October, 2005 Issue
Utah’s Westminster College Offers Up a “Degree” in Mountain Culture
There are certain things in life that give skiers license to freak out and throw furniture off of buildings. One is the smug weatherman characterizing the persistence of warm, dry weather in January as “good”; the other is sitting in class while the latest storm is pummeling your home mountain.
Though the mystery of the weatherman continues, a private college in Salt Lake City may have figured out how to keep ski-minded students happy: Hold class in the snow.
Westminster College, a small liberal arts school in Salt Lake City, launched a first-of-its-kind program last year that offers college students a “Vertical Degree,” combining academics with winter sports. Knows as Winter at Westminster, it’s being touted as an alternative to studying abroad, or forsaking school to live in the mountains. Winter at Westminster invites students to spend a season exploring the snow culture of the Wasatch Mountains. The cost is $15,000, and for that, students get a course load of up to 12 transferable college credits; room, board, and books; a full Alta/Snowbird season pass and day tickets to other Utah resorts; dawn patrol rides on Snowbird’s tram; avalanche and backcountry safety workshops; Nordic and freestyle jumping at Utah’s Olympic Park; and the chance to interact with leading professionals in the outdoor industry.
“We think this is a better opportunity for somebody than dropping out to be a ski bum,” says program director Sarah West. “instead, why not go to class then cruise up to Alta or Snowbird for a powder day?”
Last year’s pilot program had four students, three from out of state and one from Westminster. This year the college expects to enroll close to 100. Jill DeVieming, a 20-year old junior from Whitman College, signed up last year and simultaneously scored an internship at the ark City-based U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. She and her classmates skied several times a week. “We definitely spend time in class, but my workload’s not very touch,” DeVieming said one morning after a dawn patrol and tour of Alta’s avalanche facilities. “I wanted to do a study abroad, but when I heard about this I convince my parents to le me come to Utah instead.” If only more people could be so rational. – Matt Hansen
Winter at Westminster
Winter at Westminster provides you an opportunity to add 70+ days to your outdoor winter repertoire while students earn 12-16 transferable credits.
About Winter at Westminster
Winter at Westminster takes you beyond skiing and riding at resorts--this program challenges you, it takes you to the next level, and it brings a new meaning to winter recreation. Customize your semester experience by choosing from over 525 classes, apply for an outdoor industry internship and network with leading industry professionals.
Instead of studying abroad, study at Westminster College. Westminster is the only private, comprehensive liberal arts college in Utah that has been consistently ranked as a top tier institution by U.S.News & World Report for ten straight years.
Vertical Degree Experiences
When you are not in class your time will be spent in the mountains, participating in winter activities that are unique to our area. Remember, Westminster College is location 30 minutes from 7 world-class resorts, the Utah Olympic Park and the expansive backcountry.
Many students arrange their class schedules to permit midweek skiing and snowboarding with their Alta-Snowbird season pass.
- Enjoy an interchangeable season pass at Snowbird and Alta; no blackout dates
- Experience First-Tracks: skiing/boarding off Snowbird's tram before the resort opens to the public
- Travel to these resorts for day excursions:
- Deer Valley
- The Canyons
- Park City Mountain Resort
- Weekend trip to the Uinta Mountains for backcountry touring, snowshoeing, and yurt camping
- Day trip into the Wasatch Mountains with Exum Mountaineering for backcountry touring
- Snowshoeing in the Unita Mountains
- Skiers: Ski Utah's Interconnect Tour where you will ski from Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Solitude, Brighton, Alta and end the day in Snowbird- 23 miles of the Wasatch's best skiing; lunch included
- Weekend adventures:
Snow-cat skiing at Alta
Helicopter skiing in the Wasatch Mountains
Alpine Tour: helicopter ride into the backcountry for a day of backcountry touring or snowshoeing
Weekend of mountaineering, backcountry touring and snow-cave camping
-Learn about basic backcountry safety from Utah's Avalanche Center
-Tour with Alta's and Snowbird's patrol team and learn hands-on about avalanche safety
-Complete your Level 1 Avalanche Class
All Winter at Westminster participants will receive a 10% discount to Backcountry.com, redeemable throughout the entire semester.
Visit Sundance Film Festival in Park City during January; discounted tickets are available at Westminster's concierge desk
Please call 801.832.2563 if you wish to talk with someone about the program.