Fitness/Climbing Checkout Agenda



The purpose of the checkout is to ensure that all the students meet the basic fitness and technical requirements to take the Mountaineering School. Elite fitness is not required but a good starting point will help you get the most out of the school. Basic climbing skills are necessary for safety, and we won’t have time for catching people up. Anybody who doesn’t pass the checkout will be advised on how they can improve for the following year. Passing the checkout doesn’t guarantee acceptance into the Mountaineering School as other factors apply (max class size, etc).


  • Fitness checkout - University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning. Meet on the ground floor by the coffee shop. Park on street (free Sundays) or in the free Morewood Parking Lot at Carnegie Mellon University.

    • 4200 Fifth Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15213

  • Climbing checkout - McConnells Mill State Park. Caravan there or follow directions to the Rim Road Climbing Area.


  • 8:45 - Get changed into workout clothing, warm-up, and stretch.

  • 9:00 - Climb stairs

  • 10:30 - Cool down and change out of sweaty clothing. Form into carpools and head out.

  • 12:00 - Arrive at McConnells Mills

  • 12:30 - Climbing checkout

  • about 4:00 - Finish

What to bring:

  • Fitness checkout

    • comfortable workout clothing and shoes (e.g., tennis shoes, light trail hikers)

    • stopwatch

    • water bottle

    • pack with 10 pounds of weight
  • Climbing checkout

    • dry clothing (no cotton!)

    • check the weather and dress for conditions

    • bring the warmest insulated jacket you have

    • sturdy hiking boots recommended

    • lunch, water for the day

    • personal climbing gear

      • harness, helmet MANDATORY

      • carabiners, belay device, slings, prussik cords (bring whatever you have)

      • climbing shoes (if you have them)

  • You may be asked to carry club gear up or down

Fitness Checkout Requirements

  • Climb the Cathedral of Learning (36 floors, 450 vertical feet) with a 10 pound pack and regular footwear (e.g., running shoes).

  • Allowed time is 90 minutes, each rep should be less than 15 minutes going up.

  • Complete 5 or more repetitions in 90 minutes.

  • Walk at a comfortable (not running pace): think endurance, not speed.

  • You should take the elevator back down to the basement.

Climbing Checkout Requirements 

  • Proper use of all equipment (harness, helmet, rope, carabiner, etc)

  • Correct command use when belay and rappelling

  • Belaying -  You must never remove your brake hand from the rope

  • Climbing - We'll ask you to tie in using a figure-8 follow through. Attempt a 5.6 on top rope.

  • Rappelling - Show ability to set up a rappel device and do a leg wrap mid-rappel

  • Anchor building - build an anchor for a top rope

  • Prusiking - Ascending a rope using prusiks

  • Knots (when to use & how to tie) - figure-8 follow through, figure-8 on a bight, overhand, double fisherman's, clove hitch, Munter hitch, girth hitch, autoblock, prusik, bowline, water knot.

  • Rope management - preparing and carrying a butterfly coil