Known as the “American Alps”, the North Cascades offer glaciated mountains, alpine lakes and high alpine meadows for endless exploration. You will start off learning the basics of backpacking, how to choose a campsite, backcountry cooking and Leave No Trace ethics amid towering snow-capped peaks. Over the course of the expedition, students will work together as a team practicing effective communication, leadership and followership, and challenging each other and themselves. Using their backpacking skills to access remote technical terrain, students will begin a technical skills progression. The course will finish with a day of rock climbing at a local crag.
From getting up early, packing your bags and cooking breakfast to hiking up a mountain, traveling in the wilderness is demanding. It can take every waking moment to get from point A to point B. Past students and Instructors agree that arriving physically fit will enhance your experience and ability to do well on the course and ultimately allow you to take full advantage of the expedition. You don’t need previous experience. We will teach you skills for wilderness travel— setting up tarps, cooking, packing a backpack, navigating, rock climbing, and more.
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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.
Students will work together to explore the high mountain landscape of the North Cascades with a focus on wilderness skills such as navigation, natural history, and backcountry living. Students will learn the essentials of backcountry travel necessary to carry them into remote meadows and high mountain vistas, including navigation with map and compass, Leave No Trace® 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.
If weather, terrain, and student abilities permit, your course will include a peak attempt. Peak attempts are day-long ventures often entailing pre-dawn starts and require a high degree of personal and group tenacity. The peaks attempted are challenging and beautiful, and often require scrambling skills, taught by our expert, experienced Instructors. On backpacking courses we do not climb peaks that require technical gear or ropes.
Toward the end of the course students will travel to basecamp, tucked in the shadow of Goat Peak in Mazama, Washington. The rock climbing section will take place at climbing sites known as “Fun Rock” and “Finster’s Crag” where students will learn the basics of climbing technique, belaying, and knots. Rock climbing is physically, mentally, and sometimes emotionally demanding. For many students, rock climbing is the high point of the course. For others, it’s a major mental challenge to face.
In order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. Within course, the solo is that opportunity. It is a chance to experience solitude in the wilderness without distraction while also taking a break from the physical rigors of course. Students experience time away from their group for short periods of time throughout the course. These “mini-solos” are at solo sites chosen by Instructors to provide as much solitude as possible (within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Participants have all necessary equipment, food and water. On this course, solos may range from 30 minutes to 24 hours.
Service to others and the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics as service to the environment and do acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Students develop a value of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
This course will encourage students in the areas of leadership, character development, and service that are integral to Outward Bound. Students will develop these skills in an expedition setting so that they can continue to grow once they return home. Instructors will work to challenge students to try new things and step outside their comfort zones. As a team, each group will work together to complete difficult tasks necessary for backcountry travel. Courses for veterans are specifically focused on helping students engage their strengths and bond with fellow veterans, building the self-confidence and sense of purpose needed to continue serving as leaders in their families, communities and the nation.
The North Cascades, Washington
The North Cascades are called the “American Alps” for their rugged beauty and glaciated peaks. They remain some of the wildest and most untrammeled wilderness in the United States. The North Cascades host the greatest concentration of glaciers in the lower 48 and are full of high mountain meadows peppered with wild flowers. This course area hosts some of the most scenic alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States. Alpine Backpacking courses operate in the Pasayten Wilderness and North Cascades National Park on the east side of the North Cascades and receive significantly less rainfall than the western coast of Washington. Temperatures typically range from freezing to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Early-season courses (May and June) may spend time camping on snow, while mid-summer courses tend to have more moderate temperatures.