HMI: A leader in outdoor and experiential education since 1995

The High Mountain Institute was founded in 1995 by Christopher and Molly Barnes. Experienced in classroom and outdoor education, Christopher and Molly realized that no opportunity existed to combine the two pedagogies during the academic year. As such, the two set out to create HMI, the place “where nature and minds meet.” The High Mountain Institute opened its doors in fall 1998 with a cohort of 21 students forming the inaugural HMI Semester. Enrollment grew steadily in the following years, reaching 48 students in 2014 where it has held since. The HMI campus has also grown, doubling in size from 40 to 80 acres in 2011, and increasing in number of academic, facilities, and residential buildings. After co-leading the school together for nearly twenty years, Molly and Christopher Barnes departed HMI in 2013, entrusting the school to the board of trustees. 

The following film describes the story of the High Mountain Institute from its founding in 1995 to the departure of its founders in 2013. It was produced by HMI alumnus and former trustee Michael Gregory.

Head of School Danny O’Brien has led HMI since 2013. Under Danny’s leadership, HMI has begun offering gap year programming, experienced record enrollment and application numbers for the HMI Semester and Summer Term, doubled its endowment, and completed an ambitious capital campaign to revitalize and expand campus. Today HMI currently claims over 2,000 alumni across the globe and is recognized nationally as a leader in experiential education.

Head of School Danny O’Brien with his wife Ellie, their daughter Vivie, and their son Henry