No previous backcountry, winter, or snowshoeing experience is necessary for this expedition, as instructors teach the group everything they need to know: how to pack appropriately, set up camp in the winter, how to navigate in snow-covered terrain and evaluate snow conditions. The course begins at the Leadville Mountain Center, where the group receives a basic introduction to backcountry travel before heading into the high country, where the real magic takes place. During this short yet challenging backcountry expedition, participants rise early to pack bags and cook breakfast, ski or snowshoe with a loaded pack and climb peaks that rise well over 11,000 feet. Many veterans who choose this special environment for their Outward Bound expedition say that their experience here gives them a new, valuable and unexpected perspective.
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Outward Bound Veterans expeditions build on camaraderie and the challenge of the natural world as a pathway to healing. These expeditions encourage participants to connect with existing strengths and bond with fellow veterans in a safe, positive, mission-driven environment. As they harness the power of wartime experiences like carrying heavy packs, moving fatigued muscles and sleeping outside, these courses help build the self-confidence and sense of purpose veterans need to continue serving as leaders in their families, communities and the nation.
The course begins with acclimatization at the Leadville Mountain Center base camp, which is located at 10,000 feet under the summits of the two highest peaks in Colorado. Here participants meet instructors, receive winter gear and start working with their group of six to ten veteran participants. The first days of the course are spent focusing on skills for backcountry camping and traveling, winter environment safety, equipment selection and care, and expedition planning. Participants also do a shakedown hike into some pristine winter terrain.
Participants may spend a day ice climbing, a premier winter activity. Outward Bound supplies participants with ice climbing boots, crampons and ice axes to learn the basics of climbing frozen waterfalls. Instructors teach the basics of crampon technique, ice tool placement technique and methods for moving efficiently over WI, III & IV terrain.
The backcountry experience is the course’s high point for many participants. Participants camp and travel in snow covered alpine terrain. All food and gear is carried in the backpack on participants’ backs or hauled behind them on snow sleds. In this section, students learn to assess and adapt to varying snow and weather conditions. Participants learn the basics of winter navigation and learn or refresh skills in simple first aid and cold weather self care. Depending on weather and snow conditions, the crew may have the opportunity to do a winter ascent of a peak.
The Rocky Mountains, one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world, stretch 3,000 miles from Alaska to New Mexico. These legendary peaks have had a profound influence on the development of the continental United States. This course takes place in the Sawatch Range. The towering Sawatch Range contains eight of Colorado’s tallest peaks including Mount Massive, the summit of which is the highest point in Colorado at 14,440 ft.