HMI is excited to announce its newest program, HMI Gap, a 12-week semester for students aged 18-22 looking to step off the “academic treadmill” to explore the world and pursue unique adventures in beautiful places. While rock climbing, backpacking, and participation in real-world conservation projects, students get the opportunity to visit some of the wildest places of the American West and Patagonia. Through honing their outdoor skills, positively contributing to pressing environmental issues, and working and playing in a tight-knit group of their peers and faculty, students develop important life and professional skills, intellectual maturity, effective leadership, and an ethic of stewardship for the places they love.
The semester begins with a two-week wilderness backpacking trip deep in the Rocky Mountains. While travelling over rugged terrain, under towering peaks, students develop and hone their wilderness travel and camping skills. At backcountry rock camp, students new to the sport practice basic rock climbing skills, while those with previous experience dive into pushing themselves in a remote and beautiful setting. Students navigate challenging topography, cook exquisite meals on a backpacking stove, develop their leadership through real decision-making, and come together as a group as they imagine the many adventures that lie ahead of them.
For the second section of HMI Gap, students live in a small basecamp outside of Moab, Utah, spending four weeks exploring this unique desert environment. On the world-class cliffs and iconic sandstone towers in the area, students learn and practice both fundamental and advanced climbing techniques, including lead and multi-pitch climbing, traditional protection and anchor-building, and rock rescue. Students also have the opportunity to explore the desert through other fun activities like canyoneering, day hikes, whitewater rafting, and visits to local historical and cultural sites. Students deepen their appreciation and understanding of the complex environmental issues in the area through collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management, local recreation advocacy groups, and community stakeholders to protect and restore the delicate desert.
HMI Gap culminates in a four-week expedition to the heart of Patagonia. Students apply their climbing and wilderness travel skills to scale new cliffs and venture into these wild regions. In their work with local land managers and environmental organizations, students investigate conservation issues in a novel cultural and ecological context. Whether monitoring a threatened species for local scientists, completing a first multi-pitch lead, or drinking yerba mate with Chilean peers at a cafe, students learn about this remote land and gaucho culture, while refining their ability to thrive outside their cultural comfort zone.