• Courses and Clinical Placements

    Advanced Wilderness Life Support And Orizaba Climb (Mexico)

    Join our 8 day AWLS course in the heart of Mexico and climb the glaciated summit cone of the highest mountain in Mexico

Advanced Wilderness Life Support and Orizaba Climb (Mexico)


Join our 8 day AWLS course in the heart of Mexico: pass through the desert, trek through the forest, scramble up the rock band and finally climb the glaciated volcano cone to the summit of Pico de Orizaba (At 5,636m/18,419 ft it's the highest mountain in Mexico and the 3rd highest mountain in North America).

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Who is this course for?

This course is ideal for those interested in providing medical care in the wild or those travel enthusiasts, group leaders, climbers, walkers, EMT’s, nurses or doctors with a desire to learn medical treatment in austere environments.

While completing the core curriculum of this AWLS® certification course we will gradually ascend the 5,636m peak of Orizaba, completing the core lectures, skills and scenario based sessions at various camps or in wilderness settings along the route.

Attending this course you will:

  • Learn the latest practical hands-on wilderness medical skills for patient assessment, stabilization and evacuation.
  • Practice your skills in live scenarios in a wilderness and mountain environment
  • Work with our expert faculty and local mountain guides to develop your mountain skills and attempt to summit Pico de Orizaba (5,636m)
  • Earn your AWLS® certification accredited by the University of Utah School of Medicine.
  • Obtain up to 20.5 hours of CME or Fellowship credits from the Wilderness Medicine Society
  • The AWLS program focuses on treatment of the most common injuries and illnesses encountered making the AWLS certification the standard in the medical industry for wilderness medicine. This course offers intensive practical skills 

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Certification: awlslogo1-300x300

  • Advanced Wilderness Life Support (AWLS)
  • Approved for 20.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits and WMS FAWM Credits (additional cost) 

Trip Highlights

  • An opportunity to stand at the highest point in Mexico and the 3rd highest mountain in North America
  • Experience wilderness medicine in context, not in the classroom
  • Test your fitness & physiology whilst supported by our highly qualified team of mountain guides and medics
  • Uninterrupted incredible views to the Caribbean coast and live volcano below (Popocatépetl)
  • Crampon up the steep glaciated slopes at dawn and watch the sun rise as you arrive at the summit cone…an incredible experience

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Day 1 – Arrive in Mexico City and overnight in hotel

Day 2 – Transportation to Tlachichuca village, Wilderness Lectures. Stay in hotel

Day 3 – Drive to forest hut. Lectures and practical skills

Day 4 – Acclimatisation trek, lectures, skills and scenarios. Stay in forest hut.

Day 5 – Drive to Refuge (4,200m). Lectures, skills and light acclimatization hike

Day 6 – Trek/scramble to final tented camp (5,000m). First aid scenarios and crampon skills/Self arrest practice on the lower slopes of the Jamapa glacier.

Day 7 – Climb the glaciated cone to the summit (5,600m). Descend to village for evening meal.

Day 8 – AM: Written Assessment PM: Transport to Mexico City hotel

Day 9 – Depart from Mexico City Airport


The AWLS Team/Faculty:

The instructors and support medics are wilderness medicine instructors, operational medics (Physicians & Paramedics) and mountaineers from SOS and have all previously summited Pico de Orizaba and Aconcagua.

The mountain logistics and leadership will be provided by extremely experienced international mountain guides from ‘Orizaba Mountain Guides’, whose team members have each summited Orizaba dozens of times in differing weather conditions.


Bio - Chris Gibson EMT-P FAWM          Bio - Dr Ben Mattingly FAWM 

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Course Documents:


          Application Form                                  Detailed Itinerary                              Gear List

              pdf_image                                     pdf_image                              pdf_image


Pre requisites:

  • EMT, Paramedic, Nurse, PA or Physician
  • A keen interest in wilderness first aid
  • A good level of physical fitness
  • Previous winter hill walking experience
  • Experience in the use of crampons, self arrest with an ice axe and moving roped up on steep terrain is useful but not essential as these skill can be taught/revised on the glacier prior to summit day. Those with less experience/confidence can climb the final section with a guide

Testimonials from our last AWLS course

"I would highly recommend this trip to anyone wishing to increase their confidence and competence in dealing with medical issues (major or minor) in any wilderness or remote setting. The instructors and guides made the trip both informative and enjoyable. Practising emergency scenarios in realistic settings (jungle hiking, volcano climbing, whitewater rafting, etc) greatly enhanced the learning experience for all participants, regardless of the level of prior medical training. The serious medical instruction, the amazing scenery and culture, and the instructional and interpersonal skills of the instructors combined to make this trip outstanding! Thanks Ben, Chris, and Gabe!"
Bruce M. Ph.D
"You guys are freakin' awesome!!!!! It was such a blast to travel through Guatemala with you guys for two weeks, I felt welcomed into the group asap. Thank you sooo much for an amazing CME course and we MUST MUST MUST do it again somewhere else! I will NEVER go back to hotel conferences again! "
Maryrose C. DO
US Military
I had been searching for an AWLS course to further supplement my outdoors/wilderness activities and this course went beyond my expectations. With thorough instruction regarding a multitude of medical emergencies ranging from altitude related problems to patient packaging and evacuation, this course teaches you everything you need to know when you are out in an non-traditional medical setting. Not to mention we had a great group of instructors who clearly were passionate about what they were teaching and made the trip a truly memorable one. Would highly recommend!
Martha F. PA


Delegates should be vaccinated appropriately (see guidelines on http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/mexico ) and consider Malaria prophylaxis.


     Medical Questionnaire



Delegates should be aware this is intended to be a wilderness course in every sense of the word. The team in some parts of Mexico will be self sufficient. This is not a package holiday and SOS cannot control mother nature. Should our plans be affected by floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, snow storms, earthquakes and the like, we will continue with alternate plans in true expedition spirit, affecting self rescues and problem solving along the way.


Wilderness Medical Society - Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM)


        FAWM Overview & Application             Information about the WMS and FAWM

                pdf_image                           WMS


Medical Evacuation Insurance:

Delegates should have personal insurance to cover any in-country medical examinations, treatment or rescue/evacuation from a remote area. We recommend Global Rescue, who can be contacted via their website: www.globalrescue.com




Trip: $2,299 

Additional CME cost: $699


1. Early bird: Delegates signing up prior to 1st August will receive a $150 discount* on the total price
2. Group discount: $100 discount per person for groups of two or more who sign up and attend the course
*Discounts will come in the form of cash reimbursements upon arrival in Mexico City. Maximum discount $150 per person.

Additional 3% surcharge if paying by PayPal. Contact us for cheque or money order payment.

Included:  8 nights lodging, AWLS manual and certification, guiding and most meals (As per the itinerary)

Excluded: All Flights to Mexico, airport taxes, airport transfers to the hotel, travel insurance, gratuities, alcoholic beverages. Also, does not include additional days of travel or global rescue insurance (required)


2nd - 10th November 2015 


Cancellation Policy: TOUR ONLY Your deposit for the travel portion of the course
is nonrefundable if the course is not cancelled. If we do not reach the requirement of 6 participants and we have to cancel then a full refund will be given. The entire balance of your trip fee and CME fee will be due SEPT. 15th prior to departure. NO refunds will be given after Sept. 15th.

We have a minimum registration requirement of 6 participants and a maximum of 20. If the course is cancelled due to insufficient registration you will receive a full refund. Please contact us before purchasing plane tickets to confirm minimum number of registrants. The final trip cancelation date will be Sept. 15th , 2015. If we have not reached 6 registrants the course will be cancelled.