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New Perspectives on Risk Management: WRMC 2018

By Day Scott on 12/12/18 9:04 AM

Photo by Day Scott
 

As an outdoor educator and a student of wilderness medicine, I thought that I had a pretty good idea of what wilderness risk management was all about…preparedness! I thought, “I know how to do that”, and was looking forward to learning about how to do it better. Boy, was I wrong.

Going to the Wilderness Risk Management Conference really helped me gain a different perspective of risk management and provided me with an impactful educational experience.

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Topics: WRMC, Wilderness Risk Management Conference, Educators Notebook, risk management, risk management training

Do NOLS Even (and Especially) If You’re Scared

By Olivia Hewitt on 12/10/18 8:45 AM
Me feeling excited and nervous right before I shared some passages from my journal with the group. Taken at Martin's Park campsite, one of the most beautiful spots we came to. Photo courtesy of Olivia Hewitt.

About four months ago I sat in one of my college’s campus cafés and procrastinated away my final few minutes before class. I was in the middle of a season of complete chaos, and was trying to find something that would re-energize and center me. I was scrolling through a bunch of NOLS blog posts when suddenly a strange thing happened:

As I read about tents being blown over at 3 a.m. by torrential rain, days of brutal heat and scarce food and blistering heels, I started to cry tears of joy.

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Topics: Live the Dream, expeditions, Pacific Northwest Backpacking

NOLS President John Gans Announces Retirement

By NOLS on 11/30/18 3:51 PM

NOLS President John Gans announced on November 28 his plans to retire at the end of 2019. He is the fifth president in the school’s 53-year history and longest-serving leader. Gans has been a part of the school for 38 years and at the conclusion of 2019, he will have served as the school's executive director and president for 24 years. He started his NOLS journey as a scholarship student in 1979 on a Semester in Kenya, later serving as director of NOLS Alaska, admissions and marketing director, and operations director before assuming the role of president in October 1995.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, John Gans

Help Your Friends Love NOLS Alumni Trips

By Kyle Courtaway on 11/29/18 5:02 PM


Photo courtesy of Kyle Courtaway.

I’m looking down the long dinner table at a rifugio (mountain hut) in the Dolomites with my childhood friends mixed with new NOLS friends. As I sit, I'm reflecting on what it took to get my friends here. We're happy, enjoying our time together in these Italian mountains. 

Contrast that with a moment earlier that day: Our hiking group took a break and I spied one of my childhood friends lying prone on his back, giving me two thumbs up. But I was worrying that he was questioning his decision to go on this trip.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Alumni, Alumni Trip, Italy

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

By Shelby Cranshaw on 11/27/18 4:23 PM

Whether you're shopping for your favorite sustainability nerd or a backcountry fashionista, here are some gift ideas for anyone on your list.

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Topics: Expedition Prep, gift, gear

Real-Life Scenario: Stuck on a Climbing Route

By Jake Blackwelder on 11/26/18 8:02 AM

The rescue team. Photo courtesy of Jake Blackwelder.
 

The 911 call: A climber was stuck in a crack on a classic multi-pitch trad route at well-known sandstone climbing area near Moab, Utah. The incident happened near the top of a large chimney, a crack wide enough to fit a climber’s entire body into. The climber was about 100 feet from the ground and 40 feet below the pitch anchor, the next opportunity to attach securely to the wall.

My wilderness rescue team, consisting of myself, another Wilderness EMT, and three Rope Rescue Technicians, were the ones to receive the call and respond to the incident.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, scenario, first aid, rock climbing, rock rescue

How to Take the Mountains Home: A Gateway Scholar Reflects on Horsepacking

By Cristina Edwards on 11/19/18 7:40 AM


Picture captured by Eve Cinquino.

Before Rebeca Espinosa set off on her Wilderness Horsepacking course, she wasn’t sure she’d be challenged on the 21-day expedition. With horses carrying all the gear, and students and instructors riding on horseback, it was hard to see what about the course could be difficult.

At 5:45 a.m. the next day, it became clearer. 

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Topics: Gateway Partner, Gateway Scholar, Live the Dream, horsepacking, scholarship

Sketches from Tanzania

By Mingyuk Chen on 11/14/18 11:45 AM

At the first camp site in Tanzania, I was so taken by the silhouette of the thorn acacia trees outlined by the setting sun that I found myself sketching them in the dark with just a dim light behind me.

