Nepal Semester

Leadership & Guide Training Courses
(64+ days)





The fascinating Nepali culture, wild whitewater,  mountaineering, and trekking with the tallest peaks on the planet as a backdrop make the IWLS Nepal semester a unique and comprehensive international wilderness education program. In addition to these expeditions, semester students also participate in local service projects, a Wilderness First Responder course, and rescue training.

Picture yourself visiting ancient temples and peering into the practice of Buddhist monks or trekking over remote mountain passes alongside local villagers. Imagine climbing to the top of one of myriad of peaks in the region with an alpine sunset blanketing the snowfields surrounding you or rafting an exciting section of class IV rapids in the Nepali countryside. Nepal, the perfect outdoor classroom, is a land of dramatic landscapes, rich culture, and high adventure.

Backpacking You’ll trek beneath the Himalayan giants of Lhotse and Everest on this awe inspiring leadership course in the upper Khumbu. The friendly Sherpa people make this course an exceptional cultural experience.

Mountaineering Advance your high altitude mountaineering skills on the slopes of Imja Tse (20,285ft/6,183m), Mera Peak (21,247ft/6,476m) and Lobuche (20,160ft/6,145m) on our 30 day Nepal mountaineering course.

Whitewater Whether rafting the famed Sun Kosi or the remote Karnali, Nepal rafting courses are the perfect way to gain whitewater experience, develop international guiding skills, and experience the wonderful culture of Nepal.

Service A component of our Nepal semester program, students have the opportunity to give back to the people of Nepal. IWLS supports projects ranging from health education and school construction, to forest conservation and community development.

First Aid & Rescue IWLS offers a full complement of first aid and rescue courses including Low/High Angle Rescue, Wilderness First Responder, Swift Water Rescue, Avalanche Courses, and Professional Incident Response. Students will also have the opportunity to visit the Himalayan Rescue Association clinic in the Khumbu.

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.

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.
  • Navigation: Learn how to take a bearing, read a topographical map, triangulate your position, and navigate in a whiteout.
  • 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.
  • Environmental Ethics:As aventurers in some of the most pristine environments on the planet it is our duty to respect the natural world. All of our courses practice and teach Leave No Trace ® principles.

-Will Hockett

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.

  • Belaying: Should we use a fixed belay or a running belay? Our team will learn and practice the finer points of different belay techniques such as the hip belay, running belay, boot axe belay, fixed belay, and more!
  • Ascending: Fixed lines are an important tool for large groups and guiding applications. We’ll learn how to efficiently use, build and maintain them.
  • Rope Teams: Rope team travel is a complicated endeavor that requires skill, technique and teamwork. We’ll cover everything from prussic arrangement to team management.
  • Objective Hazards: Rock fall, river crossings, and avalanches are examples of objective hazards. Learn how to identify such hazards and minimize group exposure.


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

-Eli Fierer

  • 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.

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.
  • River and Stream Crossings: In river crossings, attention to detail and safety are #1. You’ll learn and practice safe techniques for wading across a small stream or doing a Tyrolean traverse across a raging river.
  • 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.

    -Bob Daffe

IWLS WHITEWATER CURRICULUM prepares students for extended river expeditions and whitewater safety. Here are some points we’ll cover on your course:

  • Swiftwater Rescue: You’ll learn the skills necessary to descend a river safely and how to correct things if problems occur. From learning how to pluck swimmers from rapids to righting flipped rafts, this comprehensive course sets the standard for river rescue.
  • Hydrology: Rivers are a powerful force of nature. An understanding of river hydrology helps us to identify and assess features on the river for safe navigation. You’ll learn the fundamentals of pourovers, eddies, holes, standing waves and more.
  • Group Management: Learn how to distribute resources for effective risk management, designate a lead boat for scouting and keeping the group together, and establish a sweep boat with critical rescue equipment.
  • Paddle Captaining and Commands: The captain of the paddle raft communicates to paddlers how to maneuver the raft. Learning how to paddle captain requires managing a group of paddlers to provide a safe, fun, and rewarding experience on the river.

-Adam Clifton

IWLS FIRST AID & RESCUE CURRICULUM prepares students to handle wilderness emergencies and manage liability. Here are some points we’ll cover on your course:

  • Incident Response: From gathering witness statements, communicating with the press, and managing incident command, you’ll learn the skills to effectively mitigate liability following an incident.
  • CPR: All IWLS first aid courses incorporate CPR for the professional rescuer.
  • C-spine Stabilization: Learn to recognize mechanisms of injury, maintain in-line stablization and proper use of a backboard.
  • Patient Assessment: Patient history, signs and symptoms, and detailed assessment are critical tools for identifying appropriate medical care in the backcountry.

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 semester, participants may qualify for the following certifications:

Level 1 Avalanche Certification*
International Wilderness Leadership School


Professional Incident Response
International Wilderness Leadership School


Wilderness First Responder
International Wilderness Leadership School


Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Level 1
Rescue III International


Swift Water Rescue Technician
International Wilderness Leadership School


Guide Training Certificates of Completion
International Wilderness Leadership School

*Dependent on weather and season

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