Multiple Locations +2
  • United States of America
  • Chile
    • Patagonia
4 - 26 weeks
Program Tags
Adventure Travel After College Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Language Immersion Learning Differences Post-High School Social Justice Study Abroad Volunteer Abroad Wilderness +2
Need-based funding, Payment plans, 529 Plan eligibility

Program Details

Backpacking Camping Canyoning Mountain Climbing Rafting Rock Climbing Sightseeing Skiing Trekking
Fall Spring Winter
Host Family Hostel Lodge Tent
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
The price of tuition includes room and board as well as all domestic travel throughout the program. Tuition does not include travel to and from Denver and to Patagonia, or the price of gear.

Need-based financial aid is available on a rolling basis. 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
Airfare Travel Insurance Visa
Nov 15, 2023
Apr 25, 2024
54 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

HMI’s Gap Semesters connect outdoor adventure, conservation, environmental curriculum, and leadership as students venture on an uninterrupted journey of self-discovery in the natural world. Our students thrive as engaged citizen by exploring some of the world’s most awe-inspiring places 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 Chilean Futaleufu river, our outdoor curriculum is aimed at moving students toward excellence and independence.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

The High Mountain Institute believes that both diversity and inclusion are essential to growth and learning. We all achieve our potential when each person in the community feels a true sense of belonging, and has the confidence to express their full self.

At HMI, inclusiveness starts with an intentional and affirming community. Creating such a community is our priority. We connect deeply to each other through classes, wilderness expeditions, and shared responsibilities. We prioritize open communication and honest conflict resolution. These efforts inspire us to build trust, to value diverging perspectives, and to build communities greater than ourselves.

Historically, however, outdoor programs like HMI have attracted largely white and privileged populations. At times, this has made it challenging for all at our school to feel fully part of our community. We seek to address these challenges at HMI by increasing the diversity of our students, faculty, staff, trustees, and advisers; by creating classes and activities that explore and reflect students’ identities; by expanding the cultural competence of faculty and staff; and by continually challenging the assumptions we hold.

We engage with this challenging work because we are committed to building an exceptional learning environment rooted in community—not just for some, but for all who seek to be inspired by the natural world.

Program Highlights

  • Rock Climbing, Backpacking, Backcountry Skiing, Rafting, Canyoneering
  • Stewardship, Community, Leadership
  • Environmental Studies Curriculum
  • 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.

Related Programs

Program Reviews

4.89 Rating
based on 96 reviews
  • 5 rating 88.54%
  • 4 rating 11.46%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.75
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.85
  • Value 4.9
  • Safety 4.85
Showing 1 - 8 of 96 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Patagonia Trek Gap Program

We went backpacking in beautiful, remote places + partnered with a local rafting company to do some amazing rafting, and learned about glaciology and saw a glacier with another local company. We stayed in local’s homes and developed relationships with our hostel owners and had time to explore cities. A highlight of mine was the 24 hour solo where we spent a full day alone and able to reflect and appreciate.
Not only this but we practiced communication, leadership, authenticity and self advocacy in a small community where everyone was committed to learning. It’s hard to find this intentional of a community. I did not realize the emphasis of this before starting the program but I am very grateful for how I’ve grown in these 80 days.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Embrace the challenges of being in a small community while doing hard things
  • Learn/practice Spanish
  • Create intentional community
  • See stunning landscapes
12 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Fall Trek 2023

HMI GAP TREK was essential in enhancing my communication skills and helped me learn how to give constructive feedback during a conflict. Alongside that, I had many firsts including backpacking, sleeping outside, planting trees, and flying internationally. The one thing I enjoyed the most was getting to experience such drastically different environments all spread out in perfect increments. Of course HMI comes with its challenges but you will thrive and feel the support being offered by all instructors and students.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
While in Patagonia National Park, I got to see 2 pumas, tons of flamingos, guanacos, andean condors, wild horses and cows.
  • Support
  • Physical
  • Challenge
  • Heights
58 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Fall Trek 2023

Definitely recommend doing HMI gap semester! I loved the people and the instructors were amazing. We went to some of the coolest places like the Utah canyons and the valleys in Patagonia.

If you go you will meet some of your closest friends and have some really special memories of your adventures. We had a lot of fun hiking on trail as well as playing silly games and laughing together. Some days were challenging but the challenge is what makes it worth it!

HMI wants a kind, supportive community that will lift each other up and work on goal setting together. If this seems good to you, apply and find out what makes HMI so special.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
We were hiking in Patagonia and we saw the biggest flying birds in the world, the Condor. They were so cool to look at and watch them circling in the sky.
  • The loving community
  • The places you will go
  • The best instructors
  • Very structured
54 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

f-rock 23

HMI gap was awesome. I came in with zero outdoor experience and learned a ton. It’s also a great community with some lovely people. You spend three months with a very small group, so you get close to everyone. It might get cold or wet or ridiculously windy, but those will end up being the best memories you look back on. I don’t regret doing it.
There was a written curriculum, which was occasionally interesting, but could definitely use some revision. Our teachers made the best of it, though. If you don’t think you’d be cut out for three months of backpacking and rock climbing, don’t doubt yourself. Give it a try.

  • new friends
  • amazing places
  • open to all experience levels
  • There will be hard days
54 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Yes please

Loved the places we traveled and the things we learned. Getting to see remains of ancient civilizations to pumas and flamingos in Patagonia to sleeping under the biggest sky I’ve ever seen, i was surrounded by incredible people and memories. I’m walking out with some insane stories, lifelong friends, advice from incredible mentors, and a better sense of what i want from my future. The perfect way to move into the next part of my life, highly recommend if you’re looking for an adventure or new path in life.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Ancient Puebloan dwellings and petroglyphs deep in Utah canyons
55 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Fall Trek ‘23

I am so happy with my decision on doing fall trek!! Being apart of this community has helped me in endless ways and I definitely recommend!!! We hiked everyday and saw amazing views! I met so many people and built lifelong friendships with people here. I learned how to be apart of a healthy community and got to travel to many places! I am able to communicate in healthy ways with people around me and learned how to support myself and people around me. This program was the best decision I could have made!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
We saw pumas in Patagonia!
  • Good community
  • Great instructors
  • Endless amounts of support
  • Challenging hikes on some days
  • Very cold some days
  • Nerve racking in the beginning
57 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Gap Time

I spent the first semester of my gap year doing HMI’s rock course. The instructors and staff were incredibly supportive, and the climbing was amazing. I would definitely recommend to anyone looking to build on their climbing skills, anyone seeking adventure, and anyone looking to be part of a tight knit learning community. I had a wonderful time in Colorado, Utah, and Chilean Patagonia, and I’m leaving the program with melancholic feelings and a broader and matured sense of self. Definitely check out HMI!

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

A once in a lifetime experience to explore the world and gain confidence in yourself!

During the Fall Rock 2023 gap semester I got to travel around the world and climb at world class crags. Throughout the journey I met amazing people, lived in beautiful backcountry settings, and learned about the importance of self confidence, vulnerability, and reflection.

A supportive and loving team of instructors accompanied our small group around the world and shared valuable life experiences and stories. During transition periods we stayed at the beautiful HMI campus in Leadville, Colorado.

59 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers