The American Alpine Institute forms Liz Daily scholarship for aspiring women mountaineers

The American Alpine Institute (AAI) is an organization that provides instruction for ice climbing, rock climbing, glacier skills and off-piste skiing to those who are looking to grow their skills in the outdoors. In a recent gesture, the AAI has set up a scholarship in honor of the late Liz Daley, snowboard athlete, mountaineer, guide and instructor for the AAI. The hope is that this scholarship, ranging from $1,000 to $2,500, will help more women venture to become guides like Liz.

To find out more about the Liz Daley scholarship, Tom Kirby of the AAI talked with Backcountry about why this scholarship is important to future AAI students and to the greater guiding world.

A smiling Liz Daley. [Photo] Jason Hummel

A smiling Liz Daley. [Photo] Jason Hummel

Backcountry Magazine: What prompted the AAI to start the Liz Daley scholarship?

Tom Kirby: Liz was a really inspiring person to us. This is a small company [the AAI] and everybody knew her. She was one of the most beloved people here. She wasn’t here for very long, only a couple of years, but she made a big mark on everyone. In the guiding industry there is a persistent shortage of women. A lot of women want to enter mountaineering and climbing in general, and it’s discouraging for some people to sign up for a course and find that the guide is always a man.

So, we thought a good way to honor her memory would be to create a scholarship to help women who are interested in becoming guides do just that. It meshes really well with our general mission, because we are a climbing school first and foremost.

BCM: How does this scholarship help your mission to “grow its clients into self-sufficient climbers?” 

TK: We are not about just getting people to the tops of peaks. We want to make mountain climbing a part of people’s lives. We want people to learn how to do it on their own and have the true freedom to ramble around in the mountains—to be self-guided.

It was natural for us to say, “if you are interested in being a guide, we can get you to the point where you are ready for AMGA programs.” You know you love to climb but you just don’t have the time in the mountains and you are not sure if you are doing everything right. We want to get you from that point to the point where you have had formal instruction and you have logged some real hours in the alpine and you are ready to start an AMGA track.

To learn more about the Liz Daley scholarship through the American Alpine Institute, visit The deadline for the scholarship is Monday, February 1.

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