Alpine Scrambling Course

Due to an inability to get a sufficient number of students and instructors vaccinated, there will be no 2021 course this year.  Hopefully 2022 will allow us to continue.


Below is the information from the 2020 Course:

2020 Alpine Scrambling Course (ASC)

ASC Mission: To provide the skills necessary for CMC members to safely climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks.

Enrollment Opens March 1st (at 12:01am)

Click here after March 1st to register.

Should the course fill, CMC members can get on the Wait List by going through the standard enrollment process.  No tuition money will be paid until that member is moved to the official Participant List.  Should there be an opening, moving to the Participant List is not automatic but will be done by the course director.  Individuals will be notified by email and will be asked to contact the CMC office to now pay their enrollment tuition.

 Beginning with 2018 there was a reconfiguration of the traditional ASC curriculum: The new ASC Program now consists of two parts:  The ASC Course and the ASC Elective Scrambles.

ASC Course:

Safety Lecture #1:     Thu, May 21    Location: CMC Conference Room A
Time: 6:00pm – 9:45pm

Safety Lecture #2:     Thu, May 28    Location: CMC Conference Room A
Time: 6:00pm – 9:45pm

Contingency Day:     Wed, Jun 03    Location: CMC Conference Room A
Time: 6:00pm – 9:45pm

Skills Field Day:     Students select Sat, June 6 or Sun, June 7 Location: TBD
Time: 5:00am – 6:00pm

  •  Contingency Field Day in case of bad weather:  Sat/Sun, June 13/June 14 (5:00am)

Attendance at both Safety Lectures and the Skills Field Day are a prerequisite to participate in the Elective Scrambles field days.  Within the current session there is no provision to make-up a missed ASC Course event so please ensure you are available for all these dates (including the potential contingency dates).

ASC Elective Scrambles:

Throughout the summer, students that successfully complete the ASC Course will be provided the opportunity to participate with the ASC Elective Scrambles.  Successful completion of at least three, each progressively more challenging, Elective Scrambles will be required for the student to complete the ASC Program.  Completing the ASC Program will then be noted in the student’s CMC profile under “My Schools.”

Prior to each summer session (usually in April), students will be assigned into groups and it is expected that students will complete all their Elective Scrambles with that group.  Specific dates for the field days will be determined within the group on a group-by-group basis.  Please keep your summer schedule open until groups and dates have been determined.  It is very challenging to re-assign students to another group once the initial instructor/student teams have been determined.  Often, the only recourse is a tuition refund.

The Elective Scrambles will be arranged so that the month of June will be dedicated to the easier scrambles (CATegory 1) which will help the student immerse more gradually, as well as helping the instructor team determine suitability for the more challenging follow-on scrambles.  July will be dedicated to scrambles of moderate difficulty (CATegory 2) and August will be focused on the harder, more challenging scrambles (CATegory 3).  Students are expected to work through this progression in a sequential logical manner.  Each group will also determine a September “contingency” date should a primary date be rescheduled due to weather.  It will be the student’s responsibility to attend these scheduled events with the understanding that there may be no opportunity to make-up a missed field day.

The Elective Scrambles will typically be rated at the Denver Group “Hard C” hiking classification level, but some may even be in the “Easy D” classification range.  C classified trips can be up to 15 miles roundtrip and/or up to 3,500 feet in elevation gain; D trips can be over 15 miles roundtrip and/or over 3,500 feet in elevation gain.

And as an important note of clarification:  The scramble difficulty for every trip is based only with respect to climbing exposure; even the June easy trip will be rated at a C or D hiking level.  Said differently, students must enter the ASC Program already possessing a good hiking pace and good hiking stamina.  The instructors will then build upon this physical baseline to help you get comfortable with that exposure while they teach the technical and proactive skills necessary to safely scramble Colorado’s more challenging highest hundred.


  • Course Tuition: $115 for Denver Group and non-Denver Group members

Required Equipment:  Approximately $270

  • Ice axe with waist leash – $85
  • Adjustable climbing helmet – $60
  • Seat harness – $65
  • Locking carabineers (one large and one small) – $26
  • Webbing and accessory cord – $13
  • Text book: A Hiker’s Guide to Scrambling Safely by Tom Morin – (Hardcopy book out of print; E-book available at no additional cost once accepted into the ASC Course)
  • Guide book: Colorado Scrambles by Dave Cooper – $21 at the CMC office – (The guidebook will be an important aid during the Elective Scrambles)

The required equipment will be discussed in the first Safety Lecture, so please refrain from buying until after that date.  However, if you get an REI 20% coupon and would like to purchase early, then consult the Supplemental Equipment Information document (link below).  The last page (page 14) in this document provides specific brand and model equipment recommendations.


