Mountain Training School

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Pain. Suffering. Misery. Fun.

So, this is the part where I’m supposed to wax lyrical about the stunning beauty you’ll see on our courses. Talk about the beautiful, remote peaks and spectacular glaciers. About all the fun you’re going to have with the Mountain Training School>>, and how we make mountaineering and rock climbing so easy, anyone can do it.

But that’s not really why you’re here, is it?

If you were after easy, there are dozens of other companies better suited to this. They’ll carry your stuff for you, cook your food for you, set you up in nice, fluffy tents and tell you how “extreme” you are for your ability to hike a few hours.

If you wanted an “introduction” to climbing, you could take a 6 or 12 day course with someone else. They’d show you a few rope skills, teach you to use an ice axe and crampons, and you’d get the chance to climb a mountain. And 2 weeks down the road, you’ll have forgotten everything because it’s really, really hard to actually learn something when you see it once, for just an afternoon.

So, if that’s the kind of “climbing” school you’re after, we’re not the school for you.

What kind of course is this? I’m glad you asked…

At the Mountain Training School>>, you will:

-Carry your own backpack, cook your own food, and pitch your own tent

-Walk. And Climb. A lot. Some days will be 16 hours long. A few will be 20 or more. Or record is 33 straight hours of moving.

-Actually learn the skills you’re here to learn. On a “normal” climbing course, you see the skills once. On our course, you live, eat, sleep and breathe climbing for up to 5 years. So you get to practice this stuff over and over again, until it’s ingrained in your head. So you know and understand the systems.

-Push yourself harder than you ever have. Our goal is to make half of our students cry – or at least have the temper-tantrum equivalent (throwing your bag on the ground and having a fit counts as a cry, for you guys out there…).

Yeah, it’s that kind of course. But it is a hell of a lot of fun.

“What the heck kind of fun is that?” you ask. Well, for those of you unfamiliar with Type II Fun, let me explain.

There are two types of fun.

Type I Fun is regular, normal fun. Going out on the weekend for a beer with some friends, maybe dinner and a movie with your partner, tossing a frisbee around with your dog, and the like. It’s the kind of normal fun that normal people have all the time.

Type II Fun is something else entirely. It’s the kind of fun that makes normal people cringe: hiking 15 miles in a pouring rainstorm, running a marathon, working on your climbing project, falling again and again, until you finally stick the move, challenging yourself, to your absolute physical, mental, and emotional limit.

Type II Fun is, quite often, no fun at all while you’re doing it. It’s grueling. You want to quit. You want to yell, scream, or cry. But you don’t. You keep going; to the summit. And after a few celebratory photos, you begin the long slog back down the mountain. It’s only hours later that you can collapse into your tent, exhausted.

That’s Type II Fun.

It’s the kind of fun that you remember, that sticks with you for years.

It’s the kind of fun that you’ll try and explain to your friends, but they won’t understand. Your family will say “You’re crazy!” That will have you sleeping on your floor at home because the bed is too soft. That will find you back at work, staring at your computer, secretly planning your next adventure when you’re supposed to be writing SPT reports.

That’s Type II Fun. That’s the Mountain Training School>>.
And this is something we really love about our students at the Mountain Training School: You are not “most people.” You don’t take the easy way and you don’t shy away from some crazy hard work. You dive in head first and give it your all.

You’re the reason we started the Mountain Training School>> in 2005.

My name is Benjamin Gorelick. I’m the co-owner, along with Jaya Marr, of the Mountain Training School>>. We’ve been married for about 8 years, tying the knot about a month before we started the school.

By 2005, Jaya and I had been working as guides for about 5 years all over the world. As part of our jobs we saw two things:

1) We noticed that many of our clients had “learned” (seen demonstrated?) many of the climbing skills they wanted, but hadn’t learned them in any great depth and certainly not to the point that they had become second nature. They had done a short training course and promptly forgot most of what they had learned because they hadn’t had any time to live with the skills and absorb them fully.

They also had not learned many of the most important skills as climbers, the kinds of skills can’t be learned in a short period of time, like how to live really well in the mountains, how to care for themselves and others in challenging conditions, how to plan and manage their time and resources to maximize their opportunities in the hills.
They still needed to hire a guide everywhere they went because, really, they were trained to be clients, not leaders.

And we saw in our clients a huge hunger for big adventure; to bite off something really big, to get out of ‘real life’ and expand their vision of themselves and their capabilities.

2) Something really big happened to us in 2004. The company we worked for in Alaska was sold to some new owners. Suddenly, we found ourselves in charge of training all of their new guides for the season, almost all of which had just graduated from college/university with a degree in Outdoor Studies (or something similar).

You would think that, after 4 years (and a jillion dollars spent) at a university that these graduates would be ready for work in the real world. But this just wasn’t the case. These awesome folks often had a ton of book learning from college outdoor programs but lacked the practical hands on skills to really look after their clients. Some had done as little as 3 one week field modules.

They also weren’t familiar with the industry, didn’t have many contacts, and didn’t know how to present themselves as professionals to employers.

They had a great love of the hills, enthusiasm off the scale, and big dreams. But they needed to be shown where to start.

So, in 2005, we asked ourselves: If we were going to start an outdoor school, free of the requirements of a university or the constraints of what most people thought was “practical,” what might that look like?

The Mountain Training School>> is our answer to that question.

By now, we’ve done this a lot – tens of thousands of field days. We’re the most experienced guides on the Patagonian Ice Cap by a long shot. We instruct in places in Alaska no one else dares to: too long, too hard, and too remote. Our rock climbing program in Spain is groundbreaking both for location and breadth of training. Our Mountain Training School>> is utterly unique: (Yes, I know that unique means “the only one,” so it’s not technically correct to be utterly unique or sorta unique or whatever. But plain ol’ “unique” doesn’t seem to capture the essence of the guide school, so you’re stuck with “utterly unique.”) more than 1000 field days, lots of hands on training and mentor-ship. There is nothing else out there like it.

$500 Off!!!

Mention this listing and receive $500 off any course we offer!

Place Categories: Ice Climbing Guides, Mountaineering Guides, Outdoor Instructional Guides, Rock Climbing Guides, Skiing Guides, and Trekking Guides.Place Tags: amga, course, Mountain guide, mountaineering, rock climbing, school, skiing, and training.

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1 review

  1. Eden, Apr 05, 2014 - Mountain Training School

    I began the Guide School program with Mountain Training School earlier this year. After graduating from University, I was looking for something more than a regular 9-5 job – something where I could be outdoors, work with people.. ski and climb daily and travel the world. Unfortunately it was proving quite difficult to just walk into a dream gig like this. After many, many emails and phone conversations back and forth, I signed onto the Guide School program 18 months out. I am now 3 months in and have spent a month in beautiful Patagonia backpacking, before coming to Alaska to complete the Wilderness First Responder and Bakcountry Ski Courses. I cannot even begin to describe how much I have learned over the past few months or the amazing sights I have seen! Highlights include Summer snow in Patagonia and wind that blows you and backpack over, skiing my first double black diamonds in Alaska, and living and working with instructors and other students from all over the world, who are always willing to chat about climbing routes, ski descents, gear…
    Next stop Spain, then back to Chile… from there, who knows!?

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