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Home » Classes » CMC Classes and Schools » Trip Leader School


Trip Leader School (TLS)

The information below describes the practices used by the Denver Group.  Other groups may do something different.

Trip Leader School consists of a self-paced online class, an in person scenarios session hike, and a leader in training hike. The self-paced online class includes topics such as trip planning, group dynamics, situational awareness, communication skills, leadership, CMC policies, and leader liability considerations. The scenarios session is a four hour hike local to Golden where candidates will engage in role playing, working through potential real-life scenarios, and have discussions with Instructor Leaders on best practices for working through situations they may face while leading trips. Students are given specific guidelines for arranging their final Leader-In-Training hike and for applying to become a trip leader.

There is No Fee for the Trip Leader School.  Apply using the following application:  TLS Application. Once your application is received, you will be sent a link to begin the online class, as well as information on the next scenarios session.


1. Be a current CMC member.

2. Complete 5 CMC trips of which no more than 2 may be school field trips

3. There is No Fee for the Trip Leader School but an application must be submitted.  Click here for the TLS Application.

4. Take the Wilderness First Aid (WFA) class.  It is preferable to complete WFA before Trip Leader School, but concurrent enrollment in TLS and WFA is acceptable. The website provides information to sign up for free WFA granted you agree to lead a certain amount of trips, more information can be found on the WFA site.

5. Complete Trip Leader School (TLS), which includes the self-paced online class and one day of field training including scenarios and role playing. You will then plan and lead a leader in training (LIT) trip to be completed with an Instructor Leader that is not related to you, nor be a significant other. All applicants must have a favorable recommendation from the Instructor Leader for their LIT hike. Your LIT hike must be completed and application made within 12 months of TLS graduation. 

The Instructor Leader is a trained leader instructor not any CMC trip leader, a list of Instructor Leaders can be obtained by contacting the Trip Leader School Director. The LIT and the hike Instructor Leader must fill out this LIT Evaluation Form when the trip is completed. 

Applicants seeking Technical Trip Leader certification are referred to the Technical Trip Leader Application below.

6. You must pursue one of these avenues in regards to leading winter trips. 

  • Complete the CMC Avalanche Terrain Avoidance (ATA) class if you wish to lead trips on snow-covered, non avalanche prone terrain 
  • Complete the CMC AIARE Level 1 Avalanche School if you wish to lead winter trips on snow-covered, avalanche prone terrain 

7. Within 18 months of completing TLS, complete a Group Trip Leader Application, available at this link, Leader Application, attach the completed LIT Evaluation Form, and send all the requested documents to:

8. Approval: The Trip Leader School Director approves leader applications electronically when all requirements are verified.  If questions arise about the application, a plan of action is put in place to resolve any deficiencies.  Membership Services and the applicant are notified by the Trip Leader School Director.  Membership Services then inputs the approved leader’s name into the database and the leader may begin scheduling trips for which he/she is certified.

9. If you plan to lead technical trips, fly-fishing trips, cycling trips or downhill ski trips, please read below to learn about the required additional requirements.


Technical Trip Leader Application Process

In an effort to promote growth of technical climbing activities at the CMC, Denver Group transferred responsibility of technical climbing schools and trips to the State Technical Climbing School Committee. The procedures and guidelines below are for Denver Group Trip Leaders who want to lead technical climbing trips for the CMC may be found here:​ How to Become a Tech Trip Leader


Bike Leaders

Members wishing to become bike trip leaders should complete the Trip Leader Application form and submit to DS&L.

  • Successfully complete CMC Trip Leader School
  • Successfully complete Wilderness First Aid or have equivalent training or experience
  • Demonstrate during a Leader in Training (LIT) Ride:
  • Rules of the road
  • Ability to manage cycling group dynamic situations, including regrouping at intersections or junctions for direction changes where members could become separated
  • Familiarity with the selected LIT route
  • Knowledge of general bike maintenance: tire repair, chain breakage, brake problems
  • Carry a first aid kit with cycling items

It is recommended bike leaders complete a bike maintenance class offered by a bike retailer, bike safety organization or a similar organization. Wearing a bike helmet is required for bike leaders and bike trip participants.


Downhill Ski Coordinator Criteria

CMC downhill ski trips are to be contained within the commercial resort boundaries where the commercial entity maintains a patrolled ski area. Downhill Ski Coordinators and members registered for the trip are not authorized to leave the patrolled terrain while participating in an official CMC Activity Trip.

Any backcountry travel designation classifies the trip as a backcountry trip requiring the certified leader to have completed AIARE Level 1 avalanche training.

The basic skills/training for a Downhill Ski Coordinator are:

  • Procedure for contacting the ski patrol in an emergency
  • Carpool organization, need for driving instructions, parking lot designation at the ski resort
  • Understanding of group dynamics and assembly procedures such as setting meeting location at the beginning and ending of a trip and/or at lunch
  • Determining the processes to be followed at designated departure time and the procedure needed in the event a participant has not arrived by the designated departure time
  • Knowledge of basic trip procedures such as trip scheduling, trip confirmation, trip reports, guest policies and driver mileage reimbursement
  • Knowledge of contact and accident/incident procedures if an accident has occurred

Downhill Ski Coordinators are certified by Denver Safety & Leadership Committee (DS&L) to coordinate trips to licensed, patrolled ski areas only. Existing leaders or new leaders who wish to be Downhill Ski Coordinators should submit an application to DS&L.


Fly Fishing Trip Leaders

The process of becoming a fly fishing trip leader is very similar to that of becoming a general hike leader. The following are the special steps apply:

  • Successfully complete Trip Leader School
  • Successfully complete Fly Fishing School or have equivalent experience
  • Successfully complete Wilderness First Aid or have equivalent training or experience
  • Successfully complete two LIT trips:  One” A” hike and one Fly Fishing Trip; LIT may substitute a hike at a “B” or “C” level or backpack should they so elect to do so providing the LIT meets the B or  C classification requirements or backpack requirements; the Fly Fishing Trip must be scheduled through the Denver Group Fly Fishing Section
  • Demonstrate the following Flying Fishing trip requirements during the LIT Fly Fishing Trip:
  • Members of the trip must let the LIT trip leader know where they will be fishing and estimated return time
  • LIT schedules a return time and place for the group to meet at the end of the day; this necessitates all members have a time piece
  • LIT is aware of need for trip members to “Buddy up” with another member of the trip and keep in touch with them while fishing.  (This requirement is for safety.  If one of the two individuals needs help, then the other one can locate the rest of the group along the river or lake and assist as required)
  • Review safety and etiquette guidelines for Wading Fly Fishing with the members on trip prior to fishing.  (These topics are covered in the CMC DG Fly Fishing Handbook used in the Fly Fishing School)