"Outward Bound taught me how to persevere through hardships and reach my goals." - Darvin Molina, Outward Bound alumnus
This eight-day backcountry touring course in the Sawatch Range of Colorado is designed to maximize time skiing or riding backcountry slopes, learning to safely travel in avalanche terrain and working as a highly functioning team. Due to the challenging terrain, you’ll need to demonstrate solid intermediate skiing or snowboarding skills in order to take part in the expedition. You and your crew will examine the factors that contribute to avalanche hazards. You’ll also analyze snowpack stability, learn terrain analysis and examine group dynamics. Along the way, practice route finding strategies, make travel decisions in a group and train companion rescue techniques, including the use of avalanche beacons. This course is based on the American Avalanche Association's nationally recognized avalanche awareness curriculum.
This course is closed for the season. 2020 courses coming soon.
Do you ever want to unplug, step away from the daily grind to take on new challenges? Are you ready to conquer harder skills and remind your senses (or discover for the first time) what it’s like to crest a mountain peak, hear the echoes at the edge of a vast canyon or feel the rush of white water spray on your face? Take a break from your routine, radically change your surroundings and test your tenacity. Put some “firsts” in front of you and find moments of unexpected discovery along the way. Experience Outward Bound as an adult and prepare for an injection of adventure, awareness and adaptability that sticks with you long after you unpack your backpack.
Return home with newly expanded wilderness acumen, an energized outlook, a rekindled allowance of empathy into situations and relationships and an eye toward the future.
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 first few days of the course are based at Outward Bound’s Leadville Mountain Center to help students ease into the winter environment. The first full day is spent riding and skiing at a nearby resort, where Instructors assess abilities and help students improve techniques. In these first few days, students also learn how to safely travel in the winter backcountry.
Along with snowboard or skiing instruction, students receive training in avalanche awareness and hazard evaluation. Students also learn winter navigation, terrain management, cold weather physiology and first aid, winter camping equipment selection and 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 during which students camp out and travel in pristine alpine terrain. Students skin up mountain slopes, ride untracked snow, possibly build a snow shelter and learn to assess and adapt to varying snow and weather conditions.
In order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. Solo is that opportunity, and that time can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours or more, depending on the length of the course. Weather and time permitting, the Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. Many students use this reflection time to make decisions about their future, journal and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings unencumbered by the constant external stimulation of modern life. The duration of Solo depends on the course length and type, as well as the competency and preparedness of the student group. With all the food, skills and supplies they need, participants are given a secluded spot to reflect alone and are monitored by staff throughout the experience to maintain safety. Students find that Solo provokes profound and powerful learning in a short period of time and often becomes one of the most memorable parts of their Outward Bound experience.
Whether an 8-day course or an 80 day course, all Outward Bound expeditions are focused on building character and leadership skills. Short courses are a great option for students looking for an introduction to the outdoors or for those who need a quick recharge. On shorter courses, students learn camping and expedition basics, as well as the skills specific to the course activity, such as climbing or rafting. Students get to know fellow crew mates surprisingly well as they share this immersive and intense experience.
On longer courses, Instructors progressively hand over more of the decision making and leadership of the expedition to the crew, allowing each person to test the new technical and interpersonal skills they have learned. Through the dynamics of an evolving group setting, students have more freedom to investigate who they are and how they want to develop personally. All along the way, students will experience a wide variety of some of the most beautiful wilderness in the US and the world.
Sawatch Mountain Range, Colorado Rockies
The Sawatch Range is a large, high section of the Rocky Mountains in central Colorado. This range forms a portion of the Continental Divide and contains 15 peaks with elevations higher than 14,000 feet including Mount Elbert, which is the highest peak in the Rockies at 14,440 feet. Sawatch comes from a Ute word meaning sand dune, as some of the peaks have a sandy color after the spring snows melt. These peaks are high enough that snow typically lasts into late July and some years may last year round. The Sawatch Range lies within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) nation.
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.