By Kira Córdova

Expedition members in the Fossil Ridge Wilderness

At Wilderness Pursuits (WP), the student-run outdoor expeditions and gear rental program at Western, student instructors take their peers outside at a remarkably affordable cost (student fees subsidize the trips, which include everything: instruction, gear, food, and lodging for the course of every trip). 

In September, WP ran its annual mountaineering trip, a two day excursion led by lead instructor Sarah Jane (SJ) Wood, who has previously guided trips in Colorado, Chile, and Alaska. 

Day one took participants up Gunsight Ridge in the Fossil Ridge Wilderness and culminated with fixed-line practice at a campground in Crested Butte.

Day two combined all the skills from day one on the way up Guide’s Ridge on Mount Crested Butte. 

Note: Climbing need not be terribly dangerous! While Wilderness Pursuits (WP) instructors are all students, there’s a staff progression so that lead instructors (many of whom guide professionally and all of whom have extensive experience in the disciplines they lead trips in) can train up upcoming instructors. 

Want to learn how to do this and other outdoor activities in a safe, welcoming environment run by your peers? 

Sign up for a trip at the WP office in the UC (across from the Trailhead and next to the Multicultural Center). 

Have some experience, or just a drive to learn and a desire to get paid to take your peers outside? Apply to join the WP team on Handshake! 

Day 1: Fossil Ridge Wilderness and Square Top Mountain

The group hikes up to Gunsight Ridge
Lead instructor SJ wood
Expedition member Samuel Hahn models his glacier goggles during a snack break 
The view from the start of Gunsight Ridge
The characteristic “gunsight” notch the ridge is named for 
Wood briefs the group on how to move over loose terrain 
The group sets off for adventure
Gunsight Ridge, in all its majesty
The group ascends towards Square Top Mountain 
The team enjoys a snack break and stellar views from Square Top Mountain
Lubowicki takes advantage of a down moment to squeeze in some shut eye 

Day 2: Mt. Crested Butte

Wood points across the scree field at the base of Guide’s Ridge to the summit of Mt. Crested Butte
Wood crosses the scree field as the sun rises
“Be bold, start cold!” Lubowicki and Wood shed layers before they start up the ridge 

Lubowicki and Wood ascend the start of ridge (which WP doesn’t rope up for since it’s less technical) 

Wood prepares to start placing gear for the fixed line up Guide’s Ridge at the start of the first pitch
Wood and Lubowicki start the fixed line 
Hahn finishes the first pitch 
Largent looks relieved to finish the first pitch  
Wood prepares for the second pitch 
Largent and Lubowicki swap gear 
The end is in sight! 
Largent finishes the second (and final) pitch
Mission accomplished.
Made it! The group at the summit of Mt. Crested Butte 
What goes up, must come down… the group descents Mt. Crested Butte (this time, by trail)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *