Climbing Leadership Structure

Learn about our climbing leadership structure and how to become a leader for our climbing program.

Climbing Leadership Structure

In October 2019, the Climbing Summit group adopted a new climbing leadership structure. Developed by the Climbing Leadership Development Committee with volunteers from each of our branches, it provides modular progression of leadership levels that is designed to meet many of the needs of our growing climbing community. This page will provide you with detailed information on the structure and each leadership role. 

 

  • Frontcountry and Backcountry Leader roles may be pursued simultaneously.
  • Rock and Glacier tracks may be pursued simultaneously.

 

Overview of Leadership Types

Frontcountry Leaders

Frontcountry is meant to encompass trips that are closer to trailheads, generally have a lower risk than backcountry terrain, and have relatively close access to cell phone usage and emergency services. Frontcountry leaders or those who are unsure if a specific trip and location is considered frontcountry should ask their branch climbing committee for clarification.

Conditioning Hike Leader

Level: Low barrier; entry level leadership role

Scope: The leader will take students onto trails and non-technical terrain no more than a few hours from the car. This role is similar to a hike leader in a frontcountry setting.  This role leads conditioning hikes sponsored by their branch climbing committee for climbing students only as a part of climbing courses. It is meant to help students train for climbing and allow less experienced leaders to work towards other leadership roles. All other froncountry leader roles may run conditioning hikes, and this leader role is not a prerequisite to gaining other frontcountry badges. 

Competency: Group leadership, communication and basic risk management, basic incident management (including first aid); coaching novices on trails.

Please note: The Conditioning Hike Leader is not a leader for the hiking committee and cannot run hiking committee trips without a separate Hike Leader badge. Frontcountry Hike Leaders are encouraged to contact their branch hiking committee to pursue a Hike Leader badge.

Want more information on becoming a Conditioning Hike Leader?

Learn More

 

 

Snow Leader

Level: Entry level leadership role

Scope: This leader runs trips on snow in low-risk terrain with minimal to no avalanche danger. The snow leader helps students with conditioning, learning to travel confidently in snow and use snow and glacier gear properly. The leader has displayed competency on snow covered terrain including use of ice axe, crampons, snow protection systems, movement on snow in a variety of conditions and angles, and an ability to manage groups with little to no experience in snowy terrain. Additionally, the snow leader will have at a minimum an avalanche level 1 and the ability to make informed decisions when moving through terrain.

Competency: Group leadership, communication and risk management, incident management (including first aid); non-technical snow travel; coaching more novice climbers in new terrain.

Want more information on becoming a Snow Leader?

LEARN MORE

 

 

Sport Leader

Level: Entry level leadership role

Scope: The 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. 

Competency: Group leadership, communication and risk management, incident management (including first aid); sport climbing and its components; coaching more novice climbers in new terrain.

Want more information on becoming a Sport Leader?

LEARN MORE

 

 

Trad Leader

Level: Entry level leadership role

Scope: 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. Trad Leaders may also run sport climbing trips. 

Competency: Group leadership, communication and risk management, incident management (including first aid); trad climbing and its components; coaching more novice climbers in new terrain.

Want more information on becoming a Trad Leader?

LEARN MORE

 

 

Backcountry Leaders

Backcountry leaders generally operate in a more remote setting. Trips have longer approaches and deal with a higher degree of objective hazards and risks. As such, the backcountry leader roles require additional skills and training. 

Any high level backcountry leader may run any type of frontcountry trips  within their skill and experience (Rock, Glacier, and Climb leader). All other backcountry leader roles must obtain separate frontcountry designations to run frontcountry trips. 

Rock Rope Lead

Level: Entry level and assistant leadership role

Scope: Rope Leaders function as Assistant Leaders on alpine rock climbs that are within their technical abilities. Rope leads are typically in charge of a rope team on climbs under the supervision of a high level leader. 

Competency: Technical rock and general mountain skills; basic instruction to novices on technical terrain

Want more information on becoming a Rock Rope Lead?

LEARN MORE

 

 

Glacier Rope Lead

Level: Entry level leadership role

Scope: Rope Leaders function as Assistant Leaders on glacier climbs that are within their technical abilities. Rope leads are typically in charge of a rope team on climbs under the supervision of a high level leader.

Competency: Technical glacier and general mountain skills; basic instruction to novices on technical terrain

 *  Rope Leads with both the Rock and Glacier badges can rope lead on Alpine Climb trip types.

