Weekend Rock Clinics

Weekend Clinics Overview

Whether you’re new to climbing or an avid gym climber, there’s never been a better time to say goodbye to the plastic holds and stale air of the climbing gym and embrace the exciting world of outdoor climbing.  For mountaineers, rock climbing is also a crucial part of the necessary skill set when approaching challenging mixed terrain climbing.

Perfect for weekend warriors, our two-day clinics are meant to be sequential and build upon one another. For example, after taking Introduction to Outdoor Rock Climbing, the next step is our Learn to Lead course. The only exception is our 1-day Rock Rescue Clinic which can be taken before or after Multipitch: Going Higher. We keep group sizes small so guides are able to structure our weekend clinics to meet the needs of each individual climber, while placing a premium on safety and safe climbing practices. We choose locations with minimal approach time to maximize our time climbing and developing skills.

We are fortunate to have several excellent rock climbing venues close to our Seattle headquarters.

  • North Bend – Located 30 minutes outside of Seattle.  This large dense rock climbing area is home to over 400 routes of high quality metamorphosed volcanic rock .  The climbing at the “Exits” is heavily feature with hand holds, crimps, jugs, slide pulls, and plenty of foot holds.  Situated at the foothills of the Cascades,  climbers can expect phenomenal views between pitches.
  • Mt Erie – Located 1 hour north of Seattle.  Mt Erie is one of the most gorgeous cliffs to climb at in the state.  The crags on Mount Erie are scattered on the south slope of a mini-mountain overlooking the Puget Sound.  Panoramic views take in the waters around Deception Pass, the San Juan Islands, the Olympics, and several of the Cascade volcanoes.
  • Leavenworth – Located 2.5 hours northeast of Seattle.  Perhaps the densest climbing area in Washington State, with a wide range of sport and traditional climbing from single pitches to over 800ft tall cliffs.  The bulk of the climbing is found in the two canyons west of the town of Leavenworth in Icicle Creek and Tumwater Canyon.  The rock in Leavenworth is a metamorphic granite that is highly featured with crimps, jugs, and cracks for your hands and feet to use.
  • Vantage – Located about 2 hours and 15 minutes southeast of Seattle. The climbing area is known as the Frenchmen Coulee and has over 600 routes on flowing basalt columns.   This stunning crag is perched over the Columbia River basin.  The rock tends to fracture in “dinner plates,” creating juggy incut holds on sporty routes. While it is a bit of drive from Seattle, the views and sunny weather are well worth it!   There is also free dispersed camping adjacent to the crag and lodging options nearby.

 

2-Day Intro to Outdoor Rock Climbing Clinic

Our 2-Day Intro to Outdoor Rock Climbing is ideal for newer climbers who are looking to get into the sport or for those who are looking to transition from climbing in the gym to climbing outdoors. After taking this course, you’ll be able to confidently and safely join your friends for a day at the crag.

We often use Little Si and Exit 38 in North Bend, WA as a classroom for this course, which are located just 30 miles outside Seattle. If the weather does not allow for us to use this venue, we shift to the eastern side of the state utilizing drier climate at either Vantage or Leavenworth climbing venues.

Prerequisites:
Previous indoor climbing experience is recommended, but not required.

Skills Covered

  • How to use climbing guidebooks and apps
  • Outdoor climbing equipment
  • Hazard assessment and risk management
  • Belay review and assessment
  • Bolted anchor construction
  • Rapelling/cleaning a top rope anchor
  • Rope management
  • Lead belaying
  • Mechanics of lead climbing and mock lead scenarios
  • Climbing etiquette at the crag

Itinerary

Day 1:  
We will meet at 8:00AM at the trailhead and do a quick equipment check. Next we’ll break out the guidebook and practice navigating as a group to our climbing area. At our site, we’ll begin with a review of belaying, basic climbing knots and hitches, and a general overview of equipment needed for a day of outdoor climbing. Guides will introduce the concept of SERENE anchors and how to build them with bolts as well as gear.  Students will construct their own anchors that the class will use for top rope sessions throughout the day.

