Welcome to Northeast Alpine Start

What is an “Alpine Start”?

North East Alpine Start
Northeast Alpine Start

Essentially it means getting up early to reach a goal while objective danger is lower. Many mountains require pre-dawn starts so climbers can move through areas that would be more exposed to rockfall or avalanches during the warmest parts of the day. As such, an “alpine start” is simply a strategy of maximizing your chance of success while managing the inherent risks of climbing mountains. I’ve always found this motivating ideal a worthwhile concept in all walks of life, whether during my military service, climbing, business, or personal. Get up early. Get it done. Get home safe.

Why a blog?

Originally this blog started in 2009 as a simple way to share photos of clients from hundreds of days teaching rock and ice climbing, mountaineering, back-county skiing, and avalanche safety courses. These brief trip reports are now found in the Trip Report section. Over time it also became a platform for showcasing some of the best outdoor gear related to those pursuits through Gear Reviews. I’ve added a Tech Tips section featuring some of the best mountain skill advice around. A short Lectures & Courses page highlights some of the courses I teach through Northeast Mountaineering.

3 things motivate this blog;

  1. My desire to share the days I have introducing guests from all walks of life to the benefits of climbing and skiing in the mountains.
  2. Knowing people like to see and read about our adventures (consider subscribing at the top right!)
  3. Testing quality outdoor gear in some of the harshest conditions on a regular basis, and sharing what works (and what doesn’t) with my readers. Gear companies that produce items designed for all aspects of mountaineering can contact me at nealpinestart@gmail.com.


David has devoted his entire adult life to climbing – pushing his grade on recreational objectives and working as a professional mountain guide. After a stint in the United States Marine Corp, he was hired as a rock and ice instructor and since has expanded his repertoire to include alpine, skiing and avalanche education. David is an aspirant Rock Guide through the American Mountain Guide Association [AMGA], an Ortovox Team Athlete, an expert gear tester at the Gear Institute, an American Institute for Avalanche Awareness and Education [AIARE] Course Leader, holds a Wilderness First Responder [WFR] and is a volunteer member of Mountain Rescue Service [MRS] and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue [AVSAR]. In his free time, you will find David blogging, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, skiing, sharing micro-brews with friends or in the kitchen working on a new recipe in his home town of Conway, New Hampshire. He resides there with his wife, Michelle, his son, Alex and daughter, Madalena.


David is an incredible teacher. Some people who are good at things can’t teach them but that was certainly not the case with David. He excelled in both his technical competence and ability to teach–As a former public school science teacher I can speak to this with confidence! David’s passion for the sport was clear throughout the entire three days. His depth of knowledge about how and why the sport has evolved was really interesting to learn about. With David’s instruction, I didn’t just learn how to do something I learned why we were doing it that way. I found that approach both very engaging and offered me a depth of understanding I likely wouldn’t have otherwise. I would definitely like to work with David again!”


Dartmouth University Outdoor Program Coordinator

“I recently spent 3 days with David Lottmann for the AIARE 1 Course in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He is a natural teacher, incredibly well experienced, and very personable. Dave is engaging and draws in his students, ensuring understanding before moving on. The content of the course is excellent and I assume largely set by AIARE, however, I do not think one could find a better course instructor elsewhere. Dave draws in his students with vignettes from his years of mountaineering experience and a unique interactive teaching style: Anyone up for some avalanche Jeopardy? In the field, Dave drills the material into his students. Every moment is a teaching opportunity and he makes certain the smallest details are covered and practiced. Additionally, Dave shared valuable information on accessible web-based technology and how to use it for both trip planning and route finding. I imagine any course Dave instructs is equally as good as his AIARE 1 course. Moreover, if anyone is looking for a premiere guide with a good sense of humor and a great personality, look no further than David Lottmann.”

Jay Bonz, MD

Department of Emergency Medicine

Yale School of Medicine

“I just wanted to let your fantastic organization know how thoroughly I enjoyed my Intro to Rock and Guided Rock one day with David Lottmann this past Wednesday and Thursday! It was such a life changing experience and I know that sounds rather trite, but I have lived in NH my whole life, and done quite a bit of hiking, camping and exploring, but my fear of heights has precluded me from doing anything like this, prior to this week.

Anyhow, Dave was super amazing at both assessing what I was potentially capable of and choosing just the right amount of encouragement, confidence and knowledge as well as some rather deeply reflective mental insights to make me completely confident in my own capabilities. I am just super impressed with his level of knowledge, skill and ability to connect with the people he is there to guide and I absolutely will be back in the Spring to redo this whole experience again! What an amazing staff and level of service you all offer! Many, many thanks!!!!”

-Christine, Portsmouth NH

I am writing to let you know I had a great time at AIARE Avalanche 1 this past week with Dave.

