This Fall, the MIT Outing Club will be starting a new program designed to advance participants’ rock climbing skills and safety knowledge: MITOC school of rock climbing. The School aims to make beginners into competent and safe climbers, and offer experienced climbers the opportunity to beef up their knowledge of safety systems or break into traditional climbing under the guidance of more experienced leaders.

The School is divided into 2 tracks, basic and advanced. Completing a track will earn you a spot in the graduating class and a free t-shirt exclusively for graduates! Completing the basic track will give you the skills you need to get on climbs at the local gym or crag, as well as some more advanced skills in case something unexpected were to happen. The advanced track will teach you the placement of traditional protection, right on up through climbing long multi-pitch routes. Each track will consist of a set of classes, some of which will be required classes, while others will be electives. Some classes will be taught in the classroom, others, labeled practicals, will be taught outside. Students with previous experience will be allowed to test out of certain requirements, but will be required to take another elective in its place.

Open only to MIT Outing Club members ($15 yearly membership fee for MIT students; $20-25 for others). Enrollment is $10, and students will be responsible for transportation and food costs for trips to non-MIT locations.

Class Format

Classes will either be indoors or outside, with outside classes labeled Practical. Regardless of whether something is a “Practical” or not, most classes will include a large hands-on component in addition to a lecture. Some classes may have suggested pre-work, such as watching a video, or practicing a knot.

Classes will be free, but Practicals will require participants to arrange their own transportation and food costs. The instructor will try to arrange carpools. Some classes may be run during a circus weekend, with preference for those trips given to enrolled participants.

Some amount of technical gear will be required for Practicals, and several classroom classes. Students are encouraged to bring their own gear. MITOC also provides gear rentals for very low prices. Students wishing to purchase gear are welcome to contact instructors for recommendations.

Schedule + Key Dates

Course Roadmap

Basic Track Requirements

At least 6 classes required (1.00, 1.06, and 1.07 are bonus classes that do not fulfill the 6 class or any other requirement) 1.02 and 1.04 are required (NB 1.01 is a prereq for 1.02 and will likely be taken by most people) Knowledge of Retraced Figure 8, Figure 8 on a Bight, Clove Hitch, Double Fisherman’s, Bowline, and 1 friction hitch are required.

Example curriculum

Advanced Track Requirements

At least 6 classes required, not including 3.00 (1.00, 1.06, and 1.07 are bonus classes that do not fulfill the 6 class or any other requirement) 2.01 or lead belaying exam by instructor required 3.01, 3.02, 3.03, and 3.05 required (NB 3.04 is a prereq for 3.05 and will likely be taken by most people) The Self Rescue Course will give credit for 3.03 and 3.04, after passing a verbal test by the instructor over key concepts. Experience equivalent to the Basic track requirements is a prerequisite

Example curriculum

Class Listing

Course 1 - General Climbing

1.00 Basics of Movement and Climbing Terms

1.01 Top Rope Belaying and Tying In

1.02 Top Rope Belaying and Tying In - Practical

1.03 Climbing Knots

1.04 Rappelling, Coiling Rope, Cragging Etiquette - Practical

1.05 Ascending the Rope

1.06 Climbing History

1.07 The Gear Lecture

Course 2 - Sport Climbing

2.00 Cleaning Sport Anchors

2.01 Lead Belaying and Climbing - Practical

Course 3 - Trad Climbing

3.00 Top Rope Anchors, Basic Principles

3.01 Traditional Protection and Fall Factors

3.02 Following Trad Climbs - Practical

3.03 Climbing Anchors

3.04 Intro to Multipitch

3.05 Following Multipitch Trad - Practical


This clinic does not certify or qualify you as a solid belayer. Belaying is a skill that needs to be practiced and developed. MITOC takes no responsibility for how an individual chooses to use what they’ve learned. This is a course for belaying a climber on lead. In case you haven’t heard already, climbing is inherently dangerous.

Most organizers and session leaders running climbing sessions are not climbing guides, mountain guides, certified first-aid instructors, or medical practitioners. There will be no formal “teaching” or certification. These sessions are for practice and review. If you are interested in taking a formal course on self-rescue, general rope techniques, first aid, climbing, or mountaineering from a certified guide, we suggest you take an official course taught by certified professionals. Climbing, mountaineering, and general outdoor activities are inherently dangerous. In the event of a medical emergency, please recognize the limitations of your training and/or certifications, if any, when rendering assistance as a volunteer rescuer or race volunteer.