After a break for lunch, we’ll focus on anchor cleaning and rappelling.  Throughout the day, students will be climbing and working on their movement skills. 

Day 2: 
We will meet at 8:00AM at a different trailhead and students will navigate to our chosen climbing area.  After a quick review of materials covered the previous day, we’ll discuss the mechanics of lead climbing and belaying from above.  Students will then get to practice mock leading climbs.

After lunch, we’ll spend the rest of the day climbing and reinforcing all the skills we’ve covered while enjoying more pitches of climbing.  At the end of the clinic we will have time to review any questions and discuss next steps for progressing as an outdoor climber.

2-Day Learn to Lead Clinic

Our 2-day Learn to Lead Course is an excellent next step for graduates of our Intro to Outdoor Rock Climbing course or for experienced gym climbers who are looking to transition into leading outside. After taking this course, you will have the tools and experience to safely lead sport climbs outside. We will also introduce placement of traditional rock gear (cams, nuts) and the process of building equalized and SERENE gear anchors.

We often use Little Si and Exit 38 in North Bend, WA as a classroom for this course, which are located just 30 miles outside Seattle. If the weather does not allow for us to use this venue, we shift to the eastern side of the state utilizing drier climate at either Vantage or Leavenworth climbing venues. 

Prerequisites:
Comfortable climbing 5.7 on a top rope, experience belaying

Skills Covered

  • Equipment considerations
  • Lead belaying
  • Evaluation of bolts and fixed anchors
  • Top Rop Anchor construction
  • Cleaning anchors
  • Falling
  • How to safely retreat from a climb
  • Trad gear placement
  • Gear anchor construction

Itinerary

Day 1:
We will meet at 8:00AM at the trailhead and do a quick equipment check. Next we’ll break out the guidebook and students will navigate the group to our climbing area. At the site, we will begin with a belay check, a review of lead belaying, and a general overview of outdoor climbing equipment, racking considerations, and leading strategies. Guides will then cover top rope anchor construction and considerations. We’ll also review how to clean a top rope anchor. We’ll close out the morning by having students mock lead routes, with an emphasis on climbing smoothly and efficiently.

After lunch, it’s time to grab the sharp end of the route! Students will alternate leading climbs and lead belaying. Guides will offer hands-on instruction and advice throughout. At the end of the day, guides will put up some harder climbs and climbers can practice working on their technique and climbing movement skills.

Day 2:
We will meet at 8:00AM at the trailhead and students will navigate the group to a different climbing area. On this day, we’ll look for a crag with a mix of sport and traditional climbing routes. We’ll begin the day with an overview of traditional rock climbing gear – the standard camelots and nuts as well as some more specialized protection like tri-cams. Guides will instruct on the basics of gear placement, racking up for a climb, and strategies for leading traditional rock climbs safely and smoothly. Students will start out by practicing building gear anchors and have their work evaluated by the guides. Next we’ll have students mock lead traditional rock climbs while receiving direct feedback and advice from the guides on gear placement.

After lunch, we’ll continue practicing lead climbing and belaying while incorporating instruction/practice on essential outdoor climbing skills such as falling safely, bailing off a route, rope ascension, and tandem rappels. We’ll use our remaining time together to hone the skills learned earlier in the course and will plan on wrapping up around 5PM.

2-Day Multipitch Climbing Clinic

If you’ve ever dreamed of channeling your inner Tommy Caldwell and scaling big Yosemite walls, Multipitch: Going Higher is the course to get you started in the right direction (up). This 2-day course builds on the skills covered in our Learn to Lead course and takes them into the multipitch realm.  This course is ideal for a climber who has been leading single-pitch climbs outside and wants the knowledge and skills to safely and efficiently tackle bigger objectives.

