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CMC / Denver Group


Site Management

Effective Site Management is the key to having a safe and effective class. This includes both indoor and outdoor classes.

The Site Manager has final say on all matters of instruction, safety and logistics.


The selection of the site must take into account the skill level of the student. We have settled into a fairly familiar set of sites that are most conducive to effective instruction. In the past, instructors have taken groups to alternate sites. That is no longer an option under the more stringent permitting processes we are seeing from local, state, and federal agencies.

But groups might still end up going at different or staggered times. If the students are preparing a Trip Plan, make sure they are looking at the history and forecast of the weather in the destination area, including road conditions. Make sure they have avalanche danger levels if appropriate. Make sure they have member and emergency contact information, including nearest local minor and major medical facilities. If the students are not preparing a Trip Plan, instructors should have this information.

On site, the Site Manager makes decisions about safe zones. The key word is Conservative. Inform the students that they should start being careful immediately. For example, I saw a student swing his pack onto his shoulders with a wide arc that brought his ice axe spike perilously close to the face of another student. I had another student slip on the approach trail and sprain a wrist.

Be careful about loose rock wherever it is and wherever it could be, whether or not you can see it. Just assume there is loose rock where you are walking and tell every student to be observant of where they are putting their feet and where their teammates are putting their feet. Be careful about snow packed so hard that new students might have trouble staying upright. Be sure there is a debris-free and runout zone for practicing glissade and self-arrest.


Or, to put it another way, traffic management. The Site Manager will assign roles and group makeup. It is important that everyone coordinate their movements. Although the Site Manager will assign roles, every instructor should be aware of where bottlenecks and inefficiencies might develop and inform the Site Manager accordingly.

The Site Manager will be responsible for passing out student gear and retrieving the gear at the end of class. The Site Manager will be responsible for taking attendance of both students and instructors.

The Site Manager should move from group to group to be sure everyone is operating safely and efficiently.

Everyone should check with the Site Manager before leaving at end of class.