About to end a long backcountry expedition with a 20-mile packraft to the trailhead.
While it might be impossible to cover every single topic listed below in depth, this list represents the essential curriculum of the WT program. The short format courses will address most of these topics in a formal way, and then the team will actually use most these skills. The longer format courses will obviously be able to use these skills in a more in-depth way that is challenging and realistic.
The specialized skills courses will still use this basic list as a foundation, but they take on the extra challenge of very specific skills as a focus of the course (e.g. packrafting, winter camping, and advanced navigation).
WTS instruction is divided between a short time in the classroom at our retreat center in the Gallatin Mountains, and of course, the mountains themselves!
WTS instructor Mike Clelland discusses the art and science behind a lightweight alcohol stove system to WT1 students.
Students will learn and practice the art of firebuilding - for cooking and safety - on all WT courses.
Pitching a tarp is a fundamental skill for lightweight backpacking and is taught and practiced throughout the school's programs.
Our primary classroom, of course, is in the mountains, where we learn the art and skill of wilderness travel and listen to what the mountains have to teach us.
Principles and Gear
- Basic principles of LW and UL
- Essential philosophy behind UL
- Nutrition and UL backpacking
- Gear choices (including):
- cooking systems
- water purification
- Misconceptions about UL (fact & fiction)
- UL and our relationship to each other / the wilderness
- Safety within the context of UL
Lightweight Expedition Skills
- Appropriate lightweight clothing and gear
- Weighing and documenting gear
- Tarp camping
- Packing the UL pack
- Choosing a campsite
- Staying comfortable and dry while hiking
- Staying warm and dry while sleeping
- Understanding nutritional needs and strategies
- Backcountry cooking
- Stove use and care
- Decision making in groups
- Expedition behavior
- Poopin’ in the woods
- Wilderness hygiene
- Solo skills vs group skills
Travel and Locomotion Skills
- Travel preparation, plans (route and description)
- Walking with a light pack (pace, keeping eyes up)
- Foot placement and balance on trail
- Off-trail techniques
- Map skills (intro)
- Map skills (advanced)
- Navigation and route finding
- Individual energy management (pace, etc.)
- Group energy management (pace, spacing, communication, plan, etc.)
Essential Safety Skills
- Getting lost vs. staying found
- River crossings
- Wildlife concerns
- Traveling safely in grizzly terrain
- Human factors
Essential Risk Management Skills
- Prevention, prevention, prevention!
- Oh, yeah: PREVENTION!
- Decision making
- Developing judgment
- Blisters/foot care
- Water purification
- Importance of hydration
- Importance of nutrition while hiking
- Heat related illness
- Emergency procedures
- Expedition mentality as a safety issue
- Expedition mentality as a weight-reducing skill
- Supportive learning environment
Awareness of Self and Others
- Personal goals
- Group goals
- Authentic community development (formal and informal)
Environmental Connection and Stewardship
- Local plants and animals
- Local land management issues
- Leave no trace, minimal impact camping as it relates to UL
- Formal time to reflect on nature
- Informal time to reflect on nature
- Solo hiking
- Solo camping