Imagine traveling through snowy mountains, sharing alpine meadows with mountain goats and climbing windswept peaks. Imagine scrambling down surreal slot canyons in Southern Utah, then settling down for the night under a thick blanket of shimmering stars. Each day you will be getting to know your expedition team better, learning about the area and yourself, laughing with your crew mates, and exploring some of North America’s most mesmerizing and famous landscapes. You don’t need to have previous snow travel or backpacking experience to fully embrace this extraordinary expedition, which combines beautiful environments and exciting activities with an emphasis on individual growth and community. In the mountains, you will learn the basics and finer points of backcountry snow travel and camping, as well as working in a team to achieve your goals. You will scale peaks high above tree line and stop often to admire awe-inspiring vistas. You will employ your newly learned skillsets in the southern Utah desert as you and your crew mates take greater ownership over course.
NOTE: For the health and safety of students and staff in the COVID-19 pandemic, students may be required to travel to course start by private transportation. Please work directly with your Course Advisor for your course for the most up-to-date and regionally-focused travel options. All students and staff must provide a current negative COVID-19 viral test result before arrival to course and/or consent to having a COVID-19 test administered at course start. Outward Bound requires students and staff to follow COVID-19 protocols for 14 days prior to course start and while traveling including physical distancing, wearing a mask in public, and frequent and thorough handwashing. For complete “Health and Safety Practices for Outward Bound Expeditions,” click here.
This course starts within the next week. Please call us at 866-467-7651 to assess the possibility of applying for this course!
Most College Savings Plans, including the 529 College Savings Plan, may be used to attend an Outward Bound expedition, thanks to a partnership with Western Colorado University. Anyone can register – you do not have to be a current Western Colorado University student. Registration is easy! Click here to learn more.
Sometimes you don’t know where you want to go in life until you spend a few weeks in the middle of nowhere. Pathfinder expeditions give you time and space to understand what’s important to you and the skills to get there. Over the next 30 days, you’ll rise to meet natural challenges, becoming accustomed to setting goals, making decisions, and recovering from set-backs, all of which help clarify bigger choices that await you in life beyond your course.
Build skills, form connections: Learn and practice wilderness, teamwork, adaptability and leadership skills. Participants will have the opportunity to chart a path and pursue it with their own motivation as extra fuel.
Value strengths and strengthen values: Resiliency to recover from set-backs is a treasured and useful skill that will play a part in any Pathfinder expedition. Participants will explore answers to their most pressing questions about what they value, where their strengths lie and what direction their lives will take next.
Demonstrate mastery: As students gain confidence in new skills, they will take on more leadership and decision-making responsibilities and gain a deeper understanding of who they are as individuals. The entire crew will work together and individually to achieve goals, solve problems and succeed.
What you’ll learn: After spending 30 days in the wilderness, you’ll have mastered multiple outdoor skills and you’ll know what it takes to traverse mountain passes, climb the steepest cliffs and successfully navigate the challenges of the natural world around you. You’ll discover more about your true self and what you want to achieve, how you overcome setbacks and, most importantly, how to move forward to reach important milestones.
Return home after broadening your horizons, learning how to adapt to new environments and trying untested possibilities, with an action plan for the future. With newfound leadership potential, self-awareness, and problem-solving skills, you’ll be ready for your next big step.
Wilderness First Aid
Students will spend two days in a classroom at our high mountain basecamp, learning about wilderness medicine. Students will have the opportunity to gain a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification during this course, which is considered a standard for many entry-level jobs in the Outdoor Industry.
of Dave Erbe
of Dillon Marks
of Dillon Marks
of Dillon Marks
of Dave Erbe
of Dillon Marks
Exploring the canyon environment is done through backpacking, as well as hiking through narrow and picturesque slots. Backpackers carry everything they need – food, shelter, clothing and gear – allowing them to go deep into the wilderness where few people go. Backpackers feel a sense of freedom from deadlines and tasks as they grow accustomed to eating when hungry, setting up camp when tired, and having complete control over what they accomplish each day. The simplicity of hiking gives students the opportunity to focus both internally on their own thoughts and self-reliance, as well as externally to connect deeply with others as they talk, sing, problem solve, and spend time together without distraction.
This course will begin with lessons in basic travel and camping techniques. Along the way, students learn Leave No Trace techniques, map and compass navigation, and camp craft as they get a feel for the human and natural history of the area. Students backpack along canyon rims and through deep canyon bottoms, sometimes shedding their backpacks for smaller daypacks to navigate into jaw-dropping narrows or explore thousand-year-old cliff dwellings and rock art. Crews camp on expansive rock slabs with views of the otherworldly landscapes and stop along the way to explore microclimates and canyon ecosystems. Most importantly, students spend time in an incredible area where modern life has been stripped down to the essentials of travelling through a landscape of rock, sand, sky - feeling the sunshine on their face and watching the sun set as the Milky Way lights up the night sky over this magical landscape.
