Climb Leader


Climb Leader

Climb Leaders can lead any type of alpine climb that is within their technical abilities. This leader can lead any type of climb available. This is the only leader that can run climbs involving any combination of significant rock, glacier, and snow travel. This includes the “Alpine Climb” trip type on the website.


Climb Leaders can lead any type of alpine climb that is within their technical abilities with novice and experienced climbers alike. The types of trip a climb leader runs may include technical travel on snow, glacier, ice (with endorsement) and rock, including substantial third and/or fourth class terrain or notable navigational challenges or travel hazards. 

The climb leader is the only leader that can lead basic climbing students on both rock and glacier routes. They are also the only leader that leads Basic Alpine type climbs, as defined on Because this leader is responsible for groups that may include novices in all types of terrain, this role has the most rigorous requirements of any climbing leadership position within The Mountaineers, and the Climb Leader serves as a mentor to aspiring leaders. The Climb Leader may lead all activities that are sponsored by their branch climbing committee.


The Climb Leader is well versed in a variety of skills necessary to lead trips in a range of complex terrain. Climb Leaders are proficient in all of the following skills:


Rock Movement: experienced in climbing on a variety of terrain and features, and displays fluid and efficient movement technique while rock climbing a grade of at least 5.6. Climb Leaders move efficiently and confidently on 3rd and 4th class terrain and are able to coach novices through this terrain. 

Snow Travel Movement: experienced in climbing on a variety of glacial terrain and features. Glacier Leaders display skill while travelling on a variety of snow surfaces, move efficiently and confidently on 3rd and 4th class terrain, and are able to coach novices through all of these types of terrain. 

Terrain Identification & Management: is adept at identifying appropriate routes and terrain, as well as objective hazards. This includes avalanche and third and fourth class terrain, terrain traps, rockfall, water hazards, and more. They are also aware of and manage environmental and weather hazards. Climb leaders are skilled in using both digital and traditional navigational tools to move through terrain.  

Rope Management, Knots & Hitches: displays adequate rope management skills. In third and fourth class terrain, Climb Leaders can employ fixed/hand lines, terrain belays, running belays, and/or manage as fifth class terrain. On glacier terrain, leaders can effectively manage ropes for glacier travel including the use of kiwi coils, efficient short-roping through rock terrain, and proper glacial travel setup. In rock terrain, leaders are efficient at transitions, and managing the rope through a variety of complex terrain and anchor systems. Climb leaders are able to take over rope and instruct rope management and knots to basic students who may struggle with these concepts. 

Protection Systems & Anchor Building: adept in selecting, placing, and evaluating a variety of protection types, including terrain itself, in a wide array of climbing environments. Climb Leaders understand the general principles behind an item’s construction and functionality and common mechanisms of failure. They also understand and use appropriate and modern belay techniques.

Avalanche: has completed a level 1 avalanche course and has spent time moving through avalanche terrain. Climb Leaders can perform basic search and rescue with avalanche equipment.

Rescue & Assistance: understands and can execute basic rescue techniques including small party rock and crevasse rescue using a variety of techniques. Climb leaders have completed a wilderness first aid course (or better) and understand the concepts of basic wilderness medicine.


Communication: excel at communicating in a variety of ways. Climb leaders convey information that is clear and relevant. They are attentive to questions and can deliver difficult information when needed. They understand the importance of keeping the group informed and the value of good communication. 

Risk Management: have an understanding of the risks involved in facilitating climbing outings. They also understand and can demonstrate the skills needed to identify, communicate, and manage those risks. The Climb Leader can create and adhere to emergency action plans, determine others risk tolerances and experience levels, and properly set expectations for an outing. 

Group Management & Leadership: are adept at many aspects of group management. The climb leader is skilled in planning and preparation, is responsive to the needs of the group, and creates a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone. Climb Leaders can keep a group moving efficiently and can stay attuned to the changing needs of the group. They are also skilled at managing rope leads (assistant leaders).

Trip Planning and Facilitation: are able to facilitate the full scope of a climbing outing, including creation, planning and preparation, execution of the outing, and any communications, debriefs, and reporting. 

Route Selection: understands their own abilities and that of the group, and selects routes based on that information.

Mentoring & Coaching: is able and willing to mentor aspiring leaders. The Climb Leader is also able and willing to coach novices through difficult situations and deliver feedback in a way that is positive and helpful.


To apply for Climb Leader, the candidate must have at a minimum the following field experience:

  • 2 years of alpine climbing experience.
  • 3 mentored leads with The Mountaineers
    • Must have at least 1 rock and 1 glacier 
    • Two of these must be basic climbs
    • Mentored leads cannot all be with the same leader or on the same routes
    • In rare cases, climbing committees may determine that exceptional candidates only complete 2 mentored leads.
  • 8 leadership experience climbs. *
    • Must have done 3 rock climbs and 3 glacier climbs in a leadership role (as a rope lead or other type of leader). 
    • At least 2 of these climbs must have been done with The Mountaineers.
    • Mentored leads count towards this number.


To apply for Climb Leader, the candidate must have the following training (Mountaineers or equivalent experience):

  • Single Pitch Trad Climbing
  • Multi Pitch Trad Climbing
  • Intermediate Glacier Climbing
  • Small Party Self Rescue
  • Outdoor Leadership
  • First Aid
  • Navigation
  • Level 1 Avalanche
  • "Foundations of Leadership" eLearning course


To become a Climb Leader,

  • Fill out the application for leadership

Apply Now

Applications will be reviewed by the branch climbing committee. Under special circumstances, applicants with equivalent experience from outside The Mountaineers who are not enrolled in the intermediate climbing course  may be considered if their skills and experience are extraordinary and the committee deems them ready for this leadership role. 

 Leadership experience climbs are defined as an outing in which the applicant was not a follower. For example, the applicant swung leads, lead a trip, or otherwise participated in a leadership role. These outings could be Mountaineers trips or private.