Steps to Becoming a Trip Leader and Technical Trip Leader

Updated July 201

 1.   Be a current CMC Denver Group member.

2.   Complete 5 CMC Denver Group trips of which no more than 2 may be school field trips.

3.   Take the Wilderness First Aid (WFA) class. It is preferable to complete WFA before Trip Leader School, (TLS) but concurrent enrollment in TLS and WFA is acceptable.  When signing up for the class, make sure you sign up for the class for leaders. CPR is not required to become a trip leader but having it is encourage.  Both WFA and CPR are available to active leaders, active members and CMC Denver school instructors through the SALT (Support Aid for Trip Leader) program.

4.   Information on attending Trip Leader School can be found at: Trip Leader School . There is No Fee for the Trip Leader School but an application must be submitted. Click here for the application.  

5.   Complete Trip Leader School (TLS), which includes 4 hours of lecture and 4 hours of an in-field Leader in Training hike where role playing and working through scenarios are done. Completing TLS counts as one Leader-in-Training (LIT) trip. The second LIT trip should be completed with an Instructor Leader that is not related to you and is not a significant other.

6.   To lead trips during the Winter season, defined as November through April, a trip leader must have avalanche training, either Avalanche Terrain Avoidance, or AIARE Level 1. A more detailed description of these options can be found in the document referenced by clicking this LINK

  • Complete the CMC Denver Group Avalanche Terrain Avoidance (ATA) class if you wish to lead winter non-backcountry trips (see definition of “winter” and “non-backcountry” in above referenced document).
  • Complete the CMC Denver Group AIARE Level 1 Avalanche School if you wish to lead winter backcountry trips (see above referenced document for definition of backcountry).

7.   Within 18 months of completing TLS, complete a Denver Group Trip Leader Application, available at this link, Leader Application, attach the completed LIT Evaluation Form, and send all the requested documents to:  [email protected].

8.   Approval: The DS&L Committee approves leader applications electronically when all requirements are verified.  If questions arise about the application, a plan of action is put in place to resolve any deficiencies.  Membership Services and the applicant are notified by the DS&L Trip Leader Certification Coordinator.  Membership Services then inputs the approved leader’s name into the data base and the leader may begin scheduling trips for which he/she is certified.

9.   If you plan to lead technical trips, fly-fishing trips, cycling trips or downhill ski trips, please read below to learn about the required additional requirements.

Technical Trip Leader Application Process

  1. Applicant successfully completes Trip Leader school and becomes a trip leader at the appropriate level they will be leading trips (C or D classification).
  2. Applicant successfully completes the technical CMC school at the discipline he/she wishes to lead: TRAD (Rock), TICS (Ice), Anchors (Top Rope), and HAMS (Snow) or equivalent as determined by director of Technical Climbing Schools (TCS or HAMS). .  Waiver can be granted to an experienced applicant in a climbing discipline by a senior instructor with the school director’s approval by 1) submitting a climbing resume of classes and experience 2) personally climbing with the applicant to evaluate skill and judgment.
  3. Applicant (traditional or waived) assists teaching TCS for 2 sessions at least 6 months apart and/or full school year of HAMS.
  4. A final recommendation for technical leader applicant, after completion of steps 1-4, is provided to Safety and Leadership Committee by HAMS or TCS committee. This recommendation is based on judgment, skills, and leadership ability. The applicant must understand that he/she will lead trips at or below the individual’s level of ability.
  5. Applicant schedules and successfully completes an LIT tech climb with an Instructor Leader, IL, in the discipline the applicant wishes to lead.
  6. Applicant applies to Denver Safety and Leadership for TTL certification. After obtaining TTL certification in one discipline, the leader is allowed to lead trips in other disciplines by:
  7. successfully completing a CMC school in another discipline (TICS, TRAD, HAMS, Anchors) and
  8. instructing in TCS or HAMS for 1 session. Another LIT is NOT required except for SNOW. The applicant will provide DS&L an approval from a Senior Instructor or School Director for the additional discipline.
  9. TTL must lead a technical level trip once every 2 years for CMC to retain TTL certification.
  10. Technical Trip Classifications:
  •          Rock: 5.0 or above
  •          Snow: any climb on moderate or steeper snow that requires ice ax, crampons, helmet. This also may include the need for a rope,  harness, and ice, rock or snow protection.
  •            Ice: all ice climbing
  •           Top rope:  all top rope trips

Complete this Technical Trip Leader Application form which should be filled out and submitted to [email protected] with the other required documents.


