High Mountain Institute Essential Eligibility Criteria

Please read through the following essential eligibility requirements (“EEC”).  These requirements are not intended to be exclusionary, but to honestly identify the basic and fundamental elements of participation – integrally tied to safety and risk management considerations and consistent with HMI’s mission.

Please note

These EEC do not encompass all criteria for participation in a HMI (“HMI”) program.  As detailed in your Enrollment Agreement and other materials, among other things, participation is also conditioned on HMI’s receipt of full and timely payment and receipt and review of all completed and signed forms.  Importantly, these EEC are intended to be helpful and constructive for all participants who are considering attending our programs.  However, these EEC are only intended to give an overall picture of EEC for HMI activities and do not encompass every criteria or function of the various activities you may encounter on a given program. 

*Note:  The terms “backcountry” and “wilderness” encompass terrain that include locations outside of “definitive care” – typically an hour or more from traditional medical and emergency response.

If you have any questions or concerns about the applicant’s ability to meet the criteria, please contact our office [email/phone]. 

  1. EEC – Applies to all HMI activities and programs

All participants must:

  1. Come with an open mind and positive attitude.
  1. Be motivated to try new things.
  1. Display tolerance, respect and compassion towards all.
  1. Be willing and able to obey authority figures (such as HMI staff – faculty, apprentices, other staff).
  1. Participate in stressful and emotionally intense wilderness, residential life and academic experiences, including changes in diet, group living and a daily routine that is likely much different than your routine at home.
  1. In an indoor or outdoor (including backcountry) setting, be able to understand and follow rules, instructions and guidelines, individually, or as part of a group, frequently independent of direct supervision.
  1. Communicate effectively with, and respond to others in any setting, including in regard to hazards/risks, personal injury or need for assistance, where darkness, high winds or other factors may impede communication.
  1. Engage in intellectually rigorous, age-appropriate academic classes, homework, and other studies, whether in an indoor or outdoor (including backcountry) setting;
  1. Participate in activities that require students to pay attention and concentrate (including careful attention to detail) for extended periods whether in an indoor or outdoor (including backcountry) setting.
  1. Perform manual labor – shoveling snow, splitting firewood, daily chores, and other manual labor.
  1. Be comfortable alone for reflective time in a wilderness setting for 2-36 hours.
  1. Perform necessary self-care independently or with the assistance of a companion on campus or in a remote and outdoor setting, including personal hygiene and toileting needs, adequate hydration and dressing appropriately for weather conditions;
  1. Withstand repetitive and sustained use of one’s body and limbs, including, for example, hiking or skiing 3-9 miles a day for multiple days, carrying 35-45% of one’s body weight.
  1. Engage in activities, such as but not limited to walking, hiking, backpacking, running, climbing, skiing and biking, river rafting or other boating and service projects (such as trail projects).
  1. For each activity, be able to wear all recommended/required gear (e.g. a harness for climbing, a helmet for biking).
  1. Participate in morning exercises, including running, walking, and field games.
  1. Engage in river crossings (including cold water immersion) in backcountry settings where slippery rocks or rushing water are present; and swim and wade in any indoor or outdoor setting.
  1. Competently and independently live, travel in, and navigate a variety of uneven and challenging terrain. This includes, but is not limited to: traveling on and off-trail and hiking, climbing, skiing, etc., up and down in steep, rugged and difficult terrain in mountainous, wilderness and other outdoor settings.
  1. Carry weight, whether it be personal or group belongings, gear or provisions, independently or with the assistance of a companion;
  1. Remain alert and focused for several hours at a time while traveling in backcountry settings;
  1. Live, travel, work and study for multiple days in all types of weather, in indoor and outdoor (including backcountry) settings in temperatures from -20 degrees to +85 degrees F, and at altitudes from 5,000 – 14,435 ft. above sea level with a variety of stimuli, including (when outdoors) bugs, extreme temperature changes, intense sunlight, wind, snow and wild animals.
  1. Live under tarps, in snow shelters, and in cabins with wood stoves for the duration of the program.
  1. Live and travel in remote settings (including, in programs taking place outside the US) 4-48 hours from advanced medical care.
  1. Get oneself in and out of a vehicle independently or with the assistance of a companion.
  1. Learn skills and engage in tasks to support yourself and the group (individually or with the assistance of a companion). This includes, but is not limited to: cooking in the wilderness or in a commercial kitchen for self and others, setting up and taking down a camp, washing dishes, caring for group gear and camp site or cabin care, including clean-up.
  1. Support a physically, mentally, emotionally and socially healthy learning environment for all in alignment with the HMI mission.
  1. Participate fully in an intimate and intense small community environment, and as a member of a team.
  1. Respond appropriately in the face of unexpected challenges such as inclement weather, changes in itinerary, unfamiliar surroundings, homesickness.
  1. For programs taking place outside the U.S., be open and willing to interact with new and unfamiliar cultures, and attentive to local customs and issues.
  1. EEC for specific HMI activities (in addition to the GENERAL EEC described above):

