Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 1


AAI's four-part mountain leadership program has been called "the country's most respected and thorough rock and mountaineering course," by Men's Journal. It has four, 12-day segments, and you can choose to take one, two, three, or all four. Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership (AMTL) Part 1 provides a comprehensive introduction to all the skills of alpine mountaineering, general team leadership, and leading rope teams on glaciers. AMTL Part 2 develops techniques for leading multi-pitch rock routes while further advancing technical and evaluative skills on snow, ice, and rock. AMTL 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. AMTL Part 4 is an expedition in which all of the skills developed are employed in a remote and complex big mountain setting.


AMTL1 from John Grace on Vimeo.

After completing AMTL Part 1, you may chose to continue with the next program segments in order to rapidly develop well-rounded technical leadership skills. But you also have the choice of joining a climbing trip or expedition in the US or abroad or joining one of our shorter follow-up programs such as our 4-day Learn to Lead, 6-day Alpine Ice, 6-day Denali Prep, or others. We can advise you on your best options in light of your interests and future climbing goals.

This program has been described by National Accreditation reviewers as "the most practical and complete course devoted to technical mountain leadership offered in America." 

  • Take one or all four parts of this course: 12, 24, 36, or 48 days
  • Take the course in one year or over the course of two, three or four years.
  • Complete all four parts and receive certification in Alpine Mountaineering Leadership.

Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 1


AMTL Part 1 - Comprehensive Skills & Intro to Leadership

In this first 12-day program, we help you develop a very complete set of alpine climbing skills for rock, snow, and ice, from the basics on up, and as we progress through each set of skills, we will provide you with a lot of enjoyable practice climbing so you can master each technique. You will learn route finding and hazard assessment skills as well as self-rescue. Through the course you will make a series of classic alpine ascents on rock routes and on major glaciers, and you and your fellow team members will lead the final climb as you apply all the climbing and leadership skills learned during the program.

Climbing steep snow on the N. Ridge of Mt. Baker.

Climbing steep snow on the N. Ridge of Mt. Baker. Jason Martin

We place as much emphasis on good mountain judgment as we do on the development of technical skills, and throughout this course we'll be helping you observe and analyze climbing routes, terrain features, and hazards so that by the end of the program you will have developed the ability to lead a small team safely through a rugged and complex environment and rope teams on basic and intermediate alpine routes. The climbs we make typically include four or five of the following: Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, Glacier Peak, Cutthroat Peak, South Early Winter Spire, Liberty Bell, and Silver Star. Join this course for excellent skills development, diverse and beautiful alpine climbing experience, and preparation for leading your own alpine climbing teams.

Curriculum Highlights

Alpine Travel & Climbing Skills

  • Selection & use of personal equipment as well as ropes, knots, & harnesses
  • Design concepts, selection, & use of technical equipment for rock, snow, & ice climbing
  • The uses of map, compass, altimeter, and GPS
  • Principles of glacier travel & route finding
  • Belaying techniques on rock, snow, & ice
  • The concept and application of the self-belay
  • Self-arrest from all positions
  • Free climbing technique on rock, snow, & ice
  • French, German, and American cramponing techniques
  • Interrelationship, choice between, & application of all principal ice axe positions
  • Rappelling & prusiking
  • Glissading for speed & ease of descent


Objective Hazards Evaluation & Self-Rescue Skills

  • Evaluation & prediction of mountain weather patterns
  • Introduction to the assessment of natural hazards
  • Individual & team crevasse rescue techniques


Leadership Skills

  • Technical & personal functions of individuals in the rope team; role and responsibility
  • Problem solving: gathering appropriate data & assessment techniques
  • Evolving leadership roles: individual leadership vs. collective decision making


Environmental Protection Skills

  • An introduction to alpine ecology
  • Leave No Trace travel, camping, & climbing skills


An AAI group approaches their Mt. Baker basecamp through a vast wonderland of alpine wilderness.

