CCYA-342: Continental Divide Alpine Backpacking

Course Code: CCYA-342

Start Date: 7/15/23

End Date: 7/29/23

This backpacking course takes place in the Rocky Mountains and focuses on the art of traveling light, exploring the natural world and becoming a high functioning team. During the course, you can expect to travel on and off trail and over wooded and alpine terrain at 9,000 feet or higher, which can be rough, steep and exposed. Learn smart and efficient backpacking and alpine travel techniques as well as Leave No Trace camping and travel skills, outdoor cooking techniques, basic first-aid, map and compass use, route finding and how to use an ice axe if necessary. Backpack through the alpine environment and attempt a peak ascent. As the course progresses and your skills and experience increase, your Instructors will turn more and more responsibility over to you and your crew.

Course Areas and Land Acknowledgement

Leadville Mountain Center, Colorado

Colorado Outward Bound’s 600-acre property at the base of Mount Massive. Our base camp encompasses mountain streams, wild plants, fields and forests. Lake Fork Creek (that runs into the headwaters of the Arkansas River) runs near the east of our property and the Colorado Trail borders us to the west. If the timing is right, colorful wildflowers will brighten the trails through the LMC. You might share camp with elk, deer, chipmunks and myriad other wildlife. This region is within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) nation.

 📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands

Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado

The Holy Cross area is found in the Sawatch Range which contains eight of Colorado’s highest peaks. These mountains are known for being massive, rocky yet relatively gentle in contour. Mount of the Holy Cross is known for its distinctive snow formations. During the course, you can expect to travel on and off trail and over wooded and alpine terrain at 9,000 feet or higher, which can be rough, steep and exposed. Students may encounter elk, mule deer or even moose.

The Sawatch Range lies within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) nation.

📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands

Rocky Mountains, CO

The Rocky Mountains, one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world, stretch 3,000 miles from Alaska to New Mexico. Colorado offers the greatest concentration of peaks above 13,000 feet in continental U.S., with hundreds of “Thirteeners” (13,000+ feet in elevation) and 54 “Fourteeners” (14,000+ feet in elevation). The state is famous for its abundant wilderness adventure possibilities, from skiing to rock climbing to mountaineering. Colorado courses may take place in The Gore, The Holy Cross, The Sawatch, The Elks, The Sangre de Cristos, the Rawah or the San Juans.  Each of these Colorado ranges present unique challenges, but are all beautiful, wild and rugged. These regions are within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Cheyenne, Arapaho, Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux), Eastern Shoshone, Jicarilla Apache, and Pueblos nations.

📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands

What is a land acknowledgment?

At the Colorado Outward Bound School, we include land acknowledgments in our work as a formal way to recognize and respect the traditional territories and Indigenous Peoples as stewards of the land. It is important to understand and acknowledge the comprehensive past, present, and future of the places we travel and to seek to understand our role therein. To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation we give to the Indigenous Peoples who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. Read more about land acknowledgments at Outward Bound here


Alpine Backpacking

Alpine Backpacking will develop a foundational outdoor skillset for students allowing comfortable living during course. Traveling mostly above treeline, students will carry everything they need - food, shelter, clothing and gear – allowing them to go deep into the wilderness where few people go. Backpacking provides a sense of freedom, allowing students to eat when hungry, set up camp when tired, and exercise complete control over what is accomplished each day. The simplicity of backpacking gives students the opportunity to focus both internally on their own thoughts, as well as externally to connect deeply with others as they talk, sing, play games and spend time together without distraction. With the Colorado Rockies as a backdrop, students are introduced to backpacking with lessons in basic travel and camping techniques. As this section progresses, students learn Leave No Trace techniques, map and compass navigation, camp craft, and obtain an understanding of the area’s human and natural history.

A group of students are hiking up a field of large, loose rock above treeline. They are wearing helmets and using trekking poles while carrying backpacks.

Photo: Dave Erbe |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands

Guided Reflection and Transference

At Outward Bound we believe there is no learning without reflection. Throughout course, you will be prompted to reflect on what you’re experiencing on course, and what it means in the greater context of your life. Sometimes this is a journaling exercise, sometimes a group sharing experience, and sometimes a moment of solitude to sit and think. You spend focused time toward course progression end exploring how your new knowledge, skills and attributes can apply to your life after course.

