Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 4 Overview
Men's Journal calls this program "the country's most respected and thorough rock and mountaineering course." It has four 12-day segments, and you can choose to take one, two, three, or all four.
Part 1 provides a comprehensive introduction to all the skills of alpine mountaineering, general team leadership, and leading rope teams on glaciers. Part 2 develops techniques for leading multi-pitch rock routes while further advancing technical and evaluative skills on snow, ice, and rock. Part 3 allows you to continue to develop your technical leadership skills while providing an opportunity to focus those skills on one of three areas. Part 4 is an expedition in which all of the skills developed are employed in a remote and complex big mountain setting.
Part 4 - Remote Expedition
The final portion of the program offers participants the opportunity to take part in an expedition to one of three places, Little Switzerland in Alaska, the Bravo Glacier on Canada's Mount Waddington, or in the winter Cascade backcountry.
Little Switzerland is an alpine rock climbing mecca found nestled in the heart of the Alaska Range. Dozens of peaks surround a basecamp that can only be reached via a ski plane. Each day your party is on the glacier, you will have the opportunity to attempt a different alpine rock, snow or ice climb and then return to your base camp at the end of the day. Grade III and Grade IV alpine climbs jut up from the glacier in every direction. It is a true climber's paradise.
Mount Waddington, at 13,177 feet (4017 m.) is the highest mountain in British Columbia. The first ascent of the Northwest (false) summit was in 1934, however most modern parties approach from the south or east now to reach the true summit. The Main Summit was claimed by Fritz Weissner and William House in 1936. In 1942 Mount Waddington was climbed by then-teenagers, Fred and Helmy Beckey, whos footwear consisted of "felt pullovers on tennis shoes."
Climbers return to base camp on an AMTL 4 Course.
The Cascade backcountry in the winter is as remote as either of the other objectives. Areas that are teeming with people in the summer are incredibly remote in the winter. This third option for AMTL 4 provides climbers with a completely new set of skills. They will learn ski mountaineering, avalanche and winter expeditionary skills that they will use to access some of the most secluded terrain in the Lower 48.
Students who complete all four parts of the AMTL series will receive a certificate of Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Expedition Leadership. Students may also elect to take a second version of
Part 3 as a substitution for these Part 4 options to receive this certificate.
In order to participate in this high-end expedition, you must first complete Parts 1, 2, and 3. If you took Part 3 more than a year and a half prior, you will need to take a four-day refresher course. If you have engaged in a significant amount of climbing in the interim this may be waived.
Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 4 Curriculum
Alpine Mountaineering Skills:
Development of mixed climbing skills - participants will transition from snow climbing to rock climbing on most routes.
Continued development of movement skills on moderate ice and technical rock
Development of simul-climbing skills on lower angled ice with running belays
Study and practice of transitions between glacier travel mode and technical climbing mode
Continued study of the proper choice between and application of the primary ice axe Positions: piolet canne, panne, manche, poignard, ramasse, rampe, ancre, and traction
Specialized designs and uses of alpine and technical tools in high angle climbing
Free climbing technique on alpine rock
Advanced concepts in the proper selection and placement of snow, ice and rock gear for belays and intermediate protection
Integration of specific skills with the general goals of efficient, safe, and self-dependent climbing
Continued training on the use of maps, compasses, GPS, and guidebooks
Strategizing for multi-day backcountry tours in a remote setting
Practical application of expeditionary staged camp techniques
Review of glacial and ice structures
Continued development of mountain sense and the ability to follow a "line of weakness"
Development of advanced technical protective systems in an alpine setting
Advanced study of movement over complex alpine terrain
Objective Hazards Evaluation & Self-Rescue Skills:
Evaluation & prediction of mountain weather patterns
Introduction to the assessment of natural hazards
Individual & team crevasse rescue techniques
Continued study and practice of individual technical leadership skills
Development of technical leadership strategies on complex terrain
Technical & personal functions of individuals on an ascent: roles & responsibility
Problem solving: gathering appropriate data & assessment techniques
Evolving leadership roles: individual leadership vs. collective decision making
Large and small team expeditionary leadership strategy
Ski Mountaineering Skills (for those who choose the ski option)
selection and use of personal equipment for ski mountaineering
snowpack study of snowpack formation, metamorphosis, and stability assessment
cross-country and downhill skiing skills; methods of ascent and descent
adjustment in technique for challenging snow conditions
route selection and hazard assessment
roped skiing and travel skills
constructing snow anchors with ski equipment and operating belays
basic skills for the use of ski crampons
Leave No Trace travel, climbing and camping skills
use of electronic tranceivers; avalanche rescue procedures
Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 4 Course Options
Structure and Goals:
Italy's Boot Towers over the Pika Glacier. Kurt Hicks
Little Switzerland is the name given to a series of dramatic granite spires jutting up out of the Pika Glacier like broken teeth. Found just 35 miles south of Denali, this sub-range provides ample opportunities for climbers to ascend dramatic towers in single pushes from a basecamp on the glacier. Little Swiss is an alpine playground in a grand setting. Routes require varied skills as climbers must apply glacier travel, ice climbing and moderate rock climbing skills to successfully ascend these spires.
