Why HMI?

All of our students come to the High Mountain Institute to connect with nature, develop as leaders and critical thinkers, and deepen their sense of place.

HMI is both an academic school and a wilderness programs provider. As a fully-accredited independent school, HMI brings high school juniors and seniors from all over the world to our campus in Leadville, Colorado for a single semester of place-based academics and wilderness expeditions. In this environment, students can connect with their best self and become more engaged learners, community members, and citizens.

As a summer programs provider, HMI offers courses for middle and high school students with an emphasis on backpacking in the Colorado Rockies, intellectual inquiry, and experiential education—all to spark a desire for exploration and growth, and to set students on a path of self-discovery.

Finally, as a gap year provider, HMI leads high school graduates on three-month traveling courses through Patagonia and the American West where students pursue outdoor adventure while gaining experience in the field of environmental conservation. By taking this time for exploration, students are set up to make the most of college and beyond.

HMI is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization offering extensive financial aid across all programming. Between 20% and 40% of HMI students receive financial aid including many who receive full scholarships.

HMI offers the following programs:

  • The HMI Semester is an academic and wilderness study-away program for motivated high school juniors and seniors. The HMI Semester is fully-accredited by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools.
  • The HMI Summer Term is a five-week interdisciplinary program that combines academic enrichment and wilderness expeditions in the Colorado Rockies. The Summer Term is open to rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.
  • The HMI Gap Semesters, for students ages 18-22, are traveling programs based in Patagonia and the American West. Participants chose from courses focusing on rock climbing, backpacking, and environmental conservation.
  • The Apprentice Program is a semester-long professional residency for recent college graduates in traditional classroom and outdoor education.
  • The High Peaks Adventure is a two-week summer introduction to the Colorado outdoors for middle school students.
  • Wilderness medicine and avalanche safety courses are available for high school students and adults of all ages.
  • Custom leadership training programs and campus rentals are also available.

Our Mission

The High Mountain Institute engages students with the natural world. Our school boldly unites rigorous intellectual inquiry, experiential learning, wilderness expeditions, and shared responsibility in a strong community. Our students realize their potential—as leaders, independent thinkers, and thoughtful citizens.