Leadership Development Program – Presented by The North Face

100 years of teaching mountaincraft

Mountain leadership development is part of The Alpine Club of Canada’s mandate. Hundreds of volunteers give of their time at both the Section and National levels to ensure other ACC members have a safe and enjoyable time in the mountains.

The ACC’s Leadership Courses are designed to provide training for volunteer ACC activity organizers. These courses are aimed at ACC members who already have some climbing, mountaineering and/or ski-mountaineering experience and are current or potential activity organizers. Members who wish to participate are asked to submit an application form and accompanying documentation. The Leadership Courses are heavily subsidized, and ACC sections sometimes support their members further in exchange for a formal commitment to organizing future activities.

How to Qualify

If you haven’t already, join the ACC and sign up for some of the hundreds of free trips offered by the regional sections. Once you have attended a few trips and have become acquainted with what’s being offered, you can apply to become a volunteer section trip organizer. Most sections also offer free or subsidized technical training for their trip organizers, and the ACC also offers a national technical training curriculum.

When appropriate, you and the regional section representatives will submit the documentation required in support of an application to participate in one of the Mountain Leadership Courses.

Other national activities: Many Alpine Club of Canada trips, camps and courses provide a significant level of mountain skills training. If the Mountain Leadership Course isn’t for you, we recommend the following other Mountain Adventures offered by the ACC.

Goal of the ACC’s Mountain Leadership Program

To provide a national forum for emerging club leaders to improve their own personal leadership skills for leading groups in the context of Alpine Club of Canada activities at the local section level.


This course is for new and emerging Alpine Club of Canada leaders, or for moderately experienced leaders, who seek to enhance their contribution to the section by attendance in this course. The focus of the Leadership Training Program is to provide training for those who currently are, or wish to become, active section trip leaders. The best candidates will be those who already show a commitment to being active at their local section level (but not necessarily currently leading trips.) Applicants do not have to be experienced leaders in the Club, but rather those whom the sections have confidence will continue to lead section trips and/or contribute to the Club.

This course is not designed to replace local section leadership and training initiatives; rather, it is an excellent starting place for new leaders and a focused learning / sharing program.

Participants must have basic pertinent skills as demonstrated by attendance at the prerequisite basic level hard skill training courses plus additional experience. All applications must be accompanied by a letter of endorsement from the local section executive. Participants should be fit, strong, and have confidence in their own skills. A major focus is on teaching group management, terrain management, and people management skills in the mountain environment. (First aid will not be covered and should be part of the prerequisite skills possessed by applicants.)

Training activities will be conducted by two ACMG guides. (An experienced ACC amateur leader assists on the summer course only). They will guide and instruct each segment of the program with daily field activities, and coordinate them with morning and/or evening presentations and group discussions. Participants on the summer course should not come expecting to climb the ‘biggest peaks in the area’ but rather expect to climb more moderate objectives while gaining experience and knowledge in both soft and hard skill topics.

All of our meals will be provided and prepared by camp cooks who round out the course staff and may also mentor and certainly inspire. Participants will assist with routine meal and housekeeping chores and duties.

There will be ten participants in total at each of these camps with a mix of representatives from ACC sections nationally.

To apply, you must have the endorsement of your Section Executive. If your section chooses to endorse more than one person, we will ask the section to prioritize the applicants from the perspective of the general good of the section.

In addition to these endorsements, you must provide two letters of reference. The references must be from climbing, mountaineering or skiing partners or climbing guides or instructors that are familiar with you. The application form is meant to assist the Leadership Development Committee to assess all applicants.

Please ensure that your application is complete, and that you have submitted your letters of reference. Incomplete applications will be rejected.

The following criteria are used when assessing applications. Your potential contribution to your section and the club is one of the major criteria. The strongest technical climbers or skiers will not necessarily be chosen over a technically weaker applicant who shows more promise with regard to future contributions to the club.

  • Applicants must be active, contributing members of the ACC, and show a willingness to commit to leading trips or volunteering with their section once they’ve taken the course
  • Applicants must submit a complete application, including all requested references
  • Applicants must have the appropriate and adequate technical skills and abilities

Within these guidelines, the committee strives to create equality amongst the numbers of participants from different sections. Remember that there may be twice as many applicants as there are spots available, so please do not be disheartened if you are not selected on your first try and be prepared to apply in one or more subsequent years. No applicant is guaranteed a spot.

Please note that the Leadership Development Committee strongly prefers that applications and letters of endorsement be completed and submitted electronically. Email your supporting documentation to [email protected] If possible, please have the people writing your endorsement and references email us directly and do not have them send the letter of reference through you as the applicant.

The deadline for applications is as follows:
Winter Course: fall, 2021 (to be confirmed)
Summer Course: March 2021 (to be confirmed)

Late applications will not be accepted. Completion and return of the ACC’s Waiver of Liability form is a condition of registration in our Mountain Leadership Courses. Participants will not be allowed to attend the course if the completed form is not received prior to the commencement of camp. You can download the form from the Waivers page.

Karl Nagy Memorial Award

The Karl Nagy Memorial Award was established in 2001 to assist aspirant guides and volunteer leaders on the ACC’s General Mountaineering Camp (GMC) in the development of their skills. Until his death in 2000, Karl set an outstanding example as a mentor in the mountains and was well known for his leadership, safety and success. Karl was admired and loved for his exuberant attitude in the mountain environment that he played and worked in.

This award is intended to provide an opportunity for ACMG candidates and/or aspiring volunteer leaders (in alternating years) to develop their leadership skills and abilities in the context of the GMC. All applicants must be current members of the Alpine Club of Canada; in the years designated for aspirant guides, applicants must also have passed one or more of the following exams: assistant rock guide, assistant alpine guide or assistant ski guide.

Karl Nagy Award Application

The Karl Nagy Memorial Award selection committee will award one applicant the opportunity to participate in a week of the GMC to observe and assist current guides and volunteers. While there is no monetary value to the award, the recipient will gain invaluable and unique experience. The candidature of ACC volunteer leaders and ACMG aspirant guides will be given priority for the award in alternating years. Years ending in an even number are designated for an ACMG aspirant guide; and years ending in an odd number are designated for an ACC volunteer.

The deadline for applications is: January 31 each year

Apply now