You will spend your days of paddling in the green-blue waters of the San Juan Islands and mountaineering in the remote Sawtooth or Glacier Peak Wilderness areas within the North Cascades. Build skills and community as you and your group travel through the sea, learning backcountry living and paddling techniques. Navigating your crew from island to island, you’ll become intimately acquainted with the flora, fauna and marine natural history of the islands. You’ll practice team and self-rescues, cementing the self-reliance and cohesive, immediate teamwork required as your itinerary presents greater and greater challenges. In the mountains, you’ll learn basic backpacking and then take it off trail, into the heart of the jagged North Cascades, where you’ll learn how to use an ice axe to self-arrest, ascend a fixed line, rock climb, rappel and belay one another. Put all these skills together to get your crew through complex terrain, up wild walls over alpine meadows and to the summits of granite spires!
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 abilities, an energized outlook, a rekindled allowance of empathy into situations and relationships and an eye toward the future.
Students will seek out beaches where they will sleep under the stars and get acquainted with the fascinating natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest coast. Instructors will teach the teamwork and communication skills necessary to travel as a group of kayaks in a working waterway. Students may also have the opportunity to do a service project with a local land agency, hike to an island vista or comb the beach.
The North Cascades offers some of the most spectacular mountaineering in the world, with views of jagged, snow-covered peaks, alpine waterfalls and remote mountain flora and fauna. On this classic Outward Bound course, our expert climbing and mountaineering Instructors will demonstrate safe and efficient travel techniques for the mountains. In order to explore remote technical terrain, much of the course will be spent backpacking through the wilderness learning and practicing skills for peak attempts.
Activities include leadership and communication skill seminars, rock climbing and mountaineering, peak ascents and traveling through mountainous terrain both on and off trail. Leave No Trace camping techniques, navigation and first aid are additional skills students will learn. The group will travel over terrain that may reach up to 9,000 feet in altitude.
The course will include at least one and potentially multiple peak attempts depending upon the weather and the group’s physical preparedness. Peak attempts are day-long enterprises often entailing pre-dawn starts. Successful peak climbs often involve roped climbing on snow and/or rock, patience, efficiency and teamwork to attain the summit.
Service to others and to the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Groups follow Leave No Trace ethics as part of their service to the environment and engage in acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, students develop an ingrained appreciation of service and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
In order for profound learning to take place, students need time to reflect on their experience, and Solo is that opportunity. 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. With sufficient food and equipment, students will set up camp at sites of their own choosing, using the wilderness skills learned during the first portions of the course. The amount of time students spend on Solo is based on length of course, weather, student condition, age, and Instructor preference. Solo campsites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible (yet be within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Most students spend their Solo time journaling, drawing, reflecting, thinking and resting as they process lessons of the course to focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at regular intervals, as safety is always the top priority.
Effective communication and teamwork are critical for multi-week backcountry travel. This course provides many opportunities for students to practice skills and learn from successes and failures. Consistent Instructor and peer feedback allow for a more advanced progression of leadership skills and character development. Students will develop and apply these skills in an expedition setting so that they can continue to grow once they return home. Instructors will work to challenge each student to try new things and step outside their comfort zones, as well as provide feedback that can be acted upon before course end. As a team, each group will work together to complete difficult tasks necessary for backcountry travel and expedition living.
San Juan Islands, Washington
Nestled between Vancouver Island and the North Cascades, the San Juan Islands are a unique coastal cruising ground with large expanses of sparkling water and mountain scenery. During your journey you will encounter coastlines with a combination of sandy and rocky beaches, shallow and deep harbors, placid and reef-studded bays. Knotty, twisted Madrona trees grow along much of the shorelines while evergreen fir and pine forests cover large inland areas. Sightings of harbor seals, porpoise and eagles are common as well as the rare glimpse of an Orca whale. The islands get less average rainfall than the surrounding area due to the rain-shadow effect of the Olympic Mountains. Summertime high temperatures are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit while lows could be in the 40s.
The North Cascades, WashingtonThe 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. Mountaineering programs operate primarily in the Sawtooth 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; however, rain and thunderstorms are not unusual. Temperatures typically range from freezing to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This part of the course area is on the eastern side of the Cascades, and thus tends to be moderately dry. Early-season courses (May and June) may spend time camping on snow, while mid-summer courses tend to have more moderate temperatures.
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.