Archive for the ‘CMC Basic Rock School’ Category

BRS class of Spring 2014 graduates 11 students!

June 17, 2014

The spring season of the Basic Rock School came to a successful close on the weekend of May 17, with the graduation climbs of the instructor groups led by senior instructors Eileen Monyok and Andy Cooke, with their assistants. A total of ten students graduated, although 12 students originally signed up, but two had to drop out. All students made it through the three field trips, where some had some close calls with precipitation rolling in during the afternoon. Thankfully, no epics were reported — which is always a relief the school director!

The following students graduated:

Alan Youngblood
Anhchi Ly
Bridget Sorrell
Conner Ford
Duane Lovato
Marcos Ripoll-Bunn
Norm Sydow
Pieter Bork
Scott Johnson
Van Smith

The senior instructors were ably assisted by the following assistants:

Aaron Nichols
Don Byington
Francesco Sangiori
James Hicks

On Belay Tower and Knot Test day, the following assistants helped out:

Brenda Leach
Jon Bork
Matthew Holiday
Vita Holiday

And there was an 11th student, Jen Stichman, who was the first person to graduate from BRS via the Test Out Option.

The BRS Test Out Option is an innovation I developed, with the Boulder Mountain School committee, as a way for experienced climbers to pass BRS without having to pay for the course, or spend time reviewing skills they already have. Jen, a climber who can lead 5.10, was certainly in that category, and passed the in-person field tests easily. More information  about the Test Out Option can be viewed on the Boulder CMC website at

Thanks to everyone who helped out! Congratulations to all the students, who now know how to climb safe and can share this knowledge with their future climbing partners. Climb safe everybody! A small sample of photos from spring BRS can be seen here.

Boulder Mountaineering School, Basic Rock School – Spring Slots Available

March 28, 2014

The Spring Session of BMS will be starting soon and there are still open slots! If you are interested, or know a friend who is, please go to:Spring Schedule for more information.

In particular, Basic Rock Climbing School has open spaces. We would love to show you the ropes! With a low student to teacher ratio and three field trips, it’s a great value! Whether you are “getting back into it” after a hiatus, preparing for a summer trip to Estes Park, or want to later sign up for the Rock Lead school, this class will give you the fundamentals for climbing safely.

Hiking and Rock Lead School also have open slots, so now is the time to take advantage of these fantastic opportunities!

2014 Spring/Summer Boulder Mountaineering School

January 4, 2014

Boulder Mountaineering Schools (BMS) is a great opportunity, for volunteers and students alike, to fine tune skills, learn something new, and give back to the community. Let the 2014 sessions begin!

Sign up day is Tuesday, February 25th starting at 8am. I encourage prospective students to enroll as close to the time as possible as many classes are full by the end of the day!

To sign up for the courses, login to Click on Class Schedule. Click on Adult Education Members. Click on the course that you would like to sign up for and fill in the required fields. Note that the Authorization Code will be removed on Tuesday, 2/26, at 8am to allow the sign-ups to start. Click on rock lead school application .

    Classes and Dates

Hiking and Survival Essentials
3/4-Lecture 1
3/11-Lecture 2
3/18-Lecture 3
3/20-Lecture 4
3/22 or 3/23-Field Trip

Hiking Navigation
3/25-Lecture 1
4/1-Lecture 2
4/3-Lecture 3
4/5 or 4/6-Field Trip

Hiking Route and Trip Planning
4/12-Field Trip

Basic Rock School
4/15-Lecture 1
4/22-Lecture 2 (Knot Night)
4/26 or 4/27-Field Trip 1
5/3 or 5/4-Field Trip 2
5/10 or 5/11-Field Trip 3

Basic Snow-TBD

Intermediate Snow-TBD

Rock Leading School
6/14-Field Trip 1
6/21-Field Trip 2
6/28-Field Trip 3

Backpacking School
7/11-7/13-Field Trip 1

Top Roping Clinic-TBD

Sport Leading Clinic
8/2-Field Trip

The course schedule may be found online at This site is being updated, so be sure to check the dates with the school director, or refer to the dates in this article.

    Volunteer to Teach: Snow Schools or Top Rope Clinic

The spring/summer session of the Boulder Mountaineering School is looking for instruc­tors to help teach Snow Schools and Top Roping Clinic. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact school directors at or

Instructors and current volunteers, your time and efforts are much appreciated! Are you thinking about volunteering? For more information or to volunteer, contact the school directors directly:
Hiking Schools: Bob Matthias,; Basic Rock School: Rick Casey,; Snow Schools: Jim Leffingwell,; BMS Co-Chair for Rock Leading School,; Chris Klotz for Top Roping Clinic,; Ron Olsen for Sport Leading Clinic,

2013 BRS Wrapup: Another Successful Season! (and some close calls…)

November 5, 2013

by Rick Casey

With the beautiful Indian summer weather in the last week of October, the Boulder Group’s Basic Rock School came to a close. This fall there were 12 students who signed up, and 10 passed. Last spring, there were 31 students, of which 25 who successfully completed the course. Congratulations to the 2013 graduates, who are listed at the end of the article. All the best in your future climbing endeavors!

My Fall BRS group climbed Seal Rock on Sunday, October 27, which included Don Byington and Keir Hart (assistant instructors), and Ulla Westerman and Jonathan Dunder, students. We have lots of pictures!  You can view them here:  Don’s pictures   Rick’s pictures  Jonathan’s pictures

One interesting story that I would like to relate involved a rappeling situation that happened on our descent. This was similar to Eileen Monyak’s story in the September 2013 Compass about a rappel rescue she performed earlier that year in the same location.

In our story, Don Byington, an assistant instructor, was the first to rappel off the 150 foot Seal Rock rappel;  I was in communication with him via radio. Unbeknownst to Don (because it was not visible from the top), the gusty winds that had kicked up had carried one of the rope strands into a tree far off to the left, some 30 to 40 feet to the side, making it impossible to reach the ground. He was unable to free the rope by shaking it, and attempted to hand-over-hand in that direction, using his auto-block to rest, which proved exhausting. After communicating with me on top, we verified that (Thank God!) the knot that tied the two rappel ropes together was situated such that he could transfer to the single strand that was free, and complete the rappel on a single rope. This he accomplished by attaching himself to a temporary anchor with a cam in a crack while he re-rigged his rappel. The rest of the group waited anxiously on top during the slow minutes that passed until Don radioed back: he was on the ground, and had freed the other rope. Hooray!

This illustrated several key factors that all BRS instructors might want to keep in mind: always send an instructor down first on a big rappel, radios really help, and if it is windy, consider “saddle-bagging” the rope strands in butterfly coils on either hip using a sling, which pay out as you rappel down. There is a good description of how to do this in the 2012 Accidents in North American Mountaineering , or in this article on the American Alpine Institute blog.

Climb safe!
–Rick Casey, BRS Director

For 2013 Basic Rock School Instructors and Graduates, click below to read more!

High Over Boulder…and Stuck: Rescue on the Seal Rock Rappel

September 2, 2013

Photo and Article Contributed by: Eileen Monyok

Author’s Note:
I don’t often contribute stories for the Compass. But when Basic Rock School (BRS) Director Rick Casey asked me if I would share my rescue story of helping a woman stranded in the middle of the Seal Rock rappel with a stuck rope, I agreed.

This rescue took place during our Spring BRS graduation climb. Being able to help this woman (non-CMC member) and her boyfriend made me proud of the skills that BRS teaches. It also made me grateful that I had once taken BRS and was now instructing, which gave me the opportunity to learn and refine these skills.

Last, I’d like to extend a special acknowledgement to the three graduating BRS students – Jon Campbell, Erica Colegrove, and Anne Park – who waited with patience and good sportsmanship at the top of a very windy Seal Rock rappel while the rescue was taking place. Also, lead assistant instructor, Mark Thomas, who was the last person to finally rappel down, deserves honorable mention for his clear thinking and good management of the situation from the top.

The day of our Seal Rock graduation climb started as a pretty typical graduation climb, although with two instructors and 3 students divided into two climbing lines, we thought we would move pretty quickly. At the elbow of Seal Rock, we hit a bit of a snag. The Denver CMC Group’s BRS was also climbing Seal Rock that day, although their trip had not been posted in the trip schedule. We waited patiently for this group to climb. Fortunately, we were anchored at a comfortable ledge. This delay later proved to play a critical part in the timing of the rescue.

After our BRS group enjoyed the summit of Seal Rock, I downclimbed to the rappel area to set up an anchor for our group. There was a couple at the rappel station, ahead of our group, who were just throwing their ropes for the rappel. I had noticed this couple earlier, as they were climbing the East Face South Side route on Seal Rock. The members of our BRS group continued to downclimb, one at a time, from the summit to the rappel area.

Seal Rock Rappel

At one point, the boyfriend of the couple, Jim and Sara (not their real names), said to me, “I think one of our ropes is stuck, and Sara can’t go down any further. Do you think that you could rap down and clear the rope? It should be easy to clear. I think it’s stuck in a tree just a few feet from Sara.” (more…)