Pacific Northwest

North Cascades Lake is a remote alpine playground.

From the granite peaks of the North Cascades and islands of the San Juans, to big glaciated mountains and the wild rivers of eastern Oregon, the Pacific Northwest has something for everyone. IWLS has a wide variety of leadership courses in the region, ranging from sea kayaking to mountaineering, skiing, climbing, and river skills.

IWLS has a passion for teaching courses in spectacular national and state parks, marine parks, and wildlife sanctuaries and is committed to protecting wilderness areas through conscientious use and education. The Pacific Northwest is a standout in designated wilderness. Our classrooms here include the Owyhee River, a component of the US National Wild and Scenic River System, the North Cascades National Park, and the San Juan Islands.

12 and 24 days

Climbers from across the country have come to the North Cascades National Park for generations to learn skills and gain mountaineering experience. Often referred to as the “American Alps,” it is a well respected training ground for climbers looking to gain skill for a lifetime of mountaineering.

Ski/Snowboard Mountaineering
12 and 24 days

The North Cascades are blessed with some of the biggest snow fall totals in the world, up to 700 inches annually! The glaciated peaks and wide variety of terrain make this a world-class skiing and mountaineering area.


Sea Kayaking
12 and 24 days

The San Juan Island archipelago, located in the fertile waters of Puget Sound in Northwestern Washington, is considered by many to be the premiere sea kayaking destination in the contiguous United States. Pods of Orca and other marine wildlife are a common site as we cross from island to island.

Rock Climbing
12 days

High quality rock and uncommonly dry weather make this area a world-class destination. IWLS climbing instructors are incredibly accomplished and talented individuals, with a passion for sharing their skills and experience. You may lead a day of top roping at a wilderness crag, practice aid techniques on a thin crack, or safely learn to place traditional protection on lead.

12 and 24 days

The extensive trail system among the mountains, glaciers, and valleys of North Cascades National Park are an excellent classroom for students learning backcountry and leadership skills. You’ll gain confidence through experience as you explore the forests, rivers, and alpine meadows of the area.

Backpacking & Whitewater
24 days

The mighty Owyhee flows from its source in northeastern Nevada, winding its way north through Idaho and Oregon before it joins the Snake River. On this IWLS course you’ll receive six days of Swiftwater Rescue Technician and Raft Guide training, then test your newly polished skills on an Owyhee River expedition.

Rescue Courses
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.

First Aid
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.


80 days

Whether rafting on the Owyhee, paddling the San Juans, or climbing an alpine rock ridge in the North Cascades, this guide training semester in the Pacific Northwest explores some of the hidden gems of the Northwest.