsap, Olympia, and Tacoma branches of The Mountaineers. Many intermediate students go on to successfully become climb leaders with The Mountaineers.

The Seattle intermediate program modules allow students to go at their own pace and focus on the type of climbing they are passionate about.  In addition, this also allows for new entry points for students who already have some of the skills the intermediate course used to cover so they can jump right in wherever they are rather than having to re-learn skills they already possess.

The modules are a great way to focus your efforts on a more specific set of skills. For example, if you want to focus on doing more glacier and steep snow and ice consider taking Self Rescue I, Winter Mountaineering, and Intro to Alpine Ice. Or if you are more interested in rock consider taking Self Rescue I, Single Pitch Trad, Multi Pitch Trad, and Self Rescue II.

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  • Winter Mountaineering & Advanced Crevasse Rescue (WMCR) (aka Intermediate Glacier Travel) includes winter mountaineering skills, trip planning, moving efficiently on moderate to steep terrain, advanced crevasse rescue techniques, group glacier travel techniques, and leadership
  • Self Rescue I, focuses on the fallen follower scenario including escaping a loaded autolocking device, and counterbalance rappel to a tandem rappel.
  • Single Pitch Trad Climbing teaches gear placement and gear spacing techniques and crack climbing in a single pitch environment.
    • Multi Pitch Trad Climbing teaches leading on the gear in a multi-pitch setting including efficient transitions, gear anchors, multi pitch rappel considerations, etc.
    • Intro to Alpine Ice Climbing teaches techniques for leading on alpine ice on moderate terrain (Grade II, up to 45 degrees)
      • Self Rescue II cements the skills of the first rescue module and adds the fallen leader scenario

    2022-11-01 10_02_18-2018-intermediate-alpine-climbing-handbook and 7 more pages - Work - Microsoft​ .jpg
    In addition to the lectures, practice sessions, and field trips, students will need to participate in Mountaineers-sponsored climbs both at the basic and intermediate levels in order to graduate from the intermediate climbing course package. 


    Each module has specific prerequisites. In general, these include:

    • Membership in The Mountaineers,
    • All prerequisite skills specific to each module including those taught at The Mountaineers' Basic Alpine Climbing Course or equivalent experience,
    • Wilderness First Aid or equivalent,
    • Wilderness Navigation or equivalent,
    • Scrambling and climbing experience (more with more than 2 in each category, glacier, and scrambling, at the basic level),
    • Ability to lead 5.7 on bolts outdoors or gym lead and lead belay card (rock modules only),
    • Ability to clean a sport anchor (rock modules only),
    • Ability to hike Mount Si to the bottom of the haystack in under 2 hours or Mailbox Peak in under 2.5 hours with a 35 lbs. pack (30 lbs. for people weighing less than 130 lbs.)
    • A number of volunteer instructor hours with a qualifying  Mountaineers' module or course. This is instrumental to the learning experience of the student as well as our success as a volunteer organization. 

    Winter Mountaineering & Advanced Crevasse Rescue (WMCR)
    Pre-reqs: Basic Climbing Course or Basic Glacier Course or Equivalency (you got to understand one form of crevasse rescue and how to ascend up a rope)

    Single Pitch Trad

    Pre-reqs: leading on bolts outside at 5.7 or indoors at the gym (have gym lead card) usually means you are climbing at 5.9 inside

    Multi Pitch Trad

    Pre-reqs: Single Pitch trad course or similar previous experience

    Alpine Ice
    Pre-reqs: you should have glacier travel/steep snow experience and have swapped leads on a multi pitch climb of some sort. We have mostly only been offering this class to folks who want to be fully involved with our intermediate program so pre-reqs have been volunteering with our climbing programs. 

    Self Rescue I

    Pre-reqs: you should be familiar with a full belay escape and lower and ideally you should have multi pitch trad experience since the scenarios are related to rescuing a climber on a multi pitch rock climb

    Self Rescue II

    Pre-reqs: Self Rescue I, or a full understanding of rescuing a follower on a multi pitch climb which involves lowering, counter balance rappel, and tandem rappel. 

    To be successful with multiple modules we recommend that students have a fairly extensive level of experience in hiking, backpacking, scrambling, and basic climbing. 

    Here are some guidelines for what is expected:
    • Very comfortable scrambling skills on class 3 and 4 terrains with exposure.
    • At least one (better two) full season(s) of basic climbs or scrambles with at least ten scrambles or climbs including several glaciers, rock, and alpine climbs. The more the better.
    • Regular leading in the gym (requires gym lead certification which is usually tested on a 5.9 route), plus comfortable leading on bolts outdoors on 5.7 routes or harder.

    Intermediate Graduation

    The following requirements must be met to graduate from the full Intermediate Alpine Climbing Course:

    • Attend in a safe and competent manner all Intermediate Modules, including lectures and field trips. 
    • Graduate from all modules (or marked as successful for relevant field trips if taken the course pre-modules)
    • Complete AIARE Level I Avalanche training
    • Complete all volunteer requirements. This includes volunteering for 6 events for Seattle climbing, and one volunteer instructor day for each module taken. And then volunteering once a year while completing the rest of the requirements once the curriculum is complete. We recommend volunteering for basic level field trips.
    • Complete six (6) basic climbs as a rope leader or climb leader in a safe and competent manner, including at least three (3) rock and two (2) glacier climbs. Each climb must be of a separate and distinct route. 
    • Complete five (5) intermediate climbs in a safe and competent manner, including at least two (2) alpine ice and two (2) alpine rock climbs. Each climb must be posted on the Mountaineers website before the event takes place, the student must have been registered for the climb and each climb must be a separate and distinct route. 
    • Have current Wilderness First Aid certification or higher when applying for graduation, maintaining WFA is highly encouraged. 

    In order to submit a complete application for graduation, students need to maintain a detailed record of their climbing activities as a student.

    Continuing Students: There will be no changes in graduation requirements for students already enrolled in the Intermediate Course as of 2017. The new course structure mirrors that of the Intermediate Course closely enough that students may substitute required intermediate field trips with the corresponding new modules. This typically applies to the Winter Mountaineering and Rescue Methods (now Self Rescue I and II) field trips.
    If you were previously involved in the intermediate program before modularization and are missing badges, please email

    If you have completed your rope lead requirements, volunteering with the basic program and all the modules please email to apply for graduation from the full intermediate program.