Are you an experienced hiker and backpacker  looking to climb some of the iconic mountains of the Pacific Northwest, like Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, or Mt. Hood? The Introduction to Alpine Climbing (IAC) class is great way to get the mountaineering skills needed to climb big snow covered peaks as a climbing team member, and get the basic skills for outdoor rocking climbing. This is a team-based class that strongly emphasizes experiential learning through its four field sessions. You will  get a chance to learn and practice climbing skills in realistic terrain, and conditions. The field sessions provide practical exposure to rock and snow climbing skills, as well as team-based climbing skills, and has overall goals of developing your mountain-sense, decision-making skills, and teaching Leave No Trace principles. Some field sessions will include overnight camping, and may include an “alpine” (nighttime) start. Ultimately, you will learn the technical skills needed to climb snow-covered, glaciated, and rock peaks as a climb team member.

Mazama members pay reduced tuition, and receive priority acceptance into the IAC class, if the class has more applicants than it can accept. If you have already summited a glaciated peak and you would like to join the mazamas, go to

NOTE: This is the inaugural year for the IAC class, and as a result it will be operated as a pilot program with a reduced number of class teams. This is so we can focus on providing a quality program for 2019, but also conscientiously gather participant feedback to help us refine the program for next year!


When you have completed the Introduction to Alpine Climbing class, you will be able to...

  • Demonstrate proficiency with general mountaineering, and alpine camping skills.    
  • Demonstrate knowledge of Leave No Trace principles.
  • Demonstrate foundation technical climbing skills for rock up to low 5th class (5.0 - 5.4).
  • Demonstrate foundation technical climbing skills for moderately steep snow.
  • Demonstrate fixed-line usage, and running-belay skills.
  • Demonstrate competency with basic climbing knots.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of preparing for a Mazama A or B climb



The field session schedule will vary by team, each team will have four required field sessions, including a total of six days of training.

Skills Session at the Mazama Mountaineering Center (MMC) (1 day): An opportunity to learn and practice some technical skills before going outdoors.

Adventure Hike Field Session (1 day): This is an opportunity to continue to practice the skills learned at the Skills Session in an outdoor, but relatively easy-going terrain. Objectives of this field session include a lot of skills practice, building team cohesion, and emphasizing and assessing physical fitness.

Rock Field Session(s) (2 days total): Two days of outdoor learning and practice of rock climbing skills on outdoor rock. These two days of training may be held on a single weekend (with group camping), or may be broken up into two individual field session days. This depends on the specific team.

Snow Field Session (2 day): This two-day field session includes an overnight camping experience in the alpine. You will learn and practice snow skills, and alpine camping skills, in realistic snow climbing terrain.

Proper Equipment Selection and Usage Belaying Running-Belay and Basic Glacier Travel
Fitness for Mountaineering Rappelling Self-Arrest with an Ice Axe
Weather Conditions Proper Communication & Signals Increase Awareness of Avalanche Danger & Risks
Leave No Trace Principles Traveling on a Fixed Line Preparing for an Alpine climb


Course Details

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IAC gets underway in late August/early September and finishes in May.

ICS typically hosts an Information Night in late June/early July.

The application period runs from early July through early August. 

Admission tests take place in early- to mid-August.

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Time Commitment/Duration

Time Commitment: High–IAC requires full commitment to 3 weekends of activity.

Duration: Moderate–IAC takes place over a maximum period of 4 weeks.

Frequently Asked Question Icon Icon of the letter i in a circle.

2019 tuition is $350 for Mazama members and $425 for non-members.

If you have already summited a glaciated peak, you may choose to Join the Mazamas prior to applying to IAC, and received the reduced rate. Standard Mazama membership is $72/annually.