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Quick Start Schools

“Quick Starts” are a series of seminars that highlight topics about recreating in Colorado.  They’re a great place to learn something new, or refresh something familiar! There are currently two tracks available:

Volunteer Opportunity: Quick Start Schools Coordinator

Do you like learning new things and planning events?  Have you been thinking you want to give back to the club?  Do like meeting new people and collaborating on a project? 

“Quick Starts” are a series of seminars that highlight topics about recreating in Colorado.  They’re a great place to learn something new, or refresh something familiar! CMC Denver Group is seeking a new Quick Start Schools Coordinator.  Duties include overseeing monthly lectures.  Currently this duty can be achieved totally distally from home.  When possible, lectures can return to in person format.  Looking for a one-year commitment for 2021.  Cyndi Lehr has been coordinating the Quick Start Schools since April 2019 and will be phasing out of this duty as she moves into her role as Co-Chair of Denver Group Council.  Now is a great time to get involved and learn/transition the process for these fun monthly lectures.


You can check out more here.  Contact Cyndi Lehr for any questions or interest. 

QSS: General Topics

Seminars are held at the American Mountaineering Center, local open spaces, presented by webinar, or hosted by CMC outdoor community partners.  Cost is typically $10 for CMC members / $15 for non-members​.


Hot Tips for Winter Wandering

Come hear CMC's own Gyorgy Kereszti take on temperature regulation in the cold weather. Learn about keeping warm and why it matters.  With winter upon us, how can we enjoy hiking and other outdoor pursuits. Gyorgy will address the basics of how to lose, retain and gain in the cold environment. How to dress effectively, how to prepare and be comfortable outside, how to "winterize" the 10 Essentials. Gyorgy Kereszti has served as the Director of CMC's Winter Camping School for many years. Come early for a brew, snacks and meet the speaker Gyorgy Kereszti.


Caltopo Classroom

Come hear CMC's own Jeff Benton demonstrate and explain CalTopo. CalTopo is a free web based mapping and trip planning tool for the backcountry.  Jeff will show basic and more advanced CalTopo functions. Did you know we can draw and measure routes, identify avalanche prone terrain, adjust contour lines and see your route profile with Caltopo? Bring your laptop and work along with Jeff, then create your own map with support from Jeff (and other geeky helpers). Jeff Benton is a CMC Trailblazer Technical Leader and instructor with Winter Camping, Technical Climbing School, Wilderness Survival School and has previously instructed with Alpine Scrambling School.


Climbing Spring Snow (Webinar)

Couloir climbing season is upon us ... come and learn about traveling spring snow climbs. Colorado's mountains are full of couloirs -- steep, narrow valleys of snow between rock cliffs -- that ripen for climbing every spring. They're the perfect place to learn and hone true mountaineering skills, including using technical gear such as ice axes and crampons. Join Colorado Mountain Club Trailblazer Trip Leader Jeff Golden for an evening discussion on favorite routes, modern gear and techniques, snow safety, and other snippets for snow climbing. Webinar: Details will be e-mailed to participants prior to event.


Heart Rate Training for Hikers (Webinar)

This seminar is a WEBINAR Online (link will be e-mailed to participants after sign up). It is from 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm. Sarah Mauer, our speaker, is a fitness coach who helps hikers get into the best shape of their lives. Get more out of your work outs and build fitness faster with Sarah's simple heart rate training formula. In this webinar Sarah will cover:

1. The three common heart rate training mistakes hikers make, and how to fix them
2. Sarah's simple, 3 zone heart rate system for fail proff results
3. The 3 basic heart rate workouts you need to build your endurance training program


Rattlesnake Safety and Awareness for the Trail (Webinar)

What's the BUZZ?  Rattlesnake Safety and Awareness for the Trail.  Come spend 60 minutes in the comfort of your own home with Jeffco's Mary Ann Bonnell.  Join us for an overview of prairie rattlesnake identification, biology and ecology. We’ll also discuss essential safety tips, risk mitigation, and first aid for pets and humans.  

Mary Ann is the Visitor Services Manager for Jefferson County Open Space. Mary Ann holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Mary Ann’s work focuses on supporting the team that manages seven million annual visitors to 46,000 acres of open space immediately adjacent to the Denver Metro Area. Her interest is in minimizing negative human-wildlife interactions in parks and communities. She’s currently involved in prairie rattlesnake and urban coyote research.

Cost: $8 members, $14 nonmembers, CMC Active*Trip Leaders: 4$



Delightful Dehydration Backpack Meal Prep (Webinar)

Come spend an hour in the comfort of your own home with CMC's own Carol Munch. Are you tired of or dissatisfied with pre-packaged backpacking meals? Do you want to learn how to DIY your own dehydrated meals? Carol will take on dehydration for backpacking meals.  Webinar will include explanation/demonstration of the dehydration process for proteins, vegetables, starches and fruits and how to combine with spices to make your own meals. We will also talk about what equipment is needed and where/what to purchase for food. Of course, recipes and meal plans ... you can ask questions to Carol as well. Carol Munch is a Senior Instructor with the Wilderness Trekking School, Backcountry Ski School and a CMC Leader Extraordinaire.  She has previously instructed with the Alpine Scrambling School and is currently serving on the Denver Group Council. Carol loves the outdoors, backpacking and cooking. Tune in for a fun evening with fascinating insight into dehydrating foods and eating in the backcountry.


Trip Planning for EVERYONE

Location: Live Webinar (Details to be e-mailed to participants a few days prior to event, best viewed on full screen)

Come learn all the details to plan your summer adventure!  CMC's own Maddie Miller will take you through step by step how to plan and communicate your trip plan.  Did you know Maddie successfully completed a record breaking 50 State High Peak Challenge? Total Uber planning!  Are you dreaming of road tripping this summer to the 14ers, lakes or National Park?  This can be your guide to getting your trip together. Maddie will outline basic steps of planning your adventure for the first hour.  Then we will break out into smaller groups and participants will plan an adventure with the help and guidance of other CMC mentors. This is not just for CMC leaders; it's for everyone who wants to learn to plan a safe and fun journey. Tune in for a fun evening with fascinating insight into the details of getting your trip from the dream state to reality. Prizes for the best completed trip plans.


QSS Navigation Series

QSS: Navigation is a series of seminars on selected topics related to trip planning and outdoor navigation. The seminars serve as a complement to, but not a replacement of, navigational skills currently being offered through several CMC schools, such as the ‘Intro to Map & Compass’ section in the Wilderness Trekking School or the ‘Navigation 1-3’ modules available through the Technical Climbing School. The seminars offer participants the opportunity to obtain an in-depth introduction to important navigation tools and workflows on topics that may not be discussed in great enough details inside the CMC school curriculum. It also provides participants the opportunity to practice their skills and refresh their knowledge on subjects that they have previously obtained through CMC classes or elsewhere. Ultimately, the goal of this series is to help participants stay up-to-date with currently available tools, devices and workflows in order to help them safely plan and execute their outdoor activities.

Seminars are currently offered exclusively as webinars online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can’t make a seminar? Here are some additional resources worth checking out curtesy of our own David Litke. Seminars are held at the American Mountaineering Center, local open spaces, CMC outdoor community partners, or via Webinar. 


QSS NAV: Application Spotlight on Cotrex

Please join us online to find out about this great trip planning and navigation tool. Robert LeClair will show you how to access the application, what's unique about it (e.g. COVID-19 trail closures!), and why you should give it a try. This QSS Nav seminar is a live webinar: details to be e-mailed to participants prior to event, best viewed on full screen. Here is what the COTREX website has to say: "Discover and explore Colorado’s unique trail experiences with the Colorado Trail Explorer​. Available for free, COTREX offers the most comprehensive trail map available for the state and is built atop data from over 230 trail managers." Check it out here: Robert LeClair is a Senior Instructor for Basic Mountaineering School (BMS), modular instructor for NAV1/NAV2/Basic Rock and served on the CMC Technical Climbing School (TCS) committee.  Professionally, Robert is a Senior Instructor with Esri, the world’s leader in GIS technologies. 



Want to buy a GPS device? Overwhelmed by the choices and not sure what al that ‘lingo’ means? Gather around as we have a Q&A session to answer your questions. Please read David’s excellent GPS primer before attending. Here is a link to the GPS document. Note, this is not going to be an in-depth, hands-on session on how to operate GPS devices and how to navigate with them. Although we will touch on these topics in our discussion. David Litke has been a club member for 15 years and enjoys hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. David navigated for two summers in Alaska using map and compass, but learned GIS while working at the USGS and is now happy to be electronically guided. Mike Tischer is a trip leader and senior instructor for CMC's Wilderness Trekking School. He has been with the Club for 8 years and likes hiking and snowshoeing. He is a geologist by training and loves to wander around looking at maps and rocks.


QSS NAV: Application Spotlight on Caltopo

Back by popular demand! CalTopo is one of the most popular outdoor applications available today. Learn what it’s all about and get to know its secrets. Check out the website here: Please join us online to find out the nuts and bolts of this great trip planning and navigation tool. Jeff Benton will show you CalTopo's functionality and essential workflows to help you prepare for your next great trip. This presentation will introduce users to the basic use of CalTopo as a trip planning and navigation tool.  We will familiarize attendees with the CalTopo web interface and demonstrate features for map layering, route plotting, hazard identification, and custom map creation.  We will also briefly illustrate the use of CalTopo to import and export map data to a GPS device.


QSS NAV: How to use GAIA GPS

It's finally here! Please join us online to unravel the secrets and mysteries of one of the most popular navigation tools currently available. Our own Jim Guerra will show you Gaia GPS functionality and essential workflows to help you prepare for your next great trip. Learn more about Gaia GPS. To see the PowerPoint from the Monday presentation, check it out here


QSS NAV: How to use AllTrails

Please join us online to unravel the secrets and mysteries of one of the most popular navigation tools currently available. Our own Jeff Stevens will show you AllTrails functionality and essential workflows to help you prepare for your next great trip. To check out Jeff's Slideshow from the presentation, click here



Join us for a virtual seminar on how to use the new CMC RIMS App. Discover another way that navigation data can be collected and used! The CMC RIMS program was launched in 2019 to help land manager collect and utilized crowdsourced data to better understand and address critical issues related to recreation and natural resources.  The RIMS Mobile App is the data collection tool which includes GPS point data, detailed surveys, photos, editing and sharing features, and offline functionality. Volunteers can help land managers collect important data on trails, campsites and visitor use through CMC's new RIMS Mobile Application. You can report trail maintenance needs, inventory campsites, track visitor use, and more. That data goes directly to land managers to they can prioritize hot spots and deploy crews to work on trail issues. 


QSS NAV: Google Earth & ArcGIS Earth

Join us for a Live Webinar on 3D navigation and trip planning made easy with Google Earth & ArcGIS Earth!  Details to be e-mailed to participants prior to event. The live webinar is best viewed on full screen. CMC's own, Robert LeClair, will show you how these tools can help you during trip planning and on the trail. Check out the tools here: Google Earth & ArcGIS Earth. To see the presentation, click here


QSS NAV: An Introduction to our Public Lands, Origin & Use

Join us for an introduction to our Public Lands, the history, and the usage by Gary LeCain. Gary LeCain grew up in the west where his father worked for the US Forest Service. Gary has spent over 40 years hiking and camping throughout the western US. Following university Gary worked several years with the US Forest Service and then 31 years as a Hydrologist with the US Geological Survey. His upbringing, education, and work experience provided a broad background in the use and management of our public lands.


QSS NAV: Garmin for Beginners 1 - Introduction to Garmin Handheld Devices

Explore page and menu options and learn how to customize your Garmin GPS device for hiking. What is the GPS network, and what are the pros and cons of using a handheld Garmin device? How do I customize my Garmin device for hiking? What do all those options mean, and which ones do I really need on my device?  To prep for this seminar, please review basic map and compass skills.  Please come with some experience in pushing all those GPS buttons on your device.  For this seminar, a PowerPoint presentation will display page and menu options.  The instructor will be using a GPSmap 62s for presentation, but ALL of the device options are identical on other Garmin models, such as the eTrex, Montana, and Oregon models. Don't worry, be happy, it's easy peasy. Check out the PPT presentation here


QSS NAV: USGS Topo & Other Paper Maps

Let's talk about paper maps in a Live Webinar! Yes, paper maps! They are part of the 10 essentials so everybody should have them in their backpack when they are outdoors. No excuses! The USGS topo series is still one of the most widely used topographic map out there. We are doing a deep dive into their history, how to get them and why you should have one in your backpack. We also talk bout other paper map options. Note: This is NOT going to be an in-depth tutorial on how to read and navigate with paper maps although we will touch on this during the webinar. Check out USGS Topo Maps.