Solo provides an important break from the rigors of both the expedition and the distractions from everyday life. This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With sufficient food and equipment, students spend 1-3 days alone at a campsite to journal, rest, reflect on the past and look ahead to future goals. Solo sites will be close enough to the sites of the Instructors in case of an emergency, but far enough removed to assure solitude. Students will not travel during this time and Instructors will check in occasionally, but otherwise will be alone. Many students are initially nervous about Solo, but later recall Solo as one of the highlights of their entire course.
Spring in the Rockies is very winter-like – deep snow covers the mountains, and temperatures dip below freezing every night. Even daytime temps can be single digits. This section begins at our premier mountain basecamp in Leadville, Colorado, with a few days of dormitory and dining hall-supported outings. After mastering the basics of winter living, students embark on a multi-day backcountry snowshoe expedition. Students will camp in tents, melt snow for water, and develop resilience while enjoying gorgeous views of snow-capped peaks.
This expedition will include at least one peak attempt. Peak attempts are major enterprises and typically require early morning starts and take all day to complete. Weather, or other factors including group dynamics and physical ability, may preclude even an attempt to ascend a peak.
Cross Country Skiing
Building upon snow travel competencies and gained physical endurance, students apply and grow winter backcountry knowledge while developing a new skill. Cross country skiing will have the group gliding into new challenges as they explore the snowy terrain along the expedition. This section will begin back at our Leadville basecamp and include instruction and day trips to develop the skills needed to travel through diverse backcountry terrain before heading out on a multi-day cross country ski expedition.
Outward Bound believes that an appropriate amount of independence is a powerful educational tool. In order to deliver that benefit, our Instructors purposefully and gradually transfer leadership responsibilities to the students. This progression culminates with a Final Expedition. Near the end of course, if the group has demonstrated the necessary leadership, problem solving and wilderness living skills, they may be given the opportunity to travel without Instructors immediately present. This Final Expedition will range from three to five days depending on staff assessment of student abilities and terrain type. Many students love the independence of this phase of course, as the group learns to work together, problem solve, and accomplish a goal independently, while utilizing all the skills they have acquired. Instructors periodically check in with the group to ensure student wellbeing and coordinate travel plans. When students emerge from this final phase of course they will understand a truth: there is more in them than they knew.
Personal Challenge Event
There are no set-in-stone course-end challenge events, as each challenge will be tailored to the current conditions and students. The challenge event may take the form of a run or team challenge. This event is the students' opportunity to finish course successfully and with style, by embodying all the lessons learned during the course.
Guided Reflection and Transference
At Outward Bound we believe there is no learning without reflection. Throughout course, students will be prompted to reflect on what they're experiencing on course, and what it means in the greater context of life. Sometimes this is a journaling exercise, sometimes a group sharing experience, and sometimes a moment of solitude to think. Students spend focused time towards course end exploring how new knowledge, skills and attributes can apply to life after course.
Rocky Mountains, Colorado
The Rocky Mountains, one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world, stretch 3,000 miles from Alaska to New Mexico. The Colorado Rocky Mountains has the greatest concentration of high peaks in the lower 48 states, with hundreds of ‘Thirteeners’ (13,000 plus foot tall mountains) and 54 ‘Fourteeners.’ The state is famous for its abundant wilderness adventure possibilities, from skiing to rock climbing to mountaineering. Colorado courses may take place in The Gore, The Holy Cross, The Sawatch, The Elks, The Sangre de Cristos, the Rawah, or the San Juan mountains. Each of these Colorado ranges present unique challenges, but they are all beautiful, wild and rugged. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Cheyenne, Arapaho, Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux), Eastern Shoshone, Jicarilla Apache, and Pueblos nations.
Canyon Country, Utah
The most spectacular aspects of the Utah landscape are the hidden treasures found within its vast canyon networks, formed by millennia of wind and water. The canyons are composed of a spell-binding labyrinth of alcoves, fins, pinnacles, buttes, towering walls, ledges and arches just waiting to be explored on course. Canyoneering courses also venture into narrower, deeper chasms sometimes as narrow as two feet wide with walls rising several hundred feet on each side. These sandstone slot canyons are a geological playground for scrambling, teamwork, and rappelling. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Pueblos, Southern Paiute, Diné, and Hopi nations.
Course start and basecamp training in Leadville, CO – day outings from campus, sleeping in dormitories, eating in a dining hall, and Wilderness First Aid Course and Certification
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.
To secure your spot on a course you must submit an enrollment form and $500 deposit that is applied toward the total cost of the course and includes a $150 non-refundable enrollment processing fee.