Pacific Northwest | Mountaineering & Backpacking

Discover Oregon’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!

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14 days


Course Information

Adventure First

Explore the rugged and remote Cascade Mountains.

With NCOAE’s Pacific Northwest Mountaineering & Backpacking course, you’ll explore some of America’s most breathtaking terrain – the rugged, remote Cascade  Mountains. Our adventure begins and ends with Oregon’s wilderness, and in the middle you’ll find solitude. Travel along alpine meadows, cold-mountain streams, cascading waterfalls, and remote mountain passes. And, all of this provides the true mountaineering 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 use tools, such as fixed lines, to finally reach the summit. Spend several days hiking – high above tree line. Develop skills, allowing you to climb demanding peaks and summit mountains, including advanced backpacking 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 Pacific Northwest Mountaineering & Backpacking course, you’ll find yourself exploring the heart of the Three Sisters Wilderness. As you travel through the Cascade mountain range, exploring rocky ridges and breathtaking mountain vistas, you’ll be learning, sharpening, and practicing the skills to plan and lead outdoor adventure trips.

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  • Duration: 14 days
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Tuition: $3,150.00
  • Credit Hours: N/A
Available Dates
Aug 03, 2020 - Aug 16, 2020

Education Always

  • Leave No Trace (LNT) training
  • Expedition planning and logistics
  • Mountaineering skills
  • Advanced backpacking skills
  • Remote wilderness camp craft, including backcountry cooking and food planning
  • Teaching-level knowledge of the NCOAE curriculum


  • Itinerary
  • FAQs
  • Credits
  • Outcomes
  • Downloads

Itinerary Highlights

  • NCOAE core curriculum
  • LNT Awareness training
  • Mountaineering techniques
  • Gain experience in backcountry travel planning, wilderness risk management, campsite selection, backcountry navigation, and more

Why Take This Course

  • Develop essential wilderness knowledge and skills — while living and learning in Oregon’s wild, beautiful places.
  • Explore the Cascade Mountain range, alpine forests, and rocky ridges
  • Immerse yourself in a wonderland of densely forested hills, cool mountain streams, cascading waterfalls, and stunning rock formations.
  • Acquire the outdoor skills needed to travel in pristine destinations around the world!

Where You’ll Be

  • Deschutes National Forest
  • Three Sisters Wilderness
  • Cascade Mountain Range
What is the 14-day Pacific Northwest - Mountaineering & Backpacking course?

The Pacific Northwest – Backpacking & Mountaineering course is a 14-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 Cascade Mountains, Deschutes National Forest, and Three Sisters 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.

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.

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 North Carolina at various times of the year.

Who should take this course?

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

How different is the 14-day course, compared to the Outdoor Educator and Semester courses?

If you’re looking for a longer course in the Pacific Northwest 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 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 glaciers, making high altitude ascents, and negotiating deep valleys and steep ridges.

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 age 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 Pacific Northwest – Mountaineering & Backpacking course pack list.

Beyond my tuition, what will I need to pay for during the course?

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.

This course is NOT currently eligible to receive college credit through the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. If you are interested in earning credit for a course, learn more about our Outdoor Educator and Semester / Gap Year courses 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 the beautiful pacific northwest, 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 Pacific Northwest – 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: Pacific Northwest 14-day Mountaineering & Backpacking course
NCOAE Pack List for the Pacific Northwest 14-day Mountaineering & Backpacking course.

Upcoming Dates / Reserve Your Spot

This 14-day Pacific Northwest - Backpacking & Mountaineering course is only offered through NCOAE, which is why we’re excited to offer it the beautiful Oregon wilderness.

Available Dates
Aug 03, 2020 - Aug 16, 2020

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