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Old 05-03-2013, 6:25 PM
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Gabriel80 Gabriel80 is offline
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Location: Los Angeles
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Originally Posted by kemasa View Post
While WTC has good aspects, there are also issues with it. You can learn a lot, but don't think that you know more than you do, which has been an issue with some students. For example, they also don't teach desert backpacking, which, due to water issues, is different and that can cause some serious problems.

One quote that really showed an issue with WTC is when they has a question and answer format to advertise the class and the question was whether they taught survival skills. The response was that they teach things so that you don't need survival skills. This is extremely stupid and shortsighted. Things happen, such as some people I know were backpacking, stopped and took a break, but their packs fell down a canyon. It took them a day to recover their packs, so they needed to survive until then. Things happen, so no matter what you know, survival skills are needed if you go out into the wilderness (or anywhere else for that matter).

Also, I have seen WTC pass fellow WTC members on Nav checkoffs and the person is not qualified. The attitude should be whether you are comfortable with that person taking people out and not getting them lost and possibly killed, not that you are in the same "club" as them.

There are Nav training opportunities besides WTC.
I think you're misguided, and I speak from first hand experience, because I just finished the course.

First off, it's a BASIC MOUNTAINEERING course, it's not a survival class, they won't teach you to make fire with a wood bow, that's not even a confusion. You won't fix a shelter with palm leaves or anything like that.
They teach you how to summit mountains and backpack, basically how to TRAVEL in the wilderness, in ALL climates and terrain.

The only reason it's a "basic" mountaineering class, because for insurance purposes they do not teach self-arrest with an ice-ax or use of crampons and they do not cover rock climbing with ropes and belay.

Second, they absolutely teach desert travel, because our class did an experience trip to Joshua Tree, which is a dry camp.

They teach you desert travel, snow travel, what I consider very advanced rock scrambling, we did 15 mile day hikes, we learned show shoes, and snow hiking techniques. They cover nutrition, every aspect of gear, very basic wilderness first aid, environmental awareness- meaning "leave no trace" and VERY advanced navigation techniques.

Trust me, the class is difficult. I am 32 years old, in good shape, was raised in the boy scouts and had plenty of camping experience before the class. It was tough. It's long too, it's something like 10-12 weeks + required trips after the course to receive graduation. There are weekly lectures, tests and written homework assignments every week. 100% perfect attendance is required to graduate, so it's a true commitment.

On top of the classroom settings there are 4 outings, and they are amazing.

Nothing is perfect, it's not the military either, sure if you want to be lazy and not follow the curriculum or be an idiot, you can still pass. You only cheat yourself. The emphasis of the course is SAFETY in the wilderness, so you don't "fall don't fall down a canyon" like the scenario you gave. That story is missing something. The concepts are if you know how to navigate and ALWAYS CARRY THE 10 ESSENTIALS of hiking, you will never be lost or at risk to die. If you act right, you will be prepared. They ingrain the tools required to bring everywhere you go, the survival tools will not be able to be improvised in case of a biouvac.

The class is entirely taught by VOLUNTEERS. Nobody is getting paid a dime, and the registration fees only cover your permits and the luxury buses they charter to take you on the trips. The teachers put in alot of hard work and time, all for free. Some teachers are always better than others, and if you got an info lecture about WTC and they didn't give a good sell or answer all your questions, that's unfortunate. The classes always fill up and it's only offered once a year so you can experience both snow and desert climates.

Take it or leave it, makes no difference to me. However, I strongly disagree with your statement because you have not taken the class. If you took it, and hated it, I would respect your opinion. You are also giving false information about what the curriculum is.

The class is around $300, and the website is

If anyone wants information on my experience I welcome PM's
The best part was I met some very normal people in SoCal with like-minded interests, and many of which became genuine friends. The real fun starts after the class when you begin planning tons of new adventures. It's not about some "club" that notion is absurd, it's the least pretentious people I've ever met.

here is exactly what they cover, according to the website:

For over 40 years, experienced Sierra Club instructors have taught wilderness skills to thousands of Southern Californians. Each year we instruct several hundred students in small groups with a very high instructor to student ratio that provides plenty of one on one instruction. These small groups remain together for the duration of the class, building a true sense of camaraderie among the students. For many, WTC provides not only valuable skills and knowledge, but also lasting friendships.

Take the first step towards a lifetime of wilderness adventures. Sign up today for the Wilderness Travel Course. It just might change your life!

Classroom Instruction: During the course, you can expect expert classroom instruction in the following areas:

Navigation techniques using map and compass
Gear selection including the “must have” ten essentials
Clothing selection for various environs from desert to mountains
Conditioning to help you prepare for your adventures
Minimum impact camping to insure that you protect the areas you visit
Safety issues while traveling in the desert or mountains
Basic wilderness first aid to handle common ailments and situations
Backpacking food that is light, packable, nutritious, and enjoyable

Hands-On Outings: You will also receive hands-on field instruction in both desert and mountain locations that cover the following skills:

Field navigation exercises in real world situations
Determining the best off trail routes
Basic rock maneuvers and techniques
Selecting and setting up campsites
Reading snow conditions to avoid avalanche danger
Use of snowshoes in winter travel (snow shoes are provided by the WTC)
Building of emergency shelters
How to make water safe to drink

Safety: Gain the knowledge and skills to be safe in the backcountry

Protect yourself from nature’s dangers
Stay warm and safe in extreme weather conditions
Travel safely in snow
Understand high altitude acclimatization
Learn from highly-experienced instructors

Maximize Your Dollars: Invest your recreation money wisely

Minimize your expenses by learning to buy the right gear
Discover inexpensive weekend getaways
Receive low-cost training and experience from a respected organization
Receive discounts from outdoor retailers

Challenge and Adventure:
Attain new summits of your own potential

Experience the freedom of the wilderness
Leave the trail and the crowds behind
Learn basic rock scrambling at Joshua Tree
Feel the rush from summiting High Sierra peaks
Backpack with confidence

Fun and Friends: Share fun times and make new friends

Meet new hiking partners
Explore secluded mountain lakes
Share stories and food around the campfire

Comfort: Learn to travel, eat, and sleep more comfortably in any climate

Keep your feet warm and comfortable
Eat appetizing meals when backpacking
Understand the many fabric types
Lighten your pack
Sleep comfortably in the wilderness
Stay Warm in snow
none of us are as strong as all of us
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