[TCS home]

CMC / Denver Group


Technical Climbing School

The Technical Climbing School has its roots in technical rock and ice but has grown to encompass more. We now offer three Navigation classes, for example. In those classes the most technical we get is Class 2 hiking. You can go as deep into the classes as you like or you can just dip your toe in; you don't have to commit to climbing hard rock.

That being said, here is our standard marketing pitch:
Want to climb difficult 14ers year-round, lead multi-pitch rock routes or scale frozen waterfalls? 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 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. Second- and third-tier classes 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.

Some things to note about our modular format. We started offering modules because we were finding that students had trouble fitting a lengthy school into their calendar. Now you have the option of choosing from multiple sessions of each class throughout the year. There are no prerequisites for the basic classes. But the basic classes are prerequisites for the more advanced classes.

Modules and Basic Mountaineering
You have two options when it comes to Basic Mountaineering.

You can choose the modular format. With the modular format you simply look at the CMC calendar and select the class sessions that fit your calendar. In the CMC calendar, filter for classes and look for:

The Snow classes will only be offered when the snow conditions are favorable (usually April - June) but the other classes are offered all year 'round. At least two sessions of all classes are offered. You don't need to take the classes in any particular order (except for following the prerequite order). There are multiple dates for the graduation Snow Climb and High Peak climb.

Or you can choose the traditional format for Basic Mountaineering. The traditional format allows you to work with the same group of classmates throughout all the classes. The traditional format is also slightly less expensive (you pay for 5 classes but get 6). And you must pay up front. But (and this is a big BUT) you must commit to a fixed set of dates that extend over a wide swath of the calendar. This is the whole point of working with the same classmates. You must attend ALL lectures and field days plus the two graduation climbs. You cannot shift dates to another class. Note well: the dates of the grad climbs are not fixed. You will look at dates early in the course but you must have a moderately flexible calendar. If you miss a lecture or field day or cannot go on a grad climb due to calendar restrictions you cannot graduate.

There are two sessions of Basic Mountaineering offered each year. In the CMC calendar, filter for classes and look for Basic Mountaineering. The two sessions will almost always be offered in March. When you click on the class the Event Details will give you all the dates for that session.

Course Progression

There is not a strictly linear progression in the TCS. Rather, there are branches and forks. One class might be a prerequisite for more than a single successive class. For example, after taking Basic Climbing, you might take Intermediate Rock or you might take Technical Snow (after also taking Basic Snow).

With that in mind, here are a few possibilities.

After taking Basic Climbing, one generally takes Intermediate Rock. After Intermediate Rock there are several options. You can go immediately into Rock Seconding. After Intermediate Rock, you can also go directly into Anchors, one of our most popular classes. You can also go directly into Rescue Level One. You can also go directly into Sport Climbing.

Advanced rock classes include Traditional Lead Climbing and Basic Aid Climbing. It is not recommended to go directly into Trad after Seconding. Rather it is recommended that you get some mileage under your belt first. And it is recommended that you feel quite comfortable with Trad before taking Aid.

For Snow, the progression should be Basic Climbing followed by Basic Snow and then Technical Snow.

For Ice, the progression should be Basic Climbing followed by Basic Ice. It is not recommended to go directly into Technical Ice after Basic Ice. Rather you need to be comfortable with Trad rock and you need a lot if ice mileage under your belt.

For Rescue, you can go directly into Rescue 1 after Basic Climbing. Then you need Seconding before Rescue 2 and 3.

For Navigation, you can go directly into Nav 2 or Nav 3 after Nav 1. You don't need Nav 2 before Nav 3.

Current course offerings:





Rock Self Rescue


Basic Mountaineering

Intermediate Mountaineering