The Olympia Mountaineers

2015 Wilderness Skills Course

Chris Sullivan (360) 970-1477
Jim French 360-754-6551

On-line for Wilderness Skills

Course: Open to all - Mountaineers and the general public! Wilderness Skills is designed to prepare area outdoor enthusiasts for hiking or backpacking in the forests and mountains and on the trails of the Pacific Northwest. This course is also the foundation for the Alpine Scrambling and Basic Climbing Courses.

Wilderness Skills provides information and hands on experience with the top twenty+ topics considered important for safe adventures in the backcountry. The lectures are intended for all audiences and include practical tips and personal experiences to help you get started right or to expand your outdoor abilities. The lecture and interactive presentations include opportunities to learn and practice wilderness skills, to examine an assortment of clothing and equipment and to enjoy visual presentations of recent trips through Washington’s breathtakingly beautiful backcountry. Student participation and interaction are encouraged.

Objective: The successful graduate has sufficient information and experience to participate in trips of one or more days into the backcountry, select the proper clothing, equipment and meals. Graduates understand the physical and mental demands of backcountry travel and are prepared for most emergencies. Graduates are often ready to plan and organize their own trips.

Eligibility: open to anyone

Prerequisites: none

Class Size: 75

$30.00 for Mountaineers with a Current membership
$50.00 for a family of four with a Current membership
$60.00 per person for non-Mountaineers
$100.00 for a family of four non-Mountaineers

* Family registration is not available on-line. Please register in person on the first night of class.

Equivalency: The Wilderness Skills Committee recognizes that there are other qualified backcountry travel, hiking and backpacking instructional programs and alternatives to The Mountaineers’ formal course. Individuals who have taken other qualified courses and/or have accumulated outdoor travel skills may wish to advance to other mountaineering activities participate in the club’s Alpine Scrambles and Basic Climbing training programs. To audit this course, follow the instructions given in the Wilderness Skills Course Equivalency form.

Mountaineering in the backcountry
(photo by Barbara Silverstein)

Spring (April / May) Class Schedule:

Tue - Apr. 21 6:30 - 9:30pm Friends Meeting House Lecture 1 Knowing the essentials of wilderness Travel. 10 Essentials, clothing, boots and equipment for day hikes - Examine traditional clothing and equipment and the latest high-tech gear and low-tech alternatives.
Sat - Apr. 25 8:00 - 4:00pm Friends Meeting House Lectures 2, 3 and 4 Wilderness Ethnics, Hazards, and Navigation. Staying Safe and Healthy in the Wilderness - Injury Prevention and Response to Illness. What could go wrong? Hazards of the Wilderness. Nutrition - Packing Lunch or Cooking Dinner. Backcountry Navigation – Maps and Compass. Preparing for the Outdoor Workshop.
Sat - May 2 8:00 - 4:00pm Friends Meeting House Outdoor Workshop Wilderness Skills Navigation and Outdoor Workshop. This field trip takes the students to a park to learn and practice their new skills on an outdoor challenge course where they learn using the guided Discovery instructional method while becoming proficient with the 10 essential – Learn the techniques to organize your next trip into the backcountry.

Clothing / Equipment: Students will need suitable hiking clothing and boots for day hikes, a day pack and the 10 essentials. An equipment list is available.

Text: Download and print a copy of the student manual. For students wishing to continue with other mountaineering courses, we recommend purchasing Freedom of the Hills published by the Mountaineers (available at most book and outdoor stores).


Graduation Requirements: To earn a course completion certificate, students will also accompany Mountaineer leaders on a hike or backpacking trip of their choice. After completion of the course, students have many opportunities to hone new skills on hikes and backpacking trips offered throughout the year. Graduates who want more may wish to join the The Mountaineers and enroll in the Olympia Alpine Scrambling or Basic Climbing courses.

Testimonial: from a past Olympia student