When the terrain gets steep enough that scrambling is required, or when ice axes, crampons and ropes are needed for protection, the outing is classified as a “climb”. Obsidians have a long history of leading climbs in the Cascades, dating back to the formation of the club. The climbs we offer range from snowy ascents of high peaks to sport rock climbs in the high desert.


Mountaineering with the Obsidians

The Obsidians sponsor climbs of most major peaks in the Oregon Cascades and some in Washington and California during each climbing season from April through November. We are not a guide service but have skilled volunteer leaders from the community that share a passion for bringing people to the mountains. The climbs we offer vary in difficulty from ‘walk-ups’ to technical rock, and snow climbs. The Obsidians provide ropes, technical protection, and first aid supplies. We do not supply personal climbing gear.


Participants are required to have basic mountaineering and outdoor skills, appropriate personal gear and be in good physical condition. Even the easier climbs are still strenuous, often with ascents of several thousand feet on summit day. Participants must be prepared to carry group gear such as ropes or pickets in addition to their own personal climbing and camping gear. The time commitment required for a climb ranges from one to several days depending on the location and difficulty.

When a climb is listed on the Obsidian calendar, its level of difficulty will be indicated. For non-technical climbs such as the south side of South Sister or Diamond Peak, extensive mountaineering skills are not necessary but still require a level of fitness and basic snow travel skills in order to participate. Technical climbs require ropes and technical climbing skills such as proficiency in glacier travel and travelling on fixed lines. Examples of technical climbs include Mount Hood and Mount Thielsen. In order to go on a technical climb participants must have one of following:

  • Completed a Basic Mountaineering course, (either offered by the Obsidians, or an equivalent course offered by another organization)
  • Have sufficient previous experience that the climb leader can judge your skill level for the climb.
  • Been recommended as skilled and fit for the intended climb by someone known and trusted by the climb leader.

The party size on climbs is limited. Wilderness area restrictions limit the party size to no more than twelve, and many leaders choose to limit the numbers to less than twelve, depending on the route difficulty and other factors.

How to Sign up for a Climb

To sign up for a climb, check the schedule and read the general description of the technical difficulty as well as the material above to ensure you meet the requirements, go to our online signup system, accessible on our home page.   Climbs are generally posted online three weeks before their scheduled dates.

Obsidian members can pre-register for a climb by contacting the listed climb leader and ask to go on the climb. The same restrictions on signing up for a technical climb applies to members. Contact information for leaders is found in the member directory. Members pre-registering for climbs cannot sign up for simultaneous climbs as place holders and are limited to pre-registering for 3 climbs a year. There is no limit on registering for climbs once they go online for members and non-members alike.

Graduation climbs are for recent graduates of climb school so they can practice their newly acquired skills. Recent climb school graduates who are members can pre-register. Once the climb goes online then recent non-member graduates are given priority followed by regular member and the public.

The climb leader has the final discretion on who to allow on the climb and may limit participation of climbers or adjust the climb schedule based on experience of the individual, the group, and climb conditions.

Let’s Climb!

The Chair of the Climbs Committee is Maryanne Reiter. She can be contacted by emailing climbs@obsidians.org

Climbs Schedule

The 2019 Climbs season is over. Check back in April to see the great schedule that the Climbs Committee has put together for the 2020 season.

Climb School 2020

Each spring the Obsidians and Eugene Mountain Rescue offer a course in Basic Mountaineering. The emphasis of course is on the basic skills needed to climb safely with a group in a range of environments from sport rock climbing to alpine mountaineering. The course will prepare students to travel on steep rock and snow slopes and participate in Obsidian climbs. This course is not meant to train people to lead groups but rather to be a safe team member. We will not cover in detail the use of map and compass, weather and avalanche assessment, or crevasse rescue.

The course consists of three classroom sessions and two field sessions covering introduction to rock climbing and snow skills. The class is limited to 30 participants. You must be 16 or older to participate; but will need a parent or guardian signature if under 18. Those between 13 and 16 may participate if accompanied by a parent or responsible adult who is also enrolled in the course. The cost of the class is $110.00 for non-members and $80.00 for Obsidian members and Eugene Mountain Rescue volunteers. (If the cost is a significant financial burden, please contact mreiter1959@gmail.com to explore alternate pricing).

The Obsidians will provide all ropes, anchors and group gear needed for the field sessions. We also have the following personal gear available if needed: climbing harnesses, rock helmets, belay devices, and locking carabiners. Obsidians have a limited number of ice axes to loan out, if you are able, please borrow or purchase one for the class.

The course outline is below:

Monday, March 30: 7-9 PM (Obsidian Lodge): Introduction to climbing. Topics include basic knots used in climbing, type of climbing and rating systems, what to bring for different types of climbs.

Tuesday, March 31: time TBD (Bob Keefer Center for Sports and Recreation, Springfield): Indoor rock climbing skills. Topics include a review of knots, safety checks, climbing commands, how to belay, climbing technique basics.

Sat/Sun, April 4 or 5: 8 AM-4 PM (Skinner Butte Columns): Outdoor climbing skills. Topics include knot review, belaying a climber on top rope, travelling on a fixed line and rappelling.

Thursday, April 9: 7-9 PM (Obsidian Lodge): Basic snow travel skills preview. Topics include safety considerations for snow travel, proper use of an ice ax and other snow travel equipment, roping up and negotiating crevasses.

Saturday, April 11: 9 AM-4:30 PM (TBD, though likely Hayrick Butte, Santiam Pass): Snow field session. Skill development includes: techniques for travelling on snow, self-arrest, building snow anchors, roped travel on snow.

To enroll in the course (enrollment opens 7 AM, Feb 18, 2020):

Step 1: sign up for the Basic Mountaineering Course through the online signup system. If you do not have an account with the Obsidians, you must first register with us. To register, click here: Register.

Step 2: pay the course fee which is $110.00 for non-members and $80 for Obsidian or Eugene Mountain Rescue members. To pay, send a check made out to the Obsidians, Inc. and mail to Maryanne Reiter 1679 Barton Drive Eugene, OR 97404. Payment must be received within 10 business days of signing up for the class to secure your spot.

Step 3: Once we have received payment you will be sent a confirmation email that will also contain questions about your climbing skill level, gear needs and who to contact in case of an emergency.

Step 4: Attend the first class and sign the liability waiver form.

Please contact Maryanne Reiter, Chair of the Obsidians Climbs Committee at mreiter1959@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Climbing awards

The Obsidians have three climbing awards offered to members:

The Three Peaks Award is presented to members who have successfully reached the summit of all three Sisters on scheduled Obsidian climbs.

The Ten Peaks Award is presented to members who have reached the summits on Obsidian climbs of the ten major Oregon peaks: Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, the Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. McLoughlin, Mt. Thielsen, and Diamond Peak.

The Ten Peaks Leader Award is presented to Obsidian members who have led climbs of all Ten Major Peaks listed above.

Archived climb schedules

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