Patagonia Mountaineering

Leadership & Guide Training Course
(24 days)





The backpacking and mountaineering surrounding Cerro Torre is truly world class. -Jacob Schmitz

The wild, untouched landscape and rugged beauty of Patagonia is home to one of the largest systems of glaciers on the planet. The dynamic weather and terrain of this glaciated wilderness make for exceptional mountaineering expeditions.

Imagine leading your group through a crevassed icefall, ascending a rocky ridge with the clouds beneath your feet, or digging a snow pit profile to assess the avalanche danger.

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 glaciated alpine 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.

  • Leadership: Opportunities to lead the group will be abundant, and you’ll have the time to learn and practice multiple styles of leadership in varied situations.
  • 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.
  • Trip Planning: The first day of the 24-day course is devoted to planning, packing, and organizing the logistics, food, and equipment for the expedition.

-Bryan Hinderberger

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.

  • 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 teammate out of a crevasse quickly and efficiently.
  • Objective Hazards: Rock fall, river crossings, and avalanches are examples of objective hazards. Learn how to identify such hazards and minimize group exposure.
  • Escaping the Belay: What happens when things go bad? We’ll practice escaping the belay and getting to the aid of an injured climber.
  • Technical Climbing: Rock climbing, ice climbing and steep snow climbing are all included in the IWLS’ curriculum.

-Eli Fierer

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.

-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.
  • 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 to the mountains of Patagonia.

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 24-day course, participants may qualify for the following certifications:

Level 1 Avalanche Certification*
International Wilderness Leadership School

 

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24 Day 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.