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Got Questions?

Below you will find answers to a number of questions that we are frequently asked about the Wilderness Travel Course.

What are the age limits?
The minimum age is 14. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian during the entire course. There is no upper age limit - as long as you are physically fit enough to complete the 6 required trips (conditioning hike, cross-country/navigation, snow travel, snow camp, and 2 experience trips).

Why is the WTC course only held once each year?
This is mostly because of the fact that we need proper winter-spring conditions for our snow and desert outings. Also, it takes our all volunteer staff several months to organize and prepare for the class which itself spans nearly three months.

Who are the WTC instructors?
WTC is taught by a group of very dedicated, highly skilled, and motivated volunteers. We do what we do because this is what we love to do.

Where are WTC classes held?
The classes are held in four different areas: Long Beach, Orange, West LA, and San Gabriel Valley. See Class Locations for maps.

How many class sessions are there?
There are ten classroom sessions. They are conducted on one evening each week for a total of ten weeks. See Class Schedule for details.

How many outings are there?
There are four outings during the course. Two of them are single day outings and two are weekend overnight outings. There is always at least one free weekend between each of the outings. See Class Schedule for details.

How do I get to the outings?
The single day outings are in the local mountains and students usually carpool to those locations. For the overnight weekend outings, we provide bus transportation. There is no extra fee for bus transportation.

Must I attend all of the class sessions and outings?
In order to graduate from WTC, you must attend all ten classroom sessions and all four outings.

Can I make up class sessions or outings that I am forced to miss?
We encourage you to do everything that you can to make the outings with your own group. But you can usually arrange to do a specific class session or outing with another area group if you are forced to miss one. The area groups start on different dates, so the classes and outings are staggered.

What is the required textbook?
The required text is "Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills" (7th Edition) by The Mountaineers. It is available through WTC (only to students) at a reduced cost of $20 during the on-line application process. The book can also be purchased at the time of the class. Click here to find out more about the textbook.

Is a compass required?
A compass is one of the "10 Essentials" that you must always carry with you. While all compasses perform the same basic function of pointing to magnetic north, you will want to obtain a compass that has the features used by mountaineers. Inexpensive compasses do not provide all of the functionality that will be required in this course. In order to make a compass purchase easier on you, students in WTC may purchase a Suunto MC-2 compass at a reduced cost of $35 during the on-line application process. The compass can also be purchased at the time of the class if there are any still available. Click here to find out more about the Suunto MC-2 compass.

How much rock climbing is done in WTC?
We teach basic movements and techniques such as mantling, chimneying, smearing, edging, crack climbing, and making the best use of holds. We do not do anything life threatening that requires the use of ropes, ice axes, crampons, or other climbing aids. Nonetheless, students are provided with a helmet and are required to wear it during our climbing exercises for safety purposes. Safety is always a priority with us.

Should I purchase equipment before WTC starts?
NO! Please wait until class begins before purchasing any gear or clothing. In WTC you will learn exactly what is needed and what is not. You will also learn what features your equipment and clothing should have. Additionally, many outfitters give our students significant discounts during the course.

What about personal equipment costs?
A significant amount of specialized personal equipment will be required on the field trips in this course. You may already have some items that will serve well. Other items your may be able to rent or borrow from a friend. Some items you may need to buy. The latest hi-tech equipment can be expensive and wonderfully functional, but is not necessary for this course. It is possible, with some effort, to acquire serviceable equipment at a quite moderate cost. We suggest that you delay equipment purchases until you receive guidance from the WTC staff after class begins. However, the course does move rapidly and you should be prepared to move expeditiously once you do receive that guidance, particularly if you desire to pursue a low cost option.

How physically demanding is WTC?
You must be in reasonably good shape but you don't need to be incredibly athletic. If you can complete a 12 or 14 mile hike with 3000' to 4000' of gain you will do just fine. This is equivalent to hiking round trip from Chantry Flats to the top of Mount Wilson.

Waivers and Medical Forms 
In late NOvember-early December. we will send you a registration packet that will include a waiver (see waiver.pdf) and a medical form consisting of  basic questions that will be kept private and will only be used by your the group leader.   In addition, each outing will have a Sierra Club sign-in sheet/waiver for that hike or trip.

What is WTC's refund policy?

Withdrawal From The Course: Students withdrawing from WTC are entitled to:

  • (1) a full refund (less a $50.00 service charge) before Lecture One;

  • (2) a 50% refund after Lecture One and before Lecture Four.

  • No refunds made after Lecture Four.

Refunds for the required text or optional compass made only if you’ve not received the item.

Note: All refunds will be made by check regardless of the payment method.


Still Have Questions?

Please feel free to contact us by email or telephone. We will be happy to answer your questions in a timely manner.




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