How can we help you achieve your dreams?
Let’s face it. If you’re here, you’re not looking for the standard, run of the mill trip. There are a jillion companies that can take you glamping (glamor camping, if you’re unfamiliar), where you get a personal sherpa, a cook, and a feather bed while “roughing it.” And there are a few schools, some good ones too, who run short (usually 3-12 day) mountaineering or rock climbing classes.
Well, we’re not either of those things.
And neither are you.
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.
We’ve got a full time staff of about 8 guides and logistics folks, who I’ll introduce you to in a moment. But first, a bit about why we exist:
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.
Our “short” courses, the 42 day Alaska Mountaineering Course>>, the Patagonia Mountaineering Course>>, and Rock Climbing Course>>, came first. 42 days is enough time to actually learn what you need to learn to be a good, competent climber, who can climb without a guide. It’s also enough time for an amazing, kick ass adventure. Something you just can’t get anywhere else.
The 2 year Mountain Guide School>> came next, as the culmination of 3 years of hard work, curriculum development, and work with the Wilderness Education Association to get our program accredited.
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. Too remote. Our rock climbing program in Spain is groundbreaking both for location and breadth of training. And our Mountain Guide 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.”). 450 field days and 220 days of work experience crammed in to 2 years is like nothing else out there.
And we’ve got a pretty amazing group of guides from all over the world:
- Andrea, an IFMGA guide from Italy, works in Alaska and Patagonia as a mountaineering guide
- Alfredo, an IFMGA guide from Spain, heads our rock climbing program in Spain
- Merrie Beth, a Canadian Ski and Assistant Alpine guide, comes to Patagonia for a few courses a year
- Dennis, a New Zealand Alpine Guide, works in Alaska and Patagonia as well
- Linus, a graduate of our very first Mountain Guide School, runs our ski programs
- Ian, also a graduate of our first Mountain Guide School, is a lead rock climbing guide for us
- Lyra, an alpine guide from the USA, will be starting with us this fall in Patagonia
- There’s also me
- And Jaya
Not to mention our amazing support staff:
- Graham and Carmen Gloria run our logistics and operations in Patagonia, and have for about 6 years now. Prior to working with us, they used to run logistics for Operation Raleigh, a UK company that put 100+ students in the field at a time. Needless to say, our 8 students per course feels pretty small…
- Tyler and Dani manage our Alaska operation and basecamp, and assist with sales, gear, and a bunch of other details that keep things running. We couldn’t do it without them. Really. No one else is around to answer emails when Jaya and I are in the field…
- Alfredo also runs basecamp in Spain because, well, he’s amazing.
We’re a diverse group, with lots of experience under our belt. Most importantly, by having a staff from all over the world, who trained in different systems, we can continually make ourselves better by looking at what other organizations around the world are doing and then integrating that into our curriculum. We are at the forefront of what we do, proactively looking for new techniques, tricks, and ways of going about life in the mountains. We’re not afraid to change and make ourselves better.
Our vision is to nurture and support our students, whether they are recreational climbers or aspire to work in this industry. We will push you hard and expect a ton from you, but we will also support you and help you shape yourself into someone who will be proud of the work you do and who understands what it really takes to grow and thrive in the mountains.
Come and join us.
-Benjamin Gorelick, Jaya Marr, and the Mountain Training School Team