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MJaso

American Alpine Institute

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Hey everyone... I'm considering taking some of the alpine courses that AAI offers and thought I'd inquire here to find out if any of you have an opinion on thier curriculum. Good experiences, bad, indifferent etc.......Thanks.

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nothing but good things to say about their instructional courses.

 

also have several friends who have guided for them and still do from time to time and they enjoyed working with/for AAI.

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I took the mountaineering and leadership part 1, it was a great class and the guide Kurt Hicks was awesome. I'm planning to take part 2 this summer.

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I'll add my agreements to the consensus here:

 

Took the 6-day mountaineering intro course two years ago on Mt. Baker. Kurt Hicks was also my guide and he and the rest of the course were wonderful. From what I've heard and what I've experienced, they're a classy operation.

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Thanks for the input everyone. Good to read the recommendations to reaffirm what I've suspected. I've been in contact with them and am leaning towards the Alpine Ice climbing couse. Sounds like a blast.

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I just signed up for the Alpine Ice course with AAI, July 17-24. I've heard nothing but good things about their operation and am really looking forward to the course.

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About 15-20% will be less than what you'd like & a slightly higher proportion will be extra good. Problems are mostly arrogance & stupidity, & sometimes incompetence.

 

Canadian guides are, in general, more highly trained and often a little cheaper.

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After taking the course, I must advocate for AAI also. I had a superb guide, Angela Seidling, who dealt wonderfully with her 2 clients that each had vastly different skill sets. I was never bored, and attention was paid to keeping me stimulated. I learned a great deal, had a great time, and got hooked on swinging ice tools all at the same time.

 

MJaso: did you go on the course?

Edited by SExNW

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the alpine ice course was one of my favorite trips with AAI. Great location, skill area and summit climb. Living in mirkwood is evil but in a good evil way.

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To my dismay my plans had been scrapped due to an expensive car repair :(. I'm definately going to take a course in the spring, but I simply can't afford it at the moment.

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AAI is good.

 

Repeat after me: Canada is Better.....Canada is Better...Canada is Better.

 

First, take my word for it -- because I know this is a fact.

 

Then do research. Yamnuska is the easy choice, but there are many others.

 

Joining the Alpine Club of Canada and signing up for a beginner trip is probably very best choice for you.

 

Gotta get to Canmore region is only downside. Scenery is much better and instruction is somewhat more reliable.

 

Let me explain. AAI may be the best, or as good as any that you'll find in Washington.

 

This is in part due to their guides' training program. In Canada, guides' training is regimented and more rigorous than in the U.S.

 

No Ca guide service would rely merely on hotshot climbers who want to earn a couple of bucks for summer work. They are therefore, on average, more committed to the mundane, and somewhat demeaning, task at hand. They are also acculturated more uniformly on the social graces, talent at which predictably varies in any population.

 

Alpine Club of Canada, is a remarkable organization that employs large number of professional guides. It's probably what many Northwesterners might wish??? The Mountaineers were/are......

 

They charge a great deal for their many trips, which are catered and invariably employ professional guides....

 

THEY ARE CHEAPER than any comparable travel service in Washington, Including, I fear, AAI.

 

Also, since you're merely a "member of the club" rather than some rich guy hiring Dunham Gooding's gold-plated service in Bellingham (which pays a relative pittance to guides, which is international occupational fact of life), you retain a very insignificant amount of personal dignity that is otherwise lost.

 

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This is in part due to their guides' training program. In Canada, guides' training is regimented and more rigorous than in the U.S.

 

No Ca guide service would rely merely on hotshot climbers who want to earn a couple of bucks for summer work. They are therefore, on average, more committed to the mundane, and somewhat demeaning, task at hand. They are also acculturated more uniformly on the social graces, talent at which predictably varies in any population.

 

Alpine Club of Canada, is a remarkable organization that employs large number of professional guides. It's probably what many Northwesterners might wish??? The Mountaineers were/are......

 

They charge a great deal for their many trips, which are catered and invariably employ professional guides....

 

THEY ARE CHEAPER than any comparable travel service in Washington, Including, I fear, AAI.

 

Also, since you're merely a "member of the club" rather than some rich guy hiring Dunham Gooding's gold-plated service in Bellingham (which pays a relative pittance to guides, which is international occupational fact of life), you retain a very insignificant amount of personal dignity that is otherwise lost.

 

The AMGA training and certification program meets the same international standards that the ACMG does. In fact, the ACMG sponsored our membership into the IFMGA/UIAGM. Comparing one national guides training program to one company's guides training program is not a fair comparison. Though, to be fair, the American Alpine Institute uses AMGA Certified Guides to instruct their guides training program, so the AMGA curriculum is trickling down.

 

I'm not aware of any professional guide services that "rely merely on hotshot climbers who want to earn a couple of bucks for summer work." If your concern - or only experience - is with the more institutional nature of the larger guide services, then I'd encourage you to consider smaller guide services such as North Cascade Mountain Guides (Mazama) or the Northwest Mountain School (Leavenworth). These companies offer competitively priced, custom instruction and guiding. Both encourage their guides to pursue AMGA training and certification.

 

Finally, I have to argue that there is never any dignity lost in hiring a guide. Its curious that you argue that by hiring an ACMG Guide through the ACC (as you advocated) you would loose less dignity than by hiring a guide from an AMGA accredited guide service - where you could insist on being given an AMGA Certified Guide! There are countless examples of first ascents of routes and peaks by guided parties.

 

How valuable is your time? Some don't have the luxury of traveling to a new destination to spend 1/2 their time figuring out where to go and how to get there. Others have enough time to get fit, or enough time to gain experience, but not both. Hiring a guide provides a valuable opportunity for some to get out into the mountains.

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The American Alpine Institute has an extremely intensive guide training program. Every guide must participate in the three-week training program or complete the equivalent AMGA programs (rock instructor course, alpine guides course, advanced alpine guides course). The guide training program is run by Michael Powers who was the AMGA Technical Director for a number of years. During his years as Technical Director he was involved in the development of many of the current certification standards. Indeed, AMGA certification courses were originally modeled on AAI's guide training program when the AMGA began to develop its programs.

 

The AAI guide training is a pre-requisite to starting work at the institute. To remain employed at AAI, every guide must continue with AMGA coursework and participate in yearly guide trainings run by AMGA certified guides or by IFMGA certified guides. Every guide at AAI is currently either certified or on the certification track.

 

American guiding is changing dramatically. Educated students create a demand for highly educated guides. Considering the fact that our director was one of the early presidents of the AMGA (as well as one of those who helped LNT become a non-profit) and that our educational director was the technical director of the AMGA, it is clear that AAI has been at the leading edge of internal company guide training in the US for a long time.

 

If you'd like more information about our guide training program or what we expect of our guides, please feel free to email me at jason@aai.cc or call me at 360-671-1505.

 

On the issue of pricing...pricing is regional. It's impossible to compare the prices of Canadian guides to those of American guides. Instead, it would be better to look at regions. Some regions in the US are more expensive than others and the same can be found in Canada.

 

Lastly, on the difference between American and Canadian guide training...when they finish everybody is supposedly at the same level. In other words, guides who have completed all of their certification courses in either country become IFMGA guides.

 

It's unrealistic to argue which is better. As an American I'm certainly going to argue for the American system. My Canadian counterparts are likely to do the same for the Canadian system. As a result, it's not really even worth arguing about...

 

Jason Martin

Edited by Jason_Martin

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