The Denver Group of the CMC has created a complete education program for members to obtain the skills and knowledge needed to safely participate in Club and outdoor activities.

This program offers 30 courses ranging from entry level to advanced and are arranged into five activity areas. Click on an area below to scroll to that section or click here to see a quick list of all courses:

Hiking and Camping

Learn the range of skills needed to hike and camp safely in the backcountry. Hiking and camping courses are taught on easy to moderate terrain, on and off trail. All are non-technical courses (no ropes).

Wilderness Trekking School (WTS): The Wilderness Trekking School is CMC’s comprehensive introduction to hiking in the backcountry. It is often the first course members take. It teaches you the full range of skills you need to safely and confidently enjoy day trips in the backcountry. It covers topics such as essential gear, off-trail travel techniques, navigation skills, and handling an unexpected night in the backcountry, among others. This course is offered twice a year, beginning in April and September: five evening classroom sessions and five day-trips. It has no prerequisites. Graduation satisfies the prerequisite for Alpine Scrambling Course and a requirement for a C classification.

Backpacking School (BKPS): The Backpacking School is for members interested in extending their time in the mountains beyond day trips. Backpacking School builds on the basic skills learned in the Wilderness Trekking School and adds the skills for camping overnight in the backcountry in the spring, summer and fall. It covers topics such as gear and clothing, campcraft, cooking, water treatment, organizing a trip, and staying warm, among others. This course is taught once a year, starting in June: four evening classroom sessions and three overnight trips. Wilderness Trekking or equivalent experience is required as a prerequisite.

Winter Camping School (WCS): Winter Camping School is for those who want to learn the skills and enjoy the pleasures of backpacking in the winter and other times when it is cold and there is snow on the ground. You will learn to use the equipment and techniques that will keep you warm and dry on an intentional overnight stay in a cold environment. It covers subjects such as clothing, traveling on snow, setting up a campsite, cooking, and sleeping comfortably, among others. This is not a survival course. The course is offered once a year, starting in February: three evening classroom sessions, two focused day trips for equipment checkout and snow shelter construction, and two overnight trips. There is no prerequisite.

Mountaineering and Climbing

The Mountaineering and Climbing program offers training in a range of activities, from semi-technical scrambling, technical rock, ice and snow climbing and expeditions to climb high glaciated peaks. Together, they offer a range of experiences, from introductory to advanced skills.

Alpine Scrambling Course (ASC): Alpine scrambling is a form of mountaineering that involves off-trail travel on rugged terrain, with sections of moderate exposure, which usually includes moderately steep rock or snow. This is a semi-technical course where ropes and climbing equipment will be carried but not anticipated to be used. This course is for people who want to learn scrambling, and for people who want to build skills and confidence to advance to full-on technical climbing. The skills learned in ASC can be used to reach the summits of hundreds of Colorado’s 13ers and 14ers. The course is offered once a year, starting in May: two evening classroom sessions and four day trips. Wilderness Trekking School and a Denver Group C hiking classification are prerequisites.

Technical Climbing School (TCS): Technical Climbing School is a program that offers 17 short courses that cover a range of technical climbing and mountaineering skills. They include rock climbing, snow climbing, ice climbing, sport climbing and related mountaineering skills such as navigation. The courses range progressively from basic skills for new climbers to advanced skills. Each course includes a small number of evening classroom sessions and a small number of field days. No previous climbing experience is needed to get started. Courses are offered throughout the year, with multiple sessions offered for each course. Students are free to choose which courses to take and when. There are no prerequisites for the basic courses. Advanced courses do have prerequisites.

