Technical Skill Workshops

two people fixing bikes

Basic Bike Maintenance

A well-tuned bicycle is not just safer, it's more fun to ride. Let us help you enjoy the ride without the expensive shop bills by showing you how to make some basic adjustments and repairs.

Frequency Offered: 1-2 times per semester

Cost:  FREE for GVSU Students

Format: Single-day, In-Person

Registration:  Required. See the OA Events Calendar for dedicated workshop offerings

Additional Bike Maintenance Details

Climbing Skills

Gym Climbing

Gym climbing workshops cover a variety of skills for new and experienced climbers alike. Whether you're a first-time climber wanting to gain awareness of the basics like different types of climbing and efficient movement to more experienced climbers wanting to learn how to lead, we're happy to help you meet your indoor climbing goals.

Belay Check

This isn't our gym, but the skills we taught these climbers at GVSU allowed them to dominate their belay evaluation on our Spring Break trip!

Belay Lessons

This is the basic lesson for teaching the person on the ground (belayer) how to keep the climber safe in a top-rope setting. After the lesson, participants will have the opportunity to be evaluated by the staff to receive their GVSU belay qualification. Upon passing the evaluation, participants will be approved to belay in our facility and be capable of operating in similar environments.

Frequency Offered: 

  1. Upon request at our open hours
  2. 2-3 scheduled workshops (so you don't need to give up valuable open-climb time)

Cost:  FREE for GVSU Students

Format: Single-day, In-Person


  1. N/A for Open Climb Lessons
  2. See the OA Events Calendar for dedicated workshop offerings

Additional Belay Lesson Details

You Might Also Like:  Intro to Indoor Climbing

Bouldering Class Spotting

Intro to Indoor Climbing

For GVSU students and staff who would like a more formal and private introduction to the equipment and techniques involved in indoor rock climbing.  This hands-on, small-group workshop will transform participants from having no knowledge about climbing to being able to independently gear up for a climb, plan an appropriate path, and efficiently move through it.  By the end of the workshop, participants should be confident in their ability to competently utilize the necessary protective equipment and techniques for climbing in our facility and similar environments.

Frequency Offered: 2-3 times per semester

Cost:  FREE

Format: Single day, In-Person

Registration:  Required - Visit the OA Events Calendar for current offerings

Additional Intro to Climbing Details (coming soon)

Indoor Lead Climbing

Indoor Lead Climbing

This is a comprehensive lesson for learning to sport lead in an indoor setting.  The regular format takes place over 2 days, generally consecutive Wednesdays or Sundays with occasional 1-day offerings.  The course includes instruction on both lead climbing and lead belaying.  Approval to lead climb after taking the course requires logging practice time and a separate evaluation.

Frequency Offered: Upon sufficient interest

Cost: $10 for GV Students

Format: 2-days (occasional 1-day offerings), in-person

Registration: Qualified climbers can express interest in learning to lead by submitting the lead climbing request form below. Upon sufficient interest, we will schedule a course based on your availability.
*This course has prerequisites. See additional details below.

Additional Lead Lesson Details

Request Indoor Lead Climbing Class

You Might Also Like: Climb Management, Top Rope Anchors

Skill Instruction Photo

Climbing Wall Instructor Certification

The Professional Climbing Instructor's Association (PCIA) Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) Course provides climbers with an in-depth, standardized understanding of the skills essential to teaching climbing in an indoor setting. It is the first step in a sequential approach to professional climbing instructor development. The course emphasizes the presentation of sound fundamental skills to climbing gym participants, the formation of risk assessment and risk management skills, and basic problem solving skills such as belay transitions and on-wall coaching and assistance techniques. Participants are assessed on both their core climbing knowledge as well as their ability to effectively teach and coach related skills with professionalism. Although this course utilizes the lens of indoor rock climbing, the knowledge is applicable for effective instruction of skills in any field. 
Starting Fall 2020, this certification will be required for all Climbing Center Shift Staff.

Frequency Offered: One time per semester

Cost: GVSU Students Only, $60 for Certification; $20 to Audit

  • Audit Option:  Participants in this course have the option to audit the course for a reduced fee (all the knowledge but without the formal certification).  Use the Coupon Code: AUDIT to receive $40 off your registration fee.
  • Down payment option: Participants who would like to do a split-payment option may register with a down-payment equal to 50% of the total registration fee. The balance remaining will be due on the first day of the course.  Please email Joe Bitely; [email protected] prior to registration for a coupon code.

Format:  4-week hybrid online/ in-person (20 hours). A schedule of meetings will be provided in the Events Calendar listing

Registration: Required - Visit the OA Events Calendar for current offerings
*This course has pre-requisites. See additional details below.

Additional CWI Details 

bucket of rice

Watch the presentation to find out the significance of a bucket of rice.

Rock Climbing Injury Prevention

A presentation on common rock climbing injuries, prevention and rehabilitation by Sarah Podkowa, GVSU Alum and Physical Therapy master's student at UIC. Sarah's presentation is an open video on YouTube. Topics Include:

  • Finger Injuries
  • Overuse Injuries
  • Foot Impairments
  • Rope Burn
  • Flappers

A breakdown of topics and timing in the presentation can be found in this rock climbing injury prevention details document.

Rock Climbing Injury Prevention Presentation


Outdoor Climbing

The following workshops are intended to address the important nuances and additional skills for applying climbing techniques in the less-controlled and ever-changing outdoor environment. Each workshop has varying levels of recommended experience and some have prerequisites.

Outdoor climbing instructor overlooking lake

(photo not from this workshop)

Confident Outdoor Climber

New Format for Fall 2022!

