Young Adult Backpacking


"It was impactful because it actually made me realize the amount of strength I have and that I can persevere through physical challenges."
—Asheley, 2021 Alumni

Expedition Overview

Dates: June 6 - June 19,  2022
Age: 18-22 years old
Group size: max 8-10 students/2 instructors
Length: 14 days
Tuition: $3,360
14-day adventure through remote area of the Montana wilderness, developing leadership, outdoor skills in navigation, camping, backcountry cooking and teamwork.
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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 Young Adult Backpacking Expedition focuses on developing outdoor leadership skills and exploring current conservation issues in Montana, all while backpacking through some of the wildest places in the state.

This 14-day backpacking course for 18-22 year olds is designed to expand upon the same foundational backcountry skills delivered on every MWS expedition: camp craft, cooking, Leave No Trace® land stewardship principles, and group communication and decision-making. In addition to delivering these essential outdoor skills, experienced MWS instructors will hone each student’s leadership abilities, helping them to develop high-level group facilitation skills applicable in wilderness settings and beyond.Students will have real opportunities to practice leading a group and managing risk in a complex wilderness context—evaluating hazards, choosing travel routes, and anticipating group needs. In partnership with this wilderness risk management curriculum, students will engage one another in complex conversations about current land and conservation issues inMontana. MWS staff will guide discussions about various perspectives on some of the most imminent challenges facing wild spaces in our state and the RockyMountain West, giving students a deeper understanding of the work needed to protect them.

Are you interested in working in the outdoor industry? This expedition is particularly appropriate for anyone interested in becoming a professional outdoor educator. We’ll provide mentorship and personal development plans to help you reach your goals and build a foundation for managing groups in wilderness settings. 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
Apply Now
Montana Wilderness School
P.O. Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771
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