High Altitude Mountaineering School (HAMS): The High Altitude Mountaineering School is for CMC members who are interested in developing their alpine skills to be able to safely climb high glaciated peaks, beginning with Mt. Rainier. HAMS graduates frequently go on to climb high peaks around the world, including those in Alaska, South America, and the Himalayas. The HAMS Glacier Travel and High Peak Expeditions module offers instruction in roped glacier travel, crevasse rescue, and expedition planning. Students will also be offered co-requisite instruction in glacier camping and basic ice climbing. HAMS is offered once a year, starting in January and includes six evening classroom sessions, three field trips, and couloir training climbs. To achieve a HAMS certificate, students will also plan and participate in a multi-day climb of Mt. Rainier or another high glaciated peak. Prerequisites for HAMS include the Technical Climbing School’s Intermediate Mountaineering Certificate (specifically Intermediate Rock, Technical Snow, and Rock Self-Rescue I modules or equivalent experience), a C hiking classification, and at least one couloir climb. HAMS satisfies a prerequisite for Advanced Crevasse Rescue Seminar. More information may be found on the HAMS web-page.

Advanced Crevasse Rescue Seminar (ACRS): The Advanced Crevasse Rescue Seminar teaches advanced techniques for crevasse rescue on a glacier. This seminar is NOT an introductory course and will NOT review basic glacier travel techniques. You will participate in realistic simulations of a crevasse fall and rescue and get the experience you need to rescue a climber from a crevasse and to mitigate your own risk if you fall into a crevasse yourself. The course is offered in April: two evening classroom sessions and one field day. HAMS graduates, current HAMS students or equivalent crevasse rescue experience is a prerequisite.

Knot Tying Seminar (KTS): The Knot Tying Seminar is primarily for people preparing for climbing and mountaineering schools (Technical Climbing School courses and High Altitude Mountaineering School) to learn or reinforce their knot and rope skills and knowledge. The training is hands-on with mostly one-on-one instruction. Topics include the design and care of modern climbing ropes, 22 knots -how they are tied and what they are used for, webbing and knots used with webbing, and more. The course is offered in November: two evening classroom sessions. There are no prerequisites.


Whether you are seeking the joys of ski touring, carving telemark turns or the excitement of ski mountaineering, the skiing program has something for you.

Backcountry Ski Touring School (BSTS): The Backcountry Ski Touring School teaches the classic Nordic-style cross-country skiing technique. Students include those new to the sport and more advanced skiers who want to fine-tune their skills. Classes are small and tailored to students’ level of experience. The course covers proper gear and clothing, balance, striding, uphill and downhill maneuvers and avalanche awareness, among others. There is one interactive evening classroom session in December, followed by three days on the snow starting in January. There is no prerequisite.

Telemark Ski School (TSS): The Telemark Ski School is for anyone interested in learning or improving their telemark skiing skills, from first-timers to advanced telemark skiers who want to refine their technique. You will learn the skills on a ski area slope, and then transition those skills to the backcountry. Two sessions are offered, one in January and one in February: one evening classroom meeting and two day trips. You must be adequately fit and able to ski “green” slopes on downhill or telemark skis. Check the TSS web-page for details. There is no prerequisite.

Ski Mountaineering School (SMS): If you are interested in taking your skiing skills and experience to the backcountry, the Ski Mountaineering School may be for you. You will learn the skills, attitudes and awareness needed for Colorado 14er ski descents and ski traverses such as the Haute Route in the Alps. Topics covered include planning and preparation, gear, avalanche assessment and more. The course begins in March: three evening classroom sessions, at least five day trips and at least two multi-day trips. Prerequisites include comfort on black diamond terrain, backcountry experience, appropriate fitness and stamina, avalanche training and more. Check the SMS web-page for details.


While virtually all activity-related CMC courses teach safety in the context of that activity, we also offer courses whose main focus is safety.

Introduction to Hiking Safety (IHS): Learning how to be safe in the backcountry is a major reason many members join the CMC. So we’ve developed a one-evening seminar especially for new members and others who want to learn the basics on hiking safety. You will learn the many aspects of safety you need to be aware of, including subjects such as lightning, avalanche, animal encounters, getting lost (or staying found) and being stranded over night. You will also learn about the extensive program of in-depth, hands-on safety training offered in the CMC Denver Group’s adult education curriculum. The seminar is run bi-monthly: one evening seminar session. There is no prerequisite.

