Skip to content ↓

​​​​​​​The Himalaya Environment and Leadership Program ​​​​​​​/ India

31 August 2021

Deferred to 2021

The Himalaya Environment and Leadership Program supports youth in discovering and exercising their agency in a complex world. It takes place in Ladakh, a high-altitude region in the Northern corner of the Himalaya known for rugged mountains and Tibetan Buddhist culture. This is a powerful setting for an expedition and development study, and inspires us to believe that the way things are is not the way they must be.

The Ladakh mountains offer big challenges and rewards as well as protection from the monsoon. Local leaders and host families teach us about alternative ways of knowing and being. The recent history of policy interventions shows us the combined impacts of globalization and the neo-liberal development doctrine. Before the expedition, we explore places, traditions, stories and political movements, and set aside time for quietude, sharing, and reflection. It allows for a contextualised and critical examination of the global and local incentives and structures that drive power, access, consumption, policy, and the displacement of indigenous knowledge. 

The expedition begins 5 days later, with a stunning route selected for a gradual elevation profile, uncomplicated road access, and minimum objective hazards. It leads right up to three impressive mountains between 6000 and 6300 meters that present outrageously adventurous but appropriately challenging objectives to a determined hiker. This is a strenuous and ambitious program that requires dedication and preparation. Participants plan and cook meals; set up camps; learn to use mountaineering equipment to move across difficult terrain; and manage risks intelligently. On three nights we are roped together for 16 hours going up and down a mountain face, but the course is about a lot more than high adventure.


Due to the current Covid-19 situation, the application deadline has been extended to 1 May. 
By 10 May at the latest we will communicate our decision to cancel, delay (until late July or August), or proceed with the course, taking input from admitted participants. We are carefully observing the guidance of the medical authorities and also monitoring two factors closely:
1) The present state and possible trajectories of international travel restrictions.
2) The number of COVID-19 cases in Ladakh and Delhi specifically, and India more generally.
If we do cancel the short course, participants will receive a full refund. If you wish to cancel your enrolment in the short course, please write to us and you will receive a full refund. Emails should be addressed to with the subject "Himalaya HELP - [your full name]."

Dates: 2021 date TBC
Location: Leh, Ladakh, India
Application deadline: TBC
Course fee:  EUR 3,400
Eligibility: Minimum 17 years old at the time of application.
Scholarship Availability: Need-based financial aid is available.
For more details: Visit our WebsiteInstagram, Facebook or email us

Please note: Though this UWC Short Course is running in India, it is not organised by or connected to UWC Mahindra College, Pune, India. The college is not liable for any part of the course.


We welcome participants from a diverse range of backgrounds. Admission to this program will be based on: 

  • Demonstrated interest in sustainability, peace, global affairs, and local development
  • Demonstrated commitment and/or leadership in school or college activities
  • Exceptional work and team ethics
  • Alignment with UWC Guiding Principles
  • Preparedness to undertake the expedition

Applicants must:

  • Be 17 or older on the date of application
  • Be declared medically fit by their doctor to attempt the expedition
  • Provide two references of activity leaders, work supervisors or teachers that can speak to their preparedness for the course

Prior camping and trekking experience is strongly recommended. No crampon, ice axe or roped travel experience is necessary, though this will be taught and used on three summit attempts. Physical preparedness is a prerequisite, and a reasonable benchmark is jogging 5km in 30 minutes, but note this is a limited measure of preparedness. Please contact us for more information about training and preparedness for the expedition.