Trad with Topher

Trad Climbing Coaching

Do you and your partner want to be safer, better, faster, more confident trad climbers – and get a professional photo of yourselves on lead at the same time?  In this visionary new course, legendary guide, climber and photographer Topher Donahue shares his techniques for being a safe, efficient and solid trad leader.


How it works:

Topher will ascend a rope next to you and your partner as you climb together.  This will allow Topher to watch your technique and offer suggestions for improvement in real time, as well as photograph you on lead.

The climbs will be chosen in consultation with Topher to determine the right difficulty for your ability. Only climbs with good protection potential will be considered. Venues include Eldorado Canyon and Boulder Canyon. A team of two is required for this course; however, it is not necessary for both climbers to lead. Single climbers can enroll, provided there is another climber also interested in the course with a similar climbing ability.


The Benefits:

  • Enjoy a safer and faster learning curve to improve your trad climbing ability.
  • Have each piece of protection, belay anchor, and system evaluated on the spot by one of the world’s most experienced trad climbers.
  • Go home with great photos of you leading in a beautiful climbing area taken by a famous climbing photographer.

About Topher:

Topher DonahueTopher Donahue began guide training when he was 8 years old under the tutelage of this father, Mike Donahue, the founder of the Colorado Mountain School. By age 14 Topher was guiding rock and alpine climbs in Rocky Mountain National Park. Topher’s climbing resume includes safe ascents of the world’s most adventurous rock climbs, but more importantly, Topher has spent his entire life learning to communicate the subtle yet important elements of how to climb better and safer at all levels.

Course Details


-3 pitches or more of trad climbing (any grade) on lead.
-Experience placing natural anchors.
-It is recommended that you use your own rack, but if your equipment is not adequate additional lead equipment will be provided.


Each day will run from about 8:00am till 4:00pm

Meeting location:

Boulder based course:
2829 Mapleton Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301

Estes based course:
341 Moraine Avenue
Estes Park, CO 80517


Price does not include food, water, transportation, or lodging.

Sample Itinerary:

  • Day one: Topher will assess your anchor placements and determine the right climbs for your abilities before you will begin leading on short, well-protected climbs. If Topher determines that you are not ready to lead on your own, he will set a top rope so you can simulate your leads with a belay from above.
  • Day two: Topher will ascend a rope beside you on a well-protected multi-pitch climb, teaching you his world-class methods for climbing efficiently and safely on bigger climbs.


When making your reservation for the class, include a list of pitches you have led to assist Topher in choosing the right venue for the course.