Heart of the Rockies
Our Premier Mountain Skills Program
Grades 9-11 (ages 15-17) | July 7 – July 27 | 21 days | 20 Service Hours | $3,890*
- Seek out the elusive moose that wander deep in the Weminuche
- Bathe in a cold, clear lake nestled in a rocky amphitheater
- Conquer jagged peaks, one breath and one step at a time
- Learn skills that will prepare you for your own backcountry adventures
Only this program offers 17 consecutive days in the “Heart of the Rockies”, maximizing the action and virtually eliminating van time. Begin your three weeks in the wilderness by backpacking through the aspen and spruce forests of the largest roadless area in Colorado. Tread lightly in this protected environment, read the mountain weather, protect your food from wildlife, create shelter almost anywhere. Use your map, compass, even the stars to find your way. Fields overflowing with wildflowers, comic marmots, deserted mining camps, the Circle of friendship at sundown – these memories are just as important as the photos you take or the backcountry skills you master.
Conservation Service with the U.S. Forest Service
You are happy to see your Deer Hill support team arrive on horseback with mail, fresh food and other treats, as well as your service tools. Rendezvous with our Forest Service partner at your conservation service site deep in the woods. Spend two full days learning the ecology of the area while working on erosion control, protecting stream banks and other watershed management tasks.
Close by is the location of our two-day climbing camp. At an imposing rock wall with dramatic cracks and fissures, learn to rappel, belay and climb gracefully to the top. Your leaders will select climbs with the right challenge level for you, so that your skills will progress, even if you are not experienced on rock.
High Altitude Backpacking and Peak Ascents
Leave camp and head back into the midst of glacial valleys and towering peaks for the final alpine tundra trek. Build ‘bomber’ campsites above timberline, attend ‘snow school’ on a permanent snowfield at 12,000 feet, wake at dawn to see the sunrise, hold a wilderness “Iron Chef” competition, and climb some of Colorado’s most impressive peaks. As the days pass, you become stronger, more confident in your skills, and a trust develops between the members of this expedition team. You are tuning in to the power of this wild place, and it feels like home. Finally, we make it to Highland Mary Lakes Trailhead, where Deer Hill staff are waiting to take us out for ice-cream in historic Silverton, then back to Basecamp for an incredibly well-deserved shower and home-cooked feast.
*Our Special Recreation permit with the US Forest Service requires us to state that $2465 are the gross receipts for the mountain section of this program.
“Our trip was unbelievable. I was surprised at the level of support, love, and encouragement that we received. I want to hold onto the strength and adaptability I discovered in myself. When I am faced by a challenge in the future, I will reflect on this trip and remember that if I can climb a 13,000-foot peak, I can do just about anything.” Lizzi, Crestone, CO
“I loved my expedition! It was a truly exciting experience, and I thought our leaders were amazing. I will cherish the friendships and bonds we forged.” Travis, Plano, TX
“It was the greatest experience of my life so far. It helped me learn a lot of skills. I loved meeting new people. I loved being in nature and living with it and learning to respect it. I will cherish the beauty of the mountains.” Margaret, Framingham, MA