Multiple Locations +3
  • United States of America
  • Chile
  • Peru
4 - 26 weeks

Program Details

Backpacking Canyoning Mountain Climbing Rock Climbing Trekking
Fall Spring Winter
Host Family Hostel Tent
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Tuition includes room and board as well as all domestic travel. Tuition does not include travel to and from Denver and to Patagonia.

Need-based financial aid available. Our highest awards include full tuition, free gear rentals and travel to and from the program.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Equipment Meals Park Fees Transportation
What's Not Included
Aug 09, 2022
Apr 24, 2022
38 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

HMI’s Gap Semesters unite outdoor adventure, environmental service, and leadership development on an uninterrupted journey to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring places. Our students realize their full potential to thrive as engaged citizens of the world by exploring with intention.

We believe the best learning occurs in nature’s classroom. Through experiential and field-based activities, students explore complex cultural, environmental, and ecological issues in the areas that they visit.

Central to all HMI Gap year programs is extended experience and practice in outdoor adventure. Each course goes into great depth to advance students’ skill in either rock climbing or wilderness travel. Whether climbing iconic sandstone towers in Utah, hiking through a breathtaking glacial valley in Patagonia, or rafting down the pristine blue waters of the Futaleufu river, our outdoor curriculum is aimed at moving students toward excellence and independence.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Rock Climbing, Backpacking, Backcountry Skiing, Rafting, Canyoneering
  • Stewardship, Community, Leadership
  • Environmental studies
  • Spanish language
  • College credit through Western Colorado University or Portland State

Popular Programs

Exploring the slot canyons of Southeastern Utah

Spend a semester backpacking, backcountry skiing, canyoneering, and rafting through the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Greater Canyonlands of Utah, and vast deserts of Arizona. You’ll go into great depth to advance your backcountry wilderness skills while studying pressing environmental issues and participating in real-world conservation service work.

Dedicate a semester to honing your technical outdoor rock climbing skills.

Spend a semester rock climbing and traveling through the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Greater Canyonlands of Utah, and breathtaking Patagonia. You’ll go into great depth to advance your climbing and outdoor skills for the entire semester while studying pressing environmental issues and participating in hands-on conservation projects.

Work with climate scientists to study the glaciers in Patagonia's wild Northern Icefields.

During an HMI Gap Trek Semester students focus on honing technical backpacking and backcountry travel skills.

In the fall students travel through the American West and Chilean, Patagonia. In the Spring students travel through Chilean, Patagonia.


High Mountain Institute Award

If you’re looking at one of the four High Mountain Institute programs to Patagonia, consider applying for financial aid. Your application must include tax forms from the last two years and will be awarded based on SSS (school and student services calculator) used by National Association of Independent Schools, which HMI is apart of. In addition to tuition and other travel costs, High Mountain Institute also provides discounted gear rentals to financial aid recipients.

$1,000 - $15,000

Related Programs

Program Reviews

9.61 Rating
based on 71 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 94.37%
  • 7-8 rating 5.63%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Housing 9.1
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.6
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 8 of 71 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Patagonia Gap semester

My time on this program has transformed me in the most incredible way. You gain outdoor skills, you challenge your perspectives on the environment, and you learn how to communicate better. I learned so much about myself through this program. The instructors very intentionally create a space we’re you can be yourself and grow without judgement. I highly recommend this program. You will meet the most incredible people and accomplish more than you ever thought possible. It is physically and emotionally challenging, but 100% worth it.

  • Community
  • Amazing hikes
  • Knowledgeable instructors
  • The food
  • Physically challenging
  • Not a lot of down time
18 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Spring Trek Patagonia

The experience I had with HMI was absolutely amazing. I have never been backpacking before and it was daunting to come down to Patagonia with no experience but I quickly learned everything from the staff and students. My group was so supportive and the community we built together was nothing like I’ve ever been in before. I can’t wait to take my learning home and apply it to backpacking by myself and others. I’ve grown so much from this gap trip and will miss my instructors and peers so much and will hopefully keep in touch for a long time.

17 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

HMI Gap Patagonia 2/2022-4/2022

HMI gap was such an amazing experience. I have met my new lifelong friends and people who I love dearly. Every place we went was such an impactful experience. I learned so many new skills, and the instructors taught us so much. I improved my trekking, outdoor living, and community building skills so much over the past few months. I would highly recommend. Be prepared for cold, snow, rain, sun, and all the inbetweens! Learning to be flexible, patient, and “tranqilo” is very important, but we became closer as a community when we were in uncomfortable and harsh weather environments.

  • Trekking
  • Rafting
  • Map navigation
  • Limited free time
  • Long car rides
  • Harsh weather
19 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

HMI Gap Patagonia

This experience was exactly what I was looking for. It was the perfect combination of challenging and rewarding backpacking and formal educational experiences. I loved the intensity of the river expedition, getting to know local farmers in Futaleufu, practicing hard navigation off trail, and participating in field research near the solér glacier. I feel as if I made meaningful connections to the land and the people in a way that will stay with me as I begin college. I would definitely recommend this program to all gap year students invested in community and the outdoors. Thank you HMI!!

  • Challenging Treks
  • Intimate connections with nature
  • Community
  • Not too much down time
  • Not enough exploration time in transition days
18 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Go HMI gap!!

This program was amazing. We spent a lot of our time in the wilderness of the Andes mountains backpacking. If you do this program, you will becoming a master at backpacking. There is a lot of focus on building an intention community, something I loved and felt like HMI fostered really well. We had cultural experiences like doing a traditional Patagonian Asado and visiting gauchos in the countryside. We summited mountains and saw amazing views. We spent so much time outside, and each person developed a much deeper connection to nature. Overall, it was an amazing adventure and I would highly recommend.

  • Explored the Andes in a personal way.
  • Built a strong community.
  • Challenged myself mentally and physically.
  • Not very much down time.
  • Don’t really get to explore Chilean towns.
17 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best semester

I’m so happy I chose HMI for my gap semester. It was such an amazing experience and I got to visit beautiful places with a great group of people. My group got to backpack through Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. We went through mountains, canyons, and deserts. I had never backpacked before coming to HMI and I did not feel held back at all. I now have the skills to go on personal backpacking trips because of everything I’ve learned at HMI. The instructors are very supportive and the people make the trip what it is.

22 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A truly life-changing experience!!

Coming to HMI Gap was the best decision I have ever made! Specifically, I was a part of the Fall Traverse section. During those two and a half months, I got the opportunity to travel all throughout the Southwestern United States and hone my backpacking, rock climbing, and leadership skills. Being in the backcountry allowed me to push myself, both physically and mentally. I also met the people who became my best friends on this program. Overall, I would highly recommend the HMI Gap program to anyone who loves the outdoors, community building, and becoming the best version of themself.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing I saw was a family of three mountain goats that followed us on our summit of Mount Massive!
23 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

HMI Gap F-Traverse 2021

Truly amazing program! I really enjoyed the backpacking, climbing and rafting trips. The community is very inclusive and the instructors are super supportive. I loved how anyone can come from anywhere and get a great education in outdoor skills and learn from the leadership, community, and environmental studies curriculums. One of the most impactful times of my life. If you're someone who isn't sure what you want to do, this program really opens up a ton of opportunities and interests. Would return for a second semester.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Sport wading through slot canyons in Bears Ears National Monument.
25 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers