Alpine Rock Climbing Overview
The most beautiful rock on the planet is that which is found on the high spires and jagged peaks of the great ranges of the world. The aesthetics of alpine rock climbing cannot be beat. The combination of the athletic movment, the remoteness, and the beauty make these places some of the most spectacular anywhere.
The American Alpine Institute Alpine Rock Climbing program was designed to provide students with the skills needed to access this high and wild rock. The introductory program provides a baseline of skills required to access these places and then culminates in several alpine rock ascents. The intermediate course expands on these and provides students with the skills needed to make their own ascents with competent partners.
Both the Introductory and the Intermediate programs are provided in the Sierra Nevada of Califorina and in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park. The program may also be provided on a private basis in the Cascades of Washington State.
The Sierra Nevada, California, also known as "the Range of Light", harbors several 14,000-foot peaks, including 14,494-foot Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48. The beautiful golden granite of the Sierra Nevada has called out to climbers for over 100 years. In addition to twelve climbs listed in The Fifty Classic Climbs of North America, the range is chock full of beginner, intermediate and advanced level routes. AAI also offers private climbing in the Sierra Nevada – click the link to see a sampling of routes and areas.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, is a Mecca for alpine rock climbers. The jagged range is home to hundreds of beautiufl alpine rock climbs of all difficuluty, including three of The Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. The centerpiece of the Park is the 14,259-foot Longs Peak, an iconic mountain with several technical lines on it. AAI also offers private climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park – click the link to see a sampling of routes and areas.
Boulder, Colorado, is the setting of the introductory days of the Colorado program. We spend two days climbing in Boulder to cover the basics, either in Eldorado Canyon, Boulder Canyon, or the Flatirons. These locations offer a wealth of moderate routes that are perfect for instruction before we tackle the additional challenges of an alpine environment – longer approaches, altitude, weather, and general commitment.
The Alpine Rock Climbing program may also be offered in the Cascades of Washington State as a private program. Several similar group programs are offered in the Cascades that include glacier travel. Check out our 6-day
Intermediate Mountaineering (Alpinism 2) program, or call our office for details. Alpine Rock Climbing Introduction
The objective of the Introduction to Alpine Rock Climbing course is twofold. First, an individual who completes this course should be able to set-up and manage a toprope on a single pitch crag. And second, the individual should be able to operate as a competent team member, able to follow a leader on a multi-pitch alpine rock climb. Curriculum and Itinerary:
The Alpine Conditions during this program will determine the exact daily routine. Some of the material may be presented on different days in order to take advantage of good alpine weather.
Complete an equipment check and ensure that all students have appropriate gear for the program.
Selection, care and use of climbing gear
Review basic knots and hitches
Practice basic belay techniqeu and belay commands
Practice climbing movement skill with a focus on alpine climbing
Introduction to rappelleing (single and multi-pitch)
Review previous day's lessons
Introduction of climbing protection (active and passive)
Introduction to basic anchor set-ups for toproping
Practice lead belay techniques
Practical work with anchors and single pitch management
Introduction to following a leader in a multi-pitch setting
Selection, care and use of snow climbing equipment
Walking on snow: in-balance and out-of-balance movement
Practical application of self-arrest techniques from all positions
Use of crampons on moderate to high-angle snow and ice
Nine principal positions of the ice axe
Three types of glissade
Snow anchors (pickets, flukes, deadmen, bollards)
Snow belay systems (static and dynamic, stomper belays, butt-axe belay)
Note: There may be times in late season when it is difficult to find appropriate snow to complete this series of lessons. If this happens, there are three options. (1) The lesson may be truncated and taught after an approach. (2) An additional climbing objective may be selected. (3) The team may elect to work on climbing self-rescue skills.
Days 4 through 6 are reserved for technical objectives. Objectives will be selected based on their relevance to members of the team. Each objective will require team members to practice all of the skills they learned in the preceding days in a high multi-pitch setting.
It should be noted that objectives may be in the backcountry and may require one or more nights out in the field. If this happens and there is additional time in the afternoons after making approaches, additional lessons may be provided. These may include the following:
Leave No Trace Techniques
Regional Geology and Ecology
High Altitude Illness and Treatments Alpine Rock Climbing Intermediate
The objective of the
Intermediate Alpine Rock Climbing course is for students to develop the skills to lead basic alpine rock climbs by applying modern equipment and strategies.
