The Ecuador Pathfinder Leadership Expedition allows students to reflect on their strengths while giving them skills and ideas that could help to shape their future. This 30-day course begins in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains and then travel to Ecuador for travel and service projects high in the Andes. Course includes a Wilderness First Aid certification.
The Ecuador Pathfinder Leadership Expedition course is specifically designed for young adults searching for a direction in life. This course offers a more purposeful approach to using the time and activities in the wilderness to build leadership, character, and service ethic. The focus is on learning leadership skills (such as communication, collaboration, decision-making, and conflict resolution) and extracting self-awareness values, priorities, and goals from the expedition activities.
This course begins in the mountainous wilderness of Colorado. Here you will learn about backcountry expedition techniques, including leadership skills, teamwork, navigation, and backcountry living skills. You and your new team will attempt a peak, acclimate to high altitude, and begin to learn about each other, as well as yourselves. After the first section of wilderness, you spend 3-5 days at our Leadville Mountain Center where you will take a Wilderness First Aid certification class, as well as attend professional life coaching sessions.
Then, the whole group will fly to Quito, Ecuador where you will base out of a sustainable local farm as you prepare for your Andes Trek. Here you will participate in a service expedition that explores the relationship between self and community. There will be ample opportunity to work on extended service projects, such as helping out on the local farm, and to learn about the people and the area. After the service expedition, you will pack up and head out on a backpacking expedition on the paramo amongst the glaciated volcanoes of the Andes. Your group will either hike the Ecuadorian Inca Trail, exploring ruins and ancient history, or hike to the glaciated flanks high on the volcanoes. Along the way, you will encounter rural Ecuadorian communities and take in the current-day culture.
The course will end with your Final Expedition, where you and your team will head back into the mountains to put all your newly acquired skills into practice. Depending on your team’s ability levels, your instructors will step back during this section and allow you and your team to take over decision making responsibilities for navigation, time schedules, communication, and general leadership.
This range contains the three highest peaks in Colorado: Mt. Elbert (14,433), Mt. Massive (14,421) and Mt. Harvard (14,420) Two Wilderness areas in this range are the Collegiate Peaks and Mount Massive Wildernesses. Many of its more prominent peaks were named for the alma maters of early explorers and surveyors. Many “first ascents” in this range can be attributed to nameless miners searching for gold and silver, which were both abundant. The silver bust of 1893 caused many once-booming cities to become ghost towns.
The Andes of Ecuador
Ecuador is a colorful and diverse country, perhaps best known for the Inca Empire. By U.S. standards, it is a developing country. The Andes run north and south, splitting the country into the western lowlands and the eastern jungles of the Amazon basin. In 200 kilometers, the land changes from warm coastal climate of the Pacific beaches, to snowy peaks over 6,000 meters (18,000 feet) high, to the steamy rain forest of the eastern side bordering Peru and Columbia. There are numerous high peaks in Ecuador – Chimborazo (20,703’), Cotopaxi (19,348’), and Cayambe (18,997’) are probably the best known peaks in Ecuador. Here, the mist passes slowly in waves, the eucalyptus trees of below have been replaced by long grasses, hummocks, and the chuquiragua plant with its mesmerizing, orange flowers. You will travel across the expansive pàramo, broad and empty except for the occasional pack of wild horses and llamas, who watch curiously as you navigate stream beds and hills shaped very recently by the receding glaciers. The hiking can be challenging as you will be hiking at altitudes at, or higher than, the peaks you climbed in Colorado.