The Spirit of Alpinism

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Why Climb Mountains?

"If everyone made a point of remembering Darwin, we might be spared a lot of mountain philosophy and psychoanalysis... 'Why do you climb?' ... 'Because it's the natural thing to do.'"

- Tom Patey, "Apes or Ballerinas?"


A climber starts up Liberty Bell in Washington Pass. Brendan Cusick

Here at American Alpine Institute, we don't over-think why we do what we do.  Climbing can be hard, but it's the most rewarding thing many of us have ever done.  It takes us to places of incredible beauty, and it challenges us to find untapped reserves of strength and resourcefulness. It's also just plain fun, if you don't mind putting out a little effort.  For some of us it will be our life's work; for others it's a deliberate detour on the way to bigger things.  But it's a passion that comes naturally to all of us.

We define climbing as any kind of off-road, human-powered mountain travel, and we aren't snobby about "our" sport.  If you like to hike up a good trail to get a view of the sunrise, you're a climber, and you're one of us.  If you climb big north walls in the Alps or aspire to summiting Everest some day, hats off to you! We share your passion too. 


Climbers approaching Aconcagua (22,842 ft), the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere. Andy Bourne

As guides and teachers, we specialize in teaching technical climbing, which simply means climbing with special tools like ropes, ice-axes, and crampons.  But we offer a full range of programs for lovers of adventure, from backpacking trips and safaris to ski tours, long rock climbs, and high-altitude expeditions. 

We bring our expertise, drive, skills, and professionalism to the table; you bring your own goals and reasons.  You may want to climb for relaxation, for exitement, for the love of achievement or the feeling of athletic mastery -- or just to get a good view.  Your reasons for climbing are your own. We'll honor them and work with you tirelessly to help you achieve your dreams ... and have a great time doing it.

Where Should I Begin?

If you're ready to get started, click here to learn more about our beginner level programs.

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