Overview and Curriculum – Wilderness Trekking School  (rev 8/10)


Wilderness Trekking School is Colorado Mountain Club’s largest school, a comprehensive course on mountain hiking. Students are all ages, from 18 to 80. If you’re new to hiking, WTS gives you the opportunity to learn how to travel safely – and with confidence – in the backcountry. If you’re an experienced hiker, WTS gives you a chance to review, to enhance your skills, and possibly to fill in some gaps:

Over a period of five lectures, four field trips, and a graduation hike, you will get the opportunity to:

This is a great place to learn and practice skills, make new friends, and become a safe backcountry traveler.

Graduating from WTS helps you to qualify for Basic Mountaineering School and to gain a “C” hiking classification with the CMC.  WTS is open to all Colorado Mountain Club members with any hiking classification and ability level, age 18 or older.

For those members who feel they already have these skills, a WTS Waiver Form may be submitted to request that the course requirement be waived.

WTS lectures and group meetings are held at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden.  The WTS curriculum consists of a training manual, five Tuesday evening lectures, four field trips on Thursday, Saturday or Sunday, and a graduation hike on the chosen day.  The lectures and manual will provide the knowledge base for the field trips.  Students must attend all five lectures, all four field trips, and the graduation hike (or appropriate makeups) to pass WTS (see FAQ).  Additional time will be required outside of the lecture nights and field days for homework, reading the student manual, Graduation Hike planning, acquiring necessary gear, etc.

Students are assigned to all-Thursday, all-Saturday, or all-Sunday field trip groups, according to preference.  We also try to group students by hiking level with a balance of genders.  This helps you learn in a supportive atmosphere and make compatible acquaintances for future hikes.  Field groups typically consist of 10-12 students.  Each group is assigned to a senior instructor and one to three assistant instructors for the duration of the school.  Each lecture night, each team will meet to discuss lecture topics, plan trips, answer questions, and go over quizes.  Topics related to conservation, safety, knots, wildlife, teamwork, etc, will be included throughout the course.

The field trips are designed to provide "hands-on" experience in basic mountain travel, navigation and route finding, and snow travel.  Emphasis is placed on learning and practicing all of the applicable safety procedures.  The field trips range from “A” to “B” level hikes, on- and off-trail, covering a variety of terrain and varying degrees of difficulty in all types of weather conditions.  Be prepared to spend a full day in the field on every trip.

Student requests for refunds of tuition must be submitted in writing to the WTS Director via the CMC office.  Requests made prior to 30 days before the beginning of the school will be processed less a $10.00 handling fee.  Requests made within 30 days of the beginning of school will be refunded at 50% of the amount paid.  No refunds will be made after the beginning of the school.  However, a refund less $10.00 can be obtained if a person is found to take the original student’s place in the school.

The WTS application form is available from this website.