Alaska Mountaineering

Leadership & Guide Training Course
(7, 12 & 20 days)




The mountains of Alaska  have captivated the imagination of the world’s alpinists for decades. IWLS Alaska mountaineering courses explore the extensive glaciation, vast wilderness setting, and extreme rugged nature of Alaskan peaks; unmatched anywhere in the world. Bordering the largest non-polar ice cap in the world, the IWLS expedition center in Haines is perfectly situated to access one of the most rugged, glaciated and wild mountain ranges in the Western Hemisphere.

Due to the remote nature of the area, IWLS may utilize helicopters, ski planes, zodiacs, 4×4 vehicles or hike in options to access world class alpine climbing terrain on our Alaska mountaineering courses. From a series of different glacier base camps, instructors and students choose from endless climbing objectives.

A typical day on an Alaska mountaineering course may include an alpine start for a summit attempt of an unclimbed peak, vertical ice climbing on seracs or rappelling technique review on a nearby nunatak. IWLS instructors provide professional skill instruction and time-tested progressions alongside a series of exciting summit climbs. You’ll have a chance to lead your group through a crevassed icefall, ascend a rocky ridge with the clouds beneath your feet and dig a snow pit profile to assess the avalanche danger. You will learn techniques to keep your team moving efficiently up a steep snow slope, how to rescue your partner out of a crevasse and the best ways to teach navigation technique in a whiteout to your fellow students. With the support of your instructors you’ll practice emergency response scenarios and have ample opportunities to step into a leadership role in the mountains.

This Alaska mountaineering course is the perfect setting to achieve your goals whether you are interested in pursuing a career as a professional guide, honing your technical abilities for personal adventures or expanding your leadership skills.

THE INSTRUCTORS AND GUIDES OF IWLS are widely recognized as some of the very best in their field and have practical leadership experience from around the globe. They are well trained and have an uncommon enthusiasm for sharing their skill and knowledge, borne out of a passion for outdoor exploration.

The International Wilderness Leadership Schools’ educational model nurtures leadership development and creates an awareness of the guiding mentality that is essential for leading safe, fun adventures in the mountains. The combination of technical skills training, experiential education and practical leadership experience make the IWLS curriculum world class.

THE IWLS GENERAL CURRICULUM outlines the essential components for effective outdoor leadership. Here are a few points that the course will focus on.

  • Equipment/Clothing Selection and Use: You’ll learn to choose the right gear for the correct application, whether enjoying a sunny afternoon on a snow slope or trekking through a tropical rainforest.
  • Leadership: You’ll have the opportunity to lead the group in a variety of activities and objectives.
  • Environmental Ethics: As adventurers in some of the most pristine environments on the planet, it is our duty to respect the natural landscape. All of our courses practice and teach Leave No Trace® principles.
  • Safety and Risk Management: Safety is always the #1 consideration. As the course progresses, you’ll develop an awareness to appropriately asses risk and make safe decisions.
  • Wilderness Emergency Procedures and Treatment: Learn how to effectively manage safe, efficient, and timely backcountry rescues.

-Darsie Culbeck

IWLS MOUNTAINEERING CURRICULUM is built from countless expeditions in Alaska and around the world. You’ll learn how to be a competent and proficient mountaineer in a variety of different environments. Below are some topics we’ll cover.

  • Self-Arrest: What happens if you fall on a steep now slope? Learn, through hands on experience, how to stop a fall quickly and efficiently.
  • Anchors: Anchor building is a fun, yet intricate subject. We’ll examine single, double, triple and complex anchors, and their different applications. Learn how to place anchors in snow, rock, and ice.
  • Crevasse Rescue:Traveling in glaciated terrain requires that every member of the team be proficient in crevasse rescue. We’ll learn how to get a team mate out of a crevasse quickly and efficiently.
  • Technical Climbing: Rock climbing, ice climbing and steep snow climbing are all included in the IWLS’ curriculum.

-Ted Roxbury

IWLS AVALANCHE CURRICULUM is a nationally recognized progression of material that prepares students to be safe backcountry travelers.

  • Avalanche Characteristics: We’ll examine loose snow, wet snow, soft slab, and hard slab avalanches along with some potential triggers. You’ll learn the definition of terms such as stauchwall, alpha angle, and bed surface.
  • Snow Stability Evaluation: Is this snow capable of avalanching? Learn tests such as compression test and Rutschblock test that will help you evaluate layers within the snowpack. Develop your documentation skills for accurate recording and analysis of information.
  • Safe Winter Travel: As a group, we will travel safely through avalanche terrain. Considerations will include cornices, equipment selection, route finding, campsite selection, and effective communication.
  • Avalanche Rescue: Someone buried in an avalanche has an 87% chance of survival if found within the first fifteen minutes. We’ll practice using probes, beacons, and effective search patterns in order to quickly and efficiently find a buried person.

EXPERIENCE LEVEL No previous experience is necessary for this course. However, with a desire to learn and an enthusiasm for adventure, you’ll develop the skills necessary for a lifetime of wilderness exploration.

CERTIFICATIONS upon completion of the mountaineering course, participants may qualify for the following certifications:

Level 1 Avalanche Certification*
International Wilderness Leadership School

Guide Training Certificate of Completion
International Wilderness Leadership School

*Dependent on weather and season

DATES & PRICES Please see our schedule for current dates and price information.