He is professional and friendly and very approachable. The thing that I found right off is there is no elitism and no “tude” and to me, this is huge. We all know those types of skiers and riders and of course, anyone with his level of experience should be able to tout skills and achievements but he does not do that. The whole vibe of the course, and thus, the mindsets of the other students in it with me is the scene I like. None of that stuff!

Dave explained everything in the course with such clarity and in ways that made even more complex things easier to understand or at least want to learn more about if they seemed overwhelming at first. And so much of it is. I have a lot to review on my own and maybe even consider future courses for, but the spark was lit and that was his goal.

When we did not do something, we could have done differently or better, we discussed it in ways where one is not meant to feel bad, but instead, to feel like there is a doorway to go through to understand things better for next time. Dave was very good at knowing how to say or do things to promote that better way of communicating and being. So much to take in, but it seemed easy to do regardless of the amount of new content to my brain. A turning point for sure!

Jeff F. South Hamilton, MA


You can reach me at nealpinestart@gmail.com.

David Lottmann is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

11 thoughts on “Welcome to Northeast Alpine Start

  1. Hey Dave,
    I had a great time with you Wednesday. Dani and I were psyched we didn’t get an ego for an instructor! You were patient, encouraging, informative and FUN. I look forward to taking another class from you, possibly working on technique.? Justin and I try to come up 4-5 days a month all year round so maybe we’ll run into each other. I don’t know if you’re on FB but I’ll have some pics on my page and the EMS-Hyannis page. Thanks again Dave. I’ll highly recommend that people request you although I can’t promise they’ll be as awesome as us:)!


    • Thanks Danielle,
      You ladies were a pleasure to climb with as well. Seems like you’ve known each other for way longer than a month! I am on Facebook, I’ll look for you there. Thank you for the future referrals and I hope I see you and Justin out on the cliffs soon. Be well, -Dave


  2. Hi Dave:
    I did an ice class with you in Febuary. I like the cleaner look of your blog. I was hoping to do an outdoor class with you in September but I think that’s on hold. I dislocated my right shoulder mountain biking…hit a deer…well she hit me. Anyway… now I’m aiming to heal up. I’ll be intouch in the winter for more ice.


    • Hey Edward,
      Glad you like the new look. I don’t have too much time to format the blog but wordpress makes it pretty easy to post quickly. Sorry to hear about your shoulder. Did you take the deer to court? Get well soon and looking forward to getting back on the ice with you. If we continue to have this much precip it may be a banner ice year as long as it gets cold!


      • Thankfully deers are not as litigious as humans. This has been a very wet year. I have a buddy who’s itching to get me up on Whitehorse for some slab time..not alot of shoulder work so maybe in a couple weeks…if it stops raining !


  3. Dave,

    my girlfriend Fanny (french) and I had a great time with you in early september. I’ll never forget the feeling of satisfaction from completing the hardest climb (the one with the Brain). Talking with you about life was really just as great. You made it a special experience.

    Is there a chance you can post/send pics somehow?



    • Hello Scott,

      I remember you and Fanny, and the good day we had, but I am afraid I did not remember to take my camera with me that day. I am very sorry I did not get any pictures from that trip! Please accept my apologies, and if we ever climb together again I promise to be on the ball with the photography!

      – Sincerely, Dave


  4. Hey Dave!!! Thank you so much for my first time rock climbing. You were an awesome instructor, very patient and professional. I want to go again!!! I think I’m hooked….I’m spreading the word to everyone I know 🙂


  5. September 12, 2016
    If I was ever lost in the woods or on a mountain top in the worst weather conditions you can imagine I would want to be with David Lottmann. I came to this conclusion after I took a course called Wilderness Navigation 101 through AMC taught by Dave. His knowledge of navigating safely through the outdoors is incredible and I feel fortunate that I was able to take his class. I will be looking for more classes taught by him. Regarding the class, I knew somewhat on how to use a compass, but after the class that included a really cool bush whack I feel much more comfortable, knowlegible or maybe the word is empowered with my new abilities using and reading a compass and the other navigation tricks David taught us. But of course I will not forget to give Mother Nature great respect. Anyone looking to enhance their abilities in the great outdoors should take this and other courses taught by Dave.

    Best regards,
    Andrew Papalegis


  6. Dave,
    It was an absolute pleasure for me and my son trekking with you on April 29, 2017! You’re a great guide and instructor and we will definitely be back for more adventures. Pics and video are awesome; thanks for leading and capturing a special day for us!

    All the best,
    Eric & Jarlath Riley

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I recently took AIARE I with Dave through Northeast Mountaineering. Not only was Dave extremely knowledgeable and well-versed, but he was patient, encouraging, and fun to be in the outdoors with. Dave didn’t teach the kind of course that feels monotonous or textbook-y; instead, he provided information, anecdotes, tools, and resources that will stick with me for a long time. I highly recommend Dave if you’re looking for someone with a high level of experience and competency in the outdoors.

    Liked by 2 people

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