The five-day Mountaineering Development Series course is the perfect introduction to mountaineering. Don’t let the winter months keep you inside. With plenty of climbing and skills work, individuals will learn the basic of mountaineering. Start with snow travel skills – such as travelling as a roped team, techniques for walking in crampons, using a mountaineering axe properly and self-arresting a fall. – and end the course doing a big mountaineering route in Rocky Mountain National Park. This course is a great first step towards winter ascents, glaciated peaks, and expeditions.
All of our courses can be run as custom outings. If you’re interested in a course, but it doesn’t fit into your schedule, please check out our custom guiding options.
Rocky Mountain National Park provides excellent terrain for learning mountaineering skills at any time of the year. Depending on your own personal goals, climbing conditions may affect which time of year you decide to enroll.
May through early July: The best time for snow climbing in Colorado. The mountaineering program this time of year is prime for alpine snow and couloir climbing.
July through November: Much of the seasonal snow has melted by this time of year and all that remains are the perennial snowfields. Largely, the mountaineering courses during this time are centered on rock skills with 3rd/4th class terrain management being the focus. Snow can still be found at times, but can sometimes be difficult to reach and is never guaranteed.
December through February: Winter in the Colorado Front Range. The focus of the mountaineering program during this time is winter travel skills. Often times snow conditions are 1) Too unconsolidated to provide any option for true snow climbing and 2) Too dangerous from an avalanche hazard perspective to venture onto steep snow slopes. The course is centered on mixed rock, snow and ice objectives in a wintry environment.
March and April: March and April can be hit or miss for prime snow conditions. Often times the Front Range receives large spring storms that can make snow climbing unreasonable or we can benefit from warmer temperatures creating good snow climbing conditions on particular aspects. This time of year, the focus of the program could be on snow climbing or rock-centric depending on conditions, which are often quite variable.
Day 1: Snow travel skills – Learn how to travel as a roped team, including belaying, techniques for efficient travel in crampons and using a mountaineering axe.
Day 2: Climb a route – We’ve covered a lot of great skills on day one, now let’s put them to use. We’ll head out and climb a route that best suits the group and conditions.
Day 3: Rock climbing skills or ice climbing – If ice is available, the group will learn the skills needed to climb technical ice. If ice hasn’t formed, we’ll focus on skills needed to climb rock and mixed routes in winter conditions.
Day 4: Navigation/route preparation – After three days of climbing and working on skills, it is time for a bit of a break (physically). Navigation is a necessary skill to have if you plan on spending any time in the mountains. We’ll work on map and compass skills and prep for our big climb the next day.
Day 5: Mountaineering Objective – Time to head in and do a big mountaineering route. We’ll utilize all the skills we learned over the past 4 days.
Colorado Mountain School
341 Moraine Avenue
Estes Park, CO 80517
If you require lodging at our Estes Park Adventure Hostel, please make your reservations online in advance. Beds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Our hostel features 16 beds in 3 rooms, bathrooms, showers, a full kitchen with appliances, dishes and utensils, wi-fi, ping-pong table, and a lounge area. Please be considerate of others lodgers during your stay.
We believe that your training is best taught by combining theoretical concepts and experiential learning. Some topics are best learned in a comfortable classroom setting and others in the mountains, moving through terrain. You’ll have both.
The first portion of your course will be conducted in a classroom setting. In the interest of health and safety for our students and instructors, classroom format for the 2020/21 season may include e-learning and/or group video discussions in an effort to limit close contact in closed spaces.
The majority of your course will take place in the mountains where we will learn in an open-air environment. You should be prepared, mentally and physically, to stay immersed in the backcountry for up to eight hours. You will be assigned to a small pod consisting of one Instructor and a maximum of six students to allow intimate instruction and physical distancing.The nature of this pandemic requires us to be flexible and adaptable in how we deliver a quality training experience. Rest assured, from the moment you enroll all the way up to your course field day(s) and beyond, our instructors will be a part of your learning progression and will provide you with the tools and resources you need to best prepare for your training. If you’d like to learn more about what we are doing to manage COVID-19 risk for our students and guides, please view our FAQ page.
All Upcoming Dates and Locations:
- November 20, 2021 - November 24, 2021 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- December 4, 2021 - December 8, 2021 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- December 18, 2021 - December 22, 2021 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- January 8, 2022 - January 12, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- February 5, 2022 - February 9, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- February 26, 2022 - March 2, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- March 26, 2022 - March 30, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- April 23, 2022 - April 27, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- May 7, 2022 - May 11, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- May 21, 2022 - May 25, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- May 28, 2022 - June 1, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- June 4, 2022 - June 8, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- June 18, 2022 - June 22, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- July 2, 2022 - July 6, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado
- July 16, 2022 - July 20, 2022 - Mountaineering Development Series: Level 1 - Estes Park, Colorado