The I Rating

The “I” rating allows you to lead cross-country trips.

 The “O” rating confines you to trails and the simplest off-trail travel that involves no navigational skills. Earning an “I” rating gives you the freedom to explore places that most Californians never see. If you’re thinking of getting an “M” rating, earning an “I” will automatically fulfill several “M” requirements. For I-Provisionals, advance review of your route is recommended.  See below for more details. 

Steps to I Rating

What do I have to do before I can lead an I provisional trip?
If you are already O-rated
  1. Have current Sierra Club membership
  2. Be current in (take) Wilderness First Aid (or higher) and CPR. Your first WFA must be a 24+ hour course. For more about First Aid/WFA/CPR requirements go to the First Aid page..
  3. Pass the I/M-level navigation check-off. See the Navigation page.
  4. Participate on five Sierra Club Angeles Chapter trips, including three at the I level from the last 10 years. At least one must be an overnight backpack.
  5. Not required before leading your provisionals: Complete two days (at least 14 hours) of Environmental Awareness training. Required to be granted the rating.
If you don't already have an O-1 or O-2 rating: Take the Leadership Training Seminar and pass the pre-exam in addition to the requirements listed above. Go on at least five experience trips: three must be at the I-level and one must be an I-level backpack. Please see Steps to Leadership for general guidelines.
I can't attend an LTC seminar. Is there an online course that will satisfy this requirement?  
  • No. You must take the LTC seminar. It’s offered several times a year. See our Seminar page.  Online refreshers are available after you have become a rated leader. See "Already a Leader?" for how to stay current.  
How many provisional trips do I have to do?
  • Two I-rated trips with significant off-trail. One must be a backpack; the other may be a dayhike. See below for more about Provisionals: the Navigation Component.

CANDIDATES! Your I provisional route may call for advance approval! Consult with the LTC Admin to ensure your route meets the I rating navigation requirements. Providing your own map with your route will be useful to demonstrate your plan. To assist you in the process, LTC has prepared a Request for Review of Proposed I-Provisional form. Fill it out and return it to .

Want pointers on Provisionals? See I Provisionals: The Navigation Component below.

Discover the Chapter's Activity Sections to imagine more possibilities for leadership. Co-sponsoring widens your reach!

I Provisionals: The Navigation Component

One of the key elements to a successful Provisional I trip is demonstrating navigation skills. As the LRB puts it, the trip must include "...a significant amount of off-trail wilderness travel and be of a nature that requires significant I/M-level navigation."

I candidates must complete two provisionals. One may be a dayhike, the other a backpack, both meeting the off-trail requirements,  Here are a few tips for provisional I leaders and their evaluators: 


1)  The cross-country portion should be a good part of the day (5-7 hours).
2)  The route should require navigational decision making – choosing correct gullies or ridges without "simply" following roads, trails, rivers, peaks, dominant ridges, or ducks – until the objective is achieved. The objective should not be visible at the beginning of the cross-country travel.
3)  The elevation gain and distance of the cross-country travel are not reliable measurements of sufficient navigation since they are dependent on the details of the specific route.
4)  Before investing a lot of planning, the proposed route should be marked on a map and sent to LTC Admin who will forward over to Navigation / Safety for review.
5)  Some of the popular destinations and routes can be completed without significant navigation. Proposed routes should include segments that will achieve the significant navigation element. That may mean adding intermediate destinations along the basic route.

6)  During the outing, adhere to the planned route to the extent safety and trip conditions permit.
7)  If the route must be modified, discuss options with the evaluator to include a significant navigation element.

Evaluating (for both the provisional leader and the assistant/evaluator)
8)  On the evaluation form, include descriptions about the significant navigation elements. Describe the route segment, the nature of the navigation challenge, and the navigation techniques used to complete the segment.
9)  Describe any deviations from the planned route. Explain why the route was modified and how the significant navigation was achieved on the alternate route.
10)  The assistant leader/evaluator should clearly describe how the provisional leader demonstrated navigational skill.
11)  Including a route map with the evaluation form of the actual travel path is very beneficial for the reviewers.

And, check out this excerpt from LRB: Pointers on Provisionals