QSS NAV: Introduction to Front Range Recreation

New to Colorado hiking?  Don’t know exactly what all those weather report references to “in the central mountains” mean?  Where the heck is Vasquez Pass?  Why is Loveland Ski Area not anywhere near Loveland, Colorado?  When looking at the CMC Calendar to find a trip, do you have absolutely NO IDEA where most of the trails and meeting spots are?  This webinar will give you a geographical orientation to our typical Front Range recreation areas and some tips for getting your bearings fast. For a link to the presentation, click here


QSS NAV: Favorite Places "I-70 Exits 221-218-219-Straight Creek, North Side"

New to Colorado hiking?  We’ll explore this CMC favorite area north of  I-70, right before and around the Eisenhower Tunnel, focusing on the Dry Gulch, Herman Lake, Watrous Gulch, and Straight Creek Trailheads.  This area straddles the Continental Divide, so it offers spectacular scenery, big seasonal snow, stiff afternoon winds, and popular flower fields.  Visitors can do an easy walk, a difficult hike, scramble, or roped climbing. This webinar is the start of a new series coming out of the Covid-19 situation and we hope other trip leaders will be inspired to offer their own favorites. Check out the presentation here


QSS NAV: Intro to Garmin 2

Garmin users will learn how to manage Garmin maps, using Garmin BaseCamp, Garmin Map Install, and Garmin Map Manager. Garmin users will also learn how to import tracks from other websites, how to export tracks to share with others, how to view tracks in Google Earth, and how to manage track and waypoint data.


QSS NAV: CMC Publications - What's available and how can they be used for trip planning

CMC's own Jeff Golden will give us a tour of all the wonderful CMC publications. Who decides what to publish? What's currently in the works? Where does the money go? And most can we use it for trip planning and on the trail. The slideshow can be found here


QSS NAV: How to plan and execute a thru-hike (with CDT, CT examples)

Ever wonder how to plan for a multi-day hike? Itching to do the Continental Divide Trail but not sure how? Join us and listen to Karl Ford, a thru-hiking aficionado, share his experience and secrets! Karl will discuss planning, resupply, nutrition, hydration, conditioning, gear, mental attitude, social aspects, and anything else you want to know.


QSS NAV: Planning a transect hike

If you yearn for your own path and have tired of the crowded 14’er trails and the same old PCT, AT, and CDT, come listen for an hour! Draw a line across a map and figure out how to hike it along quiet roads and trails. India Wood hiked 732 miles on her diagonal SE-NW transect across Colorado in 2020 and will share how to plan your own transect: choosing a line, routes, campsites, water, food, and how to inspire a helping community along the way. This one-hour online presentation with Q&A afterwards will teach participants how to plan and complete a transect hike. This is different from a through-hike on an established trail like the PCT, AT, CT, or CDT which has established routes, maps, water sources, resupply points, camping spots, and fellow hikers. On a transect you have to figure all that out for yourself. Planning can take as many days as the hike. This talk will tell you how to select a transect that inspires you, map it on paper maps and then on a GPS app, scout your route, get accurate info from ranchers and land agencies, set up safety communications, hike roads safely, select a campsite, cache and carry water, resupply food, and build a community of friends, family, and locals to help you along the way. Read about the presenter at


QSS NAV: National Geographic Trails Illustrated

National Geographic's Ryan Hock and Rachael Carpenter will do a deep-dive into the world of map making at National Geographic's local office in Evergreen. Don't miss this opportunity to hear about NG's spectacular map lineup (paper and digital), how to get free access to maps, the art of making maps, and the best ways to use maps for trip planning and navigation. Ryan Hock is the Retail Sales Manager for the Rockies, Rachael Carpenter is a Senior Cartographer. Both are based in National Geographic's office in Evergreen, CO.


QSS NAV: Ski Touring

Are you ready for winter? Alan Apt and Kay Turnbaugh will discuss ski touring fundamentals and safety tips and will show photos of spectacular route options! Alan has published two books with CMC Press, 'Snowshoe Routes: Colorado's Front Range' and, with Kay Turnbaugh, the upcoming 'Ski Touring Routes: Colorado's Front Range'. In addition, Alan and Kay have published Afoot and Afield: 184 Spectacular Outings in the Colorado Rockies with Wilderness Press. Alan is a teacher of nordic and alpine skiing and snowshoeing at Eldora with the Ignite Adaptive Program, and Professional Ski Association (PSIA) certified. He has been with the National Ski Patrol with Bryan Mountain and Diamonds Peaks Nordic Ski Patrols and is now an alumni member. Kay ( has been cross country skiiing for 50 years, formerly worked at Eldora Ski Area, and is also the author of "Following In Their Footsteps: Historical Hikes of the Northern Front Range" and other history and natural science books.


QSS NAV: Bargain Shopping

The holidays are over, and it’s finally time to spend money on yourself. But- your credit cards are still smarting from shopping your feelings, right? Fear not, dear bargain hunters and thrifty souls- allow me to teach you where to find great gear, when to buy, how to use those pro deals, and (gasp) when to pay full price. We’ll cover manufacturer seasons, clearance opportunities, group/ pro rates, rewards programs, and practical approaches to finding the gear you want at the best possible prices.