Leaders of Tomorrow

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Glacier training high on Mt. Shuksan.

Glacier training high on Mt. Shuksan. Dylan Taylor

The American Alpine Institute's Leaders of Tomorrow program is the only comprehensive program available in North America designed to train young people in the arts of climbing and alpinism, while simultaneously providing students with strategic planning skills and a life-long appreciation of wild places.

The American Alpine Institute's Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) program utilizes mountaineering, rock climbing, ice climbing, stewardship and outdoor adventure to develop decision making and judgment skills for young leaders. While learning new and exciting technical skills, LOT places students in a position to organize and identify strategies and to make key decisions. In this process students will acquire the confidence required to clearly identify needed outcomes, to develop effective strategic plans for accomplishing goals, and to inspire others into action.


Multi-Pitch Rock Climbing in Washington Pass. Andy Stephen

LOT courses effectively develop the confidence and knowledge of how and when to step into a leadership role with a vision. The skills and understanding that one gains will be applicable to personal activities among friends, in the diverse challenges of university life, and later in your chosen career. In the repeated processes of learning how to get yourself and a group successfully to the top of a series of complex mountains, you'll also learn how to effectively address challenges that you meet in life.

The guides and instructors at AAI are among America's most accomplished outdoor educators and climbing instructors. They don't just theorize about leadership. They are true leaders in their profession. All AAI guides are formally trained climbing and mountaineering guides, hold Leave No Trace Trainer or Master Educator certifications, hold Wilderness First Responder First Aid Certifications and have AIARE Avalanche and Avalanche Rescue Training.


Leaders of Tomorrow



  • All students must be between the ages of 14 and 17 at the time of the program and must possess a high level of maturity.
  • Basic hiking experience.
  • Overnight backpacking experience is preferred but not required.



  • There are two options for for the Leaders of Tomorrow program. Participants may participate in the first nine-days, or for the full sixteen-days.
  • Day 1: Travel to Bellingham and meet at 3pm. Complete a gear check and travel to the first camp near a climbing area.
  • Day 2: Front-country rock climbing.
  • Days 3-8: Backcountry climbing, mountaineering and wilderness skills culminating in an ascent of Mt. Baker.
  • Day 9: Return to Bellingham to drop off those who are only participating in the 9-day program. The rest of the team will complete a stewardship project.
  • Day 10: Additional rock climbing skills.
  • Days 11-13: Multi-pitch rock climbing on high alpine peaks.
  • Days 14-15: Complete a student lead ascent of a high alpine peak that requires both glacier travel and rock climbing skills.
  • Day 16: Return to Bellingham and travel home.



Mt. Baker provides an incredible classroom setting for learning alpine climbing skills

Mt. Baker provides an incredible classroom setting for learning alpine climbing skills. Andrew Yasso

Leadership Skills:

  • Formal lessons in decision making processes & leading a group
  • Risk assessment, judgment, and management
  • Mentoring processes and supportive guidance for your peers
  • Self-knowledge: capitalizing on strengths
  • Self-awareness: the ability to lead one's own self prior to leading others
  • Cooperation: working well with others & inspiring others to strong teamwork
  • Decision-making processes, including one full day as "Expedition Leader"


Outdoor Skills and Technical Mountaineering Skills:

  • Frontcountry and Backcountry Camping and Travel Skills: equipment selection, backcountry clothing, layering systems, use of stoves, cooking, food selection, and packing light.
  • Glacier travel and mountaineering: navigation, crampon and ice axe use, belaying and knots, roped team travel, and hazard evaluation
  • Rock Climbing: knots, anchors, rappelling, belaying, climbing movement skills, baseline rescue skills, top-rope set-ups and an introduction to sport climbing.
  • Ice Climbing: selection and use of ice tools, steep and vertical ice climbing, ice anchors, and top-rope techniques on ice.
  • Leave No Trace travel, camping, and climbing


Certifications Granted

  • Certification in Leadership Training with three endorsements: Wilderness Travel, Environmental Stewardship, & Alpine Mountaineering
  • You will also have the opportunity to build references and receive letters of recommendation from the program's instructors and the program directors



Leaders of Tomorrow

Cost and Dates

A Leaders of Tomorrow group celebrates on the summit of Mt. Baker.

A Leaders of Tomorrow group celebrates on the summit of Mt. Baker. Dawn Glanc

9-Day Program Dates:

  • Dates TBD


16-Day Program Dates:

  • Dates TBD


Max Ratio - 4:1 or 8:2 (Climber:Guide)

Capacity - 8


Inclusions and Exclusions

This is an "all inclusive" program. The following items are included in the price:

  • Climbing and Camping Permits
  • Camping for every Program Day
  • Food (Backcountry, Frontcountry and Restaurant Food)
  • Travel During the Program (AAI will provide a van for the duration of the course.
  • All Program Rentals.
  • Transportation from the Seattle Airport to Bellingham or Transportation from the Bellingham Airport to AAI's Headquarters.
  • All Group Equipment.

Excluded from the price is travel to the Seattle or Bellingham Airport, personal equipment/clothing, and guide gratuities.


Leaders of Tomorrow

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