In trying to determine the quality of a product or service, few things speak louder and carry more meaning than first-hand experiences and personal testimony. In an effort to try to give you a clear idea of who we are, what we stand for, and how we operate our business, we would like to share some of the thousands of testimonials that we have received from members of our courses, guided climbs, and expeditions over the years.
An AAI team at the 14,200-foot camp on Denali.
As part of AAI's ongoing efforts to keep improving the way we do business and continue to meet or exceed climbers' expectations, we ask each climber who joins us to pass along their thoughts and feedback in a formal manner. We make this possible via a written form and also via our web site in an electronic format. We ask a series of questions that cover climbers' experiences from their first contact with AAI through their post-trip debrief.
We take both positive feedback and constructive criticism to heart and use it to assure that we continue to give climbers like you a great experience. We hope you enjoy reading samples from this feedback, and that you will join an AAI program and share some of the rich experiences that our programs and staff have to offer.
Dunham Gooding, Director
Jump to a Section
- What was your overall impression of your guide? What did your guide do well? What could your guide improve on?
- In what ways was the course curriculum designed well? Improvements?
- What Information in the registration materials did you find useful. What additional information would you want to be included?
- How did the office and equipment shop staff perform?
- Did you visit our web site? If so, what could we do to improve it?
- Why did you choose the American Alpine Institute?
- Do you have any additional comments?
1. What was your overall impression of your guide? What did your guide do well? What could your guide improve on?
"My guide was awesome. I knew that I would learn a lot but I was blown away with how much I got from the course. I took home more than I anticipated and it was fun at the same time. I really liked that there was flexibility. We didn't have a schedule that we had to follow at all times. We did what we could when we could and I believe that it helped me get more out of the course."
- Trevor S. (Everett, WA), Intro to Alpinism Course
"This was an outstanding introduction to rock climbing in all regards -- stunning location, realistic but still pretty thrilling objectives for a one-day intro with a first-timer, and most-important a first-class guide. The course and Mark's abilities as a guide met all my expectations. I would've said surpassed, but I was already familiar with the AAI's reputation beforehand and expected no less. This is exciting but scary stuff if you've never done it before, and the guide's responsibility is obviously huge. I think it takes real talent and a certain personality to earn a client's confidence from the get-go and still keep it all fun. I was really impressed with Mark's ability to do all this and make it seem pretty effortless. He was patient, clear, informative, professional, and a really nice guy. I appreciated his attention to safety and have a new life-long respect for the word "redundancy". Mainly, I knew I was in good hands. What's more important than that?"
- Jordan, R. (Los Angeles, CA), Private Rock Climbing Course
Once again I can't say enough about the guides...they were fantastic! The administrative support was fantastic! The overall experience is the highlight of my mountaineering career. Than you so much AAI! Denali West Buttress - Bryan F. (Bothell, WA)
Overall impression was that he conducted his training with the utmost professionalism and had the knowledge to ground every decision he made. It was clear that he was there to serve us as his clients. He valued his role as an educator and not just a rock jock getting a client to what they wanted. This is what motivated his approach to our time together. He never let the role of guide create an unhealthy power differential. He treated us as peers. His fine balance of competence, confidence and professionalism make him and excellent guide! He not only knew his stuff, but had established excellent way of communicating and teaching this information. This separates good guides from great guides! He balanced different teaching styles to fit appropriate topics. He also recognized what we came in with and did not assume anything. He made great judgment calls on the progression and the time to spend on each component. I walked away having accomplished what I had hoped to accomplish. Glacier Training - Ryan C. (Delaware, OH)
The best I have ever been with! They did not hurry the climbers, were not impatient, the course was excellent, and it gave me more confidence in preparation for Mount Rainier. Rainier Prep Course - Mike S. (Edmonds, WA)
I was extremely impressed by our instructor both as a guide and as a person. He was an exceptional teacher, while exhibiting patience and professionalism throughout the trip. In addition, he was easy to get along with and a lot f fun to be around throughout the course. He offered valuable insights and lessons throughout the course and took the time to explain things until we were comfortable with the techniques he was teaching. Alaska Range Mountaineering
In hiring a guide my primary concern (as a novice) was his ability to mitigate risk in the Alpine environment. I couldn't be more complimentary of both of my guides in regards to their professionalism and skill level on rock and snow. Furthermore, they love what they do. This passion for the mountains and the outdoor lifestyle is both refreshing and contagious. While it may be redundant at this point, they managed risk very well. Safety is of fundamental importance to me as a husband and father. Additionally, they are really good guys and are very hospitable. We enjoyed our time cutting up and having fun together. Finally, they were very flexible. Within our climbing group of 3 we had varying comfort levels that didn't always coincide. Tim and Dylan were patient and allowed each of us to proceed at our own pace. Mont Blanc Ascent - John U. (Blufton, SC)
