Snow Climb Conditioning Leader


Snow Climb Conditioning Leader

The Snow Climb Conditioning Leader is an extension of the Climb Conditioning Leader. This leader runs trips on snow in low-risk terrain with minimal avalanche concerns. The Snow Leader helps students with conditioning, learning to travel confidently in snow, and use of snow and glacier gear properly.

Scope - What does this badge allow me to do?

This is an entry level leadership role. Snow Climb Conditioning Leaders (Snow Leader) may be Basic Graduates who have displayed strong leadership skills and experience, or they may be more experienced climbers who prefer to lead frontcountry outings. This leader has displayed enough experience and leadership to take people on trips to snowy terrain and trails that are close to trailheads and cellular service.

Examples of the types of trips a Snow Leader runs might be a basic snow field trip at Paradise, or a winter snowshoe conditioner on Mailbox Peak. In addition to snow trips, the Snow Leader is approved to run hiking trips as a Climb Conditioning Leader.

Examples of the types of trips a Snow Leader is not qualified to run would be a climb of Mt. Baker or a winter scramble of Granite Mountain. These types of trips would not qualify as an appropriate outing due to their being more remote, alpine objectives with higher technical difficulties and more complex risk management strategies. Snow Leaders who are unsure of what kind of trip is appropriate should ask their climbing committee.


The Snow Climb Conditioning Leader is well versed in a variety of skills necessary to lead trips in a snow environment.

Technical Skills

Movement & Fitness: When moving in snowy terrain Snow Leaders are fluid and efficient both on foot and when appropriate, on snowshoes. They are able to carry loads up to 25lbs, while maintaining a steady pace for durations of up to four hours.

Terrain Identification & Management: is adept at identifying appropriate routes and terrain, as well as objective hazards. This includes downed trees, water hazards, and more. They are also aware of and manage environmental and weather hazards. Snow Leaders are skilled in using both digital and traditional navigational tools to move through terrain.  

Snow & Avalanche: the Snow Leader has completed a level 1 avalanche course and has experience moving through avalanche terrain. Snow Leaders can perform basic search and rescue with avalanche equipment. Snow Leaders do not go into Challenging and Complex avalanche terrain.

Rescue & Assistance: Snow Leaders have completed a wilderness first aid course (or better) and understand the concepts of basic wilderness medicine. They also plan and prepare for emergencies that could arise during a trip.

Leadership Skills

The Snow Leader is expected to be able to safely lead their party for the duration of the outing. To do this, they employ the following skills:

Communication: excel at communicating in a variety of ways. Snow 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 outings. They also understand and can demonstrate the skills needed to identify, communicate, and manage those risks. The Snow 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: The Snow Leader is able to plan and prepare for an outing, is responsive to the needs of the group, and creates a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone. Snow Leaders can keep a group moving efficiently and can stay attuned to the changing needs of the group. 

Trip Planning and Facilitation: are able to facilitate the full scope of a hike 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. The Snow Leader also understands what types of trips are appropriate for their leadership role, and only leads the types of trips permitted. 

Mentoring & Coaching: is able and willing to identify and mentor aspiring leaders. The Snow 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 Snow Climb Conditioning Leader, the candidate must have at a minimum the following field experience:

  • 1 year of mountain hiking and snow travel experience.
  • 3 leadership experiences on snow terrain*
    • At least 2 of these outings must have been done with The Mountaineers.

Prerequisites & Training

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

  • Avalanche Level 1
  • Outdoor Leadership (Any 2 hour session or better such as the leadership development series, leadership conference, Outdoor Leadership Seminar, etc.)
  • First Aid
  • Navigation
  • Foundations of Leadership eLearning Course

How do I get this badge?

How does a candidate apply for this leader role?

  • 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. 

*A leadership experience is any kind of trip this leader would normally run (field trips, conditioner hikes, crag rock climbs, snowshoe conditioner, etc.), but can also include backcountry experience such as rope leads on climbs. Leadership outings 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.