The vast expanse of wilderness, mighty mountain ranges, and abundant wildlife give credence to Alaska’s nickname as ‘The Last Frontier’. Alaska is a land of towering peaks, massive glaciers, extensive boreal forests, and rich marine ecosystems. Alaska is the epitome of the term “wilderness.”
IWLS is based in Haines, Alaska, a small town located near the top of the Inside Passage. Haines borders Glacier Bay National Park. The park and the adjacent 27 million acres, including Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, comprise the largest protected wilderness area in the world. It is an extremely jagged and glaciated mountain landscape that includes the world’s largest non-polar ice caps, pristine fjords, and wilderness rivers. Peak elevations in this region range up to 20,000 feet.
At 59 degrees latitude, summer days in Haines have over 20 hours of daylight. The long days make for great alpine starts, late night wildlife viewings, and account for the remarkable vegetative growth that is the basis for Alaska’s thriving ecosystem. Haines is situated at the northern end of the Tongass National Forest, the largest temperate rainforest in the world.
Bald eagles, salmon, orcas, grizzly bears, and moose are but a few of the unique species that make their home in Southeast Alaska. Nearby Admiralty Island has the highest concentration of Brown Bears in the world, due to the spectacular runs of Wild Salmon. Additionally, Haines hosts one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles on the planet.
The terrain surrounding Haines, Alaska is unique in North America and offers world class climbing, sea kayaking, rafting, trekking, and skiing. Our expedition center in Haines is an outstanding gateway for accessing this unparalleled wilderness area.
12 and 20 days
The mountains surrounding Haines provide the quintessential Alaskan climbing experience. From the snowy heights of Mt. Fairweather to the airy rock ridges and steep ice of unclimbed peaks and towering seracs, these mountains and glaciers are the ideal learning location for everyone from the novice mountaineer to the seasoned adventurer.
12 and 20 days
The mountains surrounding Haines and Skagway have been heralded as North America’s top skiing and ski mountaineering location. Steep couloirs, undulating bowls and exposed spines combine with high quality, consistent snow for the skiing adventure and wilderness education of a lifetime.
Picture yourself skiing some of the steepest and deepest powder in North America between engaging sessions on avalanche safety, crevasse rescue, or group management. You will have the opportunity to help choose a landing zone, assess the viability of ski descents from the air and practice incident command protocols in an avalanche rescue scenario.
12 and 20 days
The IWLS Glacier Bay National Park paddling center, located in Gustavus, AK, offers access to expedition paddling that is unrivaled in North America. IWLS is one of only two organizations permitted by the National Park Service to lead multi-day courses and expeditions in the park.
Rock & Ice Climbing
This course is structured to give students a solid foundation of vertical climbing skills from a professional guiding perspective. Our rock climbing location hosts everything from easy toprope climbs and difficult multipitch routes, to sweeping alpine faces. The Davidson Glacier just a few miles from Haines creating a playground of ice formations.
Mountaineering & Sea Kayaking
This comprehensive sea kayaking and mountaineering course is the perfect setting to achieve your goals whether you are looking to become a professional guide, hone your technical abilities for personal adventures, or expand your leadership skills. It focuses on teaching students to be safe, efficient, knowledgeable and confident outdoor leaders a variety of environments.
These series of exciting adventure activities challenge students in one of the wildest places on earth. Backcountry skills and outdoor education combine for a complete wilderness experience!
2, 3 and 5 days
IWLS offers a full spectrum of rescue courses for outdoor enthusiasts and professionals. Learn the skills to avoid and manage emergencies in the wilderness.
24 – 200 hours
First Aid courses are offered during the spring and summer in Haines, Alaska. From an introductory course in wilderness medicine to an AK state certified EMT training course, IWLS offers the full spectrum of courses.
From glaciated summits to rolling alpine tundra, mighty wilderness rivers to dramatic ocean fjords, the Alaska IWLS semester is a true wilderness experience. The skills learned in the rugged Alaskan backcountry carry forth to most corners of the globe.