They were both unbelievable. I couldn't have asked for anything better. Our first guide was extremely thorough and comprehensive in his instruction. He has incredible knowledge. I always felt 100% confident in his judgment. He was able to manage our time and organize our day extremely well. He stayed behind with Christine on our way down and kept her spirits up even though she was, at that point, really at her limit. He was patient with us when we were slow to pick up things such as knots, etc. He is a natural leader and his strength is amazing. Our second guide was, without a doubt, one of the nicest guys I have ever met. On top of that his mountaineering skills were unbelievable. He had the kindness of a saint - bringing one of our group members down the mountain when she decided she wanted to end her trip early. He then came back up, met us in the afternoon and the next day lead our summit attempt. All with the greatest and warmest attitude. Just an all around great guy - his personality is a joy and his strength is incredible. These trips are hard and perhaps the single most important thing is to be guided by someone who is compassionate and encouraging. Richard's got an amazing attitude. I can't say enough about him. They are both absolute professionals and I would gladly pay them again for their guiding service. There really isn't anything I could say here that I wish they had done differently. We were lucky to have both of them and I felt that they were perfect complements of each other. Mount Baker Ascent - Jon A. (New York, NY)
I was really impressed with the guides both personally and professionally. I hope to do trips with both of them in the future. Both guides were able to take their experience in the mountains and relay it in an understandable way. Everyone in the group seemed to be at ease around the guides and the guides did a great job of making everyone feel comfortable even when some of the students seemed uneasy with the task (repelling, climbing steeper ice, etc.). Outside of the "classroom" the guides were both just great to be around. Evenings in the cook tent were always fun and in general the trip just had a great vibe. Alaska Range Mountaineering - Toban Z. (Jersey City, NJ)
My guide was great. He was technically proficient, helpful, patient, and very fun! Private Forbidden Peak Ascent - Richard J. (Kirkland, WA)
My guides did a great job. I was on "field staff member's" team and I could not have asked for more. I will request them on future trips. Rainier Ascent and Skills Review - Joe G. (Houston, TX)
My overall impression of the guides was that they were amazing individuals. They were professional, considerate, hard working, and still able to have fun throughout the course. The way they handled certain situations that arose on the course was stellar. They were able to multi-task and handle everything that camp up. Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership - Kailyn M. (Bellingham, WA)
"Field Staff Member" is a very experienced guide. First and foremost, this stood out as a great quality and was the single greatest aspect of the whole course. It kept the course glued together as a whole, and made the course feel safe and structured. My favorite talent of my guide was his ability to speak slowly. He is very easy to understand, and very clear about what he wants to say. He also has an extensive and admirable amount of knowledge about the area, and used that knowledge to tailor our course to the best of his abilities. Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership - Cora S. (Los Angeles, CA)
They did a good job of keeping the course challenging while not making it too taking for less fit and experienced course participants. Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership - Schalk S. (Morristown, NJ)
They more than met my expectations. I continue to be amazed at how well AAI guides sense their clients needs (pace setting, rest stops, help with technique, etc.)
Mount Rainier Ascent and Skills Review - Jim L. (Athens, GA)
Wonderful! I couldn't have asked for a better guide. He took the time to explain the reasoning behind climbing techniques and really helped my understanding and judgment. He also dynamically changed the course itinerary to focus on those skills that I needed the most practice in. Alpine Ice Climbing - Adam M. (Bloomington, IN)
They all did great! We found our pace early one and they helped create a very memorable climbing experience. Great job. Rainier Ascent and Skills Review - Mike L. (Marysville, WA)
I really liked all three guides although I was on "field staff member's" rope. They were all extremely knowledgeable, kind and compassionate. Rainier Ascent and Skills Review - Deborah P. (Alberta, Canada)
Very professional, competent, and personable. Everything I would expect in and want from a climbing guide. He is a terrific asset to your organization. Mount Whitney Skills and Ascent Program - Keith B. (Louisville, KY)
They were both professional, knowledgeable, and fun to be with. Our guides did a great job start to finish on the trip. They set our expectations appropriately for the unexpected on the glacier and thoroughly checked our gear to prepare us much as possible before flying onto the glacier. On the glacier they provided visual examples of lessons and gave feedback while we practiced. Alaska Range Mountaineering - Carmen Z. (Jersey City, NJ)