We will be based out of Leavenworth, WA for this course which is located about 120 miles miles east of Seattle.  Leavenworth is home to perhaps the densest climbing area in the state, with a huge variety of sport and trad climbs on granite – the gold standard of climbing rock.

Prerequisites:
Comfortable climbing 5.8 on a top rope.

Experience belaying and rappelling.
Previous lead-climbing experience is recommended but not required.
Experience traditional climbing is strongly encouraged but not required.

Skills Covered

  • Climbing equipment selection & packing / racking for multi-pitch climb 
  • Reading a guide book/topo and route finding 
  • On-route communication 
  • Anchor considerations in multi-pitch terrain 
  • Belay station management 
  • Rope management 
  • Strategies for belaying the second 
  • Descending
  • Hazards in the multi-pitch environment and mitigation 

Itinerary

Day 1: 
We will meet at 8:00AM at the trailhead for introductions, equipment check, and overview of the plan for the day.  We will start the morning with a review of lead belaying, climbing communication, knots and hitches, and safety systems.  Next, we’ll move into equipment selection, efficient racking and gear exchange, rope management, and appropriate rope selection.  As a group, we’ll pick out an appropriate multi-pitch objective for the day, select the appropriate climbing gear, and pack our climbing packs for an afternoon on the rock. 

After lunch, we’ll meet at the appropriate trailhead(s) and students will navigate to the base of the climb.  Now, it’s time to put the skills covered earlier in the day to work!   Guides will lead the climb while students hone their climbing technique, practice efficient gear racking and exchange, rope management, and the other pillars of proficient multi-pitch climbing.  At the top of the climb, we’ll put on our approach shoes and prepare for the descent. Depending on the climbing objective, the descent may involve rappelling, downclimbing, or simply a mellow descent trail back to the car.   At the vehicle, we’ll review takeaways from the climb and make a plan for the following day.

Day 2:
We’ll meet at 8:00AM at the appropriate trailhead, packed and ready to for a full day of multi pitch climbing.  The entire day will be spent climbing and reinforcing skills and techniques learned earlier in the course. 

1-Day Rock Rescue Clinic

What would you do if you were several pitches up a climb and the climb leader was injured by rockfall?  Despite our best intentions, accidents do happen in the mountains and self-sufficiency is critical when professional rescue may be hours if not days away in more remote terrain.  Our 1-day Rock Rescue course is essential training for any rock / alpine climber who doesn’t want to leave their fate up to chance in the event of an emergency.   This course is designed to give you the essential baseline rescue skills and techniques every climber should master before ever entering into committing climbing terrain.

Prerequisites

Climbers should be very familiar with belaying, rappelling, building anchors, and have a good grasp of the following  climbing knots and hitches.

Skills Covered

  • Escaping the belay
  • Lowering a fallen climber with a secure back-up
  • Hauling systems 
  • Tandem rappel 
  • Counterbalance rappel 
  • Rope ascension 
  • Improvised belay techniques 
  • Decision making in the vertical environment

Itinerary

Day 1: 
We will meet at 8:00AM at the trailhead for introductions, equipment check, and overview of the plan for the day.   We’ll hike to roadside crag that will be our classroom for the day.  First, we’ll start with a quick review of knots and SERENE anchor construction.  Then, we’ll move onto how to escape the belay, hauling systems, tandem rappels, knot passes, and fixing and ascending ropes.  We’ll finish out the day with rescue scenarios to put our new skills to the test.  We’ll aim to wrap up around 5:00PM with a debrief of the day. 

Reading List

This is a highly recommended shortlist and we would be happy to pass on a longer reading list for those interested. These links will bounce to Amazon.com with reviews.

Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills
Topher Donahue, Craig Luebben, Mountaineers Outdoor Experts, Mountaineers Books
Climbing Anchors
John Long, Bob Gaines

I think this program is incredible! I’m not really sure how it could be better. The guides seemed to fully cater the program to the needs of all four climbers and that’s is truly incredibly. It seems like all climbers gained more than they hoped for. Not sure how to improve something like that!

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