You are here

Climbing School Detailed Schedule


Contact the 2017 Climbing School Directors:

Brett Kettering - 505-412-2033

Mike Brandt – 505-690-6418


Important Notes: 

  • While classroom time is nominally 2 hours, the room is booked for longer to allow for set-up and take-down of tables and additional discussion time.  Please plan to arrive early to help set up and stay a few minutes afterwards to help take down the chairs.  The class will start promptly at 6:30 pm, please arrive with enough time to be ready to start at 6:30.  You may bring a snack and water to the class, but please do not bring your dinner to eat during class.
  • Classroom is at the Crossroads Bible Church, 97 East Road, Los Alamos.
  • For the White Rock Canyon outdoor sessions (Potrillo Cliffs, The Playground, and Gallows Edge) we will meet at the White Rock Smith's parking lot; for the Y climbing area (NOT the YMCA!) we will meet at the Los Alamos Smith’s parking lot; each time we meet precisely at 8:40 am, have a short briefing that all students should attend, arrange carpooling, and depart for the crag by 8:50 am at the latest.
  • All classes, indoor and outside, will begin on time.  Please arrive early.
  • Students are expected to attend all sessions, indoor and outside.  All communication about upcoming sessions will be by email.  Students must have access to email throughout the School and are expected to read these weekly emails.
  • The text for this course is How to Rock Climb by John Long. The cost is included in the course registration fee, and books will be handed out at the first class.  Students are expected to read the chapters appropriate for each lecture prior to that class.
  • All PowerPoint slides used in the School are available for student download here.  Students are encouraged to review these before and after each class.  (This link will become active the first day of class.)

The 2017 Introduction to Rock Climbing School Schedule Details

Thursday March 30, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, Classroom Session #1, Crossroads Bible Church

  • Introduction (25 min) – Introduction
    • Welcome
    • Student introductions
    • Dialog on individual goals, class goals, expectations and what to expect
    • Overview of required gear (harness, carabiner and belay device, personal anchors)
    • Hand out textbooks
    • Purpose of This Climbing School
  • Lecture 0 (20 min) Safety and climbing – an overview
    • ​Your safety system – the harness, carabiner, belay device, and helmet
    • Correct way to wear harnesses and helmets
    • Types and use of belay devices
    • Personal anchors attached to the harness
  • Lecture 1 (30 min) – Types of Climbing Overview and How to Safely Hike to Crags
    • Brief overview of full range of climbing types with emphasis on top–roping, sport climbing, and trad climbing
    • Hiking to the crag safely (not all approaches are simple)
  • Lecture 2 (45 min) – Knots I: Basic and Essential Climbing Knots
    • Hand out knot practice rope, prussic cord, webbing
    • The basic safety system, basic rope handling rules, respect for the rope
    • The rethreaded figure eight knot, fisherman's knot backup, tying in
    • Figure Eight Follow-Through, Girth Hitch, Clove Hitch, Double Overhand Stopper, Figure Eight on a Bight
  • Hand out waivers for Saturday at YMCA
  • Check out shoes, helmets, harnesses to those borrowing from the club


Saturday April 1, Two Sessions – Times 9am - 11:30am & 11:30am - 2pm, Los Alamos YMCA

Students need helmets, shoes, harness, belay device, carabiner

  • Lecture 3 Belaying
    • Collect YMCA waivers
    • Safety briefing
    • Climbing communication and signals
    • Intro to belaying, lowering, top–rope techniques
    • Practice top–roping with emphasis on belaying technique


Thursday April 6, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, Classroom Session #2, Crossroads Bible Church

  • Review important points from previous Saturday (15 min)
  • Lecture 4 (45 min) – Anchors
    • EARNEST: Equalized, Acute Angle, Redundant, Non–Extending, Sturdy, Timely
    • Anchors for top–roping and rappelling
    • Introduction to nuts, camming devices, natural anchors
  • Break (5 min)
  • Lecture 5 (55 min) – Knots II More Essential Climbing Knots
    • Double Bowline w/ Backup, BHK, Double/Triple Fisherman, Prusik, Kleimheist, Water Knot, Mule Hitch w/ Backup


Saturday April 8, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, Outdoor Session #1, Potrillo Cliffs
  • Safety briefing
  • Setting up a top–rope and anchor
  • Practice building anchors (using quick-draws, quads, independent slings, slings with sliding X, and natural anchors (e.g. trees, rocks, Pro, etc.)
  • Review of belaying, lowering, top–rope technique, communication
  • Practice rope handling (flaking and coiling, setting an anchor, throwing the rope, pulling the rope, etc.)
  • Rock climbing


Thursday April 13, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, Classroom Session #3, Crossroads Bible Church

  • Review important points from previous Saturday (15 min)
  • Lecture 6 (55 min) – Rock Climbing Technique
    • Body position, using your center, proper use of hands and feet
    • Face climbing, crack climbing, other climbing
    • Techniques, style, and ethics
  • Break (5 min)
  • Lecture 7 (45 min) – Rappelling and Ascending
    • Rappelling technique
    • Double rope rappel, single rope rappel, transitioning from climbing to rappelling
    • Communication
    • Tying two ropes together for rappelling
    • Basic ascending


Sat April 15, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, Outdoor Session #2, The Playground
  • Safety briefing and overview of rappel stations
  • Getting onto a rappel from the top of a cliff
  • Practice on flat ground as needed
  • Overhead belay
  • Communication review
  • Fireman’s belay
  • Practice rappelling
  • double rope and single rope
  • stopping mid-rappel
  • use of friction backups in rappelling


Thursday April 20, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, Classroom Session #4, Crossroads Bible Church
  • Review important points from previous Saturday (20 min)
  • Lecture 8 (60 min) – Belaying the Leader and Seconding
    • Roles
    • Communication
    • Rope management, belaying a leader
    • Catching leader falls (no dynamic belays)
    • Cleaning protection; seconding on sport climbs, seconding on trad climbs
      • Gear racking
      • Cleaning sport anchors
  • Break (10 min)
  • Lecture 9 (30 min) – Introduction to Sport Leading
    • Description
    • Mental aspect of leading
    • Clipping technique and sport climbing
    • Sport vs. trad anchors


Saturday April 22, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, Outdoor Session #3, Gallows Edge

  • Safety briefing
  • Sport climbing & clipping bolts correctly
  • Sport leading demonstration
  • Belaying a leader
  • Seconding
  • Cleaning sport anchors
  • Top–roping
  • Practice sport leading with overhead belay


Thursday April 27, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, Classroom Session #5, Crossroads Bible Church
  • Review important points from previous Saturday (20 min)
  • Lecture 10 (15 min) – Assisted Braking Devices
    • What they are
    • When should they be used
    • Safe use practices​
  • Lecture 11 (20 min) – Atalaya Search and Rescue – Real Life Examples 
  • Break (10 min)
  • Lecture 12 (20 min) – Catching Leader Falls and Graduation Climb Briefing
    • Upcoming catching leader falls practice
    • Dynamic belays – what they are and when used – we are NOT using these in this school
    • Briefing on the Ludwig device
    • Overview of the graduation climb
    • Safety briefing
  • Lecture 13 (30 min) – Course Summary and General Question/Answer Session
    • Question / Answer session
    • Being prepared
    • Thinking clearly
    • Staying safe


Saturday April 29, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, Outdoor Session #4, The White Rock Y

  • Safety briefing
  • Ludwig practice exercise – Catching simulated leader falls
  • Practice setting rappel and top rope anchors
  • Rappelling practice
  • Rock climbing

Thursday May 4, 5:00 pm to dark, Outdoor Practice Climbing, Gallows Edge

  • Safety briefing
  • Instructors will set ropes
  • Rock climbing (no overhead belays, no demos, students climb on their own, with supervision)


Saturday May 6, All day!  Graduation Climb, Location TBD (El Rito Trad or Tres Piedras)

  • Depart Los Alamos, Santa Fe 7:15 am
  • Depart NNMC in Espanola 8:00 am
  • Arrive climbing area 9:00 am – 9:15 am
  • All-day fun, multi–pitch, single–pitch, and top–rope climbing
  • Dinner at Gabriel’s restaurant 7:30 pm
  • Food, drink, impressive climbing tales!


Sunday May 7, All day!  Graduation Climb, Location TBD (El Rito Trad or Tres Piedras)
(weather contingency if Sat doesn’t work)




Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer