Leaders of Tomorrow


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, technical program available in North America designed to train young people in the arts of climbing and alpinism, while simultaneously providing students with the critical thinking skills that come from complicated mountain travel, as well as a life-long appreciation of wild places.

The American Alpine Institute's Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) program utilizes rock climbing, mountaineering, 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 use critical thinking skills 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 use technical mountain travel to 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 15 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 the Leaders of Tomorrow program. Participants may participate in the first six days of Outdoor Rock, or they may continue on with a second seven-day section that covers mountaineering, for a full thirteen-day experience.

  • Day 1: Travel to Bellingham and meet at 3pm. Complete a gear check and travel to the first camp near a climbing area.
  • Days 2-5: Front-country rock climbing.
  • Day 6: Return to Bellingham to drop off those who are only participating in the Outdoor Rock program.
  • Days 7-12: Backcountry climbing, mountaineering and wilderness skills culminating in an ascent of Mt. Baker.
  • Day 13: Return to Bellingham and travel home.

See the PDF to the right for a comprehensive itinerary.



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

6-Day Program Dates:

  • July 11 - 16, 2024
  • Aug 01 - 06, 2024


13-Day Program Dates:

  • July 11 - 23 2024
  • Aug 01 - 13, 2024



Max Ratios (Climber:Guide)

Outdoor Rock (first 6 days) - 8:2 

Mountaineering (following 7 days) - 8:3

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 Bellingham Airport or the Bus Station in Bellingham to AAI's Headquarters.
  • All Group Equipment.

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



Leaders of Tomorrow

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