Backcountry Skiing in the San Juan Mountains

Canyons, rivers and mountains at your doorstep

As a student in FLC’s Adventure Education program, yes, you will spend time indoors—in classrooms, working with community partners, conducting research—but the backbone of the program takes you into the field. FLC’s campus sits right where the mountains meet the desert, at the intersection of alpine peaks, white water rivers, and rugged canyons.

Canyons

AE students learn to teach sustainable travel in remote slot canyons. You’ll learn anchor building, rappelling and rope work, technical climbing, and the use of rescue equipment as you implement risk-management and decision-making in the field. You’ll go to places like Cedar Mesa, Dirty Devil Wilderness Study Area, North Wash, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Gila Wilderness Area.


Rivers

Beginning with Paddling Fundamentals (AE 131) you’ll learn to lead flat water canoeing and kayaking trips, including equipment use, trip planning, risk management and rescue, and stewardship of river environments. From there, you’ll move into Advanced Paddling (AE 331) to learn techniques for safely leading whitewater trips. You’ll paddle Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River, Dewey Bridge to Moab and Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River, the San Juan River from Bluff, Utah to Clay Hills, and Durango’s local favorite, the Animas River.


Mountains

The mountains of Colorado, as they range from Ponderosa forest at lower elevations (7000 feet) to rocky summits at 14,000 feet, provide opportunities to learn Leave No Trace backpacking practices and wilderness ethics, as well as technical mountaineering skills, like avalanche awareness, travel with fixed lines, and the use of specific snow and ice equipment such as crampons and ice axes, and even telemark skis. You’ll explore the San Miguel and La Plata Mountains, as well as Colorado’s largest roadless area, the Weminuche Wilderness.


Rock Climbing

In addition to applying climbing skills in both canyon and alpine settings, you’ll have a chance to develop your skills at local favorites East Animas and X-Rock, and farther afield, in El Rito, New Mexico.


Snow

Going uphill in the snow is guaranteed to be slow, but you can make up that time on the way down learning to safely telemark ski. You’ll get going at Purgatory Resort before heading into the backcountry at Molas Pass and Red Mountain Pass.