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First Ascent program enrolling students now – April 22 deadline

The First Ascent Youth Leadership program is now accepting applications for its free multi-day course based out of the Colorado Mountain College (CMC) campus in Leadville.

Students who participate in CMC’s First Ascent youth outdoor course, such as Corbin Finley of Breckenridge in 2019 – climb, hike and raft while learning confidence and problem-solving skills. Photo by Matt Lit.

Although the program took a hiatus during the past two years due to the COVID19 pandemic, First Ascent is operating again this summer. The course is for students who will complete eighth and ninth grade this spring. Dates this year run from Sunday, June 19 through Friday, June 24.

Sponsored by Alpine Bank and the J. Robert Young Foundation, First Ascent is available to students living in eight counties: Chaffee, Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Lake, Pitkin, Summit and a portion of Routt. Recommendations from a counselor, teacher or other adult need to be submitted along with each application.

First Ascent brings together students from around the CMC district and gives students opportunities to develop and learn leadership skills such as problem-solving, consensus building, conflict resolution, and communication.

Students live at CMC’s residential hall in Leadville, and build self-esteem through challenges such as rock climbing, hiking Mount Elbert, and rafting the Arkansas River.

This year, First Ascent will accept 35 students who show potential to be leaders. Counselors and staff are former graduates of the program, and students completing First Ascent can return to work as staff during future summers.

For more information and to apply, go to or contact First Ascent Program Manager Carolyn Larsen at