Alpine Backpacking


“I grew so much as a person on this trip and loved
spending time in the wilderness.”
—Gwen, Backpacking Student

Expedition Overview

Dates: August 4-17, 2024
Age: 16-18
Group size: max 10 students/2 instructors
Length: 14 days
Tuition: $4,410
14-day adventure through remote area of the Montana wilderness, developing leadership, outdoor skills in navigation, camping, backcountry cooking and teamwork.
Questions? Send us an email.

Suggested Prior Experience:
MWS Montana Backpacking Adventure
(or equivalent)

MWS Essential Eligibility Criteria
Packing List 
apply Now

Expedition Highlights

  • Backpacking in remote wilderness areas
  • Navigation, orienteering, and wilderness travel skills
  • Wilderness decision-making and communication skills
  • Experiencing abundant wildlife and ecosystems

Expedition Description

The Alpine Backpacking Expedition builds on basic backcountry skills and caters curriculum to high mountain travel. Open to students 16 to 18, this 14-day backpacking course teaches the navigation and risk management skills necessary for off-trail, alpine travel. The group will practice condition assessment, and attempt to summit a few stunning peaks* in a wild Northern Rockies mountain range. With a goal of boosting student confidence in alpine terrain, there will be a particular emphasis on route finding with map and compass, as well as sound decision-making/risk management in the high mountains.

While on expedition, students will engage in lessons about Leave No Trace® land stewardship principles, backcountry cooking and campcraft, and navigation and triangulation.  Additionally, participants will learn about alpine ecology, local public land history, and the high-level leadership and facilitation skills necessary to travel well and limit risk exposure in the mountains. Each student will have opportunities to lead the group as Expedition Leader of the Day to gain experience with these 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

*Note: The Alpine Backpacking expedition does not involve roped travel or roped climbing, but it does include off-trail travel in loose terrain. Interested students should be prepared for a challenging backpacking trip with incredible views.

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

  • Learn to properly pack and adjust a backpack
  • Become competent in backpacking in alpine environments
  • Travel off trail and discover unpopulated areas of the Montana wilderness
apply Now
Montana Wilderness School
PO Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771

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