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By voss
Jan 29, 2012
I am looking to get into mountaineering and am looking for help finding the best "mountaineering school". I originally was looking into NOLS because i had almost taken a course a few years ago, but am worried that it will not be the best bang for my buck as well as not covering the as much of technical aspects. I have a solid background of backpacking, winter camping, and a bit of rock climbing, but otherwise am new to mountaineering. I am looking to gain a lot of knowledge quickly and have looked into courses with organizations like AMS. Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.

FLAG
By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Jan 29, 2012
You're going to get a lot of recommendations based on people's personal experience with those companies, as well as reputation. And there are many guiding/instruction companies out there.

Here is my personal favorite:

ncmountainguides.com/

Plus, if you can afford the higher rate for private instruction, I recommend that. And with this company, you'll have the added attraction of proximity to the biggest glaciers in the lower 48.

FLAG
By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Jan 30, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
arent most useful guiding schools in either the cascades or alaska?

FLAG
By Alexander Nees
From Grand Junction, CO
Jan 30, 2012
Alex midway up TCT.  Photo by Kim Caovan
If what you want to learn is strictly technical mountaineering skills, I would strongly recommend against NOLS. NOLS is an excellent organization (I am an alum myself), but their strength is in extended trips and solid expedition-style wilderness travel. If you want to learn how to, for example, safely travel on glaciers and do some basic alpine ice climbing, you can get those lessons MUCH more quickly, cheaply, and in greater depth through programs like American Alpine Institute (AAI).

Put it this way: if you want to be able to do self-supported, remote expedition climbing in Alaska or Canada, the skills you would learn from NOLS would be invaluable (although you'll still need to build technical skills depending on your objective). If your goals are exclusively day-long or weekend alpine climbs in the Cascades, or Canadian Rockies, or similar accessible ranges, emphasize the technical skills with a seminar with AAI or similar program.

FLAG
By clay meier
Jan 30, 2012
Thats Me
Check out Alaska Mountain Guides and The International Wilderness Leadership School. They are about half of the price of NOLS. They offer 12 to 24 day mountaineering courses in Alaska, Pacific NW, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Nepal, Utah and elsewhere. Their courses are more geared towards guide training so they are heavy in technical skills. You can get college credit for any of their courses (either through your school, or through transfer credits). They also offer different types of mountaineering (ski mountaineering, heli ski mountaineering, backpacking...etc). Their courses can be tailored to fit your needs.

I will say that I am a bit biased because I work for this company. SO... take what I say with a grain of salt. But check them out anyway. Mention that Clay Meier sent you and get a discount (thats how much I want you to check them out haha).

Best wishes on getting some training!

FLAG
By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Jan 30, 2012
clay meier wrote:
Check out Alaska Mountain Guides and The International Wilderness Leadership School. They are about half of the price of NOLS. They offer 12 to 24 day mountaineering courses in Alaska, Pacific NW, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Nepal, Utah and elsewhere. Their courses are more geared towards guide training so they are heavy in technical skills. You can get college credit for any of their courses (either through your school, or through transfer credits). They also offer different types of mountaineering (ski mountaineering, heli ski mountaineering, backpacking...etc). Their courses can be tailored to fit your needs. I will say that I am a bit biased because I work for this company. SO... take what I say with a grain of salt. But check them out anyway. Mention that Clay Meier sent you and get a discount (thats how much I want you to check them out haha). Best wishes on getting some training!


Clay,

That photo should help you get some business! Very impressive.

FLAG
By Dave77
From Watertown, NY
Jan 30, 2012
me in NH
I would recommend AAI

FLAG
By Scott O
From California
Jan 30, 2012
Batman Pinnacle
I'm a NOLS mountaineering alum who would recommend strongly against NOLS if what you're after are the technical skills needed to get into alpine climbing.

I saved up money for after I graduated high school, and all I learned was a bunch of touchy-feely crap and how to trudge around on a glacier for three weeks without climbing anything.

It was a waste of a month and several thousand dollars.

