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
Dec 13, 2022
45 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

Related Programs

Program Reviews

4.91 Rating
based on 81 reviews
  • 5 rating 91.36%
  • 4 rating 8.64%
  • 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 81 reviews
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
9 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
12 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
11 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

HMI Fall trek gap semester

This program is the best for someone who enjoys being physically challenged, is curious about the outdoors, and is interested in environmental studies.

During my semester I was able to get more out of it than I thought I would. I learned more about myself and who I am. I improved my skills as leader. I was able to learn other perspectives on environmental issues. I learned about the places we were in.

We had many classes that were taught in a variety of engaging ways. We were able to express our creativity in many ways. Such as for our backcountry talent shows and for our Personal Environmental Ethic Presentation.

This semester has left a positive mark in my life. I am grateful to have had this opportunity. I feel I am equipped with the skills to continue self improvement.

  • environmental studies curriculum
  • The places you see
  • The People (instructors and peers)
  • requires people to be mentally and physically tough so it might not be for everyone
9 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A 11/10 ride

The past 80 days at HMI have been the perfect combination of fun, challenge, and growth. I have been able be pushed both physically and mentally, but in these moments of challenge I felt really supported by the community we built. Our group was able to come together through long hiking days, sharing stories, and exploring new places. Our instructors were so intentional, kind, and genuinely cared about each member of the group. As we travelled through Colorado, Utah, and Chile we learned about the land which helped us feel more connected and educated about the places we explored. I am so glad I got this opportunity to make 10 new friends who felt like a home during our 80 days of constant motion.

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

We’re not friends we’re family

About 9 months ago I was where you are now: scrolling through the internet trying to find the program for me; and honestly, I chose the perfect one. I chose HMI Fall Trek because I wanted a structured first half of my gap year and to learn wilderness/travel skills. However, the reason why I chose this program has grown along with my own growth. I’ve not only developed wilderness skills, but also developed my community-ubuilding, communication, and leadership skills. If your willing to learn how to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, this is the place for you.

  • Places we visit
  • community building
  • Less emphasis on cultural immersion in south america
12 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My HMI Experience

My HMI experience was very fun and I would recommend to anyone interested in it. We backpacked and climbed in Colorado, Utah, and Patagonia. It was a very positive experience and I met a lot of cool people who learned with me which was nice. The instructors were very nice and taught us along the way as well as provided insight too. The classes taught and the people who I have met during this experience and taught me things were very positive and I hope to take those lessons with me wherever I go next.

  • Great Sights
  • Great Instructors
  • Fun people
  • Physically challenging
  • Harsh conditions
  • Limited free time
9 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

HMI F-Trek ‘22

I had an incredible experience with HMI Gap’s fall Trek program. We did primarily backpacking for about 80 days and I learned a lot about wilderness skills, maps, and navigation all within good balance. The environmental studies curriculum opened me up to new ideas that I plan on taking into college and exploring more. The lessons in leadership and feedback helped me gain more confidence and create a strong community within our group. Also the staff were so supportive and kind in both the group and individual environment. They helped create the amazing experience I had. I recommend this program for anyone looking for a little bit of adventure, personal growth, service work, leadership, wilderness skills, environmental ethic lessons, and community.

  • Community
  • Personal Growth/Leadership
  • Wilderness Skills
11 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers