North Carolina | Mountaineering & Backpacking

Discover North Carolina’s remote, technical terrain, as you backpack, climb, and mountaineer across rugged wilderness on a 14-day adventure.

Questions? Call NCOAE Support (910) 399-8090


At the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we know adventure. Immerse yourself in outdoor adventure, while learning the technical skills to travel & explore remote destinations in Wild North Carolina!

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14 days


Course Information

Adventure First

During this 14-day North Carolina mountaineering & backpacking course, you’ll find yourself exploring North Carolina's remote wilderness.

With NCOAE’s North Carolina Backpacking & Mountaineering course, you’ll explore some of America’s most historic terrain – the majestic Blue Ridge mountains and rugged gorges of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area – the Grand Canyon of the East. Our adventure begins and ends with North Carolina wilderness, and in the middle you’ll find solitude. Travel along cold-mountain streams, cascading waterfalls, and remote mountain passes, as you explore some of the tallest rock faces on the East Coast.  And, all of this provides the true  adventure of a lifetime!

During your expedition, you will have the opportunity to sharpen your backpacking skills, traveling into remote technical terrain where you’ll need tools, such as fixed lines, to finally reach the summit. Spend several days rock climbing – high above tree line. Develop skills, allowing you to climb demanding peaks and summit mountains, including rock climbing and backpacking skills, climbing rescue skills, backcountry navigation, hazard assessment, and personal skill development. You may even get the chance to apply your new skills in the last few days of the course with a “graduation climb” up a mountain peak.

During this 14-Day North Carolina Backpacking & Mountaineering course, you’ll find yourself exploring the heart of the America’s first National Forest. As you travel through the Appalachian mountain range, exploring rocky ridges and breathtaking mountain vistas, you’ll be learning, sharpening, and practicing the skills to plan and lead adventure-based experiential education trips.

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  • Duration: 14 days
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Tuition: $3,290.00
Available Dates
May 29, 2020 - Jun 11, 2020

Education Always

  • Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer certification
  • Expedition planning and logistics
  • Mountaineering & Rock Climbing skills
  • Advanced backpacking skills
  • Remote wilderness camp craft, including backcountry cooking and food planning
  • Climbing rescuetechniques
  • Teaching-level knowledge of the NCOAE
  • Itinerary
  • FAQs
  • Credits
  • Outcomes
  • Downloads

Itinerary Highlights

  • NCOAE core curriculum
  • LNT Awareness training
  • Gain experience in expedition planning, wilderness risk management, mountaineering skills, environmental studies, backcountry navigation, leadership in the wilderness, outdoor technology skills, and more
  • Ice and snow gear and travel techniques

Why Take This Course

  • Develop Mountaineering skills
  • Explore the Appalachian mountain range
  • Advance your knowledge of environmental science and outdoor leadership curriculum — while living and learning in North Carolina’s wild, beautiful places
  • Discover which areas of outdoor and wilderness education are best suited to your strengths
  • Acquire the skills needed to travel in remote, pristine destinations around the world!

Where You’ll Be

  • Wilderness of Pisgah National Forest — America’s first National Forest
  • Appalachian Mountain Range
  • Blue Ridge Mountains
What is the 14-day North Carolina - Mountaineering & Backpacking course?

The North Carolina Mountaineering & Backpacking 14-day course is a multi-day wilderness adventure during which you’ll participate in backpacking, rock climbing, and mountaineering – while learning how to travel in the outdoors on a multi-day backcountry course.

You’ll visit a variety of remote areas in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains, such as the Pisgah National Forest, the 30-mile-long Art Loeb Trail, Cedar Rock, Stone Depot, Lower West Rights, and the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. Along the way, you’ll explore the rugges ridges of these mountain areas as you practice the basics of camp setup, mountaineering, rock climbing, backpacking, and other outdoor skills.

How far will I be hiking?

You and your party will travel more than 30 miles across mountains, cool mountain streams, and cascading waterfalls, practicing backpacking, climbing, & mountaineering skills needed to explore rugged, remote areas around the world!

Where will we be staying?

We’ll be living in tents and enjoying our evenings in different areas most nights, identifying the stars and sharing highlights of our learning.

Who should take this course?

This course is best suited to those who want to challenge themselves in rugged, backcountry conditions.

Is the 14-day course offered in other locations or on different dates?

