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Home » Classes » CMC Classes and Schools » Technical Climbing School

Technical Climbing School

The Colorado Mountain Club’s Technical Climbing School connects aspiring climbers with their vertical ambitions.

Classes and trips are designed to teach the technical elements of rock and snow climbing, including the use of ropes, anchors, ice tools, protection, crampons and specialized skills to safely negotiate challenging terrain. The class modules are ideal for individuals with goals such as leading fifth-class rock, ice climbing or ascending difficult peaks.

The entry-level courses provide a foundation, covering such topics as belaying, movement techniques, gear and navigation. More advanced courses build upon those basics and teach students everything they need to climb throughout Colorado. The modular approach to the curriculum allows students to select classes and dates that fit their schedule and specific interests. The classes can be taken individually or as packages to achieve certificates in Climbing, Basic Mountaineering and Intermediate Mountaineering.

The infographic below shows the recommended progression through CMC Technical Climbing School:

CMC Technical Schools Diagram of Course Progression

Alpine Climbing School

Within the Technical Climbing School, you can take 6 of our 19 classes to earn a certificate in Alpine Climbing (Formerly Basic Mountaineering) Think of the Alpine Climbing School (ACS) as an academic/vocational degree within the Technical Climbing School.

You have two options when it comes to ACS

  • Modular Track: you simply look at the CMC calendar and select the class sessions that fit your schedule (e.g. Basic Climbing, Intermediate Snow, etc.).  Registration for 2020 Spring Modular Track classes is now open!  See links below.
  • Team Track: allows you to work with the same small group of classmates through all the Alpine Climbing classes. The traditional format is slightly less expensive, but the dates are more rigid. In the CMC calendar, filter for classes and look for Alpine Climbing School.  There are two sessions of Team Track offered each year in Feb - June. Session A field days are typically on Saturdays.  Session B field days are typically on Sundays.  When you click on the class the Event Details will give you all the dates for that session.  Registration for 2020 Team Track is now closed.  Thank you to all who applied, we had over 70 applicants for 42 spaces.  Please consider Modular Track classes, it's great way to participate in Alpine Climbing School in 2020!

Basic Climbing

Basic Climbing is the best class to start with! It is a prerequisite for all the rock, snow and ice climbing classes (not required for navigation courses). Upon completion of this class you’ll be able to climb indoors at any rock climbing gym. You’ll learn:

  • How to use climbing helmet, harness, belay device, safety leash
  • How to tie in to the rope using a Figure Eight Retrace
  • How to tie an Overhand Knot, Clove Hitch, Girth Hitch
  • How to top rope belay using Pull-Brake-Under-Slide method
  • How to use climbing commands
  • How to coil a climbing rope

Modular Track, Session C - April 2020

Modular Track, Session D - Fall 2020 TBD


Intermediate Rock Climbing

Building off of Basic Climbing,intermediate focuses on climbing safety: equipment (and using it properly), communication, belaying, lowering, and rappelling.

You’ll learn:

  • How to use hands and feet efficiently on rock
  • Experience climbing outside
  • How to tie a Double Fisherman, Water Knot, Muenter Hitch, Figure Eight On a Bight, Autoblock Hitch
  • Multiple methods of rappel
  • Rappel back-ups

Modular Track, Session C - June 2020

Modular Track, Session D - Fall 2020 TBD


Navigation Level 1
Navigation courses have no prerequisites and can also be a good place to start taking TCS classes.

 You’ll learn:

  • How to procure & read topographic maps
  • How to measure a bearing on the map
  • How to plot a bearing on the map
  • How to take a bearing in the field and follow it

Modular Track, Session C - March 2020

Modular Track, Session D - Fall 2020 TBD


Navigation Level 2
Level 2 allows you to build off of your Level 1 navigation skills and apply them in an intensive field application and extension of material taught in Navigation Level 1.

You’ll learn:

  • How to match terrain to the map
  • How to travel from point to point using map and compass together
  • How to follow a bearing in zero visibility
  • How to navigate around obstacles
  • How to measure slope angles


Modular Track, Session C - March 2020

Modular Track, Session D - Fall 2020 TBD



Intermediate Snow 

Snow is the third portion of classes required to achieve your BMS certificate. Successful completion of Basic Climbing a prerequisite to enrolling in Basic Snow.

You’ll learn:

  • How to use crampons and ice axe
  • How to move over snow
  • How to self arrest

Modular Track, Session C - April 2020

Advanced Snow 

This class covers technical skills you need to climb a snow couloir.

