Sport Climb Leader


Sport Climb Leader

The Sport Climb Leader runs single pitch sport climbing trips. They must be able to lead and manage all aspects of the sport climbing crag experience, including anchor setup and cleaning, rope management, rappels, belaying, and an ability to manage groups with little to no experience in a sport climbing setting.

Scope - What does this badge allow me to do?

The Sport Climb Leader leads climbing trips in a bolted single-pitch setting that are sponsored by their climbing committee. Sport Climb Leaders may lead to establish top-rope routes, but they do not teach others to lead. This leader has displayed enough experience and leadership to take people on trips to sport climbing areas that are close to trailheads and cellular service.

Examples of the types of trips a Sport Climb Leader runs might be a day of cragging at Vantage or Exit 38. In addition to sport climbing trips, the Sport Climb Leader is approved to run trips as a Conditioning Hike Leader.

Examples of the types of trips a Sport Climb Leader is not qualified to run would be a climb of Prime Rib on the Goat Wall or Infinite Bliss on Mt. Garfield. These types of trips would not qualify as an appropriate outing due to their being more remote, and/or multi-pitch objectives with higher technical difficulties and more complex risk management strategies. Sport Climb Leaders who are unsure of what kind of trip is appropriate should ask their climbing committee.

This is an entry level leadership role. Sport Climb Leaders 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.


The Sport Climb Leader is well versed in a variety of skills necessary to lead trips in a sport climbing environment.

Technical Skills

Rock: experienced in climbing on a variety of terrain and features, and displays fluid and efficient movement technique while sport rock leading at a grade of at least 5.6. 

Terrain Identification & Management: is adept at identifying appropriate routes and terrain, as well as objective hazards. This includes overhead hazards, rockfall, water hazards, and more. They are also aware of and manage environmental and weather hazards. Sport 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 rock terrain, leaders can effectively manage rope systems and explain them to students. Sport Climb Leaders are able to take over 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 the terrain in which they are qualified. Sport 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.

Rescue & Assistance: Sport Climb 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 Sport Climb 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. Sport 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 outings. They also understand and can demonstrate the skills needed to identify, communicate, and manage those risks. The Sport 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: The Sport Climb 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. Sport Climb 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 Sport Climb 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 Sport 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 Sport Climb Leader, the candidate must have at a minimum the following field experience:

  • 1 year outdoor sport climbing experience (leading).
  • 1 mentored sport climb trip *
  • 5 leadership experiences in a climbing role**
    • At least 2 of these outings must have been done with The Mountaineers (mentored leads count towards this number)

Prerequisites & Training

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

  • Single-Pitch Sport Climbing/Leading on Bolts
  • Outdoor Leadership (Any 2 hour session or better such as the leadership development series, leadership conference, Outdoor Leadership Seminar, etc.)
  • First Aid
  • "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. 

*  Mentored climbs for the Sport Leader could be an assistant lead during a field trip where the applicant lead a station or area, a full lead of the trip, or an assistant lead in the backcountry as a rope lead. 
** 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.