The Oregon Cascades and Idaho Salmon River Leadership Semester course is the longest course that the Northwest Outward Bound School offers, and specifically focuses on the human skills that support strong leadership. In addition to inter and intrapersonal skills like communication, feedback, decision making and goal setting, you will also learn to mountaineer, rock climb and whitewater raft in the wildest and most scenic areas in the United States. Because of the length of this 65-day course, you will have the opportunity to explore both technical and human skills in greater depth than on a shorter semester course.
The course includes rock climbing at Smith Rock State Park, one of the best climbing sites in the United States. The course also travels into the Central Cascades of Oregon where you will learn mountaineering skills and practice them on summit attempts of local peaks. A 3-day introduction to wilderness medicine with the opportunity to earn your Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification is also included in the course. Finally, you will whitewater raft on two of the most renowned rivers in the west, the Salmon River in Idaho and the Deschutes River in Oregon. Although there will be time for rest and reflection during the course, it is still a very intense experience: seven weeks of skill development, backcountry living and physical and mental challenge in the most spectacular of outdoor learning environments.
This course is closed for the season. 2019 courses coming soon.
Break away from traditional education and make the world your classroom on an Outward Bound Semester expedition. Experience life adventures and expand your skills as you interact with new environments and diverse cultures. Form lasting relationships with outdoor experts and crewmates who are sharing the same successes, failures and discoveries. Strengthen your commitment to community as you participate in service projects that support local needs.
Exploring new environments and building new connections will put your tenacity to the test. You’ll return with broader understanding of the natural world around you, deeper appreciation for small kindnesses and greater confidence in yourself and others that will serve you well long after you return.
During the portion of the course focused on mountaineering and alpine climbing, students will learn skills such as knots and hitches, fixed-lines, climbing techniques and anchor building. Wilderness skills such as navigation, natural history and living in the backcountry are also taught. Mountaineering courses spend time both on and off trail, traveling to remote and beautiful places that are ideal Outward Bound classrooms. Each day presents a different set of activities, with ample time for experiential learning. The Instructor-to-student ratio is never more than 1:5 during this section, allowing for personal coaching on the physical techniques of climbing and mountaineering, as well as catering the curriculum to the specific interests and aptitudes of individual course participants.
Students will travel on the river in four to six person paddle rafts, and learn to “captain” (maneuver) their paddle raft team through Class II to Class IV rapids. After lessons in basic river travel and safety, students will progress into learning to read currents, anticipate obstacles, scout rapids and negotiate technical portions of the river. Students will also learn river hydrology, swimming in currents, paddle techniques and expeditionary travel. While on the rafting expedition, there may also be an opportunity for short day hikes.
Students will receive individual instruction and test their skills against vertical cracks, steep faces and boulders. Camping will be in a front country site at Smith Rock State Park among the multicolored cliffs and spires. Students will learn about basic climbing equipment, rope management, knots, belaying and rappelling techniques and movement on rock.
The Wilderness First Aid (WFA) section of the course is a 3-day introduction to wilderness medicine that combines classroom time with practical sessions. This section provides students with basic instruction and wilderness first aid skills. Students should leave this 3-day section with a certification in Wilderness First Aid and the knowledge to manage simple injuries/illnesses in the backcountry. It is a great stepping stone into wilderness medicine and may lead to a desire to take longer, more complex courses in the future.
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. On longer courses, students have the opportunity to do a formal service project with a local agency. Common projects include working with the Pacific Crest Trail Association doing trail work, the local food pantry and other local non-profit organizations. Service projects can be a few hours up to a full day.
In order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. 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 time students spend on Solo depends on limitation of the itinerary and Instructor preference. On this course Solo experiences can last up to 72 hours. 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.
Outward Bound courses vary in length from four (4) to 85 days. On shorter courses, participants will receive an introduction to leadership skills, strength of character and a desire to serve while activities fill most of the time and the pace is quick. With longer courses, the same outcomes and benefits are achieved with the opportunity to reach a more profound level of mastery as there are more chances to develop technical skills, receive and implement feedback and further personal development. However many days the expedition lasts, the strength and impact of the experience lasts a lifetime.
Mountaineering, rafting and wilderness navigation techniques are great practice for the essential skills and habits that help prepare for new challenges at school, work, home and in the community. Outward Bound expeditions encourage students:
Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
Smith Rock is widely considered to be one of the best sport climbing areas in the country and the variety of climbing offered attracts climbers of every ability level. It is a uniquely beautiful area that commonly graces postcards and calendars. The Crooked River lazily winds its way through the canyon, cutting a path through the cliffs and spires. To the west, the snow-capped volcanoes of the Cascade Range rise on the horizon above the flat checkerboard of irrigated plains. One of the most striking features is a prominent spire called the Monkey Face. Given the dry and temperate climate, rock climbing is feasible most of the year.
Lower Salmon River, Idaho
The Nez Perce Indians called the Salmon River "Natsoh Koos," which means "Chinook Salmon Water," after the fish that once thrived there. Early explorers dubbed it the "River of No Return," due to the difficulties they experienced trying to transport wooden boats upstream through roaring rapids. Whatever it is called, the dynamic Salmon River and the land it nourishes are very special!
Starting in Whitebird, Idaho, the Salmon River has created the second deepest river gorge in North America (deeper than the Grand Canyon) and is also the last free flowing river in the United States. Because there are no dams, sand is carried downstream from high creeks and tributaries and deposited in the form of beautiful white sand beaches providing idyllic camping conditions. The river meanders through the second largest protected wilderness area in the contiguous United States, The Frank Church Wilderness. The entire trip includes 73 miles of river travel and many rapids up to Class IV. The river journey ends on the lower end of the Snake River, the deepest canyon in the country. Outward Bound trips allow for exploration of the many historical and cultural sites that the Lower Salmon has to offer, from houses lived in by Chinese miners to Native American pictographs.
Central Cascades, Oregon
Volcanoes dot the spine of the Cascade Mountains, rising over 10,000 feet above the forests, lakes and rivers of the surrounding region. These glaciated peaks run north and south and create perfect mountaineering objectives for this course. The Central Cascade range is home to the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson. Four 10,000-foot high glaciated volcanoes are present in this course area, with a total of nine major volcanoes at home in the region. One can find a unique blend of dry east side and wet west side weather conditions which allow diverse types of vegetation to flourish. The area has a complex geologic history that continues today. Active glaciers methodically carve away the mountains and the dramatic traces of avalanches that have altered the landscape can be found throughout.
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.