History

The High Mountain Institute was founded in 1995 by Christopher and Molly Barnes. Prior to starting HMI, Christopher and Molly had each worked in traditional school settings and led backcountry trips for Deer Hill Expeditions and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). With some guidance and a lot of encouragement from Peter Neill, who was to become the founding Board Chair, Christopher and Molly set out to create HMI, the place “where nature and minds meet.” After guiding HMI through its first 18 years – and 30 semesters – Christopher and Molly departed, entrusting their now-thriving school to new leadership and the HMI Board of Trustees.

Today, the High Mountain Institute has grown to encompass a variety of summer programs, an international gap semester program, and more.  HMI has over 1,500 alumni across the globe and is recognized nationally as a leader in progressive education.

The following video, filmed and produced by HMI alumnus and trustee Michael Gregory, describes the arc of HMI, from conception creation in the early 1990s to the departure of the founders in 2013.