Course Details

Intermediate Climbing School (ICS) is an intensive, challenging, fun, and rewarding experience. At no other point in your climbing career are you likely to see your climbing skills advance more dramatically within a single, relatively short span of time.

ICS picks up where BCEP left off and teaches the skills necessary to be a strong assistant on advanced Mazama climbs, organize private climbs of your own, and for those who choose, take the next step into Climb Leader Development. 

The course takes place over a period of 9 months and includes lectures, field sessions, and social activities.

Course Format

ICS accepts approximately 35–45 students per year. The class operates as one group throughout the majority of the course. Lectures take place in a large group format, and during field sessions students break out into smaller groups. 

In addition to the skills taught during ICS, one of the main goals is to introduce you to a large group of people—your fellow students, instructors, and climb leaders—that you can learn from and who will hopefully become your climbing partners over time. 

ICS Skills

Basic Skills Rock Skills Snow Skills
Knots Rock Anchors Snow Anchors
Accident Management Belay & Rappel Techniques Belay & Rappel Techniques
Map & Compass Navigation 5th Class Rock Climbing Crevasse Rescue
Snow Camping 5th Class Seconding/Cleaning Glacier Travel
    Avalanche Awareness
    High Angle Snow Techniques

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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I want to apply for ICS, but won’t achieve the minimum requirements until the end of summer. Can I still apply?

During the selection process, preference is given to applicants who meet the minimum rock and snow requirements. However, other factors are also considered, such as your history of volunteering, performance on the skills test, and your reasons for applying. You have nothing to lose by applying, and may find yourself in the class.

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Can I skip a lecture and attend the field session?

No. The lectures have both presentations and skills practice in preparation for the weekend field session.

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Is trad leading/gear placement on lead taught as a part of ICS?

ICS will provide an introduction to leading and protecting moderate alpine routes using fixed protection, natural protection, and traditional gear.

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Is there a time limit for prerequisite climbs?

Up to 3 year gap is acceptable. Simply mention any reasons behind the gap within when you apply online (e.g. injury, move, new child, etc).

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What counts as alpine rock? Does it demand the use of ropes? What would you recommend if I’ve had a hard time getting onto Mazama alpine rock climbs?

Generally an alpine rock climb would involve a lengthy approach as opposed to most crags where climbs tend to be close to the parking lot. Examples of alpine rock include Unicorn Peak, Mt. Washington, and Three Fingered Jack. You may use a multi-pitch climb as one of your rock climbs.

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Will ICS ever be offered in modular form?

There are no formal plans to offer ICS in a modular structure at this time. The rock and snow sessions strongly compliment each other.

Course Details

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Schedule
  • ICS begins on August 31, 2021 and finishes in May.
  • The application period runs from July 13 through August 3
  • Admission tests are planned for August 5, 9, & 11.
  • Students will be notified of their acceptance status by August 16.
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Time Commitment/Duration

Moderate–ICS requires a moderate time commitment over a period of 9 months. There are periods of intense activity and then periods of time where there are several week breaks.

Long–ICS takes place over a period of 9 months and consists of many required activities.

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Tuition

The tuition for the 2021–22 course is $950 for members and $1100 for nonmembers. Mountaineering First Aid (or approved substitution) is also required for graduation and is a separate cost. Payment plans are available and can be requested through the application process. The payment plan charges 25% upon acceptance and then 25% on 9/15, 10/15, and 12/15.

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Skills Taught

ICS teaches intermediate level climbing skills, including additional knots, additional belay and rappel techniques, crevasse rescue, glacier travel, snow and rock anchors, map & compass navigation, avalanche awareness, accident management, snow camping, high angle snow climbing, 5th class rock climbing, and seconding/cleaning 5th class trad.

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Prerequisites

Ability and desire to commit to the entire course schedule.

Three successful climbs in the past three years. A minimum of one of these climbs should be either an alpine snow or rock climb.

Mazama membership is not required. This is a volunteer-based class for instructors and assistants. ICS places a high value on volunteer services within the Mazama community and the local community. Volunteer services will weigh favorably on the applicant.

Please provide a short statement on your past experience within the mountains, what you hope to get out of this class, and what you believe you will do with these new skills once the class is completed.

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Application Process

Factors that may help your admission:

Complete submission of the required application materials

Meet the minimum requirement of rock and snow climbs.

Ability to commit to ALL class sessions.

A strong statement of past experience and future use of skills.

Record of volunteer service with Mazamas and/or other local organizations.

The class will be filled to get a diverse group of students. The class will strive to balance gender as well as provide for a variety of ages and experience. Once applicants have been determined to meet the minimum standards, selection will be based on those factors listed above.

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Requirements

ICS is a demanding commitment in terms of time and gear, so apply only if you can make the necessary commitment. 

Participation in the first three rock field sessions, and their corresponding lectures is required. These sessions set the foundation for the remaining ICS curriculum.

If you miss one of these sessions you may not continue in the course. There are no refunds, but you may retake the course during another year pending the approval of the ICS Coordinator.

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Admission Test
The ICS Admission Test will require that you perform the following skills correctly the first time:

Belay — Setting up and executing a top-rope belay, with optional ground anchor, proper use of commands, safety checks. 

Rappel — Set up and properly execute a rappel using a tubular belay device (ATC, ATC Guide, Reverso, etc.) and autoblock back-up

Knots — Tie the following on the first demonstration: Overhand, Water Knot, Figure 8 on a Bite, Rewoven Figure 8/Tie-in Knot, Alpine Butterfly, Double Fisherman, Prusik Hitch, Clove Hitch, Girth Hitch, Munter

Rope Travel — Running Belay Pass Pro (glacier travel) + full gear setup displaying knowledge of glacier travel on a rope team and proper commands

 

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Class Completion
To complete ICS and receive a graduation certificate, ICS students must:

Attend and fully participate in each of the lectures and field sessions.

Complete the Mazama Wilderness First Aid (WFA) class. Current WFR certifications will count towards the WFA requirement.

Complete the Wilderness Navigation ICS module, unless you have completed the Mazama Navigation Skill Builder within the past year.

Assist with a BCEP group.

Pass the rock and snow assessments. Note: all lectures and field sessions must be completed prior to taking the final assessments. In the event that you have to make up any missed session(s) with next year’s class, you will take the assessment and graduate with next year’s class.

Note: Students must pass both the rock and snow assessments to participate in a Spring Outing.

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Scholarship Opportunities

We are offering a limited number of scholarships to allow students to participate who will not be able to do so without financial assistance and by whose participation can help expand the Mazamas membership base beyond current cultural, economic, and ethnic demographics.

A scholarship is for course tuition ONLY. Mazamas may cover the cost of your course up to 90 percent of the course tuition. Other costs associated with the course may apply. You must have access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet, as well as meet all minimum course requirements, pass the ICS entrance exam, and be approved by the ICS committee to be accepted into the class. Receipt of any scholarship does not guarantee acceptance into ICS. 

Applications for scholarships will be part of of the class application. The Mazamas will contact you with details of the status of your scholarship application before the acceptance date so you can make an informed financial decision about your ability to participate.