This workshop focuses on the basic skills necessary for selecting and protecting outdoor bouldering and top roping climbs. We've updated it from a series of workshops to a comprehensive course that will take place at the iconic Devil's Lake State Park! While outdoor lead climbing is not on the agenda, there will be skills covered that can be applied to that setting as well. Particularly, principles of sound anchors, getting your gear back (aka "cleaning"), and getting down from a climb (rappelling/ lowering). Check out the Additional Details below for a full list of topics covered. 

Frequency Offered:  1 time per year. Due to the amount of content, this workshop is only offered over Fall Break. 

Cost: TBD

Format: multi-day trip; off-site

Registration:  Required - Visit the OA Events Calendar for current offerings

Additional Confident Outdoor Climber Details

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Prerequisites: Top rope belayer (lessons offered on-demand during open climb, no experience necessary)

Top Managed Systems

Top Managed Systems (TMS)

This course introduces technical climbing systems implemented from the top of a climb such as found with some top-rope settings and also in multi-pitch climbing. It is designed to help build fundamental knowledge of technical climbing systems used for belaying, rappelling, anchoring, etc... Whether you are semi new to climbing, or have been sending routes for years, you are sure to pick up on some valuable knowledge to help you in the world of vertical pursuits!

What's different from past offerings? We've eliminated redundant content found in some of the previous modules and are leaving them as standalone workshops. We have also condensed the lessons and scenarios down to just the "essentials".  The result is a much more succinct workshop.

Frequency Offered: Once per Semester

Cost:  $20 for GV Students

Format:  Single-day, Hybrid online/ in-person

Registration:  Required - Visit the OA Events Calendar for current offerings.
Prerequisite: Intro to Anchors or previous anchor building experience

Participants in Top Managed Systems (TMS) will be contacted with a username & password necessary for accessing the content below. 

Additional TMS Details

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Online Content
Note: Links to content are date-sensitive and will only work during a TMS course.

TMS Introduction     Module 1: Anchors     Module 2: Top Belays     Module 3: Descending/ Lowering

Self Rescue

Self-Rescue (SR)

Climbing is inherently dangerous.  Eventually, something won't go as expected and your level of preparedness could be the difference between a traumatic ordeal & an epic adventure. This hybrid course further builds on the material from Top Managed Systems to give climbers important tools for dealing with a variety of unintended situations where simply lowering the climber to the ground is not an option.  

Frequency Offered: Once per semester

Cost: $30 for GV Students

Format: Single-day, Hybrid online/ in-person

Registration:  Required - Visit the OA Events Calendar for current offerings. 

Participants in Self-Rescue (SR) will be contacted with a username & password necessary for accessing the content below.  Each module will become active 1 week prior to the in-person meeting for that module & will remain active for the duration of the course.
* Pre-requisite: Top Managed Systems

Additional Self-Rescue Details

You Might Also Like: Wilderness First Aid (or Wilderness First Responder)

Online Content
Note: Links to content are date-sensitive and will only work during a SR course.

Self-Rescue Introduction   Module 1   Module 2   Module 3   Module 4   Module 5

Dry Ice Tools Photo

Intro to Ice Climbing

A perfect workshop for GVSU students who want to learn about the basics of ice climbing or who plan to attend the Munising ice climbing trip with us in February but have never climbed ice before.  The topics we'll cover include: basic equipment, clothing for cold weather activity, & basic technique for climbing water ice efficiently. 

Frequency Offered: Once per year (Winter semester)

Cost: $5 for GV Students

Format: Single-day, In-person.  Brief classroom portion followed with on-wall practice of the technique known as dry-tooling

Registration: Required - Visit the OA Events Calendar for current offerings

Additional Ice Climbing Details

You Might Also Like:  Michigan Ice Fest Trip (Munising, MI)


topographic map segment


Using a map and compass for navigation. Whether you're using them as a backup to your digital tools or wanting to get into adventure racing, orienteering is a fantastic skill for not getting lost. Gaining proficiency in wilderness navigation can even improve your ability to navigate in more modern landscapes! This hands-on workshop will cover the basics of reading a topographic map, identifying location with coordinates and using a compass to move from one point to another. It includes an optional but strongly encouraged skills course in the Ravines Natural Area adjacent to the Allendale campus.

Frequency Offered: Once per year (customized modules will be considered upon request)

Cost: Free

Format: Single-day, In-person.  Brief classroom portion followed by an outdoor skills course.

Registration: Required - Visit the OA Events Calendar for current offerings

Additional Orienteering Course Details

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Wilderness Medicine

GVSU Wilderness First Responder Highlights

This video contains simulated emergency scenarios with artificial wounds. Viewer discretion advised.

Wilderness First Responder

Wilderness First Responder (WFR), offered by Wilderness Medical Associates, is the definitive course in medical training for outdoor educators, guides, Search and Rescue (SAR) team members, and others who work or play in remote areas. The curriculum is comprehensive and practical, including all of the essential principles and skills required to assess and manage medical problems in isolated and extreme environments. The 5-day format is for individuals and sponsors with less time available for on-site training and requires 30+ hours of self-guided online preparation and 45 hours of in-class instruction. This nationally recognized certification is valid for 3 years. 

Frequency Offered: Once per year (early May)

Cost: varies by affiliation; GVSU Students: $585; GVSU Faculty/ Staff/ Alumni: $630; General Public: $675

Format: 5-day hybrid, In-person. 25+ hours of online pre-course content required. 2-day hybrid recertification available.

Registration: Required - Visit the OA Events Calendar for current offerings

Additional WFR Course Details

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Page last modified February 20, 2024