The Mazamas offers a variety of classes for all ability levels. Learn new skills in mountaineering, rock climbing, first aid, ski mountaineering, and more.
ICS 2020-21 cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
The ICS Committee has spent considerable time attempting to modify this year's class to meet safety standards and provide a high quality experience for students. Unfortunately, due to the current and likely future state of COVID-19 and the realities of a course like ICS, we cannot provide the 2020-21 class in a safe and responsible manner up to our standards.
Stay tuned for other ways to engage in the ICS curriculum this year!
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.
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.
|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|
|High Angle Snow Techniques|
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
During the selection process, preference is given to applicants who meet the rock and snow requirements. However, other factors are also considered, such as your involvement level with Mazamas, performance on the skills test, and your reasons for applying. You have nothing to lose by applying, and may find yourself in the class.
Contact the coordinator at email@example.com and alternatives can be worked out.
Yes. Contact the ICS Coordinator to discuss options, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. The lectures have both presentations and skills practice in preparation for the weekend field session.
No. The volunteer instructors bring their personal gear for the sessions.
ICS does not teach trad placement while on lead. ICS does cover using gear to build anchors and fixed line travel on low fifth class terrain.
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).
Generally an alpine rock climb would involve a lengthy approach as apposed 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.
There are no formal plans to offer ICS in a modular structure at this time. The rock and snow sessions strongly compliment each other.
ICS 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 July 16 through August 5.
Admission tests take place in early- to mid-August.
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.
The tuition for the 2019–20 course is $800 for members and $900 for nonmembers. Mountaineering First Aid (or approved substitution) is also required for graduation and is a separate cost.
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.
Ability and desire to commit to the entire course schedule.
Minimum two successful snow climbs and two successful rock climbs where 5th class rock was protected.
Mazama membership and involvement (volunteerism) is not required, but will be weighed heavily in the selection process.
Mazama Climb Leader letter of recommendation
The application period typically opens on July 16th and closes on August 5.
Factors that may help your admission:
Timely and complete submission of the required application materials
Strong resume in rock and snow
Ability to commit to ALL class sessions
Strong recommendations from Mazama Climb Leaders or equivalent
Record of volunteer service with Mazamas
All other things being equal in applications, preference will be given to applicants who are Mazama members
Preference will be given to applicants who have completed Mountaineering First Aid (MFA) or equivalent course
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 Education Coordinator.
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. Belay a following climber/ belay from the top using a standard belay method, from the harness, and commands
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—Fixed Line Pass Pro and commands. Running Belay Pass Pro (glacier travel) + full gear setup displaying knowledge of glacier travel on a rope team and proper commands
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 Mountaineering First Aid (MFA) class. Current WFR certifications will count towards the MFA 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.
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.