Ascents off the Pika glacier give one a glimpse into what it is like to be on a longer more remote expedition in a backwater of Denali National Park. Not only will you learn expeditionary tactics and techniques, but you will have the opportunity to design and plan multiple ascents throughout the duration of the course. If your long-term goals are more in line with an expeditionary style that attempts multiple peaks over a short period of time, then the dramatic and complex terrain of Little Switzerland will be the perfect place to explore expeditionary climbing.
Ascent options in Little Switzerland include, but are not limited to:
The Munchkin - II, 5.2
Dragonspine, First Buttress - III, 5.7
North Troll, South Ridge - III, 5.7
Hobbit King - Hobbit Arete - III, 5.7
Hobbit Footstool, East Ridge - II, 5.8
Middle Troll, South Face - III, 5.8, 45-degree snow
The Throne, The Lost Marsupial - III, 5.8
The Royal Tower, East Ridge - IV, 5.8
South Troll, South Face - IV, 5.9
The Royal Tower, Gargoyle Buttress - IV, 5.10a
Mt. Waddington Expedition
Structure and Goals:
A climber on the approach to basecamp on Mt. Waddington with the expansive Coast Mountains in the background. AAI Collection
In this fourth 12-day segment of the program you will develop more sophisticated technical skills on rock, snow and ice while making an expedition style ascent of Mount Waddington. This is one of the rare courses in the world that finishes on such a remote, technical and beautiful mountains.
Mount Waddington is a very serious objective. This expedition will draw deeply on all of your skills. Climbers must be able to move effectively on glaciers, rock climb, ice climb and ascend mixed terrain to be successful on this mountain. A successful ascent of Mount Waddington is the equivalent of a PhD in Alpinism. It is a remote and highly sought after objective.
During this expedition, your instructors will continue to help you to refine expeditionary skills and techniques. With guidance, you will plan every part of this expedition and will be a co-leader in the decisions that will be made. It is our goal that you emerge from this program as a qualified rope team leader on both rock and glacier routes. It is also our goal that upon completion, you have the skills and the understanding to put together an expedition to one of the greater ranges of the world.
Ski Mountaineering and Remote Alpine Ski Tour
Structure and Goals:
In this fourth 12-day segment of the program you will develop more sophisticated skills on glaciers and on steep snow. Additionally, participants will develop the skills to move effectively on both glaciated and non-glaciated terrain on backcountry skis. The course will culminate in a multi-day backcountry ski tour or high traverse.
A skier is rewarded for their climb with an exciting descent.
All participants will learn the skills specific to crevasse rescue with skis, they will learn about the care and maintenance of backcountry skis, they will learn the rudiments of snow science and avalanche evaluation and they will develop the skills to plan both single and multi-day peak descents.
This particular course has additional prerequisites beyond Parts 1-3. Skiers who participate in this course should be comfortable on moderate to steep terrain when skiing inside of a ski resort. At minimum, skiers should be comfortable on tricky blue runs or easy black runs. This course was designed for competent in-bounds skiers who are ready to move into the backcountry.
Your instructors will work with you on all of the specific skills needed for route selection, route finding, and hazard evaluation required for ski mountaineers. It is our goal that you emerge from this program as a qualified rope team leader and a qualified skier in technical backcountry travel.
Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 4 Dates & Details Waddington Expedition
Jul 9 - 20, 2017 - New spaces available! Jul 8 - 19, 2018
Max Ratio - 4:2 (Climber:Guide)
Capacity - 5
Little Switzerland Expedition
Jun 11 - 22, 2017
Jun 10 - 21, 2018
Max Ratio - 2:1 (Climber:Guide)
Capacity - 6
Ski Mountaineering Expedition
Feb 21 - Mar 5, 2017 (13 days with 1-day break on 2/27)
Feb 20 - Mar 3, 2018
Max Ratio - 2:1 (Skier:Guide)
Capacity - 6
AMTL Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 or equivalent experience
To participate in the ski mountaineering option, skiers must have successfully completed a
AIARE Level I Avalanche Course or the equivalent.
Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 4 Testimonials
Men's Journal calls this program "the country's
most respected and thorough rock and mountaineering
"The 4-part course was just what we were looking
for: a systematic way to learn how to lead on rock and glaciers,
starting from minimal experience on those media. By going through
the course, we now have a whole new dimension to explore on our
Myron and Adele (Laramie, WY)
Mt. Waddington is among the most remote, beautiful, and seldom seen
climbs in N. America. Dylan Taylor
Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 4 Related Courses
United States - Alaska
United States - Washington
United States - California
United States - Nevada
United States - Colorado
United States - Utah
Canada - British Columbia
South America - Argentina
South America - Bolivia
South America - Ecuador
South America - Patagonia
South America - Peru
Europe - Alps and Caucasus
Asia - Nepal and Tibet
Asia - China
Africa - Tanzania
Pacific and Antarctica
By Program Type
Group Summit Climbs
Private Guided Programs
Treks, Tours, & Backpacking
Corporate Outings & Services
Government & Military
Trekking and Backpacking
Skiing & Snowboarding
Guide Training & Rescue