GOT TRAINING? 20+ YEARS OF WTC
By: Sridhar Gullapalli & Jane Simpson
Okay. So, you take the stairs -- not the elevator -- and you get out and day hike. Maybe you?ve bagged a few peaks on your own or with friends, or maybe you are a long time backpacker. Now you want something more. You want to go higher, farther, stay out longer, go off-trail and explore. You want to meet others who share these interests.
For the past 20+ years, the Wilderness Travel Course of the Sierra Club has been preparing a yearly crop of[masked] students, ages 20?s-60?s, for unforgettable wilderness experiences, whether it?s discovering stunning remote waterfalls, scrambling up rock formations, or getting to the top of tall peaks, snow shoeing, or enjoying the outdoors in all seasons.
WTC is the only current Sierra Club training program with roots going back to the pioneers of the Angeles Chapter?s mountaineering sections, and it only happens once a year, January-March, in four Southern California locations, under the aegis of the Angeles Chapter Wilderness Training Committee. WTC is offered in i) Pasadena (San Gabriel Valley), ii) West Los Angeles, iii) Carson (Long Beach/South Bay) & iv) Tustin (Orange County).
Much more than a backpacking course, WTC reviews the basics and introduces you to a variety of outdoor terrain, from desert to mountain, under different conditions. But you are prepared because WTC leaders show you how to stay safe, warm, have fun and above all, stay found.
Staying found is one of the hallmarks of the course. And map and compass navigation is the foundation. You start in a classroom setting where WTC staff demonstrates the use of these tools, and then get out in the local forests and deserts with close instruction on a navigation ?noodle.? The results are that you gain confidence in your ability to travel cross-country. What?s so great about going off-trail? It?s about the places you can go ? farther, higher ? for which no trail exists.
Training and preparation is the name of the game, WTC is structured around 10 classroom sessions on successive Tuesdays or Wednesdays depending on the area. The classroom is where students learn the basics of map handling, equipment overviews and demos, and environmental awareness. Also included in the course are 4 outings on weekends to take you on a range of wilderness experiences, starting with a conditioning hike, followed by a Joshua Tree rock basics and navigation weekend, and then a snow day, where you get to experience the winter wonderland of the local mountains.
The culmination of the course is a 3-day snow camp trip, usually in the Sierras. Snow camp? Igloo-building? You?re not exactly sure what this is, it sounds fun, but well, it also sounds, cold. But, by the time snow camp rolls around, you will be prepared and armed with knowledge that if you pack and wear the right things, hydrate and eat the right foods, you will not suffer but instead thrive. In fact, snow camping is listed as the highlight of many a graduate of the course.
To graduate, students get to pick from over 100 trips that WTC sponsors or co-sponsors each spring and summer. Graduates go on to participate in adventurous cross-country backpacks, some climb Shasta or Rainier, or Sierra peaks, or Kilimanjaro. Some join staff and work to become rated leaders. Some hike the JMT (John Muir Trail) or the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), and some simply take their friends out and show them a real good time outdoors.
Registration for the 2011 course, which begins in January, is now open. Until December 15, WTC offers a discounted rate of $320 for SC members and $345 for non-members, after which the fee increases by $15. Fees cover expenses only, such as bus costs for Joshua Tree and snow camp outings, as well as for maps and classroom fees, some equipment such as snowshoes, and helmets and other miscellaneous expenses. The course is taught by knowledgeable and skilled instructors- with several years of outdoors experience and skills. They volunteer their time, and teach this course for the sheer pleasure of sharing their knowledge and with you, so that you too may get the same enjoyment.
So, the next time you find yourself climbing some stairs, picture yourself outside among like-minded friends, in the most glorious scenery imaginable, in places that the Sierra Club works so hard to protect.
To find out more information and to register for the 2011 course visit us HERE
On the website you can also watch a fun video about WTC. Go on any of the WTC introductory hikes listed in the Angeles Chapter?s Schedule
this Fall to meet WTC staff and alums, or just to have a good time!