  • CMC Wilderness Trekking School (WTS) with successful ice axe self-arrest during the WTS snow day
  • Denver Group C hiking classification (contact the CMC office with questions)
  • Very good physical condition (refer to the ASC Self-Evaluation Process link below)
  • Age 14 or older


  • Initial registration and tuition payment for the course is through the CMC Trip Calendar. Within the CMC Trip Calendar click on the entry for the start date for the Alpine Scrambling Course.  The start date, as mentioned above, is the date for Safety Lecture #1.
  • Final acceptance and official enrollment will only occur once the completed ASC Application form is returned. Click on the Registration and Application Process link (below) to access the application form.

Course Overview

Alpine scrambling is a form of mountaineering that primarily involves off-trail travel.  Off-trail travel can consist of steep rock, loose rock, loose talus, scree, low angle snow, stream crossings, and bushwhacking; sometimes all on the same trip.

Since most Colorado summits are only accessible by scramble routes, the skills acquired in this course will provide the means to reach the summits of the Colorado 14ers as well as hundreds of other peaks.  The Alpine Scrambling Course is also a great choice for those interested in climbing semi-technical or non-standard routes.

While much of the enjoyment of scrambling is freedom from technical gear and complicated rock climbing techniques, unroped scrambling in exposed situations is potentially one of the more dangerous aspects of mountaineering.  For this reason, education and training specific to scrambling is important for safe and confident climbing.

During the ASC Course, each student will practice elementary technical techniques in preparation for the more challenging scrambles.  An initial review of ice axe self-arrest, basic map and compass, and the fit-and-usage of the seat harness and helmet will all provide for a more confident and safe climbing environment.

Leaders of scrambling trips will carry a rope and some protection gear during the field days.  The technical gear may be used for security on exposed sections, or to facilitate a safer retreat in case of difficulty.  Sustained use of the technical gear is not taught in this course.  ASC students need to be comfortable, or plan on getting comfortable, with exposure since that is a significant aspect of scrambling.

Although many find the ASC a comfortable bridge between WTS and the harder modules within the Technical Climbing School, others find the ASC an end in itself.  For those with modest goals and aspirations, the ASC will provide a rewarding experience.  For those with more lofty ambitions, the ASC will add skills, confidence, and conditioning in anticipation of moving to the TCS program.

In addition, for CMC graduates of the TCS the ASC also offers real-world scrambling experience allowing those individuals that prefer to learn while doing an additional opportunity to broaden their suite of skills.

Caution:  It is not advised for CMC members to enroll in multiple CMC courses simultaneously.  If you desire to be enrolled in the ASC while currently enrolled in WTS/BKPS/TCS/HAMS, understand that CMC schools do not coordinate their lecture and field day schedules which can result in a conflict.  Although some CMC members have been successful doing this, just has many have had to withdraw from one of the schools.  Please don’t underestimate the overall commitment necessary to participate with multiple courses, as well as the physical effort required for potential back-to-back field days.

 For those individuals who have never scrambled or believe they may have issues overcoming their concerns with exposure, understand that the scrambling instructors will schedule easier scrambles earlier in the season allowing students to gradually increase their comfort level with this new activity.  Missing an easier scramble has resulted in student frustration on a more difficult climb as they were not mentally prepared.  This can be discouraging and has led past students to withdraw prematurely.

And as a final comment, the physical and mental demands of the ASC are not to be underestimated.  A typical 4:00am meet time, long approach hikes while carrying a 20+ lb pack, challenging scrambles with exposed climbing, and a late afternoon return to the trailhead, can take its toll on the mind and body.  Please consider this when applying.

Learn More

You may consider the following sources of information beneficial:

For additional information, please contact the ASC Director, Rich McAdams

Support Aid for Leader Training (SALT)

If you are a Denver Group trip leader, working toward becoming a trip leader, or an instructor in a Denver Group school, you may be eligible for free tuition for this course under the SALT program.  Click the link for more information as well as access to the SALT application form.  Please note, for this tuition assistance you will receive a promotional code from SALT that you will use to enroll in this course. Click here for more information.


CMC School Tuition Refund Policy (revised for 2020)

Denver Group school refund policy is as follows:  Student/participant requests for a refund of tuition/fees must be requested in writing (e.g. email) to the appropriate school or event director.

Cancel or withdraw 31 or more days from the start date of the school:  Full refund will be issued less the $35 per person processing fee.  Or, a full credit can be transferred to the same or another school in the future without incurring the processing fee.

Cancel or withdraw 8 to 30 days from the start date of the school:  Full refund will be issued less 25% of the fee paid but no less than the $35 per person processing fee.  Or, full credit can be deferred until the next same school without incurring the processing fee; however, if the same school in the future is not on the schedule at the time of cancellation, then the deferment is not an option.

Cancel or withdraw 7 days or less from the start date of the school:  No refund or credit will be issued.


1-Ascending 2-Crossing Snowfield 3-Summit Success 4-Descending