I found both to be wonderful guides. They were extremely talented and professional. The guides were very friendly and would not look down upon you if you did something wrong. Both were very talented and they knew the course stuff very well. Both were very polite and considerate to the needs of clients. Both paid very good attention to all clients. Both worked really well with each other as a team also. Both shared responsibilities with each other and you can tell they are very good friends and have done this before. Both cooked food really well. Both cared for clients and made sure that each client had water, hot drinks and food and snacks. They both made several calls for these to make sure that no client was left out. Both made sure that you were properly geared up for the glacier. They'll check your harnesses, your biners, your snowshoes, your equipment, your knots and a load of other things before we started off camp. Alaska Range Mountaineering - Shazad H. (Cerritos, CA)
My guides knowledge base matches his high enthusiasm for mountaineering. He has a high level of confidence in the outdoors and a high level of understanding of his climber's abilities. He was great at evaluating the group on a constant basis to change plans according to what our skill and fitness level would allow us to accomplish. Private Mount Baker Climb - Ann
My guide was particularly adept at identifying areas of improvement and then offering details instruction to address those gaps. This is a small thing but it had a huge impact on my confidence as a climber. He also went above and beyond the call of duty in cleaning up a messy camp site left by another party. Expedition Training - Michael L. (Chattanooga, TN)
My guide conducted himself with a high degree of professionalism and skill. He showed a willingness and flexibility in meeting our need for a customized climb that provided us with maximum adventure and pressed our mountaineering abilities. He's got a very comfortable disposition and personality. He considered our unique request and vague request to "climb something steeper" and he delivered. Private Mount Shuksan Ascent - James S. (Stroudsburg, PA)
High energy, fun, and entertaining (all of which were very important to me), but also really good at teaching and doing the guide stuff. He was patient and encouraging. Very focused on safety, but in a way that made us feel like we were mountain climbing, not riding in a mini van. Ecuador High Altitude Expedition - Roy T. (Portland, OR)
Thank you for this opportunity to commend my guide. He did his utmost to see that we were safe, comfortable, and well provided for. It was clear that his first intention was to create a wonderful experience filled with memories for a life time. He was very attentive to all of us and discerned immediately when there was an opportunity to address a concern (no matter how minor) or make some wished for detail a reality. It never seemed to matter how late it was or what other concerns he had that needed to be dealt with, he made us laugh and demonstrated incredible style. He is a perfectly marvelous asset to your organization. Ecuador High Altitude Expedition - Diana M. (Boulder, CO)
My guide promoted independent thought on how to go about mountaineering. He discussed the strengths and weaknesses of different axe grips whereas other guide services I have used just taught that the self-arrest grip was the be all and end all. He tried to present all information but ultimately let us decide for ourselves. He was good at explaining his decision making process in terms of time, route conditions, and so on. Ecuador High Altitude Expedition - James H. (Providence, RI)
My guide exceeded my expectations. She was very personable and she seemed to have clicked with everyone in the group from the beginning. She brought us all up to speed on the basics very quickly then moved us from low angle slopes to overhanging ice in a very short period of time. I think she was able to do this through her excellent teaching ability (efficient and succinct). She knew when we all understood something and moved on as to not beleaguer a point and she knew when we needed extra time to fully grasp something. I was personally amazed at how quickly I had become comfortable on steep ice. I attribute this to Dawn's exceptional teaching ability. Alpine Ice Course - Joseph W. (Tracy, CA)
My guide was very professional, personable, and I felt completely safe with her. I enjoyed the day with her and would definitely climb with her again if the opportunity arose. I got so see how she made her decisions and could compare to how I make my decisions while in the backcountry. There were a few times where it felt like we were collaborating on finding our route. Perhaps it is just a female thing, but I really appreciated that and it made me feel as if we were climbing partners and not just guide and client. My goal out there is to learn, not to follow someone around. Private Sierra Ascent - Janet B. (Berkeley, CA)
Guide number one was without a doubt the strongest woman I have ever met. She is very organized and professional in her presentation of program content. Consistently focused on providing the optimal experience for her climbers. She far exceeded my expectations. Guide number two was remarkably knowledgeable, thorough, resourceful, and adaptive given the significant range of the group's capabilities and limitations. Very determined to maximize the group's inner dynamics. Also far exceeded my expectations and his stories are great on the trail. Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership - Steve B. (Orchard Park, NY)
My guide was wonderful. I have seen a few different approaches to guiding and you have an excellent guide in this person. I am sure many of the guides are fantastic technically, but not all are equal at teaching people skills. My guides had it all, I would imagine he is a rare find. He was really concerned with making sure everyone was safe, that they were learning, and having a good time. He challenged those with stronger skills while not letting the weaker members feel left out and vice versa. The guy is a born teacher. Intro to Alpinism - Jack K. (Raleigh, NC)
He was extremely knowledgeable and capable in everything we did. I felt comfortable that I would not die on the mountain. There is truly not one thing that he didn't do well. He nailed it all. His knowledge of climbing and the glacier were more impressive than I could have expected prior to the trip. Mount Baker Skills and Climb - Dieleman Group (Cleveland, OH)
