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Trip Leader School (TLS)

The next Denver Group Trip Leader School will be held October 19th from 8:00 AM until approximately 4:00 PM.  The information below describes the practices used by the Denver Group.  Other groups may do something different.

The school provides a 4-hour lecture on topics such as trip planning, group dynamics, situational awareness, communication skills, leadership, CMC policies, and leader liability considerations. The Leader-In-Training (LIT) hike is a 4-hour field trip conducted on local Open Space hiking trails where candidates will engage in role playing, working through potential real-life scenarios, and having discussions with Instructor Leaders on best practices for working through situations they may face while leading trips. Students are given specific guidelines for arranging their final Leader-In-Training hike and for applying to become a trip leader.

There is No Fee for the Trip Leader School.  Apply using the following application:  TLS Application.


1.   Be a current CMC member.

2.   Complete 5 CMC Denver Group trips of which no more than 2 may be school field trips

3.  Take the Wilderness First Aid (WFA) class.  It is preferable to complete WFA before Trip Leader School, but concurrent enrollment in TLS and WFA is acceptable.

4.    Information on attending Trip Leader School can be found at: Trip Leader School. There is No Fee for the Trip Leader School but an application must be submitted.  Click here for the TLS Application

5. Complete Trip Leader School (TLS), which includes 4 hours of lecture and 4 hours of field training including scenarios and role playing. Completing TLS counts as one Leader-in-Training (LIT) trip. The second LIT trip should be completed with an Instructor Leader that is not related to you, nor be a significant other. All applicants must have a favorable recommendation from the Instructor Leader of record for the second LIT trip. Your LIT must be completed and application made within 12 months of TLS graduation. 

If you plan to lead regular hiking trips classified as levels A, B, C, D the second LIT trip should be at the highest level that you are applying to lead. The Instructor Leader is a trained leader instructor not any CMC trip leader, a list of Instructor Leaders can be obtained by contacting the Trip Leader School Director. The LIT and the hike Instructor Leader must fill out this LIT Evaluation Form when the trip is completed.  If the LIT trip indicates the candidate needs additional training, the LIT Evaluation Form should be sent to

Snowshoe trips equivalency can substitute for a C or D trip in the winter since not as many C and D trips are offered in the winter.

Applicants seeking Technical Trip Leader certification are referred to the Technical Trip Leader Application below.

6.  You must pursue one of these avenues in regards to leading winter trips. A more thorough description of these options can be found in this document.

  • Complete the CMC Avalanche Terrain Avoidance (ATA) class if you wish to lead winter non-backcountry trips
  • Complete the CMC AIARE Level 1 Avalanche School if you wish to lead winter backcountry trips

7.  Within 18 months of completing TLS, complete a Group Trip Leader Application, available at this link, Leader Application, attach the completed LIT Evaluation Form, and send all the requested documents to:

8.  Approval: The DS&L Committee approves leader applications electronically when all requirements are verified.  If questions arise about the application, a plan of action is put in place to resolve any deficiencies.  Membership Services and the applicant are notified by the DS&L Trip Leader Certification Coordinator.  Membership Services then inputs the approved leader’s name into the data base and the leader may begin scheduling trips for which he/she is certified.

9.  If you plan to lead technical trips, fly-fishing trips, cycling trips or downhill ski trips, please read below to learn about the required additional requirements.


Technical Trip Leader Application Process

In an effort to promote growth of technical climbing activities at the CMC, Denver Group transferred responsibility of technical climbing schools and trips to the State Technical Climbing School Committee.  The procedures and guidelines below are for Denver Group Trip Leaders who want to lead technical climbing trips for the CMC:

The following requirements apply to State CMC Technical Trip Leaders (TTL):

  • Be a current CMC Trip Leader in good standing with your CMC regional Group.  (Please contact Denver Group about becoming a trip leader training) 
  • Have the mountain skills adequate for the type of trip. (links to corresponding activity standard).  
    • Top-rope rock and/or ice climbing 
    • Sport climbing
    • Traditional rock climbing
    • Multi-pitch rock climbing
    • Ice lead climbing
    • Alpine climbing
  • Regardless of experience, co-lead at least one tech trip with an experienced technical trip leader and receive a positive evaluation by that leader for the specific technical trip classification.  Additional co-leads may be needed.
  • Receive approval by their CMC Group.  (In this case, the Technical Climbing School committee)

The Tech Trip Leader Application and further details may be found via this link: Tech Trip Leader Application


Bike Leaders

Members wishing to become bike trip leaders should complete the Trip Leader Application form and submit to DS&L.

