Photo of male student participant in Mountain Orientation
Mountain Orientation Field discussion
Scenic photo of alpine terrain
photo of Mountain Orientation hikers atop rock
Field instruction on Mountain Orientation course

An orientation to college that starts in the mountains

New students: Your college journey starts here

You're about to begin a new adventure in college. We have a great way for you to get mentally prepared, experience the magnificence of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and meet some of your fellow students, too.

Mountain Orientation 2019 is a five-day backpacking trek in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness in the mountains east of Aspen. You'll hike through sub-alpine and alpine zones and cross the Continental Divide in small groups with other new students, led by teachers who are experts in backcountry travel. It is open to any new Colorado Mountain College student, regardless of what campus you're attending or what program you are studying.

Register for: OUT-112-SV01, Mountain Orientation

We think this Orientation experience is one of the best ways to prepare you for the challenges of college. Here's what you can expect:

  • Build your community. You'll be hiking with fellow students from your campus and other campuses. Make new friends before the semester even starts!
  • Challenge yourself! Maybe you've never done anything like this before. This is a great way to experience the thrill of a 20-mile trek over five days in the wilderness. You'll learn some technical skills of backcountry travel and navigation.
  • Get a jump start on your credits. Successful completion of this Mountain Orientation course will earn you two college credits for your major (if you're in the Outdoor Education program) or as elective credit (for all other programs).
  • Stunning beauty! Learn about the environment you're in and the ecology of the forest. Creatures we frequently encounter include moose, golden eagles, marmots and occasionally a black bear.
  • Personal growth experience. It's satisfying to get to the top of the trail after a hard climb. Work on cultivating the grit and resilience you need for the physical challenge, and reflect upon how those same traits will help you push yourself to study harder, overcome obstacles and create new opportunities during your first semester.
  • Getting to know and rely on others. You'll travel, cook and camp together with a small group of other students and teachers. This is a great chance to team up with a small group and see what it's like to be both a leader and a follower.

What students have said about Mountain Orientation

"The perseverance and grit I had to tap into during the trip will be a simile for a lot of hard things in my life, especially parts of college. Mountain O wasn't easy for me. I'm very proud of myself for getting through it and carrying my pack the whole way while keeping myself in a positive headspace... I've walked away from this trip feeling empowered. I can do hard things, I have left the mountains, but brought their peace with me." -Natienelle Huizenga

“I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity with this group, and feel blessed to have a new sense of clarity, purpose, and motivation to start a new chapter in life with. Thank you again to all of the instructors and participants, 2018 Mountain Orientation will always be remembered.” -Jeremy Wallace