This unique Outward Bound expedition will challenge and refresh you while exploring the beautiful North Cascades.
The North Cascades Alpine Backpacking course explores the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, one of Washington State's most remote and beautiful alpine environments. Here you will have the opportunity to escape your usual routine, explore stunning wilderness areas, and enjoy yourself to the fullest. You might bring a friend you enjoy spending time with to make the trip even more memorable. Students will learn wilderness skills – setting up tarps, cooking and navigating using map and compass. The course also includes an emphasis on leadership, character development, and an ethic of service. Wilderness travel can be challenging, but with appropriate pre-course preparation – using tools we provide – adults of various ages and body types can be successful. You do not need to have any previous experience but arriving as physically fit as possible and excited for the opportunity for personal development will enhance your experience and allow you to take full advantage of the expedition.
NOTE: Outward Bound strongly recommends that all students be vaccinated against COVID-19 and up to date as defined by the CDC prior to arriving to their course start. For all open enrollment courses beginning on or after April 15, 2023, Outward Bound will no longer require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. For questions regarding this policy please see this page or call us at 866-467-7651.
APPLY NOW This means a course has several open spots and is actively processing applications.
APPLY NOW – Almost Full This means there are three or fewer currently available spots left on a course. To secure your spot click Apply Now to begin an application!
JOIN WAITLIST Once a course has reached capacity, three waitlist positions become available. To join a course’s waitlist, click “Join Waitlist” to begin the application process. A $500 deposit is required. This $500 deposit includes a $150 non-refundable application fee and a $350 tuition payment. The $350 tuition payment is refundable only if you cancel your waitlist application or if an open position does not become available. If a position does become available, the applicant will be applied to the open position and the Application and Cancellation Policies of the Regional Outward Bound School will be followed, including forfeiture of the $500 deposit if you cancel 90 days or less prior to the course start date.
Waitlist applicants are encouraged to complete all required admissions documents while awaiting an open position. Positions may become available up to two weeks prior to the course start date. Applicants may only apply to one course. We recommend applying to a course with open positions instead of a course that is accepting waitlist applications. If you have questions, please call 866-467-7651 to speak with one of our Admissions Advisors.
CALL TO APPLY This means a course is very close to its start date. Although it is unlikely to secure a spot this late, you can call the National Admissions office at 866-467-7651 to discuss your options.
COURSE IS FULL When a course has reached maximum capacity, meaning all spots and the three waitlist spots are occupied, a course will read “Course Is Full.” This means applications are no longer being accepted.
CLOSED As a course nears its start date, the availability status may read “Closed.” In this event, a course roster has been finalized and applications are no longer being accepted or processed.
The following is an example of what your course itinerary might look like. Your actual course plan will vary according to weather, student skills and abilities, and instructor preferences.
Do you ever want to unplug, step away from your daily responsibilities, and face new challenges? Adventure is calling! Outward Bound’s Classic expeditions for adults are designed to help you hit the reset button by breaking your routines and radically changing your surroundings. This is an opportunity to build new skills and remind yourself (or discover for the first time) what it feels like to crest a mountain peak, hear the echoes at the edge of a vast canyon, or feel the rush of whitewater. Put some “firsts” in front of you and you’ll find that the moments of unexpected discovery linger long after you return home.
Build skills, form connections: Meet like-minded peers and make connections as you work through priorities and adventures together, learn outdoor skills at the hands of expert Instructors, and earn every good night’s sleep.
Value strengths and strengthen values: Re-discover your inner strength, renew your natural leadership abilities and practice adapting to new environments. Tap in to your trust and compassion as you tackle obstacles with a support crew standing beside you.
Demonstrate mastery: As you awaken your wilderness skills and dig deep to rise to the physical and mental challenges, the bulk of the expedition’s leadership and decision-making responsibilities transfer from the Instructor to the crew. Work together to achieve team goals, solve problems and succeed both individually and together.
What you’ll learn: By allowing yourself to focus beyond daily responsibilities and obligations, you’ll master more difficult skills and open yourself up to new directions and opportunities you never thought possible. You’ll find clarity in the life changes you’re facing, you’ll uncover inspiration in the wilderness, and you’ll renew your sense of adventure to take on the next challenge in front of you.
Return home with newly expanded wilderness abilities, an energized outlook, a rekindled allowance of empathy into situations and relationships and an eye toward the future.
