CCTX-351: Continental Divide Mountaineering & Rock Climbing

Course Code: CCTX-351

Start Date: 6/10/23

End Date: 7/1/23

This course will take you through the highest terrain in Colorado! The Continental Divide marks the decision point for water as it either flows down to the east toward the Gulf of Mexico, or it flows down to the west to the Pacific. On this course you’ll travel along this “backbone of America.” Unlike mountain runoff (which only flows down), you’ll be working your way higher using mountaineering techniques such as fixed lines, climbing and scrambling, and utilizing ice axes or crampons. Far away from civilization, you’ll find how close you can get to others as you work as a team on this expedition.

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

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. The name means “blood of Christ” in Spanish and is thought to have come from the reddish hues seen on snowfields when the sun is rising or setting, known as alpenglow. The Sangres contain several wilderness areas such as the Green Mountain Wilderness Area, and are also known for some unusual geological features like the Crestone Needle or The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. This remote area is high and rugged enough to challenge any group of Outward Bound students.

The Sangre de Cristo mountain range lies within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Tséstho’e (Cheyenne), and Jicarilla Apache nations.

Photo: Izzy Lazarus |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Tséstho’e (Cheyenne), and Jicarilla Apache 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

Turtle Rock

Nestled in the Arkansas Valley, Turtle Rock provides the perfect venue for learning the basics of rock climbing. With sweeping vistas of the Collegiate Range to the west, students will climb and rappel on weathered granite domes while camping among the pinon pines and sage brush, in this high alpine desert environment. The Turtle Rock Campground provides a great introduction to camping, while still allowing for some frontcountry amenities like pit toilets and potable water. These regions are within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) nation.

Photo: Bethany Frakes |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands


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


A rugged and exciting form of backcountry travel, mountaineering sections allow students opportunities for challenge and adventure, success and failure, and learning a progression of skills to acheive higher summits via more technical routes. Students will practice mountaineering snow techniques like kicking steps, glissading and self-arresting. Fixed line travel and roped belays will be used to ascend a mix of terrain. Snow and rock conditions can be expected, as the high country of the Rockies can be unpredictable. Mountaineering sections also have the opportunity to access backcountry rock climbing sites, where students can hone their climbing, belaying, and rappelling techniques. These sections will be challenging and the rewards are well worth the effort.

 📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands

Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing creates opportunities for students to enterprise their curiosity, practice tenacity and perseverance, and learn skills which will progress them to greater heights. Climbing allows learning of new body mechanics, balance, and energy maintenance techniques which will help students climb efficiently and unlock the incredible feeling of flowing up a route. Students will learn there are many ways to climb the same rock, allowing each climber to solve the puzzle in their own individual way. During this section, students will learn basic climbing techniques, helmet and harness use, climbing commands and belaying, and anchor building principles. Depending on the length of the section, students may have the opportunity to attempt multi-pitch climbs or lead climbing.

 Photo: Joe Kubis |📍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.


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

Challenge Event

A Challenge Event may occur at the end of a student's course experience. These are opportunities to test the perseverance, endurance, and grit that you've developed on course. A challenge event might be individual, like long run or peak attempt. Your event might be a group focused challenge, including long final travel days or group challenges that require all of the skills and teamwork your groups has learned. The purpose of a challenge event is to help students realize the extent of their growth, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and to take home these learnings in an unforgettable way.


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. 

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
Inspect and issue gear
Meet Instructors and peers

Days 2-8: Backpacking and Rock Climbing
Curriculum includes:
Basic map and compass navigation
Time management
Basic first aid
Rock climbing techniques
Group decision making
Summit strategies
Basic campcraft
Backcountry living
Peer leadership
Outward Bound philosophy

Days 9-17: Mountaineering and Rock Climbing
Curriculum includes:
Advanced top rope rock climbing skills
Fixed line techniques
Technical peak attempts
Reflection (2 or 3-day solo)
Advanced navigation
Advanced group communication
Advanced decision making
Advanced peer leadership
Conflict resolution

Days 18-21: Final Expedition
Independent Group Travel
Independent group communication, decision making, peer leadership

Day 21: Challenge Event and Course End
Culminating Challenge (Group or individual)

Day 22: 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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