Glacier Climb Leader


Glacier Climb Leader

Glacier Climb Leaders can lead glacier climbs that are within their technical abilities and can include basic students and other novices in their groups. This leader cannot lead any climbs involving significant rock travel.

Scope - What does this badge allow me to do?

Glacier Climb Leaders can lead any type of glacier climb that is within their technical abilities with novice and experienced climbers alike. The types of trip a Glacier Climb Leader runs may include technical travel on glacier, with minimal third and/or fourth class terrain or notable navigational challenges or travel hazards. The Glacier Climb Leader may encounter some minimal rock travel without significant hazard. Leading novice and basic climbers on routes with 5th class rock or significant rock hazards requires a Rock Climb Leader designation. 

Because this leader is responsible for groups that may include novices, this role requires a significant amount of experience in the terrain in which they lead. The Glacier Climb Leader also serves as a mentor to aspiring leaders. The Glacier Climb Leader may also lead winter snow scrambles, snowshoe trips, and other frontcountry snow outings sponsored by their branch climbing committee. The Glacier Climb Leader does not operate in rock climbing terrain in the frontcountry or backcountry unless they have obtained the required leader designations for that terrain.


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

Technical Skills

Snow Travel Movement: experienced in climbing on a variety of glacial terrain and features. Glacier Climb Leaders display skill while traveling 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. Glacier 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. On glacier terrain, leaders can effectively manage ropes for glacier travel including the use of kiwi coils, efficient rope shortening through rock terrain, and proper glacial travel setup. In third and fourth class terrain, Glacier Climb Leaders can employ fixed/hand lines, terrain belays, and running belays. Glacier 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. Glacier 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. Glacier Climb Leaders can perform basic search and rescue with avalanche equipment.

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

Leadership Skills

Communication: excel at communicating in a variety of ways. Glacier 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 Glacier 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. Glacier 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 Glacier 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 Glacier Climb Leader, the candidate must have at a minimum the following field experience:

  • 2 years of glacier climbing experience.
  • 2 mentored glacier leads
    • Cannot all be with the same leader.
    • Must be of different routes
    • At least 1 mentored lead must be a basic climb
  • 5 leadership experience glacier climbs. *
    • At least 2 of these climbs must have been done with The Mountaineers.
    • Mentored leads count towards this number.

Requirements if candidate is already a Rock Climb Leader:

  • 2 years glacier climbing experience
  • 1 mentored glacier lead
    • Must be a basic climb
  • 3 leadership experience glacier climbs. *
    • At least one of these climbs must have been done with The Mountaineers.
    • Mentored leads count towards this number.

Adding a Glacier Climb Leader designation to the Rock Climb Leader will grant the applicant full Climb Leader status.

Prerequisites & Training

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

  • Intermediate Glacier Climbing
  • Level 1 Avalanche
  • Outdoor Leadership Seminar
  • First Aid
  • Navigation
  • "Foundations of Leadership" eLearning Course

How do I get this badge?

To become a Glacier 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.