Rock & River


“I am so extremely grateful for this experience and everything I have learned about myself, the amazing group mates I was with, and all the rad climbing skills I hope to expand on in the future!”
— Maddie, 2022 Rock Climbing & Mountaineering student

Course Overview

Dates: June 22 - July 1, 2024
Age: 14 to 16
Group size: max 10 students/2 instructors
Length: 10 days
Tuition: $3300
5 Days rock climbing and 5 days packrafting
Questions? Send us an email.

MWS Essential Eligibility Criteria
Packing List 
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Course Highlights

  • Learning fundamental outdoor climbing techniques
  • Packrafting an iconic Montana river
  • Campcraft, cooking, navigation and LNT backcountry skills and knowledge

Course Description

On this unique course, students will spend 10 days learning about both rock climbing and packrafting in two distinct course segments
Section1 - Rock
The team will spend the first 5 days traveling between rock sites in a wilderness area, learning fundamental outdoor climbing techniques from a team of experienced instructors.  Students will have a chance to practice movement, belay, rappel and communication skills on a variety of interesting rock walls. The Rock Section curriculum is designed to introduce students to rock climbing skills in a slow and deliberate way, and it caters to those with little to no experience climbing outside.

Section 2 - River
For the second half of the course, students will transition to a remote stretch of river where they will learn the ins and outs of packrafting on moving water. Curricular topics will include: river safety and communication, paddling techniques, reading moving water, and basic partner- and self-rescue techniques. The team will travel together through a spectacular river corridor with rare and beautiful volcanic rock formations. This sectionis intended to introduce students with little or no whitewater experience to the fundamentals of navigating swiftwater.

While on the Rock & River Adventure, students will learn and practice Leave No Trace® camping principles, explore area ecology, and engage with place-based land history lessons and curriculum. Each student will have multiple opportunities to lead the group as the Expedition Leader of the Day to gain experience with newly acquired leadership skills.

For more information about MWS core curriculum and expedition progression check out  Expedition Life. If you have additional questions please check out our FAQ page or reach out to

Expedition Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Teamwork and communication skills

  • Learn positive communication skills with diverse group members to create a healthy community, build trust, and make sound decisions in the backcountry together
  • Develop an expedition philosophy, apply it to the course, and understand how it can transfer back to the student’s home environment

Safety and wilderness based decision making

  • Backcountry hazard evaluation and risk reduction guidelines and tools
  • First aid awareness for backcountry settings: identification and treatment of common backcountry illness and injuries
  • Learn to collaboratively make decisions in remote environments that prioritizes individual and group safety

Conservation Ethic

  • Use basic observational and interpretive skills to demonstrate an understanding and respect for the natural environment
  • Discuss the history, facts and potential solutions to pertinent environmental and social issues affecting the wilderness in the expedition area
  • Reflect upon and discuss the conveyance of wilderness conservation ethics into personal life and build a capacity for commitment and stewardship to wild places
  • Develop comprehensive understanding of Leave No Trace© ethics and apply them during the expedition

Backcountry camping and navigation skills

  • Use safe backcountry kitchen practices to cook nutritious meals on a camp stove or fire
  • Demonstrate an ability to select an appropriate campsite and set up a shelter while minimizing the impact on the ecosystem
  • Understand and demonstrate how to stay healthy, warm, and comfortable in the backcountry
  • Understand and demonstrate techniques for camping and traveling in bear habitat
  • Use various navigation and route-finding tools and methods for on and off trail travel
  • Travel efficiently in the alpine environment using map and compass skills

Technical Skills

Rock Climbing and Packrafting
  • Outdoor climbing techniques
  • Learn traditional climbing gear placement
  • Inflating, deflating, packing and securing equipment in an inflatable packraft
  • Reading water and understanding hydraulics in swift moving water
  • Swift water rescue skills
  • Packraft control and paddling skills in swift moving water and rapids

apply Now
Montana Wilderness School
PO Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771

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