Basic Climbing Course - Tacoma - 2021

Climbing Course

Basic Climbing Course

Basic Climbing Course - Tacoma - 2021

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.


Registration is currently only open to Tacoma 2020 Basic Course Students. Due to the 2020 course cancellation due to COVID-19, Tacoma 2020 Tacoma Basic Students ONLY can sign up.

Application for 2021 will open on Oct. 31st.  You will be notified by the end of November if you are accepted into the 2021 climbing course. This year due to COVID 19 we will be limiting our course enrollment to 24 students. 


The Tacoma Basic Climbing Committee is committed to building and fostering a representative climbing community that reflects the spaces in which we live and recreate. We recognize that outdoor recreation has historically excluded communities of color, women, and LGBTQ people. Hence, we strongly encourage applications from people with these identities or who are members of other underrepresented communities. 

Applications will be required with rolling interviews and admissions based on space. Leader permission is required for registration. 


The Tacoma Basic Climbing Course combines classroom lecture, field instruction and climbing experience designed to provide the basic skills necessary to safely climb rock, snow and the glaciated peaks of the Pacific Northwest.  The course is set up to be completed in roughly eight months and covers selection and care of equipment, wilderness travel and camping, glacier travel, belaying, rappelling, rock climbing, crevasse rescue, and many other topics.  During field trips and actual climbs the student will put these skills to practical use with experienced mountaineers.  Previous experience in off-trail hiking and camping is helpful but not mandatory.  Participants should have a desire to learn technical mountaineering skills and be aware that this course requires a significant investment in time, energy, and money. Solid overall physical conditioning, good cardiovascular strength and psychological commitment are needed as the participants will experience travel in difficult terrain with vertical exposure while carrying a heavy pack in all types of weather conditions.  While the course is challenging and demanding the skills acquired provide the participants opportunities to meet lifelong climbing partners and gain the skills to safely enjoy mountains environments for a lifetime.

The course fee does not include the cost of membership, text for the course, personal gear and equipment, Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Navigation course.

 VIRTUAL Classroom Session Schedule:

7 pm start time, video call

1.  CS 1: Course Introduction, Clothing/Equipment, Safety & Roped Climbing Overview - 1/13/2021

2. CS 2: Nutrition & Conditioning - 2/10/2021

3. CS 3:Snow Travel, Snow Camping, Crevasse Rescue Intro - 3/3/2021

4. CS 4: Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue, Weather - 3/10/2021

5. CS 5: Decision Making, Group Dynamics, and Climbing Classification- 3/31/2021

6. CS 6:  Leader Halo, Signing up for Climbs, Leave No Trace - 4/7/2021

Field Trip Schedule:

1. FT 1: Gear Review and Construction, Knots, Prusiking

1/23 OR 1/24 (half-day sessions available AM & PM both days), Tacoma clubhouse

2. FT 2: Test: 10 E's. Practice: Knots, Crevasse Rescue, Prusiking, Anchors.

1/30 OR 1/31 (half-day sessions available AM & PM both days), Tacoma clubhouse

3. FT 3: Test: Prusiking, Knots, Kiwi Coil. Practice: Roped Glacier Travel, Crevasse Rescue.

2/27 OR 2/28 (half-day sessions available AM & PM both days), Tacoma clubhouse

4. FT 4: Practice: Snow Anchors, Crevasse Rescue, Ice Axe Arrest

3/6 OR 3/7 (only attend one day)

Time and location TBD (will be offsite, in the field practice - i.e. Paradise, Baker, etc.)

5. FT 5: Winter Overnight. Test: Crevasse Rescue, Carabiner Ice Axe Belay, Self-Arrest. Practice: Snow Camping, Nutrition, Alpine Start, Roped Glacier Travel, Snow Shelters

3/20 AND 3/21 (All day/both days), Overnight Snow Camping

8 AM, Meet at Mt Baker Overflow/Backcountry Parking (or TBA)

6. FT 6:  Practice & Demo: Anchors, Belay, Belay Escape, Rappelling

4/10 OR 4/11 (half-day sessions available AM & PM both days), Tacoma clubhouse

7. FT 7:  Practice: Belay, Belay Escape, Rappelling, Rock Climbing Technique

4/24 OR 4/25 (half-day sessions available AM & PM both days), Tacoma clubhouse

8. FT 8: Test: Lead Belay, Belay Escape. Practice: Rappelling, Rock Climbing Technique.

5/8 OR 5/9 (half-day sessions available AM & PM both days), Tacoma clubhouse

9. FT 9: Test: Rappelling, Climbing Techniques. Practice: Cleaning Pro, Trad Anchor Set-Up, Rappel Anchor Set-up.

5/14 OR 5/15 OR 5/16 (attend only one day)

Time and location TBD (will be offsite, in the field practice - i.e. Leavenworth, Vantage, etc.)

Graduation Requirements

  • Attend all lectures and field trips 
  • Satisfactorily complete all field trips and critical skills test
  • Satisfactorily complete one conditioner (Mt. Si or similar) in under 2 hours or 2 conditioners in under 2.5 hours
  • Satisfactorily complete three Basic Climbs, including one Rock and one Glacier climb
  • Successfully complete the Navigation course
  • Participate in one day's conservation activity/trail maintenance offered by the Mountaineers or another recognized organization or agency
  • Hold a current Wilderness First Aid (WFA) card by the date of graduation (MOFA not accepted)
  • Apply for graduation as described in the course manual
  • Current Mountaineer membership
  • Participants who do not finish course material in year 1 and wish to finish the course in a 2nd year can pay a small, administrative fee, and must pass a skills qualifier for placement in the course (repeat lectures and/or field trips may be required) 
Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Mentor Night (optional)
Tacoma Program Center
Wed, Feb 24, 2021
Registration closes Feb 22
41 participants
13 instructors
Tacoma Program Center
Wed, Mar 17, 2021
Registration closes Mar 15
43 participants
13 instructors
Tacoma Program Center
Wed, Apr 21, 2021
Registration closes Apr 19
44 participants
14 instructors
Required Equipment

Required Equipment:
One Double Sling  (1” tubular webbing)
 Two Singles Sling  (1” tubular webbing)
 One Short Sling(1” tubular webbing)
 Personal anchor  (1” tubular webbing)
 Chest harness  (1” tubular webbing)
 Two Tie-off  slings (5mm perlon)
 Pack sling  (5 mm perlon)
 Auto block (5 mm perlon)
Texas Prusiks (5 mm perlon)
Seat harness
4 Oval carabiners
5 Standard carabiners (may be solid or wire gate)
4 Medium Locking carabiners (in addition to pear)
1 Large locking pear-shaped carabiner
Belay gloves
Ten Essential Systems (including map)
Pack (50-65 liter)
Mountaineering boots
Sturdy boots/shoes
Approved belay device
Climbing helmet
Chock pick
Ice axe with leash (cover adze w/ duct tape)
Rescue pulley
Tent for 2-3 (3 or 4 season w/ snow stakes)
Snow shovel
Sleeping bag (warm to 30ºF or less, check weather)
Sleeping pad
Stove, fuel, & pot
Aluminum picket, 24” in length
Personal items (utensils, cup, hand warmers)
10 or 12-point crampons (check fit on YOUR boots)
Appropriate clothing layers (check the weather)
Blue Bag System

Course Materials