Debriefing a Climb (or ski)



Debriefing a complicated climbing day can be one of the best ways to learn and strengthen your climbing partnerships. This is something I adopted from the guide-training process I went through back in the 1990’s. At Alpine Mentors we de-briefed every day of climbing, and all came away with a feeling that this process was the most valuable part of the Alpine Mentors experience, the place where the real learning happened.

Here are two tools to help you, first the video, and then a print-able checklist to help you and your partners conduct their own de-briefs.

Here is the video of Alpine Principle: Reflection and Debrief, scroll down for the checklist:


Click here for a PDF of the Alpine Mentors Debrief Criteria Checklist


Alpine Mentors Debrief Checklist

Based on the American Mountain Guides Association evaluation form

Route Selection

  • Conditions
    • Internal (you)
    • External (environmental)
  • Season
    • Amount of daylight
  • Weather
  • Team 

Route Planning

  • Rope and rock
  • Technical equipment
  • Bivy equipment
  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Cooking
  • Route/navigation planning (topos, photos, etc.)
  • Descent

Risk Management

  • Hazard Recognition 
  • Minimization of Risk 
  • Situational Awareness
  • Belay/anchors are an island of safety
  • Descent

Technical Systems

  • Staying attached 
  • Belays/Protection/Anchors 
  • Rope Management 
  • Rappelling/Lowering
  • Rescue Skills 
  • “Right techniques, right place, right time?”

Terrain Assessment

  • Route Selection
  • Route Finding
  • Navigation


  • Fitness/Stamina
  • 3rd/4th Class Terrain
  • Climbing Ability


  • Communication
  • Efficiency
  • Systems
  • Risk Management

Mountain Sense

  • Decision Making
  • Stress Management 
  • Error Correction (My personal favorite and imho one of the most important skills.-Steve House)
  • Disaster Prevention



  •  Environmental Consciousness. Did we practice Leave No Trace Climbing Principles? How could we improve?

You might also be interested in:

Training for Ice and Mixed Climbing

How to Locate a Belay When Ice Climbing



About Author

Comments are closed.