Alpine backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is a spectacular way to explore some of the most beautiful wilderness and tallest peaks in the United States. Backpacking courses carry less weight than mountaineering courses and focus on covering greater distances through more diverse landscapes. Surrounded by magnificent landscapes and invigorated by physical and mental challenges, the participants take time each day to reflect, relate and support one another.
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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.
This multi-day backpacking expedition takes participants into the heart of the Sierra Nevada wilderness. Here participants learn Leave No Trace camping and travel skills, outdoor cooking techniques, map and compass use, route finding and how to set up shelters in the backcountry. Participants spend time hiking on and off the trail, both in forested areas and in the alpine environment above tree line, often camping next to deep blue alpine lakes that offer the opportunity to swim and rinse off after a day of hiking.
In addition to technical skills, instructors teach and facilitate the interpersonal skills needed for participants to function effectively as a team, accomplish goals and tackle new challenges every day. Challenges on course are designed to impel participants toward taking risks, drawing upon inner resources and developing trust in one another. One such challenge might include a peak attempt. With lighter packs, participants start before the sun rises to summit a mountain and be rewarded with 360 degree views and an incredible sense of accomplishment.
On every Outward Bound course reflection is an integral part of the learning process. During the Solo phase of course, students will find reprieve from the rigors of daily travel and spend a structured period of rest and reflection near the group’s base camp. The primary focus of this time is to provide structured and unstructured journaling as well as time for students to contemplate their life back home. Solo for adult courses is typically integrated into the daily flow of the course rather than a pre-determined time and place.
The Sierra Nevada Range hosts the largest continuous expanse of wilderness and some of the highest peaks in the United States. It extends over 400 miles from north to south, is 70 miles wide and is home to three national parks, twenty wilderness areas and two national monuments.
The Sierra Nevada offers fairly stable and beautiful weather. Spring can bring snow and cold temperatures. As summer advances, temperatures tend to become more moderate. Summer temperatures are in the 70s to 80s during the day and 30s to 50s in the evening. Our course area has some of the most famous, though often underutilized, alpine climbing and backpacking routes for participants to experience.