COURSE OVERVIEW

The Exploris School

North Carolina Mountains Backpacking and Rock Climbing / April 18-22, 2022

Click here to see photos from the 2019 Exploris School Outward Bound course. 

Location

BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS, NC

Because the Appalachians were once one of the largest mountain ranges in the world they have many different geologic landforms, climates and soils. This long evolutionary history and temperate climate create an area which is teeming with life. Participants can expect to share the wilderness with over 700 different kinds of trees, more than 50 types of mammals, 150 different types of birds and about 40 species of amphibians. 

This course area is situated within a million acres of national forests, federally-protected wilderness areas, and other public lands. Its diverse landscapes have been featured in many motion pictures, including The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans. <Click to learn more about this course area.>

Activities

BACKPACKING

During your course, you will be spending the majority of your time backpacking. During this component, you learn safety precautions for backcountry foot travel, how to find campsites, how to navigate terrain as well as how to use a map and compass. Equally important will be time spent learning conflict resolution, communication styles, leadership and team building. After practicing these skills, your instructors will step back and let you and your crew work together to collectively navigate through the wilderness.

Since your crew’s navigation depends on individual and group decision making, your crew could make some navigational errors along the way. You will be carrying a backpack that may weigh 50+ pounds. The weight is manageable, as the packs (when fitted correctly) will rest on your hips not on your back or shoulders. You may end up hiking long hours to reach your destination. You may expedition three miles uphill one day and eight miles over varied terrain the next day. Therefore, we want to remind you that physical preparation is very important!

ROCK CLIMBING/RAPPELLING/HIGH ROPES COURSE

Weather permitting, you may spend a day rock climbing or rappelling or on our high ropes course. With a focus on the practice of safety, your lessons will start with the basics, such as working with ropes and learning to tie knots.

  • Rock Climbing: Begin with bouldering and progress to a top-rope climb. On a top-rope climb, you will be anchored with a safety rope at the top of the climb and climb toward that anchor.
  • Rappelling: A means of controlled descent to lower yourself down a cliff, rock face or some other high location.
  • High Ropes Course: Your crew may have an opportunity to experience a high ropes course. A high ropes course is an obstacle course constructed with ropes and built high off the ground.

SERVICE

Service will be a continuous theme throughout your course. The ethic of service is practiced through Leave No Trace camping techniques, reaching out with compassion to your fellow crewmates and working together as a team to overcome the challenges of Outward Bound.

SOLO

Solo typically occurs more than halfway through your course. Your instructors will assign each participant an individual campsite within a designated area. Your instructors will teach you procedures to follow during solo and monitor you during this experience. You will know the location of your instructors’ campsite should you need to contact them; otherwise it is essential that you remain in your designated area. If your course has an overnight solo you will have your clothing, food and water.  In addition, you will have Outward Bound issued gear: including rain gear, shelter, sleeping bag, compass and whistle. Due to a decreased need for caloric intake, you will have less food available than you would have during your other course activities. Solo is a not a “survival test.” You will not be physically active during solo, as solo is a time for rest, recharge and reflection. Solo is also a good time to write in the journals we provide. If you have questions or concerns, please discuss with your Student Services Representative or your instructors.  

FINAL CHALLENGE EVENT
At the end of your course, you may participate in a final challenge event. This is an opportunity to see how
much your skills have improved since you began your course.

Background Reading

Here are some books that we encourage you to read as you plan for your course:

  • The Outward Bound Wilderness First-Aid Handbook by Jeff Isaac
  • Leave No Trace: A Practical Guide to the New Wilderness Ethic by Annette McGivney
  • Knots & Ropes for Climbers by Duane Raleigh and Mike Clelland
  • The Outward Bound Backpacker's Handbook by Glenn Randall
  • The Outward Bound Map & Compass Handbook by Glenn Randall
Shelter

While in the mountains, each crew will be given large tarps* to set up as shelters. You will also be given a ground sheet and a foam sleeping pad to place under your sleeping bag.

*Due to COVID-19, participants will have physically distanced sleeping arrangements. For courses longer than 7 days, sleeping arrangements may be adjusted after week 1, based on receipt of negative test results from day 1 testing.