My guide did an excellent job gauging the individual desires and skill levels of the participants in order to maximize the learning time. He continually looked for ways to incorporate Leave No Trace ethics into the larger discussion of mountain skills and encouraged participants to be critical of what they were learning in order to really understand, as opposed to just following the leader. Also, he did an excellent job following up with me after the course and providing helpful feedback on my climbing skills. Intro to Alpinism - Sara S. (Portland, OR)
Fantastic! He was the most competent climber I have ever met. Not only that, he was also fun and interesting to talk to when we were shooting the breeze. Zero complaints! As a teacher he was fun, energetic, enthusiastic, and really enjoyed what he was doing. He has good communication skills and his profession suites his personality super well. Russell C. (Port Townsend, WA)
Very knowledgeable. Clearly interested in seeing us accomplish our goals and tailoring the trip to meet those needs. He was patient and willing to go over everything. He was very encouraging and really seemed to want us to do well and was willing to spend the time to help us. He clearly had a wealth of knowledge but did not try to impress us or make us feel as if we were bothersome novices. He was a great teacher. He did everything we had hoped for. Private Mount Baker program - John W. (Seattle, WA)
He was totally spectacular. He was extremely capable and very personable. We felt like we were climbing with a really experienced buddy! He made the trip not just a climb, but a memorable experience. We have climbed with you for the last 7 years and we have been very happy with AAI. We wouldn't think of going anywhere else. Private North Cascades Trip - Chris and CJ L. (Grosse Pointe, MI)
He facilitated an extraordinary experience and I would highly recommend him (and AAI) without reservation. I have been up Denali, Foraker, on an extended climbing trip in the Alps, and have made several attempts on Rainier with other guide services. AAI came highly recommended, but until you experience a guiding service (and the specific guides) first-hand, you never really know what to expect. Our guide has a knack for guiding. His technical skills are top-notch, but where he really stood out was his open and authentic personality. He is pretty extraordinary. Private Mount Shuksan - Andy B. (Madison, WI)
Excellent. He spent a lot of time with an organized teaching approach including the history and factual aspects of glacier hiking. He wanted us to be well trained and made sure that we could self arrest. He made us perfect this and on the summit climb I know why. He gave us a complete understanding of why we do certain things and why nit was best for us. I very much appreciated this. He made it fun for us but also pushed us. A truly enjoyable experience. Mount Baker Ascent - William H. (Pacific Palisades, CA)
2. In what ways was the course curriculum designed well? Improvements?
It was designed well in that during the rock section, the large group was able to be broken up based on skill and ability. This type of accommodation is something that I appreciated and felt that it was well worth the cost of the course, to be challenged on a personal level in combination as in the group as a whole. Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership - Kailyn M. (Bellingham, WA)
The course really did exceed my expectations. I have delayed filling out this form to try and identify improvements, but none really come to mind. The course taught everything I was expecting and more in a very logical and thorough manner. Alaska Range Mountaineering - Toban Z. (Jersey City, NJ)
The flexibility of the curriculum was key. The guides modified the program day by day according to weather conditions to allow us to take maximum advantage of the conditions in order to learn and practice the various skills. In the end it worked out perfectly that even with some sketchy weather we were able to cover every skill I had hoped we would, as well as some others. Intro to Alpinism - Aaron H. (Indianapolis, IN)
The curriculum gave a great bit of knowledge but left room for practical application and maneuvering. We had the freedom to explore areas if we had questions without having to short change other areas. Alaska Range Alpine Mountaineering
The guides did a great job of bringing people together from many backgrounds and tailoring the level of instruction so that it was useful for climbers of varying experience. The atmosphere was kept light and social while still keeping the group on task so that the course material was covered. Alaska Range Mountaineering - Zebulon S. (Houston, TX)
For me everything was done well. The guides taught and answered all the questions we had and then allowed us to learn by "trial by fire." For me the "hand on" learning is the best. Also I really learn and retain the most from personal experiences (related to the sport). They shared with us recommendations on books, good equipment, ethics, and more. Alaska Range Mountaineering - Dave K. (Lawrencevlle, NJ)
I walked off the mountain feeling very comfortable with my ability to thrive in an alpine environment. That is what I had hoped to feel like and I am happy to say that AAI delivered! Intro to Alpinism - Robert M. (Washington, DC)
Our guide adapted well to our specific needs. Upon returning and discussing the course content with co-workers and other professionals, the course our guide provided was head and shoulders above anything else others had experienced. It speaks to his passion, quality of instruction, knowledge, and desire to provide realistic and appropriate training.
3. What Information in the registration materials did you find useful. What additional information would you want to be included?
The information was well received and weighted. I have done many climbing trips and still find them of great interest. Rainier Ascent and Skills Review - Helene F. (Alberta, Canada)
I found it useful to have both a gear checklist and the meal-planning calendar. These organizational tools helped to reassure me that I was remembering everything I needed in the planning process. Intro to Alpinism - Sara S. (Portland, OR)
The meal planning and equipment lists were key. I was very well prepared for the conditions I encountered with those preparatory materials. Intro to Alpinism - Aaron H. (Indianapolis, IN)
The gear list was great, different areas of the country require different things and the list helped packing. The map and directions, phone numbers to the office and names were helpful. Private Glacier Skills - Steve N. (New Wilmington, PA)
I was very impressed with AAI's prompt and detailed registration packet. All of the information included was helpful, especially the gear list and travel agent. Denali West Buttress - Bryan F. (Bothell, WA)
4. How did the office and equipment shop staff perform?
All the AAI staff that I've dealt with are very knowledgeable and courteous, ready and willing to respond to questions - especially "office staff member" and "equipment staff member." Mount Rainier Ascent and Skills Review - Art H. (Crofton, MD)
They did a great job of answering questions and taking care of rentals and sales. First rate! Rainier Ascent and Skills Review - Joe G. (Houston, TX)
I was contacted via e-mail and phone re: some last minute details. Well done! You made me feel like part of the team and gave me some great satisfaction as a customer. Thank you again. Rainier Ascent and Skills Review - Helene F. (Alberta, Canada)
Everyone was excellent. The fellow who ran the shop had a very hapy and engaging personality. The equipment staff drove back after hours to let us get our gear rather than make us wait until the next day. Many thanks and this is the kind of service that will drive me back for a third trip with you next year.
Private Mount Shuksan Ascent - James S. (Stroudburg, PA)
Throughout the process the staff was courteous and helpful. My preparations led to multiple calls, all of which were handled professionally. Alaska Range Mountaineering
Excellent! Helpful, friendly, and went out of their way to make sure I was taken care of on both ends of the trip. I was very pleased with the service, course, guide, and overall experience. I will definitely come back for further courses and recommend AAI to my friends. Thanks! Alpine Ice Course - Chris B. (San Diego, CA)
The service of the office staff members that I spoke with insured that I will climb with AAI again. They were great on follow-up and had a great attitude every time I spoke with them. Great job! David M. (Irvine, CA)
I had numerous pre-trip interactions, by phone and email, with the office and equipment shop staff. Their efforts were uniformly more than responsive to my needs. They understood much more about my concerns than I was able to state and shared their knowledge very well. Alpine Mountaineering and Leadership - Steve B. (Orchard Park, NY)
Everyone I talked with was cheerful, professional, informative, and helpful. Good crew! Winter Comprehensive - Daniel G. (Quebec, Canada)
Personally, I like working with "office staff member" in identifying trips and courses that would be suitable for us. It is great to be able to exchange information about skill levels and appropriate courses and itineraries. His advice has been excellent. Alpine Mountaineering and Leadership - Myron A. (Laramie, WY)
I liked the personal telephone interaction with the staff. The Director personally returned my phone call when I left a message on a Saturday about coming by AAI's office. He checked the weather for us and generally went the extra mile about gear and general friendliness. Private Mount Shuksan Climb - David P. (Arlington, VA)
Incredible, close at hand to help, but didn't hover. Helped with storing things to be left at the shop, super friendly...a pet peeve are retail guys that develop attitudes about their knowledge and become utterly useless due to the way they run people off. Not the case with your shop guys. The office people were incredibly friendly and helpful, to the point they were hunting down phone numbers for us prior to the course beginning and after we were on the ground in WA...great! Your customer service people understand service. Private Glacier Skills - Steve N. (New Wilmington, PA)
Excellent again. I had every question answered. Shawn was a sweetheart in making me feel like one of the family and I never felt embarrassed for asking my multitude of questions. This was the reason I picked AAI to climb with. I actually was given a phone number of three place to get price quotes from for a climb. The first phone number I called didn't answer and the second one was AAI. After that first phone conversation I knew this was the only place I wanted to climb with. Red Rock - Shelley K. (Ludington, MI)
5. Did you visit our web site? If so, what could we do to improve it?
Yes. It is very easy to navigate and has lots of pictures and resources to get people (including me) excited about trips. Nice work! Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership - Cora S. (Los Angeles, CA)
I have visited the web site a lot because it does have a significant amount of information about the courses. AAI has at least one of the most comprehensive sites compared to competitors. Alaska Range Mountaineering - Toban Z. (Jersey City, NY)
It is put together really well. Probably one of the top 5 I have seen. Backcountry Skiing Course - Brady E. (Seattle, WA)
The AAI web site is organized in a much more accessible way the the other guide services. It is easy to navigate and the course information is presented clearly. Specifically, I like the day to day breakdown of what the course would cover. Intro to Alpinism - Sara S. (Portland, OR)
The dispatches are AWESOME! My family and friends at home won't stop talking about how cool it was for them to go to the top of North America with me. Way to go AAI!! Also, the web site is well laid out and easy to navigate, unlike "another guide services" site. Denali West Buttress - Bryan F. (Bothell, WA)
The web site was very good. I was able to do everything needed to plan the trip and get the forms off of the site. One phone call and I was all set! Red Rock - Rich D. (Hermosa Beach, CA)
We looked at a bunch of guide sites that were listed and got a good feeling about yours. Then we called and spoke with someone in your office. They were so helpful and nice we decided to go with you all. Now that we know more about using guide services, I am glad we ended up with a reputable company for our first guide experience. Red Rock - Elizabeth R. (Chicago, IL)
Your web site is good. I really enjoy reading the questions and answer from Mike Powers. Also, the pictures from expeditions are always nice to look at. Mont Blanc Ascent - Carter C. (Tustin, TX)
