The Winter Trip at Wyoming Catholic College (WCC) s a weeklong winter camping, travel, and survival course undertaken by all students at the school during their freshman year. During the trip, students construct and live in a quinzee, ski or snowshoe through the Teton Wilderness and spend a day learning downhill skiing. The trip comprises the one credit ELP 102 course.
The first year of WCC's history, 2007, was one of the coldest in Wyoming's history, so cold in fact that the U.S. Marines, training in the Teton's at the same time as students from WCC were to go out on the first "Winter Trip", canceled and pulled back. But not WCC. They stayed out, setting a legendary standard of stamina that has yet to have been met again
The winter portion, which takes place one week prior to the Spring semester, typically in early January, lasts seven days and focuses on winter camping and traveling skills in the Teton Mountain Wilderness. Students have the opportunity to build upon the skills they learned in August and continue to develop additional skills for traveling and surviving in the winter wilderness setting, a beautiful and demanding environment. Similar to the August trip, students will not only learn a variety of technical skills but will continue to practice leadership skills and develop character through this challenging experience. With proper training and equipment, students will learn to thrive in such stark conditions.
Students begin in Lander, Wyoming with a day of prep classes, cross country skiing practice, and other preparation then drive to Jackson, Wyoming, where more prep classes are taught by upperclassmen and professional instructors on survival in the winter wilderness and everyone stays in and around a parish church in the town. The following day students ski (or snowshoe) out into the backcountry and construct a mound to for a quinzee. A day is required for the quinzee to harden and solidify, so students return to Jackson for one more night and then go out the following day in smaller groups of around seven to ten people to excavate a living space within the sound, following upon which they all live in it for the next two days and nights, building snow chapels, going on day ski "hikes" around the area, and above all, working constantly to stay warm.
After two days and two nights, students tear down their campsites, ski to the trailhead, and drive to Pinedale, Wyoming, where a day is typically spent at a swimming pool/recreation center and everyone stays at another church. Finally, a day of downhill skiing instruction and practice, a final test and quiz on winter survivial skills, and a quick drive back to Lander concludes the week, finishing just two days before the spring semester begins.