On this journey, you’ll build expertise and connections as you and your group learn backcountry living skills and paddle-craft. Navigating your crew from island to island, you’ll become acquainted with the flora, fauna and marine natural history of the islands. You’ll practice team and self-rescues, cementing the self-reliance and 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 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.
Are you ready to take a journey that will change your life? You won’t look at day-to-day drama the same way after you’ve conquered a high mountain ridge, made a boat obey your command in windswept waves or slept under the stars watching bats swoop overhead. Joining an Outward Bound expedition changes you. Your crew, your Instructor, your route and your adventures will have a profound and lasting impact on you as you rise to meet exhilarating natural challenges in some of the country’s wildest places.
After you come home, many of the character, leadership and service traits you uncovered on your expedition stay with you, helping you navigate your daily life with more resilience and success.
Seek out beaches to sleep under the stars and get to know 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 beaches.
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 tundra. On this expedition, our expert climbing and mountaineering Instructors will demonstrate safe and efficient travel techniques to traverse the mountains. 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 activities, 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 elevation.
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, and require patience, efficiency and teamwork to attain the summit.
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 our “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 our 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 applying all the skills they have acquired.
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 students. 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, 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 student at regular intervals, as safety is always the top priority.
Effective communication and teamwork are critical for backcountry travel, and Outward Bound courses are designed to help students practice these skills alongside their wilderness expertise, learning from successes and failures along the way. Consistent Instructor and peer feedback allow for a 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 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 least traveled 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 is home to some of the most scenic alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States.
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.