Southwest Winter Break Expedition


21 days


17+ yrs



See Dates

Level up your winter break with a climbing and backpacking adventure

Leave the classroom behind for a month in the granite crags and vibrant wilderness of Arizona. Divided into two sections, backpacking and rock climbing, this course offers opportunities for you to develop interpersonal, leadership, and outdoor skills you can use for a lifetime of adventuring.

You’ll receive hands-on mentorship from dedicated instructors as you work through the basics. The backpacking section will focus on all things outdoor living, like cooking, navigating off-trail, and building an inclusive community with your coursemates. On the climbing section, you’ll hone foundational skills like belaying, tying knots, rope handling, and rappelling, and may progress to more advanced activities like anchor building, placing rock protection, and rock rescue techniques. With these skills, you’ll be able to explore forests of ponderosa pine, striking mesas, and granite domes that characterize this part of the Southwest. They’ll also set you up for planning future backpacking and climbing trips of your own.

Woven into these outdoor skills is your progression through NOLS’ recognized leadership curriculum. Though some topics will be taught in sit-down classes, most learning will come from your daily experiences. Crossing a river will teach teamwork and resilience, while completing a challenging climb will offer chances to grow in communication and grit. As the course progresses, you’ll learn about the area’s wildlife and geology, gain insight into its history, and appreciate living simply. If you’re ready for a challenge that will prepare you to lead, this is the course for you.

Course Dates

1 course

Nov 15 - Dec 5, 2022