You’ll learn:

  • How to build snow anchors
  • How to tie an Alpine Butterfly
  • How to travel as a roped team
  • How to use snow protection

Modular Track, Session C - April 2020

Intermediate Alpine Climbing School

Intermediate classes build off the skills you learned in Alpine Climbing School.  All Intermediate Mountaineering courses are dependent on your successful completion of the Basic ACS courses. There is no specific order you need to take these classes in as long as you have all the necessary prerequisites. All classes are taken as individual modules.

Basic Anchors

Prerequisite of intermediate rock climbing required. Students will learn to build top rope climbing anchors using natural features and fixed protection.

You’ll learn:

  • How to evaluate natural features (trees, boulders, rock horns, etc) and fixed protection (bolts).
  • How to build anchors suitable for top-roping and rappelling.
  • How to incoporate methods for additional security while working in a cliff-top environment.

Session A - Summer 2020 TBD

Session B - Summer 2020 TBD


Climbing Self Rescue 1

Building off of skills learned in intermediate rock climbing, this course will prepare students to deal with problems they may encounter during a multi-pitch climb. Functions as a partial prerequisite to self rescue level 2.

You’ll learn:

  • How to tie a Prusik Hitch, Bachmann Hitch, Klemheist, Mule Knot
  • How to escape a loaded belay
  • How to ascend a rope
  • How to rappel past an obstruction in the rope

Session A - Summer 2020 TBD

Rock Seconding

This course also builds off the skills learned in intermediate rock climbing and teaches students:

  • Belaying a lead climber
  • Catching a leader fall
  • Cleaning gear
  • Additional knots
  • Belaying from above
  • Rappelling off a multi-pitch climb


Session A - Summer 2020 TBD

Other Climbing Courses

Within TCS there are also other courses that build off of skills learned in the Basic & Intermediate certificates. Help take your climbing to the next level!  Prerequisites to these classes vary.

Advanced Anchors

Prerequisite of intermediate rock climbing required. Students will learn about the various types of rock protection, including: passive protection (nuts, hexes) and active protection (cams); and how to place and incorporate pieces of protection into anchors.

You’ll learn:

  • How to place rock protection
  • Rigging strategies to incorporate trad gear into top rope anchors

Session A - Summer 2020 TBD


Sport Lead Climbing

This three-day class (two evenings and a field day) will teach participants the skills needed to safely lead sport climbs;

  • How to properly clip bolts and avoid common errors, including Back Clip and Z Clip
  • How to lead belay safely
  • How to set up a quad anchor
  • How to clean sport anchors and lower safely (including rappel)
  • Safety and risk management

Participants are expected to either be graduates of BMS Rock/Intermediate Rock Climbing or have experience with good climbing belay skills, rappelling, good climbing communications and a good working knowledge of knots and the climber's safety system

Session A - Fall 2020 TBD


Climbing Self Rescue II

Rocking Seconding is a required prerequisite and this course also serves as a partial prerequisite for Self Rescue 3. Students will learn:

  • How to escape from a loaded belay while retaining options for further action
  • How to tandem rappel and counterbalance rappel
  • How to rig a raising and lowering system

Session A - Fall 2020 TBD

Session B - Fall 2020 TBD


Traditional Lead Climbing

Students will be introduced to the principles and techniques of placing gear on a “traditional” rock climb.  You’ll learn:

  • How to lead 5th class rock
  • How to calculate fall factor, impact force
  • How to determine vector forces on protection
  • Knots and rigging strategies for anchoring and descent

Prerequisite for this class is Rock Seconding.  Students should be comfortable climbing 5.9 in the gym and seconding 5.6/5.7 trad outside.  Registration code required.  Please contact to apply.

Session A - Summer 2020 TBD

Ice Climbing Courses


Basic Ice Climbing

In one evening and one field day on ice, Basic Ice Climbing will introduce novice or experienced rock climbers to the basics of ice climbing, and teach them to safely enjoy the sport in top-rope settings. The course focuses on equipment, safety, and technique.

Session A - January 2020 (morning field day)

Session B - January 2020 (afternoon field day)


Intermediate Ice Climbing

This class is for climbers who want to gain skills needed to go on their own top-rope ice climbing adventures.  You'll learn anchoring and rigging skills unique to the Lake City Ice Park  / Ouray Ice Park.  You'll also refine your climbing techniqe with lots of laps on steep ice (WI4 - WI5).

Session A - January & Feb 2020


Ice Lead Climbing 

This class is for experienced ice climbers who are ready to get on the sharp end.  You'll learn how to place ice screws, leading strategy, and options for technical descent (e.g. v-threads).  And get plenty of mentorship from our Sr. Ice Climbing Instructors.

Session A - February 2020


Leading Technical Trips for the CMC

The CMC is recruiting Denver Group members who'd like to lead technical climbing trips.  Volunteering as a trip leader is a great way to give back to the CMC community and make new climbing buddies! 

Please visit the Trip Leader School page to learn more.