This is a backcountry winter expedition in the Sawatch Range with opportunities to ski and ride the out-of-area slopes and learn winter expedition skills. The terrain is challenging and we can only accept students with solid intermediate skiing or boarding skills.
Ride out-of-area slopes rarely skied or boarded by anyone other than Outward Bound instructors and students. The first few days of your course are based at our Leadville Mountain Center to help you ease into the winter environment. The first full day will be spent riding and skiing at nearby resort where your instructors will assess your abilities and help you improve techniques. In these first few days, you will also learn how to safely travel in the winter backcountry.
Along with snowboard or skiing instruction, you will receive training in avalanche awareness & hazard evaluation. You will also learn winter navigation, terrain management, cold weather physiology & first aid, winter camping equipment selection & care, and decision making skills. Advanced boarding and skiing instruction focuses on backcountry turns in variable, ungroomed snow conditions.
The high point of the course is a challenging backcountry expedition, camping out and traveling in pristine alpine terrain. You will skin up mountain slopes, ride untracked snow, maybe build a snow shelter, and learn to assess and adapt to varying snow and weather conditions.
The Sawatch Range, including the well-known Collegiate Peaks, contains the three highest peaks in Colorado: Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive and Mt. Harvard. Many of its more prominent peaks were named for the alma maters of early explorers and surveyors. Professor J.D. Whitney, who led one of the first and most famous survey parties through Central Colorado, named Mt. Harvard after the school that funded his expedition. Another massif became Mt. Princeton, named for the Princeton University Scientific Exploration survey teams. Although these groups named the peaks, undoubtedly Native Americans and miners searching for gold and silver had summitted them earlier.
Avalanche Awareness Course
The Avalanche Awareness curriculum is woven into the course. Focusing primarily on decision making, we will examine the factors that contribute to avalanche hazard, analyze snowpack stability, learn terrain analysis and examine group dynamics. We will also practice route finding strategies, making travel decisions in a group and companion rescue techniques, including the use of avalanche beacons. This course is based on the American Avalanche Association's nationally recognized avalanche awareness curriculum.
NOTE: Outward Bound ski/snowboarding courses require solid intermediate skills. At a minimum you must be able to get down a "blue" run at a typical ski area and be able to smoothly connect turns.
To apply for this course click the apply button next to the course dates that work for you. The non-refundable application fee of $125 is due at the time of application. For full fee schedule and process, click here. Course tuitions listed do not include our application fee or transportation fee.