High Mountain Institute

High Mountain Institute

About

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 places. With options to choose a rock climbing or wilderness travel focus, students explore these rugged landscapes, investigate pressing environmental issues, and gain real-world experience doing service in the conservation field. By living and traveling with a small group of peers and instructors, students develop lifelong friendships, walk away with valuable leadership skills, and a broadened perspective on the world. They return with a greater sense of purpose and better prepared to succeed in college and beyond.

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Website
www.hminet.org
Founded
1997
Headquarters

531 County Road 5A
Leadville, CO 80461
United States

Applications Are Filling Up For Fall 2019

If you're thinking about applying--now is the time! Courses are filling up faster than usual and we anticipate having full courses by mid-May.

Reviews

Selena
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had the most incredible experience in Patagonia. I learnt to backpack in style, deal with challenging situations and work with peers; I learnt about leadership, environmental ethics and so much about myself. Having to share this unique journey with 8 other inspiring people is so rewarding - we shared laughters and tears. The space we created was super meaningful, and I learnt the importance of having an intimate community like we had. The natural scenery was awe-inspiring - the most beautiful place I've ever been, and I could not have gone to the places we went without coming with HMI. The time spent exploring culturally, building the community and out in the wilderness was well-balanced. The best part was gaining so many useful skills while having so much fun. Definitely recommend!

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Deming
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went on the Spring Semester in Patagonia and it could not have changed my life more. I started the semester never having backpacked before, only to leave with strong wilderness travel skills, improved Spanish and environmental ethics, and a community of friends and instructors I knew would follow me into my life beyond gap. The environmental studies curriculum and cultural exploration in the front country allowed me to connect with the spirit of Patagonia, while the leadership and community courses taught me how to be a better leader and team member, in and out of the wilderness. I cannot speak highly enough of the instructor team, some of the most wonderful people I know, and the logistics and risk management that left me feeling safe and happy at all points during the trip. Overall, I am leaving more confident in myself as a leader and prepared to take on college and life beyond.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to embrace the adventure! You get out of this what you put in.
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Katie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The spring semester in Patagonia was absolutely incredible! HMI had awesome connections in the area that allowed us to really connect and interaction with the culture. The instructors were well qualified, fun, and very supportive. For it being the first full semester in Patagonia, the logistics were well refined. HMI provided awesome support to help us continue interacting and thriving in the outdoors after the program was complete. I left with improved Spanish skills, a strong environmental ethic, and lifelong friends. The first aid curriculum was also very useful. I would recommend the trip to anyone who is up for a challenge, wanting to fully submerse themselves in a different culture, willing to ask hard questions, and have a life’s changing 80 days.

What would you improve about this program?
Give students a few more days to independently explore the front country
Lauren
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I did the Spring Semester in Patagonia and I could not be more thankful that I did it. I learned how to live well in the backcountry, had really meaningful conversations about environmental ethics, improved my Spanish a ton, and made incredible friends. We also got to explore the town our base camp was in and did some really cool cultural activities, like harvesting fruit and making jam, learning to make traditional Chilean dishes, and watching traditional dances. I could not speak more highly of the instructors who were overall incredible human beings. The places we were able to explore were incredibly beautiful and super off the grid which I really appreciated. I don't think I would have been able to figure out for myself how to gain access to all the cool spots we were able to go to. I would highly recommend the program to anyone considering it.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have liked the Spanish curriculum to be more incorporated towards the end of the semester.
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Forrest
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I learned a lot through HMI gap, both physical skills and perhaps more importantly things about myself and what I want out of life. I gained countless skills in climbing, such as setting anchors, multi pitching, placing trad gear, and much more. I also learned valuable things not related to climbing, like how to food plan and shop, how to cook creative meals, and stay happy in uncomfortable situations. Throughout the program I learned a lot about myself and what makes me happy. HMI made me question my current ideas about my future and helped to shape an image of the kind of life that I want. The instructors of the program were amazing, and kept everyone safe and provided support in any way that they could. All in all, it was quite the experience for me, and I took away a lot of valuable lessons.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Give us a little intro

Caitlin is from New York City and is currently taking a gap year before attending McGill University in Montreal next year. She enjoys traveling, running, and political science.

Why did you pick this program?

I picked this program because I was recently involved with the High Mountain Institute's semester program and it was the most important and influential program I have ever been a part of. When I found out that they also offered a gap year program, it felt like fate.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I tell them it's the most amazing experience and few people regret going abroad, but many regret not going.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Pack clothes for essentially every climate and get ready for an incredible trip!

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

My favorite story is either the time we got stuck in the canyons of Utah during a flash flood and had to swim through freezing canyon water. Or, the time we made a 3-layer funfetti cake on a backcountry stove!

US visitors, meet us in person!

  1. 6 January
    Scarsdale, NY Gap Year Fair
    Scarsdale High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  2. 7 January
    Brooklyn, NY Gap Year Fair
    Brooklyn Friends School - Upper School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  3. 8 January
    Fairfield, CT Gap Year Fair
    Fairfield Ludlowe High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM

Professional Associations

Gap Year Association Logo
USA Gap Year Fairs Logo