Mexico Backpacking & Canyoneering

Leadership & Guide Training Course
(12 & 24 days)

Copper Canyon’s beauty, ruggedness, depth and ecological diversity are unique in the world. -Jess Page

Arguably the deepest canyon in North America, the dramatic wilderness of the Copper Canyon is home to high cascading waterfalls and spectacular vistas amidst a unique aspect of Mexican culture. The Barranco del Cobre is home to the Tarahumara Indians.

Picture yourself crisscrossing warm pools of aqua marine water surrounded by towering canyon walls, rappelling alongside a 30 foot waterfall or teaching fellow students about some of the native plants of the area.

This comprehensive backpacking and canyoneering 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 in a desert canyon environment.

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 your course will focus on.

  • Decision Making and Problem Solving: Over the course of 12 or 24 days, we’ll discover ways to assess problems, explore solutions and evaluate options in order to make effective and safe decisions in the field.
  • Expedition Behavior and Group Dynamics: Because this course is a true wilderness expedition, interactions between group members need to be supportive and contribute to the efficacy of the group. The daily dynamics of the group, combined with instruction, will teach participants not only how to be a member of a team, but how to influence and lead an expedition.
  • Weather: Will the storm arrive in the next 12 hours or the next 48? Understanding weather patterns and trends will help you plan successful trips in a wilderness setting.
  • Navigation: Learn how to take a bearing, read a topographical map, triangulate your position, or navigate in a whiteout.

IWLS BACKPACKING CURRICULUM prepares students for exploration into remote, backcountry settings. Here are some points we’ll cover on your course:

  • Pre-trip Activities: Learn how to plan and prepare for an extended wilderness expedition. We’ll cover everything from technical camping equipment to group and personal expectations.
  • Stoves and Campfires: The ability to repair a broken stove, make an emergency fire after being submerged in an icy river, and melt snow efficiently for water are key components for leading a group in the wilderness.
  • Geology: From plate tectonics to granitic batholiths, you’ll learn the history of the land you are exploring and how these forces create and influence the environment around you.
  • Subjective Hazards: Among other things, dehydration, fatigue and personal pride can be detrimental to group safety. Learn how to implement measures to mitigate these potential hazards.

IWLS CANYONEERING CURRICULUM

  • Rappelling: Learn the principles of safe rappelling in a canyon environment for dropping into slot canyons or over big sandstone cliffs.
  • Ascending: The ability to escape canyons by ascending a rope is an important canyoneering skill. You’ll learn different ascending techniques and how to do them safely.
  • Routefinding: Picking a canyon to descend, a spot to ford the river, or a cliff to rappel requires good routefinding skills. Through experience and learning, you’ll develop the awareness and decision making skills to navigate and routefind in canyon country.

-Eli Fierer

IWLS INTERNATIONAL CURRICULUM is designed to provide students with a fundamental understanding of planning and leading expeditions in foreign countries. Here are just a few topics that will be covered:

  • Cultural History: As visitors to this remarkable location, we place a premium on being respectful and learning about the local culture and history. The rich Mexican history of central Mexico provides great insight into the culture of the region today.
  • Language Skills: The ability to ask directions, purchase items, and communicate on any level is an essential element of leading an expedition to a foreign country. Throughout the course, we’ll develop our Spanish language skills through dialog and lesson plans.
  • Trip Preparation: Logistics in a foreign country have the potential to be complex and tenuous. You’ll take part in shopping at the local market, arranging transportation, and securing permits in preparation for your expedition into the heartland of Mexico.

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

CERTIFICATIONS Upon completion of the 12 or 24-day course, participants may qualify for the following certifications:_

12 or 24 Day Guide Training Certificate of Completion
International Wilderness Leadership School

 

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