Backpacking is all about access and self-reliance. Carrying everything you need - food, shelter, clothing and gear - allows you to get deep into the wilderness where few people go. Feel the sense of freedom from deadlines and task lists as you grow accustomed to eating when you're hungry, setting up camp when you're tired, and having complete control over what you accomplish each day. The simplicity of hiking gives you the opportunity to focus both internally on your own thoughts, as well as externally to connect deeply with others as you talk, sing, play games and pass the time together without distraction.
Your course will begin with lessons in basic travel and camping techniques. Along the way, students learn Leave No Trace techniques; map and compass navigation; camp craft; and get a feel for the human and natural history of the area. Students backpack along valleys and long ridges, camp in basins with views like the top of the world, and stop along the way to explore microclimates and alpine ecosystems. Or in the desert southwest you can wind through sage, aspen groves and above tree line to The La Sal’s highest peaks or down into ancient canyons filled with artifacts and petroglyphs. Most importantly, students spend time in an incredible area, sleep under the stars, feel the sunshine on their face, and maybe watch a few sunsets over this magical landscape.
Mountaineering is perhaps the most rugged form of backcountry travel, allowing the elite few who are willing to work hard access to secret stashes of epic wilderness. As the course progresses, use your backpacking skills to travel into remote technical terrain where you’ll need tools like ice axes or fixed ropes to finally reach summits 13,000 or even 14,000 feet high. The challenges are significant but the rewards are great. Courses in June and early July can use late-season snowpack to climb routes otherwise inaccessible.
Each day on the river is spent learning to recognize and navigate various obstacles and hazards in the river, and how to anticipate the forces of the current from far enough upstream. Participants will work to become a team, coordinating spacing and paddle strokes. They will have an opportunity to be the captain of their raft and practice new skills as they maneuver through adrenaline-filled rapids and flat-water sections.
In places, the canyon rims rise thousands of feet above, enclosing participants in a remote world of rushing water, delicate ecosystems and unbelievable beauty. Most courses get the opportunity to take day hikes away from the river and up to the canyon rim. These hikes provide amazing views, a change of pace and often the chance to see Native American ruins, petroglyphs, pictographs and strange but beautiful geological formations.
Canyoneering involves travel in canyons that are often narrow and steep with many obstacles to negotiate. Traveling through them requires a combination of scrambling up and down-climbing over boulders, rappelling, lowering packs and walking with packs on. Essentially, it's a natural obstacle course through awe inspiring terrain unlike anything else. The beauty of light bouncing off the canyon walls is often likened to a cathedral. To meet the demands of technical terrain, instructors begin by teaching the foundational skills necessary for efficient travel, such as basic movement over rock. Students discover the magic of slick rock, a type of desert rock that provides a high level of traction, allowing you to maintain footing on seemingly impossible slopes and inclines.
Rock climbing just may be the ultimate window into who you really are. Discover unknown strengths and also unwrap self-perceptions as you are challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally on the rock. Tap into determination (and muscles) you never knew you had. Many believe climbing requires having a strong upper body, but the reality is that different types of climbing routes require different combinations of physical and mental abilities, such as flexibility, endurance, determination, and balance. Two different climbers can successfully climb the same route using very different techniques. On a COBS rock climbing intensive course, you'll learn all the basic climbing techniques, helmet and harness use, climbing commands and belaying, placing gear, and setting up top ropes. You will also have the opportunity to learn multi-pitch climbing techniques and focus on honing your climbing skills. For many COBS students, rock climbing on course ignites a new sport that becomes a life-long interest.
There's no reason you can't play outside in the winter! Especially in the Colorado Rockies, known worldwide for pillowy blankets of snow and frequent warm blue sky days. Using a split board or skis with skins, gain exclusive access to untracked powder far from the resort lines. Learn winter camping skills, avalanche awareness, weather, and other cold weather skills. Realizing how capable you are of surviving comfortably in a winter environment provides a huge perspective shift in every day life challenges. Return home with a new appreciation for indoor heating, but also a new appreciation for how beautiful and accessible the outdoors is in the winter.