An AAI group approaches their Mt. Baker basecamp through a vast wonderland of alpine wilderness.
Ryan Slaybaugh


Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 1



  • June 10 - June 21, 2024
  • June 24 - July 05, 2024
  • July 08 - July 19, 2024
  • July 22 - Aug 2, 2024
  • Aug 05 - Aug 16, 2024
  • Aug 19 - Aug 30, 2024
  • Sept 02 - Sept 13, 2024
  • Sept 16 - Sept 27, 2024 (Late Season Discount - $3095)



  • April 28 - May 09, 2025
  • May 12 - May 23, 2025
  • May 26 - June 06, 2025
  • June 09 - June 20, 2025
  • June 23 - July 04, 2025
  • July 07 - July 18, 2025
  • July 21 - Aug 01, 2025
  • Aug 04 - Aug 15, 2025
  • Aug 18 - Aug 29, 2025
  • Sept 01 - Sept 12, 2025
  • Sept 15 - Sept 26, 2025


*If you are looking to take an AMTL 1 course and your chosen dates are full, consider taking the 6 day Alpinism 1 and 6 day Alpinism 2 back to back or at different times throughout the season. The curriculum is exactly the same, the courses are just split, allowing for flexibility.*

Note: If you choose the above method keep in mind you will be responsible for providing your own accommodation the day or days between the Alpinism 1 and Alpinism 2.

Variations throughout the season...

While all of these courses run during what we consider the "summer season," there is a large amount of variability in the weather and conditions that a climber could experience throughout this time. We recognize that most of our participants sign up for our programs weeks or months in advance, and although we can never be fully certain of what we'll encounter in the mountains that far out, you can click here for a description of what can typically be expected throughout the summer as well as a guide on picking the timeframe that is best for you

Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 1



Max Ratio - 5:1 (Climber:Guide)

Capacity - 10


  • Good physical fitness, including
  • Ability to carry a 45 - 55 lb backpack for multiple hours
  • Stamina to hike for over 8 hours (including breaks, and with lesser pack weight)
  • Ability to cook for yourself on a backpacking stove
  • Overnight backpacking experience


If you lack overnight backpacking experience, you can add a 2-day backpacking and wilderness skills course at a discounted price and go straight into Alpinism 1.


Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership Series

This video provides some insight into the entire Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership series.


Navigation Programs

Though this program does cover backcountry navigation, there is limited time. Some mountaineers choose to enhance their glacier navigation skills before or after a program by combining this class with either the three-hour Backcountry Navigation Essentials class, or the one-day Backcountry Navigation Comprehensive program.

Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 1


"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 backcountry trips."
Myron and Adele, Laramie, WY

"This course is one of the best things I've ever done. The course is amazing. It's basically like living, instead of reading Freedom of the Hills. It is a tremendous base to build a climbing career on, not to mention you'll get to climb some beautiful peaks. It changed my life. I'm telling my friends they have to do it!"
Denise Lambright, St. Louis


AMTL 1 - Shuksan

Mt. Shuksan, one of the most photographed peaks in the Cascades and a common objective for the AMTL 1 Course. Rick Kaiser

"My guide met and exceeded every expectation I had. The combination of his knowledge, skills, teaching ability, and personality were more than I would have dared to hope for."
Rob Lindner, Ashford, WA

"The guides were excellent! No time was wasted - and they took every opportunity to teach us something new. They also took the time to get to know us well and conformed the course to our abilities and desires"
Deanna Yurchuck, New York, NY

"I enjoyed the curriculum because I thought it started out where I was at, but it didn't move too slowly."
Chris Petersen, Dallas, TX

"I chose AAI because they were the most interactive when trying to determine which company to use. They answered all of my emails and phone calls, and worked with me to find a course that suited my needs.  They also offered the most skills focused course that fostered independence in the mountains, opposed to simply offering a service to take me up and down a mountain."
Rory Brown, Newbury, MA

Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership, Part 1

Related Courses

Program Finder