Start out rock climbing at Smith Rock State Park, one of the best climbing sites in the country. Then move on to the central Cascades of Oregon, where you’ll learn and practice mountaineering skills and attempt to summit local peaks. The semester finishes with whitewater rafting on two of the most renowned rivers in the west - the Salmon River in Idaho and the Deschutes River in Oregon. Although you’ll have plenty of time for rest and reflection during the course, this is a rigorous adventure, with seven full weeks of skill development, backcountry living and physical and mental challenges.
This course is closed for the season. 2018 dates coming October 25.
Our Gap Year and Semester expeditions take you out of the classroom – and into the world. These courses are all about cultivating independence, developing technical skills, and engaging with the people and places around you. Learn from the best Instructors in the industry. Tackle challenges alongside a supportive crew of motivated peers. Amidst rugged natural landscapes, learn to lead and to follow; to give and receive feedback; and to trust in your own capabilities.
Outward Bound is accredited with the American Gap Association and is the longest running program in this elite group dedicated to providing safe, meaningful and high-caliber educational experiences to students.
The mountain section of this course focuses on mountaineering and alpine climbing. Students learn skills such as knots and hitches, fixed-lines, climbing technique and anchor building. Each day presents a different focus, 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 travel on the river in four to six person paddle rafts, and learn to “captain” (maneuver) their paddle raft team through Class II to IV rapids. After lessons in basic river travel and safety, students progress into learning to read currents, anticipate obstacles, scout rapids, and negotiate technical portions of the river. Students 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 receive individual instruction and test their skills against vertical cracks, steep faces and boulders. Camping occurs in a front country site at Smith Rock State Park among the multicolored cliffs and spires. Students learn about basic climbing equipment, rope management, wearing harnesses, tying knots, belaying and rappelling techniques and movement on rock.
Solo is an important part of the Outward Bound experience and allows students time to rest, recharge and reflect on their own development towards the end of the course. Solos may vary from a few hours up to three days depending on the length of the course, age and maturity of the students and itinerary of the expedition. During solo, students set up their own independent campsite near their instructors and spend their time resting, writing in their journal, enjoying the quiet of the wilderness and reflecting on their experience. Instructors will check on the students throughout their solo. For many students, solo is both a challenge and a respite and is often a highlight of their course.
This course is 65 days, one of the longest course options available in the Outward Bound system, and provides some of the greatest depth of self-exploration, group leadership and technical and interpersonal skills of any course length. Longer courses provide the opportunity for full immersion into the Outward Bound experience, with more time for the personal growth that comes from facing both successes and failures. Through these longer experiences, students become more comfortable living and working together in the wilderness while practicing the values of Outward Bound. These learnings transfer easily back home, where students can build upon them and continue to grow and develop after course.
Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
Smith Rock is a world-renowned climbing destination that attracts climbers of every ability level. It is widely considered to be one of the top sport climbing areas in the country. Smith Rock 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 - Monkey Face. Given the dry and temperate climate, rock climbing is feasible most of the year.
Deschutes River, Oregon
The Deschutes River is part of the national Wild & Scenic Rivers System. The river flows north from the Oregon Cascades to the Columbia River and then on to the Pacific Ocean. The Lower Deschutes is a popular river for both whitewater rafting and fly fishing. The river is spring-fed, which results in an unusually constant water flow and cold water. Evidence of the geologic history of this area is written on the banks for students to read as they travel anywhere from fifty to one hundred miles along the Lower Deschutes. The rapids on the Deschutes are rated to Class IV, mostly Class II-III, and are excellent for learning paddle skills and teamwork. The group camps each night along the banks of the river. The Deschutes region has a colorful human history, and a railroad borders much of the length of the Lower Deschutes.
Lower Salmon River, Idaho
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 that provide 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 in Hell’s Canyon, the deepest canyon in the country. Our seven-day trips allow students to explore the many historical and cultural sites that the Lower Salmon has to offer, from houses inhabited 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 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 glaciated volcanoes are present in this course area, with a total of nine major volcanoes. One can find a unique blend of dry east side and moist 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 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.