Wilderness First Aid (WFA): The Wilderness First Aid course presents the nationally certified training program for first aid, focusing on the kind of first aid needs common to wilderness activities and circumstances in which professional help may a long time and distance away. Topics include patient assessment, weather (heat, cold) and altitude related illness, trauma, medical emergencies and more. The course includes lecture, hands-on practice, and scenarios training. There is also an optional CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) course offered at the end of some WFA courses. The WFA course is offered in the spring and fall, both as a full program (two all-day classroom sessions) and as a re-certification (one all-day classroom session). There is no prerequisite for this course. WFA satisfies a prerequisite for Trip Leader School and the D hiker certification.

Wilderness Survival School (WSS): The Wilderness Survival School is designed to provide the skills and confidence to increase the odds of survival in an unexpected stay in the wilderness. Topics include preventing survival emergencies, shelters, signaling, fire-craft, hypothermia and other medical emergencies, and perhaps most important, the psychology of emergencies and survival. The course is offered in May: three evening classroom sessions and one overnight trip. There is no prerequisite.

Avalanche Terrain Avoidance seminar (ATA): The Avalanche Terrain Avoidance seminar is a basic course to help you recognize when and where avalanche danger may exist and how to avoid it. Sources of information and methods for planning avalanche-safe routes will be presented. This seminar will not teach you about beacons, probes or avalanche rescue. The seminar is offered three times: in November, January and February: one evening classroom session with an optional field day. There is no prerequisite.

Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain – Level 1 (AIARE I): The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education’s (AIARE) Level 1 course is the North American standard for anyone who participates in winter/spring activities that can take you into potential avalanche terrain such as climbing, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, or ice climbing. This course will provide a basic understanding of avalanches and teach you a framework for decision making and risk management in avalanche terrain. There are two sessions, one in February [three days held in Empire, CO., and on Berthoud Pass] and one in March [two

evening lectures in Golden, two days in Empire and on Berthoud Pass]. There are no prerequisites for this course. AIARE I satisfies a co-requisite for the HAMS certificate.

Trip Leader School (TLS): Trip Leader School is the training program for Denver Group trip leaders. Completing this program is a requirement for becoming a certified trip leader and to lead Denver Group trips. You will learn CMC policies, legal and risk considerations, trip planning, group dynamics, incident management and will participate in a field trip during which you will engage in scenarios that simulate the kind of challenges trip leaders can encounter. Trip leader school is offered in the spring and the fall: ½ day morning classroom session and ½ day afternoon field trip. Prerequisites for Trip Leader School include CMC membership for a minimum of one year, having gone on three CMC club trips and Wilderness First Aid certification.


The Fly Fishing Section, which promotes the aquatic habitat of the Colorado Rockies through the art of Fly Fishing, conducts schools, seminars, clinics, fishing trips, monthly meetings with guest speakers, service projects and social events. For more information, check the Fly Fishing Section web-page. Learn more.

* Fly Fishing School (FFS): Experienced instructors teach the basics of fishing gear, clothing, knots, stream structure, fish behavior and casting. The course is designed for beginners but may also be useful for those with more experience. The course is offered in March: three evening classroom sessions and two field days. There is no prerequisite.

The Photography Section is committed to helping people improve their outdoor photography skills and provide photographic opportunities through meetings, classes, social events and photo hikes and events. The Photography Section provides two hours of instruction each month, plus day long schools for both beginners and experts covering photographic and post processing techniques. For more information, check the Photography Section web-page.

* Creative Outdoor Photography (COP): This course is appropriate for people at all levels of experience and all types of cameras including point-and-shoot, phone and DSLR. There will be hands-on training addressing camera settings, various photographic techniques and some photo editing. You will learn about managing a variety of common wilderness situations as well as composition, color, light and dark and much more. This course in taught in the spring: one evening classroom session and one field day. There is no prerequisite.


School Directors

Resource link

Advanced Crevasse Rescue Seminar