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Rock Climbing Schools


The Boulder Group's Rock Climbing Schools are well-suited for newcomers to rock climbing or for climbers with some experience who wish to review current best practices in safety. The curriculum has been changed in 2016. The introductory course was taught for decades as one course, Basic Rock School (BRS) with two lectures and three field trips, with an optional graduation climb. Later, around 2010, a Sport Lead Clinic was introduced; then, around 2012, a Top Rope Anchor Clinic was added. This year, BRS has been split into several shorter, independent courses: Single Pitch Climbing, Top Rope Anchor Clinic, Rock Self Rescue, and Rock Seconding School. They are meant to be taken in that order, and the courses may be taken in one season or taken at any time the student feels ready. (Pre-2016, the Top Rope Anchor Clinic was a separate course from BRS. It is now considered a part of the Basic Rock Climbing School series of courses.)

There are no prerequisites for starting the rock climbing schools, but Hiking and Survival Essentials or equivalent experience is highly recommended, since being prepared for Colorado's outdoor environment is necessary for outdoor climbing. 

For members with prior climbing experience, you may qualify to test out of any course; please contact the BRS director to discuss this. You can test out for the following reasons: to join trad rock climbing trips, or to take other CMC courses which require a class as a prerequisite (Sport Leading Clinic, Rock Leading School, Basic & Intermediate Snow and Advanced Mountaineering School). 


Please Note:

  • Students's can expect to spend an additional $80 to $100 on basic climbing equipment and the course textbook, if they do not own any climbing gear already. An equipment list and student discount card is provided at the first lecture.
  • Textbook for all BRS classes: Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills by Craig Luebben, 2nd edition. (Used copies can be foundonline.)
  • It is recommended that students not purchase any equipment prior to the course, but wait until after the first lecture, when the necessary equipment will be discussed, and can be purchased in the following week before the second lecture, when the equipment will be used. 
  • Helmets are provided for students who do not have them.
  • Basic Rock Climbing School (BRS) is a prerequisite for Intermediate Snow, Rock Leading School, and Advanced Mountaineering School.
  • A BRS Test Out Procedure is available for experienced climbers; please see the link for more information.


Basic Rock School Course Descriptions


Single Pitch Climbing:

This course is intended for beginner climbers or climbers with some experience in a climbing gym. Focus is on climbing equipment and safety systems, top rope belaying with belay device and Munter hitch, knots used in a single pitch setting, rappelling, and climbing etiquette. Some basic climbing techniques will be introduced and practiced. The goal of this class is to prepare students to climb safely outside on single pitch routes with an experienced partner. Students are encouraged to enroll in the Top Rope Anchor Clinic as a next step. 

  • one lecture, two field trips
  • Prerequisites: Hiking Survival Essentials or equivalent experience is recommended.


Top Rope Anchor Clinic:

The top rope clinic is a logical continuation of skills learned in the entry class Single Pitch Climbing. Focus is on climber-belayer communication, anchor building with webbing, static ropes, and sewn slings, and cleaning sport anchors. The goal of this class is to give the newer climber the skills to set top rope anchors using both fixed sport anchors and natural features such as trees and boulders. (Traditional gear anchors are beyond the scope of the class). 

  • 1 lecture, 1 field trip
  • Prerequisite: Single Pitch Climbing, or pre-2016 BRS, or equivalent experience


Rock Self Rescue:

This course will prepare students to deal with problems they may encounter during a multi pitch climb. Focus is on new knots, review of rappelling, ascending/descending rope with prussiks, passing a knot on rappel, escaping a belay (mule knot). Please bring harness, belay device, and prussiks to the lecture to practice prior to the field trip.

  • 1 Lecture/knot practice night (introduce and practice new knots) 
  • 1 Field Trip 
  • Prerequisite: Single Pitch, or equivalent. Students who completed BRS pre-2016 have already fulfilled the requirements of this course.


Rock Seconding School:

This course is intended to prepare students to follow multi-pitch routes, both sport and trad. Focus is on the nuances of lead belaying and catching leader falls, top belay, partner communication, removing gear, efficient belay change over, evaluating your leader and how to be a great partner, and additional gear. Sport anchor cleaning will be reviewed. A discount will be given for students that completed BRS in the last three years (2013 or later), as this course is meant to improve on teaching multi-pitch climbing technique over the previous BRS version.

  • 1 Lecture
  • 3 Field Trips (1 gym and 2 outside)
  • Prerequisite: Single Pitch and Rock Self Rescue, or equivalent experience. Completion of the Top Rope Anchor Clinic is highly recommended.


Rock Leading Courses


The rock leading courses are advanced climbing courses meant for students who taken the above courses, and have gained some experience in following; or have equivalent experience and have tested out of the courses through the BRS Test Out Procedure.


Sport Lead Clinic:

Leading sport routes can be the next step in advancing your climbing before learning traditional lead climbing, or it can be an end in itself. Sport climbing was developed as a way for climbers to push the limits of their climbing ability in a relatively safe manner, and without having to spend a fortune on trad gear! Many skills learned in this clinic will transfer to traditional leading. Topics covered will include: necessary and optional gear, safety issues to consider before you climb, anchors and evaluating bolts, techniques for the leader (clipping, rope awareness, falling), managing fear, techniques for belaying (how to be a great belayer, boinking), bailing, cleaning anchors, and multi pitch sport (belaying off anchor or with a re-direct, rope management). Further information is available on the Sport Lead Clinic page.

  • 1 discussion session
  • 1 field trip on rock
  • A gym field trip to Movement Climbing and Fitness will be optional depending on class interest.
  • Prerequisite: Both Single Pitch and Rock Self Rescue, or BRS (pre-2016) or equivalent experience


Rock Leading School:

The course will train prospective leaders in safe and efficient techniques of lead climbing on 5th class rock. Participants will learn the use of natural and artificial protection, construction of various types of climbing anchors, and practice single-pitch and multi-pitch leading techniques. Due to the advanced nature of the course, prospective students' climbing experience will be evaluated to see if they qualify for entry into the course. See the Rock Leading School web page for more details.

  • 1 discussion session
  • 3 field trips on rock
  • Prerequisite: Rock Seconding School, pre-2016 BRS or equivalent experience

Courses offered: