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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. voss
Joined Oct 31, 2011
0 points
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.
FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Joined Nov 19, 2009
130 points
Jan 30, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
arent most useful guiding schools in either the cascades or alaska? superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Joined Aug 23, 2011
31 points
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.
Alexander Nees
From Grand Junction, CO
Joined Apr 20, 2007
776 points
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!
clay meier
Joined Dec 24, 2008
359 points
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.
FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Joined Nov 19, 2009
130 points
Jan 30, 2012
me in NH
I would recommend AAI Dave77
From Corvallis, OR
Joined Nov 22, 2011
51 points
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.
Scott O
From California
Joined Mar 30, 2010
26 points
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. Josh Wood
From Oneonta, NY
Joined Nov 16, 2011
15 points
Feb 3, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
seconded alpine ascent. Either rainier or alaska courses. superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Joined Aug 23, 2011
31 points
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.....
Josh Beckner
Joined Feb 9, 2011
10 points
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.
Rkutch
Joined Aug 3, 2010
52 points
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.
Dustin
From Pagosa Springs, CO
Joined Jul 14, 2006
161 points
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!
David Hertel
From Anchorage
Joined Oct 10, 2008
878 points
Dec 11, 2012
.
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
Elias
From Brevard, NC
Joined Nov 23, 2011
119 points
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. Mitzim440
Joined May 31, 2013
5 points
3 days ago
Hi sorry to Hijack the thread but Im looking to do a mountaineering school in September as well. Has anyone had any recent experience with Alpine Ascents? pflynt
Joined 3 days ago
0 points
3 days ago
I did an IWLS mountaineering course in the north cascades (boston basin) in may after my freshman year of college. Because of bad weather we mostly sat in the white room for most of the 12 days, but that just made it a mini-expedition.

I learned a lot about winter camping (basically expedition camping), objective hazards, glacier travel/crevasse rescue, snow/ice technical systems and a bit of Avy (technically it was an avy 1 but it was limited in scope due to the snowpack/weather).

While the only climbing we did was a slog up from camp to the Sahale arm, it was a great experience and simply witnessing the North Cascades for the first time blew my mind and fueled the fire in a big way. They gave me a discount too for being a student. That said I am looking into SIET myself, mostly for guide training and cause I love sucking wind at altitude!

If you really want just technical skills then hire a guide for a few days and do some big alpine routes in the North Cascades that require those skills. I think the camaraderie and soft skills gained in a longer course are worth your dolalr though. YMMV...and good luck!
max huecksteadt
From Hanoi Vietnam
Joined Dec 1, 2010
89 points


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