Global Adventures | An Introduction to the Global Adventures Program

In this piece from Mountaineer magazine, learn about the history of our Global Adventures program and find out how you can get involved in upcoming outdoor-oriented, international adventures.
Cindy Hoover Cindy Hoover
Past and current Global Adventures chairs and leaders
February 19, 2022

Written by Steve Johnson, Cindy Hoover, and Cheryl Talbert.


Since 1969, The Mountaineers has been sponsoring multi-day outdoor adventures around the world through our Global Adventures program. Our members have skied the slopes of Japan, backpacked across Chilean Patagonia, and trekked through the Alps. In the past five decades we’ve offered 233 separate trips, the hours of which tally up to a cumulative 90 years of non-stop action and adventure. Like many of our activities, the program’s beginnings are far more humble than the hustle-and-bustle we see today.

Program progression

Called the Foreign Outings Committee in the 1970s and 80s, the Outing Coordinating Committee in the 1990s, and the Global Adventures Committee since the early 2000s, this program has always been run by a small group of passionate volunteers. All talented trip planners, seasoned international travelers, and active Mountaineers leaders at home, these volunteers coordinated and led foreign and domestic trips so that our membership had the opportunity to explore the world outside of Washington.

In the early days, outing itineraries could be quite casual as long as they centered on athletic outdoor recreation. Rather than today’s detailed description of daily distances, elevation gain, exit options, and risks and hazards, the itinerary was more akin to “go hiking for two weeks in the Austrian Alps, and stay in huts!”

Risk management was less of a watchword at the time, but accidents were avoided by leaders who had the skill and experience to anticipate and avoid hazards. Participants also took responsibility for group safety and enjoyment. What has always made these trips fun and safe - whether a remote backpacking trip or a week of backcountry skiing out of a mountain lodge - is that leaders and participants are capable, know what to do in the outdoors, and take care of each other and the group.

Though initially focused on hiking in Europe, over the years the program expanded to climbing, hiking, backpacking, and skiing across the world. We’ve offered treks in the Himalaya, backpacking in Turkey, naturalist and photography trips in Costa Rica, and skiing in the Alps, just to name a few. Our destinations have reflected the activity focus and destination dreams of volunteer leaders, the physical challenges varying from culturally-rich walking days through local villages to high-exertion climbing, skiing, and backpacking itineraries. And we leave with incredible memories and lifelong adventure buddies!

Planning a Global Adventure

So what makes a Global Adventure different from a regular Mountaineers activity? For Global Adventures, leaders organize most of the trip logistics including ground transport, food, lodging, permits, and services like guides. Leaders post a member fee that covers all of these elements, plus a modest administration fee (a bargain compared with those of most commercial adventure travel!). On a standard Mountaineers domestic trip, each participant organizes and pays for their own logistics. Because of their financial and logistical complexity, Global Adventures require additional review and more approval steps than activities sponsored solely by individual activity committees, with international adventures requiring more oversight than domestic adventures (which include Canada, Mexico, and Hawaii).

Become a Global Adventures leader

As we look toward the future, there is immense demand for outdoor-oriented, international adventure. Unfortunately, time, busy schedules, and the pandemic have depleted the ranks of our leaders. If you’re an active Mountaineers activity leader who loves trip planning, travel, and leading groups, we’d love for you to consider becoming a Global Adventures leader! Contact Global Adventures Committee chairs Cindy Hoover (cyn@zipcon.com) or Cheryl Talbert (cascadehiker12@gmail.com) for more information.

To view our upcoming trips, visit: www.mountaineers.org/globaladventures


This article originally appeared in our Winter 2022 issue of Mountaineer Magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archive.

Lead image of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon on the south coast of Iceland. Photo by Steve Johnson.


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