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Topics: Live the Dream, NOLS East Africa, NOLS Tanzania, safari, wildlife, visual art

Case Study: A Hard Fall While Skiing

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 11/7/18 1:14 PM


Photo by Brian Fabel.

Editor’s Note: This case study is based on an actual incident that NOLS Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness First Aid graduates responded to.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, case study, Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness EMT, winter, first aid

New Courses for Winter & Spring 2019

By NOLS on 11/5/18 3:30 PM


Photo by Nikole Wohlmacher.

For winter and spring 2019, we’re excited to offer two new women-only courses: backpacking in the Southwest and backcountry skiing and snowboard touring in the Tetons.

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Topics: expedition, leadership, all-women, new courses, Behind the Scenes

How Valuing Different Leadership Roles Makes Better Teams

By Molly Herber on 10/23/18 8:13 AM

Photo by Brad Christensen.
 

Picture a leader in your mind.

Maybe you're imagining a lone individual singlehandedly making decisions and wielding authority.

Or, maybe you're thinking of someone completely different—like your friend who avoids the spotlight, but always has their eyes open for places to help. 

Which one’s a “real” leader? Of course, the answer’s both—and more.


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Topics: leadership, Behind the Scenes

Real-life Scenario: A Surfing Rescue in Baja California

By Lisa Kosglow on 10/22/18 9:48 AM

Photo courtesy of Lisa Kosglow
 

My NOLS Wilderness First Responder course made a real difference in my life—and someone else’s.

Six months after my course, I was on vacation in Baja California, Mexico, where a south swell lured my family and me to a popular beach to go surfing. At the beach, a few people were in the water, including a small group of surfers and one stand-up paddle boarder. As I paddled over a breaking wave, I saw the next one about to break with one surfer paddling over it and the stand-up paddle boarder dropping in. What happened next played out like a horrible car wreck.

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Topics: wilderness medicine, rescue, case study

Why I Left School for a NOLS Semester

By Claire Burgeson on 10/15/18 9:50 AM


Photo by Claire Burgeson

The second week of my sophomore year of college, I walked into my 9:00 a.m. history class and asked myself, “What am I still doing here?”

I was doing what I'd always done: what was expected of me. I had graduated high school, chosen a college, and just chosen a major—journalism. I got good grades, had friends—on paper, I was a list of checked boxes.

At the same time, I felt my energy and creativity drain through the holes that the classroom grind had worn through me.

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Topics: outdoor semester, Semester in Baja, NOLS Mexico, study abroad, Gap Year

Case Study: Is Hydration Always the Answer?

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 10/10/18 12:35 PM

Photo by Liz Schultz.
 

The Setting

You and three friends are hiking through a sandy wash in the desert. Even though it is fall, daytime high temperatures have been 100°F (37.7°C) with no clouds in the sky.

Your group encounters another party of two hikers, one of whom is lying on the ground under the only small juniper in the area. The other hiker seems worried. You ask if everything is ok. One hiker is fine but asks if you can help with the patient, who he worries is dehydrated or having a “heat stroke.”

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Topics: wilderness medicine, case study, hydration, Wilderness First Responder

Simple Views Teach Profound Lessons: Sunrise in the Himalaya

By Chris Pouch on 10/2/18 8:45 AM

Students en route to Camp 1 on a cold, clear morning, with Nanda Devi (middle) and Nanda Devi East (right) in the background. Photo by Chris Pouch.
 

Nanda Devi, according to the legend of villagers in the Garhwal and Kumaon regions of India, was a beautiful princess. When a prince fell in love with her and asked to marry her, she refused, sending him into a rage. The prince declared war and forced Nanda Devi to flee to the mountains. She climbed to the heights of a snow-covered peak in search of refuge. When she could go no higher, she rested, looking down from the top of the world. This summit proved to be her final resting place as she merged with the mountain, leaving behind only her spirit, present in the wind and snow, and her name, which now belongs to the place that took her: Nanda Devi.

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Topics: Live the Dream, NOLS India, Himalaya, mountaineering