Yukon Backpacking & Whitewater

Leadership & Guide Training Course
(24 days)




The Yukon Territory contains some of the wildest rivers and remote backcountry areas on the continent that have lured adventurers for years. From huge, braided glacial drainages to tight gorges and plunging waterfalls, the rivers of the Canada’s Yukon offer varied features perfect to learn and polish skills on. Backpackers will explore Kluane National Park, designated by the United Nations as a world heritage site and part of the largest protected wilderness in the world. Featuring wide expanses of tundra, coniferous and deciduous forests and glaciers, this area is fascinating and exciting to explore.

Imagine learning how to set up anchors and pulley systems to free a raft from of a boulder in the midst of rushing current or coming upon a snowy owl gliding over the tundra, hunting for ground squirrels. Or looking at the intricate patterns of a river bed while hiking up a river drainage and then seeing these same patterns repeated in ice when scrambling up a ridge next to a glacier.

This comprehensive backpacking and river skills 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 on rivers and in the backcountry.

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.
  • 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.
  • Environmental Ethics: As adventurers 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.
  • Travel Techniques: Course instruction will help you discover ways to safely maximize your efficiency, whether hiking down a well-beaten path or traversing an exposed ridge.

-Bob Daffe

IWLS BACKPACKING & RIVER SKILLS CURRICULUM prepares students for exploration into remote, backcountry settings. 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.
  • 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.

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 course, participants may qualify for the following certifications:

Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Level 1
Rescue III International


Swift Water Rescue Technician
International Wilderness Leadership School


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.