Leadership & Guide Training Course
(20 days)




Aconcagua (22,829 ft) is located in the central Andes of Argentina near the border with Chile. It is one of the seven summits and is the only peak outside of Asia that reaches this high altitude. Aconcagua is a focal point of activity in the international outdoor recreation industry. It involves high quality, non-technical climbing in a pristine environment. IWLS director Sean Gaffney pioneered the first ascent of the Guanacos route in 1996.

Picture yourself waking up at first light to start melting snow for water, trekking among a field of penitentes, and assessing the groups’ acclimation trends using a pulse oximeter. Aconcagua offers a unique educational opportunity for students seeking the skills and experience of participating in a high altitude climbing expedition in a foreign country.
This comprehensive 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 in a high altitude mountain environment.

Our route moves up the northeast side of the mountain and is independent from other routes on the mountain until high camp at 20,000 feet, where it rejoins the normal route for summit day. We use four camps that are well spaced at 2,000-foot intervals, an ideal distance for helping everyone acclimatize, one of the most important factors in being safe and successful!

Our itineraries are designed to provide individuals with a positive high altitude experience. They include ample time for rest, weather and acclimatization days. Extra days also give us the opportunity for learning about leadership and guiding at high altitude. We normally use four camps above Base Camp, which dramatically increases the safety and success of our students because of better acclimatization. This also makes the carries between camps less than 2,000 vertical feet, another big factor in being well acclimatized!

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.

  • Leadership: Opportunities to lead the group will be abundant and you’ll have the time to learn and practice multiple styles of leadership.
  • 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 setting up camp in 50 mph winds.
  • 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.
  • Trip Planning: The first day of the course is devoted to planning, packing, and organizing the logistics, food, and equipment for the expedition.

-Dave Dement

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.

  • 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.
  • Short Roping: Learn different applications of short roping technique and times and places to utilize it.
  • Altitude Considerations: Aconcagua reaches heights above 22,000 feet. Learn how to recognize signs and symptoms of acute mountain sickness, and steps to take to avoid it. We’ll also discuss the most effective treatment for all altitude illnesses: descent.
  • Timing: In the mountains, timing is everything: when to leave camp, when to turn around, and when to push for the summit. Time management is a critical component of safe travel and plays into many aspects of mountaineering.

-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 place, we place a premium on being respectful and learning about the local culture and history.
  • 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 can be complex and tenuous. You’ll take part in shopping at the local market, arranging transportation, and securing permits in preparation for your expedition on Aconcagua.

EXPERIENCE LEVEL Participants must have basic mountaineering skills and backpacking experience.

CERTIFICATIONS Upon completion of the 20-day course, participants may qualify for the following certifications:_

Guide Training Certificate of Completion
International Wilderness Leadership School

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