We offer this course in a variety of locations and during different periods throughout the year to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can explore Patagonia, Alaska, or the Pacific Northwest at various times of the year.

What do I need to do to physically prepare for this course?

You do not need to be an “Ironman” to participate in this course. That said, you will be required to carry your own pack, with your own gear and some group gear. Your pack will weigh between 40 and 50 pounds at any given time. You will be hiking over rugged terrain, crossing rivers, and climbing rugged ridges.

How different are the 14-day course, from the Outdoor Educator and Semester courses?

If you’re looking for a longer course with more time for additional exploration and adventure, we suggest you consider joining us for an Outdoor Educator or Semester / Gap Year course. You’ll go even more in-depth, combining the highlights of local topography, geography, and culture with our exceptional Wilderness First Responder (WFR)course.

These courses allow for a wide variety of activities against the backdrop of lush greenery, winding rivers, and some of the oldest mountains in the world.Explore the mountains to the sea, while earning the top certifications required in the outdoor industry, such as Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification, Leave No Trace (LNT) certification, AMGA (American Mountain Guide Association) Single Pitch Instructor training, American Canoe Association (ACA) Swift Water Rescue certification, and ACA ‘Trip Leader’ certification in Sea Kayaking.

What is the average group size and instructor/student ratio?

Each group has two or three instructors and eight to 15 students. We maintain an instructor-to-student ratio of no less than one instructor for every five students.

What are the minimum and average ages of participants?

The minimum age for this course is 18 years, and the average age is about 30 years. Typically, participants range in age from 25 to 34 years old.

What gear and equipment do I need?

NCOAE provides all necessary group gear and food, but you will want, or be required, to bring certain items for yourself. We encourage you to contact NCOAE with all of your gear questions as early as possible. Start planning now by viewing the NCOAE 14-day Alaska Mountaineering course pack list.

Beyond my tuition, what will I need to pay for in North Carolina?

Your tuition with NCOAE covers all major costs related to your room, board, and lodging, except when specified in the itinerary. You may request an optional meal out when we are in an urban area, which you would need to pay for separately. Additionally, you’ll need to budget a small stipend for your personal items, including souvenirs, extra snacks, and gifts.

What kind of food will I be eating?

Since we will be carrying all of our food on our backs, we’ll be eating many of the items that begin in their dehydrated forms; water weight is not something we want to carry. Expect meat, vegetables, fruits, grains, and even fresh baked bread and pizza! Of course, you’ll be making them all from scratch — learning to cook backcountry gourmet on the trail.

Academic Credit

This course is NOT currently eligible to receive college credit through the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. If you wish to attend a course and receive academic credit. If you are interested in earning credit for a course, learn more about our Outdoor Educatorand Semester / Gap Yearcourses which may be eligible for up to six college-level credits.  The following courses are currently eligible for up to six college-level credits through The University of North Carolina – Wilmington:

All courses are found in SeaNet under the following Course IDs:

  • EVS 485 — Issues in Sustainability: 6 credits
  • EVS 592 — Issues in Sustainability: 6 credits

In our beautiful home state, you’ll acquire self and group assessment and management skills.  This 14-day course will additionally expose you to a unique variety of environmental settings, as you backpack and rock climbing, explore mountains and rivers, and encounter remote flora, fauna, and landscapes.

Where do you want to go (physically, mentally, socially, academic, etc.)?

This course will prepare you with the self-reliance and skill necessary to travel in remote locations. You will learn effectual communication skills, understand the importance of making positive personal choices for your life, and help you understand how to become an influential member of your community.

How will NCOAE help you get there?

The 14-day North Carolina – Mountaineering & Backpacking course is the affordable adventure option if you are seeking extraordinary outdoor skill development, including: wilderness risk management, backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, backcountry cooking and living, and expedition planning.

Best of all, you’ll advance your opportunities to travel in the wilderness, and to affect positive changes in the world.

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NCOAE Pack List: North Carolina 14-day Mountaineering & Backpacking Course
NCOAE Pack List for North Carolina 14-day Mountaineering & Backpacking course.
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Upcoming Dates / Reserve Your Spot

This 14-day North Carolina - Mountaineering & Backpacking course is only offered through NCOAE, which is why we’re excited to offer it in our home state.

Available Dates
May 29, 2020 - Jun 11, 2020

You’ll develop your personal leadership style, gain wilderness skills, and learn effective tools for communication.