Outdoor Leadership Gap Program
Rockies to Patagonia
The “Rockies to Patagonia” Gap Program focuses on outdoor adventure, leadership training, and cultural exchange while giving participants valuable outdoor industry training in the American West and Patagonia, Chile. Students work with inspiring leaders in the outdoor industry and conservation movement and have the opportunity to complete a Culminating Leadership project. Learn more about the Culminating Leadership project here
Length: 80 days + Alumni Support/Programming
Season: Winter – Spring
February 3 – April 22, 2024.
(* does not include airfare to Coyhaique, Chile)
Application Deadline: December 1st*
*Late enrollment may be possible depending on space and availability.
Each year, Alzar Gap offers four $3,000 scholarships for four qualified candidates applying to our programs. In order to be considered, candidates must submit their full applications by May 1st, and respond to 2 prompts about their next steps after Alzar Gap. Apply for Alzar Gap Scholarship here.
During the Alzar Gap experience, students have the option to earn up to 16 college semester credits through our relationship with Portland State University, and Western Colorado University. All of our college credit opportunities are entirely optional and designed to add depth and value to your Alzar Gap experience. Click here to view the college courses.
Outdoor Adventure and Training
Earn industry-recognized certifications and learn necessary skills to plan your own epic adventures or work in the ski, whitewater or outdoor education industry.
With its rugged mountains, varied landscapes and wild scenic rivers, both the American West and Patagonia, Chile are the perfect places to find adventure for participants of all abilities. Our team of highly-skilled instructors and local partners will guide you through multi-day skiing, backpacking, and whitewater rafting experiences in beautiful locations. Along the way, you will earn certifications in wilderness medicine and ski/snowboard instruction. In addition to technical experience, you will learn how to manage risk, group dynamics, and medical emergencies and develop the skills to facilitate transformative experiences in a variety of backcountry and front-country environments.
Students have the opportunity to gain the following industry-recognized certifications:
- PSIA Level 1 Ski Instructor or ASSI Level 1 Snowboard Instructor
- Wilderness First Responder
- American Red Cross – CPR and AED
We welcome all skill levels
You are not required to have experience skiing, backpacking or rafting before you join us. We would love to teach you! We are able to teach to a variety of skill levels on our programs. Each cohort is a mix of students with varying experience levels in the outdoors. Similarly, you are not required to have any Spanish speaking ability for our gap program. Alzar Gap is a great place to learn and practice Spanish with lessons and authentic immersion.
The program will be split between front-country and backcountry environments in Patagonia, Chile and Idaho. While in the front-country, students will have the opportunity to stay in cozy yurts at our Idaho campus, as well as at our Base Patagonia campus, selected homestays, and hostels in Chile. In the backcountry, our students camp along sandy beaches, in beautiful forests and alpine meadows, and at historic ranches for a complete wilderness experience.
A gap program with Alzar Gap is packed with memorable experiences. Here is a basic overview* of what your adventure might look like. Feel free to click on each location to find out more.
Please note that although our itineraries are powerful and well-thought-out, they are subject to change.
We begin the semester on our Idaho Campus, surrounded by the snowy peaks of the West Mountain Range. During the day our students head to the slopes of our local resort to ski or snowboard fresh powder and learn about the winter sports industry from ski patrollers, snowsport instructors, and resort managers. Each evening, we return to campus for a hot shower and begin stoking the wood-burning stoves in our yurts. During this component, students have the opportunity to take their PSIA Level 1 Ski/Snowboard Instructor exam, and gain entry to the winter sports industry.
In preparation for our remote adventures, students will take a Wilderness First Responder (WFR), Adult CPR and AED, as well as Epinephrine Auto-injector Administration course. The Wilderness First Responder certification is the recognized industry standard for people who work in remote environments including wilderness guides and trip leaders, camp counselors, research expedition members, and search and rescue team members. The WFR course is also an excellent option for individuals who are seeking intensive medical training in order to be prepared during personal wilderness trips or extended expeditions, as well as those considering studying medicine in their university career.
Our final week consists of a short expedition planned and executed by our student group. This expedition could consist of a multi-day backcountry ski trip to a local mountain yurt, nordic skiing to Idaho’s famous hot springs or another epic adventure planned by our students under the guidance of instructors. After returning from our short winter expedition, we fly down south to warmer temperatures of the Patagonian summer.
Our Patagonia Exchange Gap Program begins in the Aysen Region of Southern Patagonia, known for its beautiful rivers, glaciated mountains and distinct culture. With our Base Patagonia campus serving as home-base, students can take Spanish lessons in the morning, with the opportunity to learn how to cook Chilean cuisine, play soccer with locals or explore the cafes and plazas of Coyhaique in the afternoon.
Gap students are placed with homestay families, while having the opportunity to work with a local high school program focused on training young Chileans to enter the outdoor guiding industry. These young aspiring guides are excited to teach our students about local flora and fauna, and Cerro Castillo. We’ll end our week with a multi-day backpacking trip through world-renowned Cerro Castillo National Park.