“I feel more confident with learning new skills outdoors. Taking care of myself, mountaineering cooking skills, backcountry and real life social skills.”
—Tristan, MWS Mountaineering student

Expedition Overview

Dates: June 15 - July 2,  2021
Age: 16–18 years old
Group size: max 8-10 students/2 instructors
Length: 18 days
Tuition: $3,870
Introduction to mountaineering in Montana's alpine country. Students will develop outdoor navigation, leadership, communication, and place-based conservation knowledge.
Packing List 
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Expedition Highlights

  • Backpacking, Mountaineering and Alpine Rock climbing/Rappelling
  • Opportunities to summit technical peaks
  • Experience remote Montana mountain ranges
  • Leadership curriculum and opportunities to lead the expedition team
  • Opportunities to experience abundant wildlife and pristine ecosystems

Expedition Description

The Mountaineering Expedition is an adventurous 18-day introduction to expedition-style mountaineering while traveling through remote sections of Montana’s high country. In addition to acquiring backpacking and camping skills, students will learn to navigate through rocky and snowy terrain and will apply their knowledge as an expeditionary team on technical peak ascents. This expedition also focuses on a connection to place and fosters a conservation ethic as students gain an understanding of the importance of wild places and the different components of an alpine ecosystem. Students will work through a progression including  a variety of alpine and expedition style mountaineering techniques. These skills that students develop in our backyard are the foundation for techniques used by international climbing expeditions on mountaineering objectives around the world. For more information about MWS core curriculum and expedition progression see Expedition Life

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

Alpine Rock Skills
  • Comprehend and accomplish top rope safety while climbing
  • Appropriately tie fundamental climbing knots and display proper rope handling techniques
  • Demonstrate safe rappelling techniques
  • Consistently display effective belaying techniques using appropriate methods for varied circumstances
  • Demonstrate understanding and usage of safe fixed-line techniques in alpine climbing situations
  • Demonstrate the ability to remain composed and safe on exposed alpine terrain
Snow Travel (If conditions allow)
  • Safely travel on snow covered slopes
  • Participate in a group snow school class learning about safe ice axe use, self arresting, and glissading
  • Effectively conduct self arrests with a mountaineering ice axe in various situations including while wearing a backpack
  • Basic awareness of avalanches and avalanche risk mitigation
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Montana Wilderness School
P.O. Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771
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