High Mountain Institute Gap (HMI Gap) Semesters

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About

The conservation movement began with early explorers. In pursuit of adventure, people traveled to remote regions and extreme landscapes; they left with strength of character and a deepened sense of their place in the world. HMI Gap reunites adventure with conservation, taking you on an incredible journey to these iconic and wild places. With programs traveling through Patagonia and the American West, you will discover more about the world and yourself, make lasting positive impacts, become independent in your outdoor skills, develop intellectual maturity and effective leadership, and leave more prepared to pursue your life's ambition.

For the fall semester in the American West and Patagonia, you can choose a rock climbing or wilderness travel focus while working on meaningful service projects on public lands.

For the spring semester in Patagonia, you'll focus on cultural exploration, wilderness travel, service-learning, all while studying in-depth conservation issues in the region.

Highlights
  • Rock Climbing, Backpacking, Extended time in the wilderness
  • Stewardship, Community, Leadership
  • Spanish language
  • Environmental studies
  • Cultural exchange

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 6 reviews
  • Housing 9.2
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.8
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
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Alexandra
9/10

Engaging, Enriching, and Totally Epic

I came to HMI Gap with absolutely no backpacking experience and left feeling confident I could backpack by myself for weeks and love it. The community we created through the curriculum and the instructors left me laughing endlessly, even in times of struggle. It is probably the most special community I've ever been a part of. My instructors were there to push me, but also to support me whenever as well as being great friends. The expeditions were not easy--but completely rewarding and the places I hiked are some of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I really liked that an environmental studies course was also incorporated because it brought us awareness about what was going on and being said about the places we were backpacking through. In the end, this program pushed me more than I've ever been pushed, which let me leave the most confident I have ever been in myself. It might not always be Type 1 fun, but you'll look back on it as an experience of a lifetime.

How can this program be improved?
It's a relatively new program (4th year) so they are still working out the kinks (i.e. expedition routes, camping site selection) but those things were also part of the adventure for me.
Yes, I recommend
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Celia
10/10

HMI Gap

This is a great program. Each location is amazing, the instructors are great, and I learned so much about rock climbing that I'll be able to use in the future. In Patagonia, we stayed and hiked through some beautiful places. There was also time in Moab and Chile Chico for some free time in town. Having done NOLS in the past, I would rate this program above that. I had an amazing experience with a bunch of great people.

How can this program be improved?
I know it's hard with permits and all, but I would've loved to visit the national parks we were near in Utah.
Yes, I recommend
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Harrison
10/10

Absolutely fantastic

I think that taking a gap year was one of the best decisions I've made in my life so far. HMI is such a good program and they're doing great things. I won't bore you with all the details of my experience, but in all the places you go, it's in the peak season and the best time of year to be there. This is so much more than a climbing or backpacking trip or whatever other perceptions you might have: it's all of those. Thanks for reading my review.

How can this program be improved?
I can't think of many things to improve upon, but the one that comes to mind is giving students more time to experience the culture (this is just in Patagonia). I know it'd be hard to work out with limited time and all that, but I think it'd be awesome to say, go to a restaurant in Chile or something. Other than that it was great!
Yes, I recommend
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Caitlin
9/10

The most amazing and challenging experience

Hmi gap was truely a one of a kind experience! It was by far the most challenging thing I have ever done both physically and mentally but it could not have been more worth it! Because of HMI gap I ran my first half marathon (something I would not have done if not for the opportunity from this program). I also pushed my body in ways I did think we're possible and discovered a new love for rock climbing, a sport I had never done before. I made amazing friendships with the people on my trip and was laughing so hard I was crying most days just joking around with everyone. The instructors are more your friends than anything else and you really get to know your body and its capabilities in a way I didn't think was possible. I have never seen anything more beautiful than patagonia and I honestly don't know if there is anything more beautiful that exists!

How can this program be improved?
Only thing I would change would be more flexibility with day to day schedule with more input from the students!
Yes, I recommend
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Owen
10/10

HMI Gap

Climbing in Chile and Argentina was definitely a highlight, however one of the most special experiences for me was working on the approach trail to Castleton Tower with the Front Range Climbing Stewards. Everyday while working I got the chance to talk with and hang out with really cool guys who pretty much have dedicated their lives to climbing, all the while in a spectacular place high up above Castle Valley in Utah. After working on the trail for 10 days or so it was really remarkable to see how much of a difference we really made and it made climbing Castleton afterwards feel that much cooler!

How can this program be improved?
These program really was incredible and the staff who worked with us are all super awesome and just in general great people. If I could've changed one thing about this program though it would have been to have a bigger emphasis on traditional climbing/leading and also delved into aid climbing a bit more.
Yes, I recommend
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Olivia
10/10

Perseverance and experience make for a great story and lots of personal growth

As the popularity of gap programs continues to grow, the qualities that each program provides seem to become more similar. The HMI Gap Semester, however, enables experiences for growth that you will not find in any other program. I joined this program, not only to learn about myself, and outdoor ventures, but also to reap in the benefit that the structure of the program provides. This program is mostly self-directed. The group goals arise out of the group needs and your personal goals have a lot of weight when decisions are made. The group size is small enough that your voice is heard and that you can really create the gap semester that you want to. There is the added benefit that the logistics of the semester are put together for you as well. You don't have to worry about being in unsafe places or learning how to travel when you don't know the language. You can learn how to deal with all of these factors without having a high consequence. One of the most important parts of this semester program is the personal growth. The group is small enough that you really get to know each other and about yourself. It's inevitable. But it also prepares you for school or any other adventure that you're about to embark on. It's challenging, and exciting. You learn so much and have a lot of fun doing it. I can't say enough good things about this program. It truly changed who I am and what I want out of my life. I feel more confident and feel ready to take more chances. By participating in this program, you agree to be vulnerable and scared, but also agree to create great friendships, and have an enormous amount of fun.

Yes, I recommend

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

About High Mountain Institute

The High Mountain Institute's (HMI) programs lie at the intersection of where nature and minds meet. With courses traveling through Patagonia and the American West, students embark on an incredible three-month journey to some of the world's wildest...