FLAG
 
By Josh Wood
From Oneonta, NY
Feb 3, 2012
hotlum / bolum route on Shasta
I would consider alpine ascents if I were you. I took their 8 day mountaineering course in Alaska for $1500. They asked us on the first day what we were looking to get out of the course. Everyone other than me stated that they wanted to be a functional team member on future guided climbs. I made it very clear that I wanted to learn what I needed to lead my own climbs. They taught us a lot and answered any questions. I was given special attention and allowed to lead several portions of our climbs. I assisted in a actual crevasse rescue. It was a great experience.

FLAG
By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Feb 3, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
seconded alpine ascent. Either rainier or alaska courses.

FLAG
By Josh Beckner
Feb 24, 2012
jugging on the salathe head wall, el cap.
Like Clay, I'm definitely biased as well since I'm the founder of the school, but for what it's worth, you should definitely check out the School for International Expedition Training. Definitely the best bang for the buck and the school was created with folks like you in mind. You'll find that students on these courses start from a similar place (in terms of experience) so we get into advanced mountaineering skills fairly quickly. Check out the slide show on the website and decide for yourself:

expeditiontraining.org/

Also, I'd disagree with the comments about NOLS as there are certainly some pretty techy courses available such as the 'Backcountry Rock' and the 'Waddington Expedition.' I guess I'm biased on that one too as I used to work for them but I have seen great results on those courses.....

FLAG
By Rkutch
Feb 24, 2012
+1 for SIET

I've had two NOLS instructors and an SIET alum rave about their courses. Especially if you want to learn skills to climb more technical routes in the future.

FLAG
By Dustin
From Pagosa Springs, CO
Mar 6, 2012
voss wrote:
I am looking to get into mountaineering and am looking for help finding the best "mountaineering school". I originally was looking into NOLS because i had almost taken a course a few years ago, but am worried that it will not be the best bang for my buck as well as not covering the as much of technical aspects. I have a solid background of backpacking, winter camping, and a bit of rock climbing, but otherwise am new to mountaineering. I am looking to gain a lot of knowledge quickly and have looked into courses with organizations like AMS. Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.


AMS! No question about it.

FLAG
By David Hertel
From Sitka
Mar 19, 2012
Climbing a coulior of steep snow on the First Asce...
Dustin wrote:
AMS! No question about it.

I agree! I know the folks that run AMS pretty well (I live in Talkeetna currently) They have a super organization. I can also reccomend IWLS in Haines, Ak. Also known as AMG (Alaska Mountain Guides). They have a longer curriculum so you have more time to practice your skills than at AMS, and they will work with you if you let the know what you want to get out of the course.
Good luck!

FLAG
By Elias
From Flagstaff, AZ
Dec 11, 2012
In Healy Mountains of AK
Hey!

I've been on a NOLS, IWLS, AAI, and AMS course and all have been wonderful in there own way. Each course truly helped me develop myself as a climber and each had their niches.But what you learn ultimately depends on the guide you get, the questions you ask, and the way the mountains treat you and your team while there. As for me, I learned the most technical training from AAI due to the small groups and and awesome guiding team (Plus most of their courses are in the Cascades, my favorite training ground!) But on the other hand I learned the most about Avalanches and AMS with IWLS/AMG but thats because we were in Nepal and one guide was a backcountry ski god (well, at least in my eyes). NOLS taught me how to cook, how to truly live with a team, and how to deal with living on a glacier for 26 days.

So really I'd chose the location you want to train in and what technical skills your really interested in learning then call up the companies and ask if they can offer you that.

Good luck buddy and if you ever need any help, have question or are looking for a climbing partner, feel free to PM me.

Elias

FLAG
By Mitzim440
May 31, 2013
correcting an equipment
Getting in to a mountaineering school is of course a brilliant idea to get a start. It can offer you a lot of basic ideas that can be used for your future. Even I also started with a backcountry skiing course in Alberta and that really changed my career.

FLAG
 


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