This challenging expedition offers the best of British Columbia’s spectacular Coast Mountains and remote northern waters of Georgia Straight and Desolation Sound. For centuries, explorers have relied on sailboats to explore the far corners of the globe, and this expedition follows in that tradition. You will learn how to navigate rock, snow, and the ocean.
First, you will explore British Columbia’s Waddington Range. A succession of long fjords, flanked by vertical walls, leads into the jagged peaks and sprawling ice fields that comprise the range. Most of the range is covered with enormous ice fields and some of longest glaciers in sub-arctic North America. Here, you’ll learn techniques of alpine and glacier mountaineering, off-trail travel, and camping in all weather conditions—all the skills needed for you to carry out remote mountaineering expeditions and explore rugged, mountainous terrain. As you bushwhack through thick forest and undergrowth on your way to the glaciers, you'll master camping, cooking, and basic travel skills. Your course might be challenged to negotiate slopes of loose scree, dense vegetation or large, crevassed glaciers.
Once you reach the glacier, you’ll move into the climbing curriculum. As your experience builds and you move into more technically demanding terrain, you’ll be exposed to more advanced skills. This course will take advantage of every opportunity to prepare you for future expeditions in glaciated ranges and open seas. You will exit the mountains at the head of Bute Inlet and board 36-foot sailboats. You’ll turn toward the Strait of Georgia, the east coast of Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands.
You’ll learn to sail as you go and dive into boat handling under sail or power, charts, coastal navigation, and seamanship. The leadership skills you were introduced to in the mountains will be refined as you take the role of ‘First Mate of the Day.’ You’ll cook and sleep on board and rotate crew positions to give everyone a chance to experience the responsibilities of life on the water. You’ll anchor at peaceful inlets and explore some of the area’s remote islands. You’ll observe the diverse life of tidal pools, read tide tables and marine charts, and learn about the fascinating early human history of the region.
At course end, you’ll have the skills to take to any mountain or ocean environment in the world.
"With NOLS we not only teach students
to live comfortably in the backcountry, but how to appreciate
the wilderness as well. We give students the tools to be
independent thinkers and do trips on their own."