First Ascent Wilderness Orientation


 

Discover. Explore. Transform.

Already love what you’re seeing and hearing about life at Western Carolina University? The First Ascent wilderness orientation program gives you the chance to make new friends and discover the beautiful region that surrounds WCU.

Whether you want to simply dip your toe in and spend an afternoon rafting on the Nantahala River or want to immerse yourself in an experience that will take you beyond civilization and deep into the mountains, First Ascent has a trip for you. You’ll return with lasting memories and friends for future adventures.

First Ascent Wilderness Students Navigating

 

Wilderness hiking

 

Pre-Orientation Rafting Adventure

Show up early for your orientation session and bond with other incoming students on one of the nation's most exciting whitewater destinations, the Nantahala River. The Nantahala is 9 wet miles of class II-III fun!

LEARN MORE

rafting 2017

 

rafting 2017

 

Wilderness & Adventure Trips

Connect with other adventuresome Catamounts the week prior to the start of the fall semester! You'll spend the week exploring everything our beautiful mountains have to offer.

LEARN MORE

first ascent wilderness 2017

 

rock climbing

 

   

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, check in at Scott Hall lobby between 11am-noon. At 12:30pm you will head to the Campus Recreation Center's Adventure Shop and meet your rafting guide, we'll take care of you from there.

What if I haven't 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 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!

Office of Web Services