  • Successfully complete CMC Trip Leader School

  • Successfully complete Wilderness First Aid or have equivalent training or experience

  • Demonstrate during a Leader in Training (LIT) Ride:

  • Rules of the road

  • Ability to manage cycling group dynamic situations, including regrouping at intersections or junctions for direction changes where members could become separated

  • Familiarity with the selected LIT route

  • Knowledge of general bike maintenance: tire repair, chain breakage, brake problems

  • Carry a first aid kit with cycling items

It is recommended bike leaders complete a bike maintenance class offered by a bike retailer, bike safety organization or a similar organization. Wearing a bike helmet is required for bike leaders and bike trip participants.


Downhill Ski Coordinator Criteria

CMC downhill ski trips are to be contained within the commercial resort boundaries where the commercial entity maintains a patrolled ski area. Downhill Ski Coordinators and members registered for the trip are not authorized to leave the patrolled terrain while participating in an official CMC Activity Trip.

Any backcountry travel designation classifies the trip as a backcountry trip requiring the certified leader to have completed AIARE Level 1 avalanche training.

The basic skills/training for a Downhill Ski Coordinator are:

  • Procedure for contacting the ski patrol in an emergency

  • Carpool organization, need for driving instructions, parking lot designation at the ski resort

  • Understanding of group dynamics and assembly procedures such as setting meeting location at the beginning and ending of a trip and/or at lunch

  • Determining the processes to be followed at designated departure time and the procedure needed in the event a participant has not arrived by the designated departure time

  • Knowledge of basic trip procedures such as trip scheduling, trip confirmation, trip reports, guest policies and driver mileage reimbursement

  • Knowledge of contact and accident/incident procedures if an accident has occurred

Downhill Ski Coordinators are certified by Denver Safety & Leadership Committee (DS&L) to coordinate trips to licensed, patrolled ski areas only. Existing leaders or new leaders who wish to be Downhill Ski Coordinators should submit an application to DS&L.


Fly Fishing Trip Leaders

The process of becoming a fly fishing trip leader is very similar to that of becoming a general hike leader. The following are the special steps apply:

  • Successfully complete Trip Leader School

  • Successfully complete Fly Fishing School or have equivalent experience

  • Successfully complete Wilderness First Aid or have equivalent training or experience

  • Successfully complete two LIT trips:  One” A” hike and one Fly Fishing Trip; LIT may substitute a hike at a “B” or “C” level or backpack should they so elect to do so providing the LIT meets the B or  C classification requirements or backpack requirements; the Fly Fishing Trip must be scheduled through the Denver Group Fly Fishing Section

  • Demonstrate the following Flying Fishing trip requirements during the LIT Fly Fishing Trip:

  • Members of the trip must let the LIT trip leader know where they will be fishing and estimated return time

  • LIT schedules a return time and place for the group to meet at the end of the day; this necessitates all members have a time piece

  • LIT is aware of need for trip members to “Buddy up” with another member of the trip and keep in touch with them while fishing.  (This requirement is for safety.  If one of the two individuals needs help, then the other one can locate the rest of the group along the river or lake and assist as required)

  • Review safety and etiquette guidelines for Wading Fly Fishing with the members on trip prior to fishing.  (These topics are covered in the CMC DG Fly Fishing Handbook used in the Fly Fishing School)


Trip Leader Application Forms

These are the forms that should be followed and filled out to become a trip leader. Again, be sure to make copies before submitting completed forms to

The LIT Guidelines should be read by both the Instructor Leader and the Leader in Training before the hike.

The LIT Evaluation Form is completed by the Instructor Leader after the hike is concluded. Both should be familiar with the form before the hike begins as this document outlines what the LIT is specifically expected to do.

Complete the Leader Application and return to as specified in application.

The Technical Trip Leader Application should be filled out and submitted to with the other required documents.

The Support Aid for Leader Training (SALT) program application can be used to apply for scholarships to cover Denver Group schools including WFA, CPR/AED, and Trip Leader School if you are interested in becoming a trip leader.