“As instructors, one of our first responsibilities is to create this compassionate safe space. We can teach this in a variety of ways—through evening meeting structure, conflict resolution skits and Outward Bound history and philosophy lessons. Ultimately though, it is the students who have to put what we teach into practice. My students this summer were courageous and compassionate individuals who together formed two inspiring crews. The safe space they created allowed for them to share their thoughts and feelings openly.
If I have done my job as an instructor, my students will leave with the ability to transfer what they learned about themselves and their ability to overcome challenges to use in their daily lives. The real Outward Bound course only begins once the wilderness expedition ends.”
In the simplicity and challenge that only the mountains can provide, there will be space to reflect in nature to push yourself in mountaineering. This course can guide you towards life independence while providing a platform of confidence to make it happen. You’ll be immersed in the wilderness learning the skills necessary to travel in wilderness terrain, carry your own gear, navigate a tricky trail or rock face and live and work together with your crewmates.
Instructors will guide you in leadership skills such as communication, collaboration and conflict resolution - the skills you’ll need to navigate your life path wherever it may lead. In the final days of the course, time is reserved for you to call your family and share your course experience with new found goals for the future.
This course is closed for the season. 2019 courses coming soon.
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.
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.
The first phase of this course is spent learning backpacking skills including group travel, gear selection and use, map and compass navigation, back country cooking techniques, weather/hazard assessment, camp craft, communication skills and effective teamwork. Participants will travel both on and off-trail to develop their technical skills, while Instructors teach and facilitate the interpersonal skills needed for participants to function effectively as a team, accomplish goals and tackle new challenges every day. Challenges on course are designed to guide participants toward taking risks, drawing upon inner resources and developing trust in one another. One such challenge might include a peak attempt. With lighter packs, participants will start before the sun rises to summit a mountain and be rewarded with 360 degree views and an incredible sense of accomplishment.
Several days will focus specifically on skills associated with technical rock climbing including knots, anchors, movement over rock, top-rope belaying, equipment use and care of harnesses and other items. Participants will have ample opportunity to actively improve their personal skill with various types of climbs including bouldering, face climbs, cracks and possibly multi-pitch options. The climbing section provides an introduction to personal climbing skills while building trust among crew members as they belay one another and set goals as a group.
Participants get the chance to build on the backpacking and rock climbing skills they learned and add more technical mountaineering skills to their resume. Instructors will focus on honing participants’ judgment and decision-making tactics in challenging terrain, adding at least one peak attempt (which takes a steep, exposed route that requires the technical protection of ropes). Additional skills to be covered during this phase are the use of fixed-lines and snow travel, depending on season and temperatures.
As the course progresses and the group's skill and experience increase, Instructors will turn more responsibility over to the crew. Participants will eventually take over decision making on navigation, route finding, sharing of duties, campsite set up and daily routines. This section is the culminating opportunity where participants use the teamwork, communication and technical abilities they have learned on course to make the remaining time their own, unique experience and to achieve autonomy as a crew.
Service to others and to the environment are core values of Outward Bound and they are integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics as part of their service to the environment. Students develop an ingrained appreciation of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, by multiple small acts of service with and for their crewmates while leading and supporting each other throughout the journey.
On the Fall Pathfinder, students will have an opportunity to participate in the largest volunteer clean-up of Yosemite National Park - the Yosemite Facelift. The event is organized by the Yosemite Climbing Association and is a park-wide volunteer effort held each September to clean up trash in the park after the bustling summer season.
Outward Bound believes in order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. Within course, the solo is that opportunity. It is a chance to experience solitude in the wilderness without distraction while also taking a break from the physical rigors of course. Students are separated from their group for a period of time which depends on course length and Instructor assessment of group capability. Solo sites are chosen to provide solitude. Participants have all necessary equipment, food and water. Solos range in length from 12 hours to 72 hours.
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.
Backpacking, rock climbing 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:
The Sierra Nevada range is California’s backyard and wonderland of wilderness, waterfalls, lakes and peaks. It’s an enormous range – spanning more than 400 miles from north to south, and 70 miles east to west. Courses take place in the southern and western parts of the Sierras: Ansel Adams Wilderness, Yosemite National Park and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park. The Fall Pathfinder will also venture into glacially formed Yosemite Valley where famous landmarks can be seen.
Summer and Early Fall in the Sierras is mostly sunny, with occasional rain and cold evenings. Snowfall is unlikely, though June courses may traverse atop lingering winter and spring snow. Summer temperature tends towards the 70s to 80s during the day, dipping into the 30s to 50s in the evening and night.
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.