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.

.

Website
www.hminet.org
Founded
1997
Headquarters

531 County Road 5A
Leadville, CO 80461
United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Forrest
8/10

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Olivia
10/10

HMI gap was an awesome program. I participated in the Rock climbing and conservation semester. We started off by backpacking for 11 days in Colorado and doing a little bit of climbing as well. Then we went to Moab for a month and really focused on learning climbing skills and everyone advanced to lead and multi-pitch climbing. Finally, we went down to Chilean Patagonia and went backpacking for a few days and then spent the rest of the time climbing. I came in to HMI gap expecting learn how to backpack, develop my outdoor climbing skills, and learn about conservation, and while I did learn all of those things I also learned so much more than I ever imagined I would. I learned a lot about building community and conflict resolution, you kind of have to because you're spending 80 days with the same people in an intense environment. But most importantly I learned a lot about myself. I learned how to rely on myself, and how to let myself rely on others. I learned when to push myself, and when to step back. HMI gap truly was a life changing experience, I have made great friendships with the people on my course and will always look back on the time I spent with HMI as a great experience.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Olivia
10/10

HMI gap was an awesome program. I participated in the Rock climbing and conservation semester. We started off by backpacking for 11 days in Colorado and doing a little bit of climbing as well. Then we went to Moab for a month and really focused on learning climbing skills and everyone advanced to lead and multi-pitch climbing. Finally, we went down to Chilean Patagonia and went backpacking for a few days and then spent the rest of the time climbing. I came in to HMI gap expecting learn how to backpack, develop my outdoor climbing skills, and learn about conservation, and while I did learn all of those things I also learned so much more than I ever imagined I would. I learned a lot about building community and conflict resolution, you kind of have to because you're spending 80 days with the same people in an intense environment. But most importantly I learned a lot about myself. I learned how to rely on myself, and how to let myself rely on others. I learned when to push myself, and when to step back. HMI gap truly was a life changing experience, I have made great friendships with the people on my course and will always look back on the time I spent with HMI as a great experience.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Coleman
10/10

The High Mountain Institute, as offered by its name, is foremost an establishment of learning. At HMI, I learned how to to navigate through mountains and canyons, to cook an array of backcountry meals, and to set up the perfect tent. However, the little nuggets of knowledge I acquired are both harder to pin down and perhaps more universally applicable: learning how to share cramped spaces with (potentially smelly) people; counting down from three before doing something that absolutely terrifies you (e.g., crossing a slippery log over a raging Patagonian rapid or diving headfirst with your best friends into a glacial lake); screaming at the top of your lungs when your whole group is frustrated, tired, and confused. HMI really is “where nature and minds meet” because, with each daily skill or challenge, your instructors and your peers encourage you to thrive and test your limits. In the same vein, HMI combines the best of backcountry hard skills (e.g., navigation) and intellectual stimulation (e.g., conservation curriculum) to provide you with an experience that leaves you stronger, both physically and mentally, than you were before.

HMI Gap changed my life. While I remain mostly the same person I was before, I experience more intensely my passions, my family and friends, and the world at large. I chose HMI Gap in search of challenge and wonder; I was delighted to find myself face to face with both of those things virtually every day with HMI.

What would you improve about this program?
HMI Gap is a relatively young program, so the few flaws it possesses mostly revolve around logistical difficulties that tend to resolve over time. That said, in my experience, HMI Gap's "youth" did not in any way noticeably detract from the overall experiential quality of the program.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Ally
9/10

Spending 80 days, most of which are entirely in the backcountry, with a small community of strangers is remarkably challenging and rewarding. I came out of this trip with backcountry and wilderness skills I had not even known existed, lifelong memories, crazy stories, and seven very close friends. Some highlights of the trip for me include canyon running in southern Utah, learning about environmental studies through a very well-developed curriculum, and spending 21 days in the Patagonian wilderness. On my trip, the group was very heavily extroverted, and our instructors were rotated throughout the three different locations we travelled to (Colorado, Utah, Patagonia). I was not experienced in backpacking prior to this trip, and I still enjoyed it and would now consider myself a relatively experienced backpacker. Most nights (~80%) were spent in a tent and sleeping bag, and we cooked nearly all (~99%) of our meals for ourselves. If you are looking to be challenged physically and mentally and want to reap the benefits of both Type 1 and Type 2 fun, then I would really encourage you to look more deeply into this program.

What would you improve about this program?
As a somewhat young program (I went in its 4th year), HMI Gap can improve on smoothing out the logistics of the trip (i.e. organizing food and gear, providing good maps and compasses, etc.). I believe that the program has the potential to improve in this area quite quickly, as the staff becomes more experienced.
Yes, I recommend this program

Programs

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Professional Associations

American Gap Association logo
USA Gap Year Fairs logo