6. Why did you choose the American Alpine Institute?
I chose AAI because I know that I can get a competent and quality climbing guides who will allow me to climb and design the trip more as a participant, as a person, rather than as a "client." AAI and my guide act as a climbing partner. Again, many thanks. Private Mount Shuksan Ascent - James S. (Stroudsburg, PA)
I've written about you in the past and interviewed some of your raving clients. I'd always wanted to be one myself! Private Rock Climbing Course - Jordan, R. (Los Angeles, CA)
Reputation within the climbing community and the support provided by office and equipment staff. Mount Rainier Ascent and Skills Review - Art H. (Crofton, MD)
Your impressive reputation as stated by many on-line. Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership - Cora S. (Los Angeles, CA)
Three previous good experiences with AAI, reputation, and recommendations from other companies in the industry. Rainier Ascent and Skills Review - Jim L. (Athens, GA)
I chose the American Alpine Institute because of the professional appearance of the catalog and web site, their variety of course options, and positive reviews. Alaska Range Mountaineering - Carmen Z. (Jersey City, NJ)
AAI seemed to have superior trip selection. It seemed like I could take the Alaska Range course and then have a pick of many, many other trips. I like the idea of being able to stick with a single guide company and maybe even the same guides. I had read several reviews of AAI and could not find any real negative comments. The folks I talked to on the phone when deciding what course to take were helpful and friendly. Alaska Range Mountaineering - Toban Z. (Jersey City, NJ)
I chose you guys for this trip because I have been with you guys before (Rainier and Baker). But as to why I chose you the very first time, it is because I had a friend who has climbed Denali with you guys and he could not stop singing your praises. I decided to check you out and now I can't stop singing your praises!! I'll be signing up for Denali expedition either next year or in 2008. Guess who I will pick as guides: American Alpine Institute!! Alaska Range Mountaineering - Shazad H. (Cerritos, CA)
You all are the best in the biz! Your philosophy of supporting clients learning is paramount as well as your commitment to Leave No Trace. I met several other guides while out in the field; AAI guides seem more knowledgeable and better attuned to the needs of their clients. Expedition Training - Michael L. (Chattanooga, TN)
In my experience, the guides at AAI are more personable and better teacher than their peers throughout the industry. That's not to say that other companies don't have fine guides; however, I feel completely safe with AAI and know that I will learn a lot and have fun on every trip. AAI is my top choice when heading into the mountains. Alaska Range Mountaineering
I chose AAI because of excellent past experiences. You have the best reputation, are very accommodating, you are willing to work with my schedle and be very flexible. Alpine Ice Course - Chris B. (San Diego, CA)
Through various literature I saw that AAI was recognized as one of the finest guide companies in the country. I would have to concur. Mont Blanc Ascent - John U. (Blufton, SC)
The excellent reputation of AAI and the fact that they have internationally certified guides. Private Alps Program - Shane B. (Colorado Springs, CO)
Three reasons, 1. AAI offered the trip I wanted to take. 2. AAI had great flexibility in the dates the trip was offered. 3. Past experience with AAI has been terrific and I know I would get a competent and professional guide who would ensure a safe trip. Mount Whitney Ascent and Skills Program - Keith B. (Louisville, KY)
I tried another guide service on Rainier and hated it. So I researched AAI and heard that they were the best. They were in both the preparatory course and the four day climb. The guides and instruction were the best! Rainier Prep Course and Ascent - Mike S. (Edmonds, WA)
Quite simply because AAI offers the largest selection of training, at least that I have found. I have climbed with another guide service before and I liked them, but they are very limited in their intermediate stage training. Alpine Ice Climbing Course - Joseph W. (Tracy, CA)
I have been getting AAI's brochures for years but have never been able to take a course or trip. AAI has a great reputation for safety and professionalism and the opportunity finally arose where I could see for myself. I've been doing trips with various guiding companies over the past couple of years in order to compare how things are done. I was very pleased with AAI. Hopefully someday in the near future I'll be able to do more than just a day trip with AAI! Private Sierra Ascent - Janet B. (Berkeley, CA)
A friend recommended AAI over another guide service because he said that AAI is more interested in teaching skills rather than just telling you the basics you need to get to the top of the mountain. Mount Baker Glacier Skills - Greg H. (Paonia, CO)
AAI is set up very well. We had taken an avalanche class last winter and I got a really good vibe from the guides. I learned a ton and was able to apply this to last season's backcountry trips. Backcountry Skiing Course - Brady E. (Seattle, WA)
After a non-positive experience on Baker and Rainier in the summer of 2005 (not with AAI), I realized I needed solid training in the fundamentals of glacier navigation and rescue systems. Although I hike and climb extensively in the Northeast during he winter, and therefore am comfortable on snow and ice, we have no glaciers or crevasses to contend with. The outline of such skills you have posted on your Alpine Ice program really fits the bill!!! My guide did an awesome job covering this for me during our three day private course. I had injured my ankle before this trip and Kurt was also terrific at further adapting and optimizing our time on the mountain. Private Ice Instruction - David L. (Windham, ME)
I chose the American Alpine Institute for a number of reasons. First, your organization comes with good recommendations. As I was doing research for me course, everyone I came across highly recommended both AAI and "another guide service" for local instruction. Second, when comparing the similar courses that you each offer for beginning mountaineering instruction (specifically looking at the other guide services Expedition Course and your Intro to Alpinism course) I liked the idea of having more time each day to focus on the skills building instead of spending so much of each day moving camp. The AAI course provided an opportunity to set up both a low and high camp without sacrificing much of the time we wanted for skill building.
