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The ability to build safe, dependable anchors separates climbing leaders from other climbers. Once you understand how to build a strong, secure anchor, you will be able to lead your own top-rope climbing outings at Devil's Lake and elsewhere. For those wishing to become traditional lead climbers, anchoring skills are a core competency you will build on as you work toward leading your own trad routes. 

Curriculum Overview

training sequence

"How much training do I need?" is a common question. Your training needs depend on your previous experience, aptitude, pre-course study and a zillion other things. For most beginners, we recommend a three-course sequence to establish a strong foundation in anchor skills. It's not required to take all three courses; it's our recommendation, based on years of experience. 

private vs open courses

If you book a private course, everything will be custom-tailored to your group and move at your pace. If you have considerable prior experience and you'd like to cover a lot of ground, you will prefer a private day. Open courses are more affordable, especially for solo folks, but we have less flexibility to tailor the curriculum to you. The upside is you get to meet some really great people who might just become future climbing partners! 

will we get to climb?

Yes! If you'd like to climb the anchors you build, we'll make time for it. If you prefer to concentrate on technical skills, that works too. Regardless, total course time will be the same.


Open-Enrollment Anchors schedule

You can schedule an anchors course any day of the year for your group (see prices lower on the page). For those looking to join an existing group, we offer open-enrollment Anchors courses on the below dates for $145/person/day. We arrange our open enrollment courses so you can team up Anchors I and Anchors II in one weekend, then follow up with Anchors III and Lead Climbing I in another weekend.

Anchors I - $145
Knots, Rigging & Simple Systems

  • June 1
  • June 22
  • July 13
  • Aug 3
  • Aug 24
  • Sept 14
  • Oct 5
  • Oct 26

Anchors II - $145
Gear Placement & Compound Systems

  • June 2
  • June 23
  • July 14
  • Aug 4
  • Aug 25
  • Sept 15
  • Oct 6
  • Oct 27

Anchors III - $145
Advanced Scenarios

  • June 16
  • June 29
  • July 20
  • Aug 10
  • Aug 31
  • Sept 21
  • Oct 19
  • Nov 2
Anchors I


This course is the first in a three-course progression that helps you develop fundamental anchor skills from the ground up.

We start by getting familiar with knots and core equipment, explore anchor theory and elementary physics concepts, and build simple anchor systems using natural anchors. The experiential course format involves lots of hands-on practice with gear and concepts, making sure you can apply concepts and have lots of opportunities for practice. Expect to build at least 3-4 complete anchors.

While most students will feel comfortable building simple anchors at the completion of this course, we recommend taking at least Anchors II before leading independent climbing days.


Full Day
(7 Hours)

  • Solo | $375/person
  • 2 pp | $195/person
  • 3 pp | $160/person
  • 4 pp | $145/person
  • 5 pp | $130/person
  • 6 pp | $115/person

Anchors II


This course is the second in a three-course series. Anchors One, or comparable prior experience, is a prerequisite.

We start by getting acquainted with climbing hardware, things like nuts, hexes, tricams and spring-loaded camming devices (SLCDs). Student learn how to place this protection as the manufacturer recommends, and how to find good placement opportunities in the available rock. Pieces always get stuck, so we learn how to get them back out too! After practice with placements, we build upon simpler anchor concepts from Anchors One to construct complex, compound anchors using an infinite number of anchor points.

While some students may feel comfortable striking out on their own after this course, we recommend gaining one more day of experience/curriculum in Anchors Three.


Full Day
(7 Hours)

  • Solo | $375/person
  • 2 pp | $195/person
  • 3 pp | $160/person
  • 4 pp | $145/person
  • 5 pp | $130/person
  • 6 pp | $115/person
Anchors III


This course offers less "formal" curriculum and more in-the-moment problem solving and instructor feedback on your evolving skill set. In addition to setting multiple anchors and receiving instructor and peer feedback, students will learn:

  • Rappel setup, deployment and backup best practices

  • Using the guidebook to interpret and navigate a climbing area

  • Managing cliff-top safety in high exposure scenarios and traverses

  • Maximizing efficiency when working in a team

At the end of Anchors Three, most students feel well-prepared to plan and execute self-guided top-rope climbing days.


Full Day
(7 Hours)

  • Solo | $375/person
  • 2 pp | $195/person
  • 3 pp | $160/person
  • 4 pp | $145/person
  • 5 pp | $130/person
  • 6 pp | $115/person