 

  1. Rock Climbing

 

  1. Meet all the Section 1 GENERAL EEC described above, in addition to those listed here.

 

  1. Be able to respond to verbal or visual signals;

 

  1. Be able to grip a rope firmly, grasp the rock face, and negotiate upwards or downwards on a climb.

 

  1. Possess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.

 

  1. Hiking, backpacking and mountaineering

 

  1. Meet all the Section I GENERAL EEC described above, in addition to those listed here.

 

  1. Travel and navigate independently over a variety of uneven, steep and challenging wilderness terrain while carrying weight, for trips ranging from 1 – 18 days with travel distances ranging from 1 to 10 miles per day, that, depending the program, may involve ascents of mountain peaks at elevations up to or above 14,000 feet, per the conditions described in Section 1.

 

  1. Possess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.

 

  1. Mountain biking

 

  1. Meet all the Section I GENERAL EEC described above, in addition to those listed here.

 

  1. Respond to verbal and visual signals.

 

  1. Obey all posted signs.

 

  1. Get on and off of the bicycle (or other adaptive equipment) independently or with the assistance of a companion.

 

  1. Travel and navigate independently on the bicycle over a variety of uneven, steep and challenging wilderness terrain, with travel distances ranging from 1 -10 miles per day, depending upon the program. This includes the ability to sit on, steer, stop and negotiate a mountain bike (or other adaptive equipment), with the ability to slow down or stop, and keep an appropriate distance between yourself and other riders or trail users.

 

  1. Possess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.

 

  1. Skiing

 

  1. Meet all the Section I GENERAL EEC described above, in addition to those listed here.
  1. Travel and navigate independently on skis (or other adaptive equipment), both up and down uneven, steep and challenging wilderness terrain per the conditions described in Section 1.
  1. Possess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.
  1. River Rafting or other boating

 

  1. Meet all the Section I GENERAL EEC described above, in addition to those listed here.
  1. Be able to enter and exit a wet or dry watercraft independently or with the assistance of a companion.
  1. Be able to tolerate water below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or more.
  1. Remain seated and balanced in the watercraft (with, if needed, the use of adaptive equipment that does not inhibit a wet or dry exist) with significant jostling and movement resulting from whitewater or strong currents, per the conditions described in Section 1.
  1. In the event of a capsize or fall out of the watercraft, be able to independently: get out from under the watercraft, remain face up in the water, endeavor to make progress to shore, and be able to grip a rope or other rescue device.
  1. Be able to respond to verbal or visual cues.
  1. Possess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.

 

  1. Service Learning Projects

 

  1. Meet all the Section I GENERAL EEC described above, in addition to those listed here.

 

  1. Engage in service learning projects in indoor or outdoor (including backcountry) settings, such as trail projects (for example: building, digging, lifting and carrying weight) for 8 hours per day, independently or with the assistance of a companion, with hand or power tools.

 

  1. Possess the strength, fitness, balance and agility to accomplish the above tasks.