High Ropes Course

Swaying in the lodgepole pine trees of the Leadville Mountain Center, our High Ropes Course offers individual challenges to unlock the potential in each group member. The Ropes Course has an array of elements and many opportunities to return to the ground, allowing students to choose the right amount of challenge for them. Traveling through the tree 40 feet above the ground, our elements are designed to test your balance, strength, and perserverance. Instructors and group members are always close by to encourage and help one another and to ensure safe transfers from one element to the next.

Photo: Anthony Capristo |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands


Depending on your course length and environmental factors, your solo may range from a few hours to an overnight experience. Solo provides an important break from the rigors of both the expedition and the distractions from everyday life. This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With sufficient food and equipment, you’ll have time to journal, rest, reflect, and look ahead to future goals. Your solo site will be close enough to the Instructors in case of emergency, but far enough removed to assure your solitude. You will not travel during this time and your Instructors will check on you occasionally. Many students are initially nervous about solo, but later recall solo as one of the highlights of their entire course.

Peak Attempt

Peak Attempts present an opportunity for challenge, teamwork, and the need to pull together all of your learned skills for success. Your expedition will include at least one peak attempt. Peak attempts are major enterprises and typically require early morning starts and can take all day to complete. Weather, or other factors including group dynamics and physical readiness, may preclude even an attempt to ascend a peak.

Photo: Naomi Winard |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands


Service to others and the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Students follow Leave No Trace ethics as service to the environment and do acts of service while leading and supporting each other. Understanding leadership through service is an outcome of activities that require working together to meet and navigate challenges throughout course. 

Low Ropes & Initiatives

During the first few days of your course at the Leadville Mountain Center, you may have the opportunity to engage as a team with Low Ropes elements and facilitated Initiatives. During this day, your Instructors will progress you and your group through a series of challenges, designed to develop problem-solving skills, communication, and overall teamwork. Elements may require complete team cooperation or individual contributions and will help your group build a foundation for increasing challenges to come. Initiatives, including our Orienteering Course, will help the group learn and practice key lessons to be successful moving forward on your course.

A group of people are standing on logs and other wooden platforms in the forest as part of a low-ropes initiative. Most of the group looks on while a pair of people move two boards in an effort to create a bridge for the others to pass. They are all wearing pants and jackets.

Photo: Leslie Spinelli |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands

Sample Itinerary

Sample Itinerary

The following is an example of what your itinerary may look like. Your actual course plan will vary according to weather, your group’s skills and abilities, and Instructor preferences.

Day 1: Course Start

Days 2-6: Training section - Backpacking and Camp Craft
Curriculum includes:
Map and compass navigation
Basic first aid
Backcountry living
Basic leadership
Basic team decision making
Outward Bound philosophy and history

Days 7-11: Main Section- solo and at least one technical peak attempt
Curriculum includes:
Advanced navigation
Weather patterns
Summit strategies
Time management
Peer leadership
Conflict resolution

Days 12-13: Final Section - Opportunities for the group to lead the expedition
Curriculum includes:
Peer leadership
Group communication
Group decision making

Day 14: Challenge Event and Course End

Day 15: Transportation Home

What You’ll Learn

In addition to the expedition itself and all of the skills and learning associated with it, Outward Bound’s time-tested curriculum includes education on the many aspects of personal growth and learning that can be found in each activity you undertake. You will learn four important Outward Bound Core Values:

  • Compassion
  • Integrity
  • Excellence
  • Inclusion and Diversity

You may find that the most important lessons you take home are learning about yourself and your community while acquiring backcountry skills and having an adventure. You’ll learn to protect and appreciate the unique, unspoiled environments through which you travel.

Successful completion of your course demands mastery of skills, trust, fitness, confidence, tenacity, leadership, initiative and compassion. The promotion of these qualities and the discovery of what’s in you is the purpose of Outward Bound.

Tuition and Payment

For your convenience, you may pay the balance of your tuition online through a link in your admissions emails, or make a payment by phone. 

Please have the student's name, course number, course start date and balance due when using this payment option.

In most cases, a $500 deposit has been paid when you applied. Please refer to your Enrollment Email to confirm your balance. If you are unsure of your balance due, please call 720-381-6589 or email [email protected].

If your payment is not received by the due date listed in your Enrollment Email, you will risk losing your position on the course and your $500 deposit. Please review the Admissions and Cancellation Policies.

COVID and Your Course

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