Students will work together to explore the high mountain landscape of the North Cascades where they will learn the essentials of backcountry travel necessary to carry them into remote meadows and high mountain vistas. Activities include leadership and communication skill seminars, navigation with map and compass, Recreate Responsibly ethics, first aid and backcountry cooking.
Depending on the group and the conditions, an attempt to summit one of the many rugged alpine peaks in the course area can be made. The peaks we attempt are often day-long ventures; challenging and beautiful; and often requiring scrambling skills taught by our experienced Instructors. On backpacking courses we do not climb peaks that require technical gear or ropes.
Since its inception, Outward Bound has both taught an ethic of service on courses and sent students into our local communities for service projects. A structured, half day of service is scheduled into most of our courses. In Mazama, at our Washington base, we work with a number of different local organizations. These include:
Methow at Home: fire mitigation and yard work for elderly community members
Classroom in Bloom: weeding, planting, harvesting at an educational garden located at the local high school
Methow Trails: trail work on the Methow Valley trail network
Methow Valley Interpretive Center: working in the native plant garden and learning about local indigenous communities
Methow Arts: projects to bring art to the valley and community
Little Star: Montessori school serving pre-K and Kindergarten that offers scholarships to local children
In addition to scheduled, formal service, students may do impromptu trail service or campsite service in the Okanogan National Forest or Pasayten Wilderness. This might include breaking apart illegal fire rings or covering up social trails. Lastly and perhaps the most important of all, the students learn that by offering compassion to each other and supporting the crew through their daily chores of putting up tarps and cooking and cleaning, service can be given freely and daily in small acts of kindness. Students see the impact of their actions firsthand, and develop an appreciation of service and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
Solo is an opportunity for students to reflect on their experience, rest from the rigors of course, and think how their new insight and awareness can be transferred back home. Every Solo experience is unique and can range from a few hours to no more than 72 hours. Solo is not a survival test; students will use equipment to set up Solo camp sites of their own and given a small packet of food that equals the level of little-to-no-exertion that occurs on Solo. Solo campsites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible, yet within emergency whistle-signaling distance from other group members. Instructors check on each participant at regular intervals, as safety is always a top priority. This is a unique time for students without distractions can rest and reflect by journaling, drawing, and process the lessons they have learned from their course to focus on their future goals.
Outward Bound promotes character development, leadership, and service in the most engaging classroom possible, the wilderness. In real time, students experience the effects of their decisions on themselves and the other members of their group as they work to complete difficult tasks necessary for wilderness travel. Instructors challenge students to try new things and step outside their comfort zones. They also provide feedback that students implement on course and when they return to their communities. Our three-week Adult courses offer a unique opportunity to disconnect from everyday life and reconnect with one’s self and others. Regardless of age or life stage, Outward Bound believes that everyone can benefit from opportunities to experience challenge, adventure, and to work within a supportive environment to gain a greater sense of self.
Outward Bound believes that an appropriate amount of independence is a powerful educational tool. During the travel sections of this course, Outward Bound Instructors purposefully and gradually transfer certain leadership responsibilities to the students culminating with the “Final Expedition.” Near the end of course—if the group has demonstrated the necessary leadership, team problem solving and wilderness living skills—students may have the opportunity to travel without Instructors immediately present. Many of students feel this phase of the course is the most rewarding, as the group learns to work as a team, problem solve, and accomplish a goal independently, while utilizing all the skills they have acquired.
Known as the “American Alps,” the North Cascades offer glaciated mountains, alpine lakes and high alpine meadows for endless exploration. The North Cascades host the greatest concentration of glaciers outside of Alaska, and are full of high mountain meadows peppered with wild flowers. The Outward Bound course area hosts some of the most stunning alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States. Temperatures range from freezing to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Early-season courses (May, June) may spend time camping on snow, while mid-summer courses tend to have more moderate temperatures. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Syilx tmixʷ (Okanagan), Yakama, Nłeʔkepmx Tmíxʷ (Nlaka'pamux), Methow, np̓əšqʷáw̓səxʷ (Wenatchi), Coast Salish, Skagit, Tulalip, Entiat, Chelan, Skykomish and Nuxwsa'7aq (Nooksack) nations.
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.
To secure your spot on a course you must submit an enrollment form and $500 deposit that is applied toward the total cost of the course and includes a $150 non-refundable enrollment processing fee.