NOLS Alaska Backpacking

    NOLS Alaska Backpacking


    • Listing Type: Summer Programs
    • Destination: United States
    • Program Delivery: Residential
    • Provided By: Independent Provider
    • Session Start: June, July
    • Session Length: Four Weeks
    • Entering Grade: 10th, 11th, 12th, PG, College
    • Gender: Coed
    • Category: Outdoor Adventure
    • Sub-Categories: Animals/Nature, Hiking, Leadership
    • Selective: No
    • Ages: 16, 17, 18, 19+, 19
    • Minimum Cost: > $3,000
    • Accreditation: Gap Year Association - Program
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    Push yourself to explore a vast and beautiful landscape in Alaska. Explore terrain that few people ever see, surrounded by endless tundra, near 24-hour daylight, and caribou herds. You'll become a seasoned wilderness traveler, learning how to read a map, navigate off trail, and scan the horizon for moose and Dall sheep. If you’re seeking the opportunity to grow as a leader in one of the United States' biggest wildernesses, then this is the course for you. Find out more!

    Dive into an unforgettable adventure in the northern wilderness. Backpack through Alaska’s famed mountain ranges and lush green valleys. Work your way up rugged peaks, pausing to admire sweeping views at the summit. Enjoy the long daylight hours of a northern summer as you hike across the tundra and cross braided streams. As you travel, keep your eye out for Dall sheep, moose, caribou, and wolves.

    Whether this is your first time backpacking or you’re an experienced outdoorsperson, expect to learn something new each day. Start with the basics, like pitching a tent, cooking on a campstove, and navigating off trail. As you gain confidence, take on more responsibility for route finding and decision making.

    Along the way, expand your leadership skills. Practice effective communication and risk management as you work with your team to cross a glacier-fed river. Learn to lead in uncertainty as you encounter new challenges, like navigating a boulder field or finding your way up a steep slope. Return from the Land of the Midnight Sun ready to lead outdoors, in your community, and beyond.

    You will spend a month backpacking among the towering peaks and immense snow-covered summits that characterize Alaska’s world-famous mountains. Possible destinations include the Talkeetna Mountains in southcentral Alaska, the interior Alaska Range, or the Wrangell-St. Elias Range along the U.S.-Canadian border. 

    Your course will begin with the basics, including camping, cooking and foundational mountain travel skills. Learning to live well and care for yourself, your fellow expedition members, your equipment and the environment is the focus of this course. You may cross large, glacier-fed rivers or negotiate slopes of loose scree and dense vegetation. By the end of the expedition, you will have had numerous opportunities to practice the leadership and outdoor skills needed to plan and carry out your own backpacking trips.

    *Duration: 30 days
    *Route length: 90-150 miles 
    *Average group size: 14 students / 3 instructors
    *Average age: Varies. Options include courses for ages 18-22 and courses for ages 16 and older
    *May reach elevations from 2,000-6,000 feet
    *Travel through tundra, shrub thickets, gravel river bottoms, and possibly on boulders and through snow
    *Off-trail hiking; some animal and ATV trails
    *Opportunities for non-technical peak ascents
    *Wildlife you may see: Dall sheep, moose, caribou, brown and black bears, wolves, wolverines and coyotes
    *Fishing: season and route dependent
    *Possibility for multi-day student expedition independent of instructors