Steps to Becoming a Trip Leader and Technical Trip Leader

Updated April 2018

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 dual enrollment in TLS and WFA is acceptable.  When signing up for the class, make sure you sign up for the class for leaders, not for non-leaders or for participants. It is the same class but the price is reduced for leaders.  Current CPR, within 2 years, is required for instructors leading school field trips in Colorado State Parks.  CPR is encouraged for trip leaders but not required.  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.

CPR is recommended but not required. You can also apply to the Denver Group for a scholarship to cover the cost of this class if you intend to become a trip leader (see form at bottom of page).

4. Information on attending Trip Leader School can be found at: Trip Leader School . There is No Fee for the Trip Leader School. Apply using the SALT application:

5.    Complete Trip Leader School (TLS), which includes 4 hours of lecture and 6 hours of field training including scenarios and role playing. 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, nor be a significant other. If you are planning to lead fly-fishing trips or cycling trips, an additional LIT trip is necessary.  All applicants must have a favorable recommendation from the Instructor Leader of record for the second LIT trip. Your LIT must be completed and application made within 18 months of TLS graduation.

If you plan to lead regular hiking trips classified as levels A, B, C, D the second LIT trip should be at the highest level that you are applying to lead, e.g., if you are classified at a C hiking level and plan to lead C hikes the second LIT should be at the C hike classification level. The Instructor Leader is a trained leader instructor not any CMC trip leader. A list of Instructor Leaders can be obtained by contacting the Trip Leader School Director. The LIT and the hike Instructor Leader must fill out this LIT Evaluation Form when the trip is successfully completed.  If the LIT trip indicates the candidate needs additional training, the LIT Evaluation Form should be sent to [email protected].

Snowshoe trips equivalency can substitute for a C or D trip in the winter since not as many C and D trips are offered in the winter.

Note: Information regarding the Leader Application is detailed below.

Applicants is detailed below. Applicants seeking Technical Trip Leader certification are referred to the Technical Trip Leader Application below.

6.   You must pursue one of these avenues in regards to leading winter trips. A more thorough description of these options can be found in this document.

  • 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 document).
  • Complete the CMC Denver Group AIARE Level 1 Avalanche School if you wish to lead winter backcountry trips (see above document for definition of backcountry).

7.   Within 18 months of completing TLS, complete a Denver Group Trip Leader Application, attach the LIT Evaluation Forms.  Send the application, completed LIT Evaluation and other requested documents to:[email protected].

8.  Certification.

The DS&L Committee certifies leader applications electronically when all requirements are provided and there are no questions regarding the applicant.  If questions arise about the applicant or required training then the application is held until the committee meets face to face. DS&L generally meets monthly on the third Monday of each month. Once an applicant is certified, Membership Services and the applicant are notified by the DS&L Trip Leader Certification Coordinator. Membership Services then inputs the certified leader’s name into the data base and the leader may begin scheduling trips for which he/she is certified.

Non-technical trip leaders can be initially approved either at their highest trip classification attained or at a lower level than their classification if so requested at the time of certification. However, if a leader is initially certified at a lower level and then meets the requirements for a higher classification level, he/she will automatically be allowed to lead trips at the highest level of certification with the exception of Technical Leaders. DS&L may recommend that leaders complete an LIT trip at the higher classification level if they deem it appropriate. Technical trip leaders may be certified in one of four disciplines: snow, ice, rock or top rope (see below).


Technical Trip Leader (TTL) Application Process for CMC Denver

Updated September 2017

1. Applicant successfully completes Denver Trip Leader school and becomes a trip leader at the appropriate level they will be leading trips (C or D classification). Rationale: potential leaders need a standardized accepted method of leading trips. There is NO waiver granted for this school or to become a trip leader.

2. Applicant successfully completes the technical CMC Denver 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). Rationale: student learns, practices and becomes competent in a technical discipline with the highest emphasis on safety and accepted practices, understanding the inherent risks of climbing and mountaineering.  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.

#1 or #2 must be completed and can be completed in either sequence.

3. Applicant (traditional or waived) assists teaching TCS for 2 sessions at least 6 months apart and/or full school year of HAMS. Rationale: Technical skills as well as climbing/mountaineering judgment take time, practice and mentoring. Applicants continue learning while teaching, are mentored by more senior instructors, and over time will more likely develop safe practices and mature judgment.

4. A final recommendation for technical leader applicant, after completion of steps 1-4, is provided to Denver 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. (HAMS requires 2 LIT’s, moderate or steep snow, rather than 1 because of the difficult and changing nature of snowpack.)

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:

a. successfully completing a CMC Denver school in another discipline (TICS, TRAD, HAMS, Anchors) and

b. 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.

Rationale: a TTL will have the opportunity to gain the requisite judgment expected for in this process while leading technical trips. The TTL can request a mentor if he/she wishes initially and this action is encouraged.

7. TTL must lead a technical level trip once every 2 years for CMC Denver to retain TTL certification. This trip can be offered to the general membership OR a trip teaching in TCS or HAMS.

Rationale: leading a technical trip takes practice, both in the technical skills needed as well as the judgment in planning, vetting, and executing the climb safely.

8. 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

Technical-Trip-Leader-Application-Rev-Feb-19 which should be filled out and submitted to [email protected] with the other required documents.


Denver Group Bike Leaders

Effective August 1, 2012 Denver Safety & Leadership Committee (DS&L) has established criteria for those members desiring to become bike trip leaders. The criteria apply to either road bike or mountain bike trip leaders. All existing bike trip leaders are grandfathered and are not required to meet these criteria although most already do so. Members wishing to become bike trip leaders should complete the Trip Leader Application form and submit to DS&L.

• Successfully complete CMC Denver 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 (Approved June 18, 2012)

It is recognized that during downhill ski trips to a licensed, commercial resort that participants may or may not ski together as a single group. It is also recognized that at a commercial resort there are available medical/emergency facilities and a formal ski patrol program.

Denver Group 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 Denver Group leader to have completed AIARE Level 1 avalanche training if certified after September 30, 2010. All backcountry leaders certified prior to September 30, 2010 were grandfathered for 5 years from the AIARE Level l avalanche training requirement.

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.

Should an accident occur at the commercial resort the injured party should notify ski area personnel they are a participant in a CMC Downhill trip and the Downhill Ski Coordinator should be contacted. Contact may be made by cell phone if service is available, or the ski patrol has the ability to post messages at chairlifts and will use other means to contact the Downhill Ski Coordinator.


Fly Fishing Trip Leader

These rules are effective 8/20/12, all existing Fly Fishing Trip Leaders are grandfathered prior to the adoption of these criteria.

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 Denver Group Trip Leader School
  • Successfully complete Denver Group 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 and Information

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.

Note:  Unless applicants have previously completed Wilderness First Aid (WFA), applicants should apply for both WFA and Trip Leader School which requires completing the application twice.

For more information, refer to the Denver Group Trip Leader Manual (Fall 2018)