It should be noted that not every student is ready to be on "the-sharp-end" after completing the Introduction to Alpine Rock Climbing course or something similar. Every course includes some students that are ready for this serious responsibility, and some students who are only ready to rehearse traditional rock leadership in an alpine setting. Regardless of whether a student is ready mentally or physically to lead, every student will walk away with the technical skills required of a multi-pitch leader.
Curriculum and Itinerary:
The alpine conditions during this program will determine the exact daily routine. Some of the material may be presented on different days in order to take advantage of good alpine weather.
Day 1 (Day 7 if combining Introduction and Intermediate)
Complete an equipment check and ensure that all students have appropriate gear for the program. If students are combining the Introductory and Intermediate programs, they may be able to skip this section while new students are checked.
Selection, use and care of traditional climbing gear
Discuss traditional racking techniques
Practical applications of both passive and active protection in a leadership setting
Introduction to traditional anchors for leaders
Practical applications of different lead belays
Introduction to the autoblocking device
Introduction to simple rescue techniques
Day 2 (Day 8)
Introduction to multi-directional anchors
Practical application of anchor and rope management
Introduction to single and multi-pitch leading procedures
Drill - Students will practice multi-pitch climbing by employing "mini-pitches" on a fourth or low fifth-class single pitch crag.
Day 3 (Day 9)
Cleaning anchors and rappelling
Techniques for rappelling multi-pitch lines
Discussion of lead climbing strategies, both physical and mental
Guided example of a short multi-pitch line
Mock single and multi-pitch leading practice
Day 4 (Day 10)
Discussion of falling, fall factors and how they apply to the leader
Continued mock leading practice
Optional falling practice on gear and/or bolted anchors
Optional student-lead climbs in a single pitch setting
Optional approach to a backcountry multi-pitch line
Days 5-6 (Days 11-12)
The final two days of the program are reserved for student lead alpine rock climbs. These climbs will be selected based on student strengths and desires. The program's instructors will mentor students as they make these final leads on a high alpine objective.
Alpine Rock Climbing Dates and Details
Sierra Nevada, California 2017
Part 1 - Introduction: June 10-15, 2017 (
Filling) Part 2 - Intermediate: June 16-21, 2017
1 spot available
Part 1 - Introduction: July 19 - 24, 2017 (
Filling) Part 2 - Intermediate: July 25 - 30, 2017 (
Part 1 - Introduction: August 26 - 31, 2017
1 spot available Part 2 - Intermediate: September 1 - 6, 2017
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 2017
Part 1 - Introduction: May 23 - 28
Part 1- Introduction: July 7 - 12
(Full) Part 2- Intermediate: July 13 - 18
Part 1- Introduction: July 21 - 26
Part 2- Intermediate: July 27 - August 1
Part 1- Introduction: August 11 - 16
Part 2- Intermediate: August 17 - 22
Part 1- Introduction: September 1 - 6
Part 2- Intermediate: September 7 - 12
Capacity - 4
Minimum Enrollment - 2
Part 1- Good physical condition, overnight backpacking experience.
Part 2 - Previously taken Alpine Rock 1 or be able to follow 5.8 (indoors or outdoors), set up a top rope, have alpine climbing and multi-pitch rock climbing experience.
Incusions and Exclusions
All group technical climbing equipment
Permit and access fees
Camping fees (both frontcountry and backcountry)
Personal equipment such as clothing, boots, personal climbing gear (e.g. harness, helmet), sleeping bag, tent, etc. Personal climbing and camping gear is available for rent.
Transporation to the programs meeting location and during the program. We ask that you provide transportation for your guide from the point of rendezvous, and if there are other climbers in your program we encourage you to carpool.
Lodging costs (if any)
Fees for changing air itineraries because of canceled or delayed programs
Gratuities for guides
Personal health, baggagem and trip cancellation insurance
Alpine Rock Climbing Related Courses
United States - Alaska
United States - Washington
United States - California
United States - Nevada
United States - Colorado
United States - Utah
Canada - British Columbia
South America - Argentina
South America - Bolivia
South America - Ecuador
South America - Patagonia
South America - Peru
Europe - Alps and Caucasus
Asia - Nepal and Tibet
Asia - China
Africa - Tanzania
Pacific and Antarctica
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