Rockies to Ecuador Pathfinder

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The 30-day Pathfinder Leadership Expedition empowers students to discover their strengths while learning skills and values that can shape their future. This course is held in the magnificent wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, and progresses to the highlands and colorful rural towns of Ecuador.  Offering opportunities for both introspection and high adventure, it is specifically designed for young adults searching for direction in life.  Its progressive activities and experiences build leadership, character, and an ethic of service. The course focuses on leadership skills such as communication, collaboration, decision-making, and conflict resolution.  Participants work on developing self-awareness, values, priorities, and goals.  It includes Wilderness First Aid certification.

Course Description

The Pathfinder Leadership Expedition begins in the wilderness of Colorado. Here, you will learn leadership skills, teamwork, navigation, and backcountry living skills. You and your new team will attempt a peak, learn to rock climb, and begin to learn about each other as well as yourselves.

After the first section of wilderness, you will spend 3-5 days at our Leadville Mountain Center where you will take a Wilderness First Aid certification class.

Then, the whole group will fly to Quito, Ecuador, where you will base out of a sustainable local organic farm as you acclimate and prepare for your Andes trek. You will be responsible for cooking, cutting firewood, cleaning, and helping out on the local farm as you learn about the people and the area.

Then you will pack up and head out to trek among the glaciated volcanoes of the Andes.  You will hike past rural and indigenous villages, and enjoy the varied and magnificent scenery of the Ecuadorian highlands. The hiking can be challenging, as you will be traveling at altitudes at or higher than the peaks you climbed in Colorado.

This course will include at least one peak attempt, several service projects, and continual learning about indigenous culture and the highlands environment. Depending on your team’s ability levels, your instructors will step back progressively during this expedition to allow you and your team to take over decision-making responsibilities for navigation, time schedules, communication, and general leadership.

Course Areas

Sawatch Range

This range contains a number of 14,000 peaks along with the three highest in Colorado (Mt. Elbert (14,433), Mt. Massive (14,421), and Mt. Harvard (14,420). Its broad peaks and valleys provide an excellent introduction to winter camping and travel.  Many of its more prominent peaks were named for the alma maters of early explorers and surveyors. Many “first ascents” in this range can be attributed to nameless miners searching for gold and silver, which were both abundant. The silver bust of 1893 caused many once-booming cities to become ghost towns.

The Andes of Ecuador

Ecuador is a colorful and diverse, developing country. The Andes run north and south in two bands, splitting the country into the western lowlands, the middle highlands, and the eastern jungles of the Amazon basin. There are numerous high volcanic peaks in Ecuador – Chimborazo (20,703’), Cotopaxi (19,348’), and Cayambe (18,997’) are probably the best known. In the highlands where you will travel, the mist hangs over the trails and you will trek amid long grasses, hummocks, and the chuquiragua plant with its mesmerizing, orange flowers. You will camp and navigate through the expansive paramo, broad and empty except for the occasional pack of wild horses and llamas, who watch curiously as you cross stream beds and hills shaped very recently by receding glaciers.

Course Documents

Click below to download a sample itinerary or a list of clothing required for the course.

CEP6-761 – Clothing and Gear List

CEP6-761 – Itinerary and Travel

COBS 2017- Boots