Reputation and mountaineering philosophy. I know quite a few great climbers and the all referred me to AAI as one of the best climbing schools. In addition, the mountain leadership approach AAI takes to instruction was very important to me. I wanted to take a course where I would come out in the end with a heightened ability to climb safely and technically and without a guide. I do not want to be a climber who always relies on an instructor to make it up mountains. Eventually I want my own climbing to possess the same level of competence as the guides.
Alpine Ice Climbing - Russell C. (Port Townsend, WA)
I asked around a lot and every time I asked, AAI was always mentioned as the best. I posed on rockclimbing.com and AAI came very highly recommended. I also spoke with the local climbing shop and he had climbed with a couple of AAI guides and recommended you very highly. Intro to Alpinism - Aaron H. (Indianapolis, IN)
I wanted a guide outfit with a clear reputation for competence and experience in challenging terrain. AAI is a leader among guiding companies. Denali West Buttress - Karl K. (Nyack, NY)
I took a course with another service on Mount Rainier and I thought they were good until I took this program. AAI actually trained us to be independent, tie our own knots, set up ropes, etc. They didn't do everything for us. Alaska Range Alpine Mountaineering - Christy H. (Friendswood, TX)
To be honest, I have always wanted to climb big peaks and one day three or four years ago I looked you up on the internet and ordered your information. I still have that package today. I like the fact that you have detailed bio information for all employees and that the level of information that was forthcoming on the phone and via email. Alaska Range Alpine Mountaineering - Dave K. (Lawrenceville, NJ)
I have done my homework and AAI has always ranked number one. Intro to Alpinism - Ray A. (Russellville, AL)
Reputation, great experiences with AAI on previous trips, AAI's willingness to tailor trips to our skill level, and coherent curriculum with an emphasis on safety and good decision making. Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership - Myron A. (Laramie, WY)
Reputation. People say you guys are the best and I believe them! National Geographic recommends AAI highly and that meant a good deal to me. After talking with someone over the phone about the Intro course and comparing that conversation to the ones I had with your competitors, the decision was easy. Intro to Alpinism - Robert M. (Washington, DC)
I did a lot of research in the internet. One guide service seems to be a shuttle service with medium interest in client care. I didn't know much about the other services on the mountain, but after Denali and seeing other groups in action, I am thrilled with my choice of the American Alpine Institute. Denali West Buttress - Jay A. (Cincinati, OH)
I Chose AAI because of your commitment to professionalism and educational focus! We are outdoor educators and hope to pass this training on to others and want to be with the best folks in the field to learn from. It is not your purpose just to get people up the mountain. Your guides are educators. In past years our organization has done training with "another guide service" and other companies and it is evident that Steve and I came away with a greater knowledge base, experience and skills then any of our other organization members have from other organizations! Glacier Training - Ryan C. (Delaware, OH)
I looked into 3 guiding services. Your course descriptions were by far the most complete and the most interesting. Your customer service was by far the best. Getting responses from the other 2 services was either inconsistent or horrible to the point of actually not responding to my e-mails and phone calls. My original contact person for you guys was always prompt to respond and full of information to answer my many questions. It became a no-brainer to go with you guys. Intro to Alpinism - Erik L. (Issaquah, WA)
7. Do you have any additional comments?
Just one more big thank you for making the day such a success. Really, I had thought of it beforehand as a one-time, face-your-fear experience (I don't like heights). It turned out to be much more than that, and a lot of fun. Given the opportunity, I'd jump at the chance to head out with the AAI again. Thank you! Private Rock Climbing Course - Jordan, R. (Los Angeles, CA)
Once more - very high marks to my guides. I would like to have an option to design a private climb so I can request them as guides. Overall impression is excellent and I plan to climb with AAI again.