Bike Leaders

Members wishing to become bike trip leaders should complete the Trip Leader Application form and submit to DS&L.

  • Successfully complete CMC Trip Leader School
  • Successfully complete Wilderness First Aid or have equivalent training or experience
  • Demonstrate during a Leader in Training (LIT) Ride:
  • Rules of the road
  • Ability to manage cycling group dynamic situations, including regrouping at intersections or junctions for direction changes where members could become separated
  • Familiarity with the selected LIT route
  • Knowledge of general bike maintenance: tire repair, chain breakage, brake problems
  • Carry a first aid kit with cycling items

It is recommended bike leaders complete a bike maintenance class offered by a bike retailer, bike safety organization or a similar organization. Wearing a bike helmet is required for bike leaders and bike trip participants.


Downhill Ski Coordinator Criteria

CMC downhill ski trips are to be contained within the commercial resort boundaries where the commercial entity maintains a patrolled ski area. Downhill Ski Coordinators and members registered for the trip are not authorized to leave the patrolled terrain while participating in an official CMC Activity Trip.

Any backcountry travel designation classifies the trip as a backcountry trip requiring the certified leader to have completed AIARE Level 1 avalanche training.

The basic skills/training for a Downhill Ski Coordinator are:

  • Procedure for contacting the ski patrol in an emergency
  • Carpool organization, need for driving instructions, parking lot designation at the ski resort
  • Understanding of group dynamics and assembly procedures such as setting meeting location at the beginning and ending of a trip and/or at lunch
  • Determining the processes to be followed at designated departure time and the procedure needed in the event a participant has not arrived by the designated departure time
  • Knowledge of basic trip procedures such as trip scheduling, trip confirmation, trip reports, guest policies and driver mileage reimbursement
  • Knowledge of contact and accident/incident procedures if an accident has occurred

Downhill Ski Coordinators are certified by Denver Safety & Leadership Committee (DS&L) to coordinate trips to licensed, patrolled ski areas only. Existing leaders or new leaders who wish to be Downhill Ski Coordinators should submit an application to DS&L.


Fly Fishing Trip Leaders

The process of becoming a fly fishing trip leader is very similar to that of becoming a general hike leader. The following are the special steps apply:

  • Successfully complete Trip Leader School
  • Successfully complete Fly Fishing School or have equivalent experience
  • Successfully complete Wilderness First Aid or have equivalent training or experience
  • Successfully complete two LIT trips:  One” A” hike and one Fly Fishing Trip; LIT may substitute a hike at a “B” or “C” level or backpack should they so elect to do so providing the LIT meets the B or  C classification requirements or backpack requirements; the Fly Fishing Trip must be scheduled through the Denver Group Fly Fishing Section
  • Demonstrate the following Flying Fishing trip requirements during the LIT Fly Fishing Trip:
  • Members of the trip must let the LIT trip leader know where they will be fishing and estimated return time
  • LIT schedules a return time and place for the group to meet at the end of the day; this necessitates all members have a time piece
  • LIT is aware of need for trip members to “Buddy up” with another member of the trip and keep in touch with them while fishing.  (This requirement is for safety.  If one of the two individuals needs help, then the other one can locate the rest of the group along the river or lake and assist as required)
  • Review safety and etiquette guidelines for Wading Fly Fishing with the members on trip prior to fishing.  (These topics are covered in the CMC DG Fly Fishing Handbook used in the Fly Fishing School)


Trip Leader Application Forms

These are the forms that should be followed and filled out to become a trip leader. Again, be sure to make copies before submitting completed forms to [email protected]

The LIT Guidelines should be read by both the Instructor Leader and the Leader in Training before the hike.

The LIT Evaluation Form is completed by the Instructor Leader after the hike is concluded. Both should be familiar with the form before the hike begins as this document outlines what the LIT is specifically expected to do.

Complete the Leader Application and return to [email protected] as specified in application.

The Technical Trip Leader Application should be filled out and submitted to [email protected] with the other required documents.

The Support Aid for Leader Training (SALT) program application can be used to apply for scholarships to cover Denver Group schools including WFA, CPR/AED, and Trip Leader School if you are interested in becoming a trip leader.