BCEP, 2023 – The first session, climbing at the MMC


Last year, I took the BCEP class with the Mazamas – Basic Climbing Education Program. It was interesting; a great chance to review my well-trained skills, practice some that I hadn’t used in ages, and get to meet some new climbing and outdoors people. It was fun, and ticked all the boxes that I had hoped that it would.

My faith in the outdoors community reinvigorated, I quickly and happily volunteered to help teach BCEP this year. I was expecting to assist with the same group that I’d taken the class with the previous year, since leaders tend to continue teaching year over year, so I was a bit surprised when I was placed with a different group… but it turns out, this new group was just starting out – the first year the leader had led a BCEP team on their own.

The chance to help out with a new group, and to help build a similar culture of excitement and optimism for the outdoors? All while getting to show people the unbridled joy of rock climbing? Of seeing new views off the side of a mountain?

Well. Sign me right the heck up.

Saturday, 18-Mar-2023

As the intro says, I helped teach BCEP this year! It’s been a long time since I’d assisted with a climbing class in any way, probably since the summer of 2019 or so, and even longer since I’d really been an official assistant. I was super excited, but unfortunately had missed the first few events thanks to being in Ireland when they happened.

I know, I know… bad form, Ben!

But in my defense, Ireland was planned before BCEP, and I had been assigned to this group instead of choosing it, so… yeah. Not my fault, I swear!

Anyways, the first event that I assisted with was perfect for me – the first climbing session in the Mazamas mountaineering center! Harkening back to my own course as a student, the MMC has a few short walls that’re used to teach students the basics of rock climbing – how to secure a harness, how to tie in, how to belay… and even how to rappel!

It was an excellent day – I taught at the rappel station, mainly, and had a blast walking the students through the process while helping encourage them to ask questions and understand the entire system, instead of just memorizing the sequence of events required. It was great, and absolutely scratched that itch to teach that I’ve had in the back of my head.

It would be a few more weeks until we actually climbed real rocks together at Horsethief, but I still got to see the shift in people as they become more and more confident… going from someone fumbling with a carabiner to someone confidently hopping off a ledge with their rappel device locked into place.

I did, of course, get a quick climb in myself. You can’t blame me! Assistants get to have fun too, sometimes!

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