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Field Methods

Backpacking in Colorado

Continental Divide

The Department of Geography offers three field methods expeditions that fulfill the experiential learning requirement: Weather instrumentation, the Rocky Mountain Field Course, and the Hokie Storm Chase.

The field studies class inspect a weather station

 The field studies class inspect a weather station

Weather instrumentation

Weather Instrumentation includes learning how to build, maintain, and repair solar-powered remote-access weather stations owned by Virginia Tech in Virginia and West Virginia. This experience is structured for five days of work: one on campus, two working on local weather stations in the field, and two working on mountain stations in the field. Most field work will be part of day trips, but overnight camping is an option. This experience is scheduled for mid-May, soon after the end of spring semester.

Collage of students at weather stations

Rocky Mountain Field Course

Study the most extreme alpine geography and weather in the contiguous United States with a 15-day trip to the Rocky Mountains. Being in good shape is a requirement for this adventure which includes backpacking through Colorado. Acclimatizing is necessary for the first several days in preparation for the time spent high on the continental divide, camping at elevations above 11,000 feet and climbing to 14,000 feet. In addition to a mid-trip day in Aspen, two days are spent in Leadville, the highest town in the U.S., for laundry, food restocking, meals, and a hot shower.

Students in Rocky Mountains

Standing in the Rocky Mountains at the Continental Divide

Collage of images from Colorado

Collage of imagers from Colorado