Enrolling in mountaineering school

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of August 28-September 3, 1997
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Guided spring trekking in India
Enrolling in mountaineering school
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Enrolling in mountaineering school
Question: Okay, not really travel-oriented, but I got a feeling you can help! Phil and I are looking for a school that can offer us a one-year or half-year course in advanced mountaineering, kayaking, and skiing skills. We know about NOLS, OB, etc. Is there anything else? We are university grads, 25 years old, and have very strong skill levels in outdoor pursuits. Are we crazy? Do we even need a school? Thanks.

Craig & Phil
Longford Mills, ON
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Everyone needs outdoors schooling, especially when you’re thinking about taking up such skilled and dangerous activities as kayaking and mountaineering. The hikers and climbers dying like flies this summer in the Alps should be proof of that. It's one thing to be comfortable camping or canoeing at sea level, but altitude and whitewater are a whole different ball game. So for what it's worth, I say go to school. Besides, school isn't that bad. Oftentimes, you can mix your training with some really great adventure.

You already mentioned you're familiar with Outward Bound and NOLS, but have you heard about the American Alpine Institute? Touting itself as "North America's most comprehensive training and expedition for climbing and skiing," it teaches programs in a wide range of rock, alpine, and expeditionary environments around the world. The staff is made up of highly skilled climbers, skiers, and mountaineers with academic backgrounds in biology, ecology, geology, geography, medicine, and other fields. Most of the mountaineering courses take place in Washington's Cascades or in Alaska. Courses range from six to 24 days and will teach you how to become a competent alpinist.

Like all expedition-type endeavors, the courses aren't cheap. North America expeditions run from about $790 to almost $3,000. If the intensive mountaineering courses aren't exactly what you're looking for, call AIA anyway.

They also offer rock-climbing expeditions in California, Washington, British Columbia, and Nevada, as well as a bevy of international expeditions. AIA's Washington headquarters can be reached by calling 360-671-1505.

For kayaking, try Otter Bar Lodge located in Forks of Salmon, California, about two hours northeast of Eureka. It offers beginning, basic-to-intermediate, and intermediate-to-advanced courses, as well as adventure-travel weeks. The seven-day price of $1,450 includes all equipment, meals, and lodging. Call Otter Bar Lodge and Kayak School at 916-462-4772 for more information.

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