Alpine Mentors: Teaching the Next Generation

Alpine Mentors is a relatively new non-profit program for young alpinists, which promotes clean, lightweight, and low-impact climbing. Co-founded in 2012 by alpinist, guide and author Steve House and his wife Eva, Alpine Mentors connects seasoned alpinists with technically proficient young climbers who aspire to climb the world’s greatest mountains.

Joining the program as a mentee is no small commitment. Over the period of two years the group spends 14 weeks traveling all over the world. While the mentees don’t pay tuition, they do cover their own travel expenses. The application window for the Colorado chapter is still currently accepting applications: (link: http://www.alpinementors.org/application/).

Alpine Mentors from Wayfaring Media on Vimeo.

Steve, as a long-time climber, what drove you to establish Alpine Mentors?

[Steve House:] The idea is not new or unique at all. European mountain clubs in France, Switzerland, Spain, Slovenia, Austria and Germany have a long tradition in mentoring aspiring alpinists. While most of the European programs are state-funded via their alpine clubs, we formed an entirely new and independent non-profit corporation that relies on donations from the climbing community and our sponsors, such as MSR.
Danika
How do you recruit the volunteer mentors and why do you think they are they willing to donate their time?

[SH] Good question. It can be challenging to find people who are qualified, who are willing to donate their time, and finally who have time. Luckily I have a broad network of fellow climbers who are generously volunteering for this project. I can honestly say that there are a lot of benefits for the mentors as well. It’s great for each of us who spent our lives climbing, to realize just how much we have to offer. That these young climbers go through the same things, have the same questions, the same challenges, as we each did. It always brings me back to the realization that it’s not skills that we’re teaching, it’s judgment, it’s shared experience of how much is possible when approached well.

So far I’ve had an amazing cast of fellow mentors, including: Ines Papert (D), Jon Bracey (UK), Rafael Slawinski (CAN), David Göttler (D), Rob Owens (CAN), Scott Backes (USA), Steve Swenson (USA), Bryan Gilmore (USA), and Vince Anderson (USA) come on trips. Jim Elzinga (CAN) is going to join us on our final expedition to India.

To find out more about the program, application process, and the new Pacific Northwest chapter, visit: www.alpinementors.org.