When it wasn't raining and even some times when it was I had a blast and learned a lot. 3 days after I got back I started an AMGA Top Rope Site Manager class and the only reason I was able to pass the exam was all the work I did on your course so I'm very appreciative. I plan on going on and doing the Rock Instructor course next spring and we'll see where it all leads. Thanks a lot. Private Instruction and Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership - Bill D. (Rockville, MD)
I wish to personally thank my guides for a wonderful time and I will tell my friends about AAI and the great time I had even though I didn't summit. I will be on the mountain again next year and AAI will be my guide. Rainier Prep Course and Ascent - Mike S. (Edmonds, WA)
I would recommend your organization to anyone. I had the confidence after this course to take my own climbing to the next level and feel I used my dollars wisely in choosing AAI. I hope to be able to finance a course with you all in the future. Intro to Alpinism - Sara S. (Portland, OR)
I researched many outfitters. AAI's reputation, the class content, and the price made it an easy decision. Unlike previous classes I have taken, there was an attitude amongst the guides that set AAI apart. My guides said at the beginning of the trip that we had him for a week and to pick his brain to learn as much as we possibly could. This was not an attitude that I have seen in the past, but it is exactly what I wanted. I feel like I got what I wanted out of the class, confidence and skill to undertake more technical climbs unguided. Thanks for the excellent class. Alaska Range Mountaineering - Zebulon S. (Houston, TX)
My guides were awesome. They were friendly and energetic from the beginning and their knowledge seemed to want to attack us with what they knew and what they wanted to teach us. At no point in this program did I feel unsure or confused as to me position in the team or task I was to perform. This aggressive approach was just what I wanted. I really enjoyed being pushed and having to work hard, but in the end, knowing both of the guides were providing a reasonable amount of safety. Our second guide was the motivator. His attitude and spirit were unbelievable and he wore a 24 hours smile on his face. I really don't think anything could bring him down.. Additionally, his stories were the best and all I can say is that I will always remember him. Alaska Range Alpine Mountaineering - Dave K (Lawrenceville, NJ)
I was very impressed by my guides professionalism, skills and knowledge. I would highly recommend him as a guide and instructor to anyone wanting to climb. He performed such admirable work that he left me with a very strong respect for AAI. He was great! Private Rock Course - David S. (Seattle, WA)
I have climbed a lot in the Cascades and Sierra but was unsure of what Alaska would be like. I have never climbed with a guide service before, but I thought it would be a good idea for a first time Alaska expedition. I researched all the authorized companies and found that I identified most with AAI's mission. To me, it seems as though AAI is more about making safe, successful, well rounded mountaineers versus just bagging the summits. This appealed to me as a private climber because I wanted a guide service that was interested in 1. Safety, 2. Empowerment through instruction, and 3. having fun. Fortunately for me, I found all three of these with AAI. Denali West Buttress - Bryan F. (Bothell, WA)
If I'm looking for a guided experience in the future, AAI will get first chance as well as any referrals I can send your way. I was terribly impressed with the organization as a whole. Competent people all the way round. Private Glacier Skills - Steve N. (New Wilmington, PA)
Many thanks to my guide and to the American Alpine Institute for an unforgettable trip. I would choose AAI again without hesitation. Red Rock Climbing - David V. (Roxboro, Canada)
I have met lots of AAI guides while doing some outdoor adventures and have always found them to be knowledgeable and "cool!" Red Rock - Russell G. (Los Angeles, CA)
I've backpacked all my life. Have winter camping experience and some limited crampon and ice ax experience. This course gave me the knowledge I needed to go to the next level and climb more technical mountains and cross glaciers as part of a rope team. In fact, 2 days after the end of this course, I summitted Mt. Rainier in 1 night (DC route - 9 pm to 6 am w/ 1.5 hours at Camp Muir) as part of a 2 man team. I had complete confidence in my ability to cross the glaciers on Mt. Rainier based on what I learned from the Alpinism 1 - Intro course. I was very IMPRESSED to see a senior guide, Alan Kearney, show up on Mt. Baker to spend a day evaluating the performance of our guides. Intro to Alpinism - Michael Cook (Marysville, CA)
I had an awesome time. These trips changed my life in ways I cannot even express. I am looking forward to finishing Part 3 next summer. Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership - Stephen T. (Spring, TX)
We have been evaluating many guide services this year on small USA trips to decide who we want to use for more advanced international mountaineering trips. Congratulations, you win! You are the kind of guide service we were looking for when we do our trips to Ecuador and Denali. We look forward to doing more business with you. Mount Baker Ascent - Matt and Heather H. (Livingston, TX)
All of my friends that climb speak highly of you. One went on a Denali climb with you last year and raved about your knowledge, professionalism, safety, and teaching ability. I have to agree after taking the course. I had previously climbed Mt Rainier with "another guide service" and it was a good experience although I did not learn much about mountaineering. By the end of the course with you, I was scared by how little I had been taught and how completely reliant I was on the guides on the Rainier climb. Rainier Prep Course and Rainier Ascent - Jeff L. (Woodinville, WA)