Trad Climb Leader


Trad Climb Leader

The leader runs single pitch traditional climbing trips. They must be able to lead and manage all aspects of the trad climbing crag experience, including the use of gear anchors and cleaning, rope management, rappels, belaying, use of traditional protection systems, and an ability to manage groups with little to no experience in a trad climbing setting.

Scope - What does this badge allow me to do?

The Trad Climb Leader runs climbing trips in a traditional single-pitch setting that are sponsored by their climbing committee. Trad 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 trad climbing areas that are close to trailheads and cellular service.

Examples of the types of trips a Trad Climb Leader runs might be a day of cragging at the Royal Columns in Tieton or the Smoke Bluffs in Squamish. In addition to single-pitch trad climbing trips, the Trad Climb Leader is approved to run trips trips as a Conditioning Hike Leader as well as Sport Climb Leader.

Examples of the types of trips a Trad Climb Leader is not qualified to run would be a climb of R&D in Leavenworth or The South Face of The Tooth. 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. Trad Climb Leaders who are unsure of what kind of trip is appropriate should ask their climbing committee.

This is an entry level leadership role. Trad 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 Trad Climb Leader is well versed in a variety of skills necessary to lead trips in a trad climbing environment.

Technical Skills

Rock: experienced in climbing on a variety of terrain and features, and displays fluid and efficient movement technique while trad rock leading at a grade of at least 5.5. 

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. Trad 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. Trad 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 traditional climbing protection and terrain itself, in the terrain in which they are qualified. Trad 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: Trad 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 Trad 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. Trad 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 Trad 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 Trad 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. Trad 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 Trad 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 Trad 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 Trad Climb Leader, the candidate must have at a minimum the following field experience:

  • 1 year of outdoor trad climbing experience (leading).
  • 1 mentored trad 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 Trad Climb Leader, the candidate must have the following training (Mountaineers or equivalent experience) :

  • Single-Pitch Trad Climbing
  • 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 Trad 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.