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
Sep 06, 2023
Apr 27, 2023
49 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 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.


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

4.90 Rating
based on 86 reviews
  • 5 rating 89.53%
  • 4 rating 10.47%
  • 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 86 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Spring traverse

HMI was an amazing experience that I grew a lot from. The friendships I made well on the expeditions were beautiful and intentional. I grew a lot from this experience and feel like a new person walking out. I learned how to support the community I was living with over the few months, and how to support myself. There are great leaders that teach you how to be even greater leaders. It teaches you how to come up with your own environmental ethic. The instructions we had on this trip could not and been better.

  • Great community
  • Great friendships
  • Grow a lot as a person
77 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Traverse 2023

This was my second semester with the High Mountain Institute. Last semester I was with Trek. This semester I was with Traverse and this time around we explored a variety of outdoor activities. These activities included skiing, backpacking, rock climbing, and rafting. Along with a few exciting service projects. We travelled to Arizona, Utah, and Colorado this time and it was truly a blast. I would highly recommend to anyone with an interest in outdoor activities to participate in an HMI semester!

  • Great places visited
  • Many new skills learned
  • Weather may be unlikable
  • Shelter in the field isn’t great
73 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Spring Traverse

Spring Traverse was pretty packed with a lot of different things to do and places to go. The beginning backpacking expedition in the Kofa in Arizona was a fun introduction to getting to know what a lot of course would look like and getting to know the people I’d spend the next three months with. It’s nostalgic to look back on it now, as it was so tough in the moment yet now after the crazy yet fun things we did later—like ski expedition especially—it’s probably one of the breeziest times we had.

  • Lots of laughs
  • Do cool stuff
  • Learned how to make decent eggs
  • Spiders
  • I’m allergic to spiders
  • There’s a lot of spiders in the outdoors
75 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Spring Traverse

I had a great time on my spring gap program with HMI! I had never been on a backpacking trip before and thought it was a great introduction to spending extended time in the backcountry. The instructors were super enthusiastic and helpful and we saw beautiful parts of the United States. Additionally, I loved the diversity of actives we participated in including backcountry skiing, backpacking, rafting, and rock climbing. The trip is definitely physically demanding but I would recommend it for anyone who loves the outdoors.

  • Diversity of activities
  • Visited remote, beautiful places
  • Enthusiastic Instructors
77 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Spring Traverse

Over the last 80 days I met people I will never forget and encountered challenges that helped me grow. So many moments I stood in awe of the places we traveled and wondered how I got so lucky.
Our students and staff skied, hiked, climbed, rafted, cooked, laughed, and so much more over the course of the semester. You never fully know what to expect on a course like this. This far exceeded my expectation. I feel like I learned so much and am ready to go into college with the tools I need to succeed.

  • Challenging
  • Builds communication skills
  • Builds outdoor skills
76 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

F Rock 22

Choosing to do HMI Fall Rock is the best thing I’ve ever done. You start with a backpacking trip in Colorado, then do climbing expeditions in Rifle, Indian Creek, and Moab, plus a canyon backpacking trip, before heading to Chile. In Chile there is a remote base camping expedition at a basalt mountain, and then lastly a more student lead trip at a trad and sport area. Sharing beautiful places and experiences with breathtakingly incredible students and instructors is amazing, but you also get to do that while rock climbing? You can’t find a better combination in my opinion. Need I say more than you get to learn trad climbing in Patagonia?

  • Yummy food
  • Incredible instructors
  • Septuple rack of cams
  • Cool stuff is exhausting
101 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

HMI Trek

My gap semester at HMI was so wonderful! I did the trek program which is primarily backpacking.I met so many cool, kind, and supportive people. All of the instructors were super knowledgeable and helpful and taught me so much. It was really hard at some times but so rewarding and so worth it and I 100% recommend it. You definitely don’t need previous camping or backpacking experience to do this program. HMI does a great job with building towards independence. After this trip I’d feel super confident planning my own backpacking trip and I can’t wait to bring my family and friends on backpacking trips.

  • Community
  • Being outdoors
  • Personal growth
  • Can be hard to find alone time
106 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

High Mountain Institute Gap Program

HMI gap was a great fit for me. I was looking for a program where we were backpacking a lot, so it was perfect. We started by doing a 2 week backpacking trip in Colorado, then an 8 day base camp in colorado, then a 16 day backpacking trip in Utah, and finally a month down in Patagonia, Chile. The instructors are all very driven and kind. HMI has well developed connections in all of these places, so it was easy to travel everywhere. I would highly recommend this program! The other people on the trip were of all backpacking levels and it worked well.

  • Good community building
  • Lots of hiking
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Fast paced
100 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers