AE321-Lead Rock Climbing Prepares Adventure Education Majors at Fort Lewis College

AE 321 is an advanced climbing skills course focusing on traditional lead climbing, including selection and placement of protection, route finding, lead climbing and belaying techniques, multiple pitch climbing, advanced anchor building, rescue systems, and climbing instructional strategies.


Like other AE outdoor skills courses this course is not an activity course, per se, but a professional skills course for preparing adventure educators in the field of outdoor education to work effectively in institutional settings. 

 For those without leading experience, your climbing knowledge and skills will grow dramatically. For those with leading experience, this course will introduce you to the institutional context, expand your repertoire of lead climbing skills, and begin to prepare you to work directly with the kinds of clients/students you may encounter in an adventure education program which uses lead climbing to accomplish educational goals. If you’re interested in working as a professional climbing guide or for an organization like Outward Bound or NOLS with a well-managed climbing or mountaineering program, then I suggest you eventually look into seeking certification through the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA).  This course provides a strong foundation for moving in that direction, particularly if you’ve had limited exposure to lead climbing in institutional settings. 

 What this course is not:

  • If you have limited traditional lead climbing experience, this class will not turn you into a masterful lead climber – there’s simply not enough time for this. However, it will serve as a “spring-board” for further education and development. 
  • The focus in this course is not on making you a stronger climber, but a smarter climber. You can get strong on your own time. 




  • AE 101 (Foundations of AE) & AE 121 (Top Rope Rock Climbing).
  • At least one year of personal top-rope climbing experience. 
  • AE major or minor.



  • Proficiency in all AE 121 skills, including:
    • Being able to set up and manage a top rope rock climb using a “top” or “sling-shot” belay system.
    • All knots and basic rope work taught in AE 121.
  • You are active and healthy enough to be able to follow 5.8 and carry a 50 lb. pack uphill for 30 minutes. 

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