** Rope Leads are assistant leaders on trips with basic or novice climbers. Intermediate climbs do not have rope leads, and as such you are not required to be a rope lead to be on an intermediate climb. Please contact your branch climbing committee for intermediate climbing requirements. 

Want more information on becoming a Glacier Rope Lead?

LEARN MORE

 

 

Peer Rock Leader

Level: Mid level leadership and coordination role

Scope: Peer Rock Leaders can coordinate rock climbs that are within their technical abilities for intermediate students and above, but not for basic students, graduates, or other novice climbers. The purpose of this role is for aspiring leaders to develop their skills and grow as leaders without taking on the responsibility of leading those with little experience. Generally, the Peer leader will facilitate outings among climbers who are at the Intermediate level. They are responsible for overall risk management of the trip, including assembling a team of qualified climbers and facilitating the group risk management of the climb using the combined skill-set of the climbers. This leader cannot lead groups containing basic students, graduates, or other novice climbers. 

Competency: Group leadership, communication and risk management, incident management (including first aid); technical rock and mountain skills.

Want more information on becoming a Peer Rock Leader?

LEARN MORE

 

 

Peer Glacier Leader

Level: Mid level leadership and coordination role

Scope: Peer Glacier Leaders can coordinate glacier climbs that are within their technical abilities for intermediate students and above, but not for basic students, graduates, or other novice climbers. The purpose of this role is for aspiring leaders to develop their skills and grow as leaders without taking on the responsibility of leading those with little experience. Generally, the Peer leader will facilitate outings among climbers who are at the Intermediate level. They are responsible for overall risk management of the trip, including assembling a team of qualified climbers and facilitating the group risk management of the climb using the combined skill-set of the climbers. This leader cannot lead groups containing basic students, graduates, or other novice climbers. 

Competency: Group leadership, communication and risk management, incident management (including first aid); technical glacier and mountain skills.

 *  Peer  Leaders with both the Rock and Glacier badges can run Alpine Climb trip types (without basic or novice students).

Want more information on becoming a Peer Glacier Leader?

LEARN MORE

 

 

Rock Leader

Level: High level leadership role

Scope: Rock Leaders can lead alpine rock 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 glacier or significant snow travel. 

Competency: Group leadership, communication and risk management, incident management (including first aid); mentoring assistant leaders; technical rock and general mountain skills; coaching novices on technical terrain

Want more information on becoming a Rock Leader?

LEARN MORE

 

 

Glacier Leader

Level: High level leadership role

Scope: Glacier 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. 

Competency: Group leadership, communication and risk management, incident management (including first aid); mentoring assistant leaders; technical glacier and general mountain skills; coaching novices on technical terrain

Want more information on becoming a Glacier Leader?

LEARN MORE

 

 

Climb Leader

Level: Top level leadership role

Scope: 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.

Competency: Group leadership, communication and risk management, incident management (including first aid); mentoring assistant leaders; technical rock, glacier and general mountain skills; coaching novices on technical terrain

*  A Rock Leader and Glacier Leader can be combined to gain the Climb Leader designation. Leaders may pursue the rock and glacier track concurrently. They may also choose to get one leadership designation and pursue another in the future. Climb leaders can lead Alpine Climb trip types.

Want more information on becoming a Climb Leader?

LEARN MORE

 

 

Endorsements

Endorsements are additional skills that a leader has displayed competency in. Each endorsement allows the leader to run additional types of trips. These additional skills requirements allow leaders to run trips with more advanced skills, without requiring them for all leaders. 

Currently, endorsements only apply to backcountry leaders of the Peer level or higher. 

Alpine Ice

Scope: The leader has displayed competency in alpine ice climbing including use of ice tools, screws, ice anchors, rope management, movement on ice in a variety of alpine specific conditions and angles, and an ability to manage groups with less experience in alpine ice terrain. This endorsement can be added to any backcountry climb leader role (rope leads are not climb leaders). 

Water Ice

Scope: The leader has displayed competency in water ice climbing including use of ice tools, screws, ice anchors, rope management, movement on ice in a variety of conditions and angles, and an ability to manage groups with little to no experience in water ice terrain. Additionally, the leader is familiar and competent in multi-pitch ice climbing and self-rescue systems. This endorsement can be added to any backcountry climb leader role (rope leads are not climb leaders).