rope course


photo: First Ascent program students negotiating a ropes course. Photo by Matthew Lit.

See Google Photo Album for more photos.


First Ascent

Instilling lifelong leadership skills in youth

First Ascent Dates: July 7-12, 2024

Each year, First Ascent brings together 8th and 9th grade students from our local CMC in-district* schools. The free, five-day residential program takes place at Colorado Mountain College Leadville. First Ascent is designed to help young adults from various social and economic backgrounds develop leadership skills and confidence for personal, academic and social growth.

During the program, students engage in outdoor physical activities such as rock climbing, rafting and hiking (including hiking up Mt. Elbert, the highest mountain in Colorado). Students will complete a challenge course designed to teach and develop:

  • Team Building
  • Communication
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Consensus Building
  • Problem Solving
  • Building Trust

In addition to outdoor activities, academic subjects such as land and water conservation and orienteering are introduced.

Evening sessions bring students together to explore their post-secondary career options using the elements of leadership they have just learned.

Each year, four participants from the prior year come back to act as peer counselors, taking the learning a step further. One former participant is chosen each year to assist the facilitator. Once they turn 18, past participants can come back as staff counselors. Acting as a mentor for a new group of students brings the lessons full circle.

*CMC in-district schools connected to our centers in these in-district counties:  Pitkin, Garfield, Summit, Lake, Eagle, Chaffee and Routt.