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Intermediate Climbing School (ICS)
Want to see some ICS action photos? Check out the new ICS photo gallery under Resources.
Important Dates for ICS 2013-2014
All events and lectures take place at the Mazama Mountaineering Center at 6:30PM, unless otherwise specified.
Thursday, August 1, 2013, 7:00PM ICS Application Form Opens (link at the top of this page)
Intermediate Climbing School (ICS) is an intensive, challenging, fun, and rewarding experience. At no other point in your climbing career are you likely to see your climbing skills advance more dramatically within a single, relatively short span of time. You will learn a lot! We pick up where BCEP left off and take you to the next level where you will learn the skills necessary to be a strong assistant on advanced Mazama climbs, organize private climbs of your own, and for those who choose, take the next step into Climb Leader Development. You will also acquire the skills you’ll need to go out and gain the climbing experience necessary for entry into the advanced Mazama programs: Advance Rock (AR) & Advanced Snow and Ice (ASI).
The curriculum will include additional knots, additional belay and rappel techniques, glacier travel, rock and snow anchor building, map and compass navigation, avalanche danger assessment, avalanche transceiver training, accident management training, crevasse rescue, snow camping, high angle snow climbing, 5th class rock climbing, and seconding/cleaning 5th class Trad.
All students will learn the necessary skills to:
ICS is a demanding commitment in terms of time and gear, so please apply only if you can make the necessary commitment. Please have a look at the class calendar to get an idea of the time required.
There will be approximately 40 available slots for the class, but only students who make a satisfactory showing during the application process will be considered, so there may be fewer than 40 students in the class.
The class is open to Mazama members at ($635) and non-members at ($720) which includes $160 for the cost of four nights lodging with dinner and breakfast at the Mazama lodge (if the upfront cost of the class is preventing you from taking it, please speak to the class coordinator). We are including the lodge costs in the class fees in order to be up front about all of the Mazamas costs of ICS and to simplify the registration procedure for each lodge stay. There is also an optional (not required) ICS Sport Leading module available for an additional $135 for members and $180 for non-members and is paid in early October. This optional module will teach you the skills required to begin leading 5th class Sport routes.
Web payment is strongly preferred and is due prior to the start of the first lecture. Due to the competitive nature of the ICS application process, no refunds will be issued once payment for the class has been remitted. The minimum age for students is 21.
Full participation in every single lecture and field session is a requirement for graduation from ICS, as is the successful completion of a final snow and rock competency examination. Any missed sessions must be made up, either by participating in the same ICS session in the following year(s), or by substituting approved equivalent education (equivalency determined by the ICS Coordinator). On this point also note that, due to its abbreviated format, the Mazamas Crevasse Rescue Skill Builder is not a satisfactory equivalent to ICS Crevasse Rescue education.
Finally, please note that because they provide you with the fundamental skills required to safely participate in the remainder of ICS, the first three field sessions and the first snow field session (and their attendant lectures) are required to continue on in the program. These sessions are: Field Session 1: Introduction to Rock Anchors (Broughton Bluff), Field Session 2: Anchors, Belaying, Rappelling (Horsethief State Park), Field Session 3: Anchors and Climbing Technique (Smith Rock State Park), and Field Session 7: Snow Anchors, Belaying, Rappelling (Timberline Lodge). To be clear, if you miss one of these sessions, you cannot advance any further in the course. Since there are no refunds, your only recourse is to retake the course during another year.
Factors which may help your admission are:
Application forms are available online and must be completed online (see the link at the top of this page).
The primary text for this course is Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 7th Edition. Other texts will be recommended throughout the class.
As much as possible, classroom sessions will include hands-on activities. Please wear comfortable clothing and shoes to lecture, including clothing with which a harness may be worn.
Each ICS student is responsible for providing his/her own climbing gear and equipment, except for ropes, pickets, avalanche transceivers, ice screws, and shovels. Each field session prospectus includes a list of required equipment.
The leaders for the 2013-2014 ICS class are Gary Ballou, ICS Coordinator and, Dan Gerbus, ICS Assistant Coordinator.
1. Completed Application Form – Follow the link at the top of this page to fill out the application form.
2. Climb Resume –
Resumes must include:
Outdoor and climbing related education, dates, organization, class
4. ICS Skills Test - You may test either on Thursday, August 15, 2013; or Wednesday, August 21 at 7:00 PM at the Mazama Mountaineering Center. The ICS Skills Test will require that you perform the following skills correctly the first time:
Please bring a climbing harness, carabiners, belay device and personal protection (a.k.a. safety leash) in order to execute all of the ICS skills test components.
Class Completion Requirements
To complete ICS and receive a graduation certificate, ICS students must:
NOTE: In the event that a student fails the rock and snow competency tests, either in part or in whole, he or she will have one opportunity to retest along with the following year’s class. Since the point of the competency exams is to demonstrate competency in the full range of tested skills, retesting students are required to repeat the entire test set, and not simply the segments he or she failed the previous year.
Excepting emergencies or prior arrangements made with the lead coordinator, a student may be dropped from the class at the lead coordinator’s discretion if he or she fails to attend one or more lectures and/or field sessions.
Here are some recommended books for ICS. Some are available at the Mazama Mountaineering Center for a discount:
ICS Class Calendar (subject to minor revision)
All lectures are free and open to the public, whether or not you are enrolled in the class. Only paid participants will be allowed to participate in the field sessions. If you plan to audit the class please alert the class coordinators, do not take any handouts and go easy on questions.
For up to date scheduling information, please refer to the ICS Google calendar below.
**Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013. OPTIONAL MODULE: Intro to Sport Leading (The Source Rock Gym, Vancouver)
**Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013. Multi-pitch Alpine Rock Lecture (MMC)
**Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013. Navigation Lecture (MMC)
**Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013. Snow Sessions Group Planning
**Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014 . Snow Travel, Belay, and Rappel (MMC)
**Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014. Crevasse Rescue Lecture (MMC)
**Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014. ICS Winter Gear Night with Mountain Shop
**Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014. High Angle Snow Lecture (MMC)
**Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014. Snow Camping Lecture (MMC)
**Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014. Optional Rock Skills Review Session (MMC)
**Saturday, Mar 1, 2014. Leadership & Accident Management Lecture (MMC)
**Saturday, Mar 8, 2014. ICS Rock Competency Test (HT)
**Saturday, Mar 15, 2014. ICS Make Up Snow Weekend
**March 18 -April 29, 2014. Assist with BCEP
**Thursday, May 1, 2014. ICS Graduation Party (MMC)
Please note that information posted on this page is subject to change!
Mazamas Education Programs operate under a special use permit with the Mt. Hood National Forest.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.