First Ascent


Backpacking

First Ascent and First Tracks are WCU's Wildnerness Orientation programs created to offer unique outdoor adventures specifically for incoming students. These programs also offer students the opportunity to move on to campus early, familiarize oneself with resources and start building a community of friends that helps ease the transition into the college experience.  It's the perfect way to start your climb at WCU!

  • Get a head start on making connections with other students with similar interests
  • Ease into the transition of coming to college
  • Challenge yourself to do more than you ever thought possible
  • Explore the mountains around WCU and Western North Carolina
  • Do something completely different, 180 degrees from normal
  • Create memories that will last a lifetime

First Ascent - Rafting

Show up early for your regular on-campus summer orientation session and join other incoming students on one of the nation's most exciting whitewater destinations, the Nantahala River. It is 9 wet miles of class II-III fun. The experienced guide staff of Base Camp Cullowhee will take you on an afternoon raft trip that you will never forget.

Cost: $30 | Raft Trip Information Sheet

Registration: Register for your First Ascent rafting trip by visiting Base Camp's Trips tab on the website, navigate to the appropriate trip date.  If you have already registered for Orientation and wish to add a First Ascent raft trip, please - Register HERE

After you register, please fill out the Waiver and Medical Form and return to Base Camp Cullowhee. 

Forms: All forms can be mailed to the Campus Recreation Center | faxed to 828.227.7120 | scanned and emailed to basecamp@wcu.edu

**Cancellation Policy

For specific questions related to the rafting trip please email jhaas@wcu.edu or call 828.227.8805

For specific questions related to WCU Orientation please email orientation@wcu.edu or call 828.227.7735

First Ascent - Wilderness, August 12-17, 2017

First Ascent is WCU's Freshman Wilderness Orientation Program. WILDERNESS is a small group (6-10 people) extended backpacking trip for incoming students. Get away from all the distractions of civilization and go deep into the mountains around WCU. You'll leave the trailhead on day 1 with everything you need for 6 days in your backpack. You'll come out the other side on day 6 a different person. Travel from camp to camp and explore mountains, waterfalls, swimming holes, and amazing views. Along the way, you'll work as a team and accomplish the challenges of outdoor living, navigation, and terrain, together as a group. You'll also spend a day rock climbing in a remote location.

Participant Information for 2017:
All Participants are required to complete the following forms by the deadline of Friday, July 28th in order for BCC staff to finalize important logistics for the trip.

Cost: $275 - (Early Bird Deadline - Friday, July 7th); $300 - (Registration Deadline - Wednesday, July 26th

Registration: Register for your First Ascent program when you signup for Orientation through myWCU.  If you have already registered for Orientation and wish to add a First Ascent trip, please - Register HERE!

Forms: All Forms can be mailed to the Campus Recreation Center | faxed to 828.227.7120 | scanned and emailed to basecamp@wcu.edu

**Cancellation Policy
*Minimum enrollment is 6 people per trip, Maximum of 10 per group

Trip Staff:
This trip is lead by a team of of the most experienced student staff of Base Camp Cullowhee. These professional staff have gone through a rigorous training regimen including wilderness emergency medicine, training trips, and apprenticeship to qualify to work these trips. Many of them are former First Ascent participants themselves.

For specific questions related to the First Ascent trip please email jhaas@wcu.edu or call 828.227.8805

For specific questions related to WCU Orientation please email orientation@wcu.edu or call 828.227.7735

First Ascent - Adventure, August 12-17, 2017

First Ascent is WCU's Freshman/Transfer Wilderness Orientation Program.  ADVENTURE is a small group (6-12 people) outdoor activity sampler. Each day, you'll participate in a different activity, covering the best that the area has to offer. The following activities are included: Whitewater Rafting, Rock Climbing, Swimming Hole Hike, Lake Canoe Trip, and a Peak Ascent of one of the tallest mountains in the East. This trip is run road trip style, you'll leave campus on the first day and camp each day in tents at a different Forest Service Campground or designated road side camping spot, offering a few showers during the 6 day trip. For each day's trip, you just bring what you need for the day and leave the rest in the van.

Participant Information for 2017:
All Participants are required to complete the following forms by the deadline of Friday, July 28th in order for BCC staff to finalize important logistics for the trip.

 Cost: $275 - (Early Bird Deadline - Friday, July 7th); $300 - (Registration Deadline - Wednesday, July 22nd

Registration: Register for your First Ascent program when you signup for Orientation through myWCU.  If you have already registered for orientation and wish to add a First Ascent trip, please Register HERE! 

Forms:  All forms can be mailed to the Campus Recreation Center| faxed to 828.227.7120 | scanned and emailed to basecamp@wcu.edu

**Cancellation Policy
*Minimum enrollment is 6 people per trip, Maximum of 10 per group.  

Trip Staff:
This trip is lead by a team of of the most experienced student staff of Base Camp Cullowhee. These professional staff have gone through a rigorous training regimen including wilderness emergency medicine, training trips, and apprenticeship to qualify to work these trips. Many of them are former First Ascent participants themselves. In addition to the staff that accompany the entire trip, many days are also visited by additional staff to help with the technical aspects of some trips.

For specific questions related to the First Ascent trip please email jhaas@wcu.edu or call 828.227.8805

For specific questions related to WCU Orientation please email orientation@wcu.edu or call 828.227.7735

 First Tracks - Ski/Snowboard

 Kick some new tracks and take some turns into your spring semester at WCU!  The First Tracks program is a great intro adventure into Southeast skiing and snowboarding.  First Tracks is also a great way to ease the anxiety of starting college for the first time and it provides a way to meet a new community of friends.  Come join us for an evening of skiing and kick off your college career!

Cost: $25, $35, $45 | Trip Information Sheet
Registration: Sign up through Base Camp Cullowhee CLICK HERE
After you register, please fill out the Waiver and Medical Form and return to Base Camp Cullowhee. 

Forms:  All forms can be mailed to the Campus Recreation Center | faxed to 828.227.7120 | scanned and emailed to basecamp@wcu.edu

**Cancellation Policy

For specific questions related to the First Tracks trip please email jhaas@wcu.edu or call 828.227.8805

For specific questions related to Orientation please email orientation@wcu.edu or call 828.227.7735

frequently asked questions

If you don't see the answer to your question here, please contact Jeremiah Haas.

Where do I meet for the Rafting Trip?

When you arrive on campus, sign in at Scott Hall lobby between 11am-noon. At Scott Hall, look for the Base Camp Cullowhee / Orientation booth, we'll take care of you from there. More details about the check-in process and what to wear on the raft trip: Raft Trip Information Sheet

What if I have never been rafting, camping, backpacking, or climbing before?

Don't worry, many of the participants have never been done any of these outdoor adventures before.  On the trip, your leaders will teach you all the basic skills you will need to be comfortable and successful.

What kind of shape do I need to be in?

You should be in good physical condition for all of the First Ascent options. The least physically demanding option is the First Ascent RAFTING trip. The most physically demanding option is the First Ascent WILDERNESS trip where you will be traveling 2-5 miles a day with 45lb backpacks in mountainous terrain. Contact Jeremiah Haas (jhaas@wcu.edu) at Base Camp if you have questions about the physical requirements of the program or concerns about pre-existing medical conditions.

Do I need any special equipment for any of the trips?

For all of the First Ascent options, you'll need to provide your own clothing and footwear. Information and clothing lists for each trip is available on each trip webpage. Base Camp Cullowhee will provide all the specialized equipment for the specific activity and has camping equipment (backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, etc) for you to use free of charge.

First Ascent, Wilderness Participant Packet

First Ascent, Adventure Participant Packet

Where do the First Ascent trips take place?

All of the First Ascent rafting trips tackle the class II/III whitewater of the Nantahala River. Located a short drive from WCU, the Nantahala is America's most visited whitewater destination. Throughout the 9 miles of river that the trip covers, you'll encounter numerous exciting rapids. Along the way, you'll see beautiful wild flowers, breathtaking mountain views, and may even catch a glimpse of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad steam train.
The First Ascent 5-day backpacking and rock climbing trip will traverse the fantastic mountains and river bottoms of Panthertown Valley, an area located deep in the heart of the Nantahala National Forest. Known as the "Yosemite of the east" the valley contains a thick concentration of granite bluffs, beautiful waterfalls, and excellent scenery. Located only a short drive from WCU, Panthertown is a wilderness mecca for students looking for adventure.

The First Tracks ski/snowboard programs head to the great Cataloochee Ski Mountain located just outside of Smoky Mountain National Park.  Given its western facing aspect, this mountain can get hit by some great snow offering great turns!

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