On skis and dog sleds you blaze trails across the snow covered frozen lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely, MN. On this expedition, you won’t just learn how to run dogs, and explore one of the most remote, beautiful and harsh environments on the planet.
You’ll run teams of huskies, break trail, learn how to comfortably live in sub-zero temperatures, build relationships with like-minded adventurers and earn the right to tell unparalleled adventure stories.
No prior winter knowledge or experience is necessary. Your seasoned Instructors and huskies will guide you through each new, awe-inspiring experience.
Outward Bound Classic expeditions traverse some of the wildest, most rugged, awe-inspiring landscapes in the world. Our students work for every technicolor sunset; every super-fresh morning; every breathtaking vista. And when they arrive at their destination, and pause to take it all in, they know, without a doubt, that they earned their place there. By the time they finally drift to sleep, our students have put in a full day of moving their bodies, learning, cooperating as a team, puzzling through problems, and digging deep to find what really lies within – always, inevitably, more than they know.
Although each expedition is unique, certain key components are a part of every Outward Bound Classic Expedition. The expedition begins with hands-on, progressive training in a variety of expedition and personal skills. As students learn to cook, sleep, stay warm, navigate and select routes together, crew members not only do their part; they also take turns leading and following. The idea that students are “crew, not passengers” is central to the Outward Bound learning approach. Wilderness living does not encourage students to contribute to the group; it requires it. After all, on an Outward Bound expedition, awareness of others is not optional; it is necessary for success.
Throughout the expedition, students build, practice, and reflect on skills, conduct service projects and also tackle at least one challenge element - rock climbing, a peak ascent or a big whitewater day - that pushes them to find undiscovered strength. During the expedition's final phase, students experience a rare gift and highlight of the course: time to think and reflect on the Solo. With sufficient food, equipment and skills, individuals spend three hours to three days alone at an assigned campsite – with Instructors periodically checking in on them. As the course nears the end, Instructors may gradually transfer leadership responsibilities to the students, culminating with a Final Expedition. During the Final Expedition, students work as a team and utilize the skills they have acquired to solve problems and make group decisions, while Instructors maintain overall risk-management for the group with check-ins and advanced scouting.
DOGSLEDDING & SKIING
While on the expedition you will navigate a route over frozen lakes and rivers and travel the overland portage trails between them. You will develop skills in backcountry skiing, winter camping, managing and mushing dogs, and controlling a dogsled.
Group members will take turns mushing the sled throughout the course, but everyone will care for the dogs on a daily basis. Mushing is not a passenger sport; it is hard and rewarding work. Students generally spend at least two days driving the team for each week of course length. Each type of terrain you encounter will require different skills and group organization. On level, smooth terrain most group members will ski ahead as two or three group members handle the sleds and dog teams. Skiers scout for obstacles, break trail through the snow and return to help maneuver the sleds when necessary. Over rough areas, the whole group will help to push, pull, and turn the sled.
WINTER LIVING AND CAMP SET UP
With our training, you will find you can live comfortably in cold temperatures. You will learn how to regulate your body temperature with layers of clothing, exercise and diet. Setting up a snug winter camp takes time, energy, and teamwork. You will look for a sheltered bay with good firewood in the late afternoon. Your group will divide duties in order to set up camp efficiently - caring for the dogs, setting up tarp shelters, and locating, sawing and splitting wood for the evening fire. You may set up the wall tent and its interior wood stove if the weather is particularly cold or wet. You will learn how to cook a warm, hearty dinner over an outdoor fire or the stove, using staple foods like rice and pasta, meat and vegetables.
PERSONAL CHALLENGE EVENT
We typically end our courses with a Personal Challenge Event (PCE), an individual final physical push. Time and weather permitting, you will finish your journey with a ski event. It is non competitive; you’ll set your own goals and work toward them. A final celebration completes your course. You’ll also experience an authentic wood-fired sauna and “polar plunge” in the river.
Boundary Waters, Minnesota
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) - Established in 1964, this labyrinth of lakes and rock has been specifically protected as a true American wilderness; no roads, power lines, or motorized craft may enter its borders; therefore the Boundary Waters has changed little since its unveiling when the glaciers melted 10,000 years ago. Over 1 million acres in size, the BWCAW extends nearly 150 miles along the Canadian border. With over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, nearly 2,200 designated campsites and more than 1,000 lakes and streams, the BWCAW is an amazing place to experience extended wilderness travel.
Your winter experience takes place in or around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Winter in the Boundary Waters is mesmerizing, peaceful, and exhilarating. It is a place of spectacular extremes, trackless snow, bracing cold air, glowing warm embers, and powerful silence.
If you are ready to enroll on a course click the enroll button next to the course you wish to select or you can enroll over the phone by speaking with one of our Admissions Advisors (toll-free) at 866-467-7651.
To secure your spot on a course you must submit an enrollment form and $500 deposit that is applied toward the total cost of the course and includes a $150 non-refundable enrollment processing fee. Click here to learn more about the complete enrollment process.