NoCo - Alpine Scrambling Course - 2023

Scrambling Course

Alpine Scrambling Course

Alpine scrambling is non-technical climbing over rock and snow. Students will be taught hazard assessment and decision making, scrambling techniques, non-technical snow climbing techniques, and off-trail route-finding in scrambling terrain.

NOTE:  YOU MUST SUBMIT AN APPLICATION AND RECEIVE PERMISSION TO REGISTER FOR THIS COURSE.  Select the "Apply" button in the registration section.  The application form can also be found here:  You may register only after you have submitted the application and received permission.


Alpine scrambling is non-technical climbing that involves off-trail travel over rock and snow.  Most Colorado summits are accessible by scramble routes.  You can use the skills acquired in this course to reach the summits of hundreds of Colorado 14ers and 13ers.  The course requires good physical conditioning, a moderate commitment of time and energy, appropriate outdoor gear and clothing, a few items of technical climbing gear and a positive attitude.  You should have some prior hiking experience in mountain terrain on trails and off-trail on moderate angle broken rock, talus, scree, and soft snow. Basic map reading and interpretation skills are also prerequisites.  These skills can be acquired in basic hiking courses such as the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) Mountain Hiking School or Wilderness Trekking School.  The Alpine Scrambling Course (ASC) is a good choice for those interested in climbing non-technical peaks in Colorado, that is, peaks where the easiest route does not, except under unusual conditions, require the use of technical gear such as ropes, protection gear, and the accompanying knowledge and skills.  Those who complete this course will have acquired the skills to confidently climb most Colorado peaks, including 14ers and 13ers, under normal conditions and be able participate on most CMC scrambling trips.  The ASC is also excellent preparation for more technical climbing courses such as the CMC Basic Mountaineering Course for those who wish to acquire technical climbing skills.

To successfully complete this course, students must attend all classroom and field sessions and complete three elective scramble trips prior to the deadline.


Alpine scrambles are off-trail trips, often on snow or rock, with a ‘non-technical’ summit as a destination that is usually reached without the sustained use of technical climbing gear and does not involve travel on extremely steep rock, snow, or ice.  In the Colorado mountains, scrambling includes much of the realm between off-trail hiking and technical climbing.  It involves moving over challenging and sometimes exposed terrain without the need to rope up as a climbing team for sustained sections of the route, although ropes and minimal protection gear are occasionally advised for short portions of scrambling routes.  This can mean negotiating low and moderate angle rock, travelling through extensive talus and scree, crossing streams, bushwhacking, and climbing snow-covered slopes.  Scrambling is a mountaineering skill.  This skill can be learned but takes time, practice, and experience to develop.


The aim of the ASC is to provide a framework for learning that will allow you to acquire the skills and experience to more safely and confidently climb Colorado peaks.  In particular:

  • Improve your personal ability to move more securely and efficiently in scrambling terrain.
  • Improve your personal ability to manage exposure.
  • Improve your ability to plan and execute scrambles within a team framework.

 In this course, you will learn:

  • Review of appropriate clothing, gear, and equipment,
  • Planning a climb,
  • Awareness of mountain terrain and weather conditions,
  • Interpreting and following route descriptions,
  • Recognizing mountain hazards,
  • Recognizing human caused hazards,
  • Route finding in scrambling terrain,
  • Distinguishing scrambling terrain from terrain that requires technical gear,
  • Techniques for climbing and descending moderate rock,
  • Techniques for ascending and descending moderate snow,
  • Becoming familiar with technical gear to improve safety,
  • Work within a team framework to accomplish personal goals,
  • Wilderness and climbing ethics,
  • Emergency procedures.

Course Schedule

The course schedule is planned as follows:

First classroom session: Monday, April 24, 6:30 - 9:00 PM

Second Classroom session: Monday, May 1,  6:30 - 9:00 PM

Snow Field day: Saturday, May 6

Rock Field day: Saturday, May 20

Elective Scrambles: weekends May 6 - Sep 24

Graduation: Tuesday, Sep 26, 6:30PM - 8:00 PM

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Required Equipment

Ten Essentials

A gear list will be provided in the Student Manual

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.