CMC Trip Leader and Field Instructor Requirement FY24

Summary of the decision regarding CMC Trip Leader & Instructor requirements
Graham Ottley Graham Ottley
December 08, 2023

Moving into 2024 the Colorado Mountain Club will continue to maintain the requirements for Trip Leaders and Instructors as follows: 

Leaders are required to keep their certifications current.

  • WFA – certification of the 16-hour class every 2 years (This is an international standard.
    CMC no longer allows for any form of “refresher” in place of a current WFA certification.)
  • ATA – Re-take 8-hour class every 5 years (to be made readily available to leaders with
    field days across the state)
  • AIARE Level 1 - AIARE Companion (Avalanche) Rescue 1-day course or equivalent every
    5 years (no need to re-take Level 1)
  • 1 Trip Per Year minimum: In order to maintain your Trip Leader Status, each Trip Leader
    is required to Lead (or co-lead) 1 trip per year. A “Year” is based on the CMC Calendar
    which is October to October.

During 2023, the Colorado Mountain Club spent considerable time and energy examining our policies and requirements for Trip Leaders and Instructors. Part of the process included surveying 146 trip leaders and instructors to gauge their experience as Trip Leaders and Instructors. There was a lot of consideration given to establishing a lower standard for leaders involved in specific activities that involved less exposure to risk.

In the end, the leadership of the CMC decided to continue maintaining a current WFA certification is the minimum medical certification for all Trip Leaders and Instructors. This decision was made in light of several factors:

  1. Wilderness First Aid is widely held as a minimum certification for trip leaders in wilderness environments. This includes many of the land agencies that we operate in which include the US National Forest, National Parks and BLM.  
  2. The CMC was unable to identify a clear delineation of activities that did and did not require a higher and lower standard of wilderness medical training. Without a clear system, our process to ensure Trip Leaders and Instructors are maintaining their requirements would be compromised and lead to confusion in terms of what did and didn't qualify. 
  3. The curriculum of Wilderness First Aid provides an opportunity to refresh their skills and knowledge as it relates to incidents in the backcountry. The CMC sees this curriculum as an important part of the tools that Trip Leaders and Instructors carry with them in the backcountry. This information is considered "perishable" and maintaining the certification ensures Trip Leaders and Instructors that they are up to date if they need to respond.

This decision was made for the 2024 calendar year but the status of a Trip Leader or Instructor isn't subject to removal until June 30, 2024. This allows 6+ months to renew these requirements as current Trip Leaders. 

For any questions feel free to reach out to: 


Add a comment

Log in to add comments.
Sandy McVie
Sandy McVie says:
Dec 12, 2023 12:47 PM

Do you really mean to require ATA and AIARE Level 1 for all leaders. Seems extreme for leading hikes along the Highline Canal. Past course descriptions for AIARE Level 1 note that there will be travel in avalanche terrain, which would require one to violate principals taught in ATA.

Matt Culpepper
Matt Culpepper says:
Jan 05, 2024 03:24 PM

I read this as maintaining the status quo. I believe the bold type statement confirms this: “ In the end, the leadership of the CMC decided to continue maintaining a current WFA certification is the minimum medical certification for all Trip Leaders and Instructors.”

Patricia Leslie
Patricia Leslie says:
Dec 13, 2023 10:03 PM

Around 2008 when I was in grad school at DU I wrote and submitted a grant to the Roder Foundation for trip leader scholarships for avalanche training and WFA. The grant was awarded and many leaders benefited. Who is doing that kind of grant writing for CMC now? This time around as an active trip leader I will need a scholarship or 2. Hopefully the process for getting them is straightforward. Patricia Leslie

Goffredo Stevens
Goffredo Stevens says:
Jan 15, 2024 11:58 AM

Correction: ATA and AIARE Level are training courses. There is no certification for them. This is a common misunderstanding, and should be avoided.

Also In the Blog...