Tacoma Climbing Subcommittee -  Intermediate Climbing

Tacoma Climbing Subcommittee - Intermediate Climbing

The Tacoma Branch offers an Intermediate Alpine Climbing Program, enabling students to develop the skills to lead multi-pitch trad rock routes, steep snow and alpine ice.

The Tacoma Intermediate Climbing Program consist of a series of modules which help students to progressively develop and solidify skills for leading  alpine routes at the Intermediate level (trad rock routes at 5.6/5.7 and/or 55-degree snow/ice). In addition to technical skills, students will develop leadership, self-assessment and safety awareness skills, which will enable them to lead basic level climbs and participate on intermediate level climbs.  

Intermediate skills can be used on thousands of routes in the Cascades, Sierras, Tetons, Canadian Rockies and other ranges around the world. The course provides a good foundation for continuing education to more advanced skills, such as leading long multi-pitch alpine rock routes, waterfall ice,  mixed,  and aid climbing.

Additional course requirements can include successful completion of Level 1 AIARE avalanche training and the Leadership seminar.


To enter the program students are expected to:

  • Have graduated from the basic course or gained equivalency.
  • Have met a minimum experience requirement (2 successful climbs with one being a basic rock or basic glacier climb, and have at least attempted a third climb or have extensive rock leading experience). Scrambles and alpine climbs do count towards experience, the more climbs/experience the better.
  • Are very comfortable scrambling on 3rd and 4th class terrain.
  • Have a current navigation and WFA or equivalent badge.
  • Have participated in volunteer activities with the The Mountaineers or other non-profit organizations.
  • Give back to the community by teaching at activities or leading trips.
  • Must pass a two-day qualifier test that evaluates basic climbing skills/knowledge and a paced conditioner hike. 


The Tacoma Intermediate Program consists of five modules, which are split into two different courses. One is the Glacier\Alpine Ice course and the other Rock\Self Rescue. Each course has its own cost, prerequisites, pass criteria, and graduation requirements. Below is a description of each module, however more information on the modules and Tacoma Intermediate Program can be found here, in the Tacoma Intermediate Alpine Climb Handbook.

  • Intermediate Snow Skills Module (Soft Snow)

    The Intermediate Snow Skills module builds on a student’s knowledge of Basic Climbing Course skills, and teaches them to be competent rope leads on a Basic Glacier climbs. It also provides the foundation for the Intermediate Glacier Travel Module. Topics covered include: camping in emergency snow shelters, snow/glacier travel, snow anchors, snow belays, basic hauling systems, and introduces 2-person glacier travel and 6:1 hauling systems. 

  • Intermediate Anchors and Self-Rescue

    The Intermediate Anchors & Self-Rescue module teaches the basics of anchor building and equalization (not including placing protection), rescuing a follower (with only one rescuer), various rappel techniques (saddle bags and tandem rappels), and a refresher on crag lead-climbing with bolted protection. It prepares students for the Intermediate Rock, Glacier Travel, and Alpine Ice modules.

  • Intermediate Rock – Traditional Single and Multi-Pitch Climbing

    The Intermediate Rock module teaches fundamental trad climbing skills. It starts in a single pitch setting where students practice placing protection and leading on gear, and then progresses to building gear anchors and swinging leads in a multi-pitch setting. This module prepares students to be rope leaders on Basic-level rock climbs and partners on Intermediate-level rock climbs.

  • Intermediate Glacier Travel Module

    Intermediate Glacier Travel module teaches the fundamentals of climbing on 40-70 degree hard snow and alpine ice. Topics include ascending and descending hard-snow routes, building and equalizing snow anchors, and two-person glacier travel and rescue techniques. This module prepares students to be Basic Glacier climb leaders and provides a foundation for the Intermediate Alpine Ice module.

  • Intermediate Alpine Ice Module

    The Intermediate Alpine Ice Module teaches the fundamentals of alpine ice climbing. Topics include building ice anchors, ascending descending ice route, and swapping leads on 40-70 degree alpine ice. This module prepares students to be partners on Intermediate alpine ice climbs.


Intermediate Equivalency is handled on an informal basis by the Intermediate Committee. If you are interested in gaining Intermediate Equivalency please send a detailed climbing resume to the Intermediate Climbing Chairs.

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