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Discovering My—Slightly Strange—New Normal on a NOLS Gap Year

By Tricia Ballard on 3/7/19 1:01 PM

 

Photo by Kevin Castellanos
 

I’m normally apprehensive about opening up to people—so I was nervous when I showed up to a random bus stop three plane rides away from home for the start of my Semester in New Zealand. That day, I met nine strangers who would supposedly become my new best friends during the following 77 days in the mountains of New Zealand.

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Topics: Gap Year, inspiring women, leadership, Semester in New Zealand, story

Consultation with NOLS Risk Services: A 5-Step Risk Management Review

By Kenzie Wilkinson on 3/4/19 7:39 AM

Photo by Tracy Baynes
 

NOLS Risk Services offers consulting to organizations seeking to proactively manage risk in their outdoor programs. Risk Services, like the Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC), emerged in response to a growing need across the outdoor industry for collaborative risk management and from the philosophy that every organization in the industry shares both stake and responsibility in this effort.

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Topics: risk management, education, Wilderness Risk Management Conference, NOLS Risk Services, consulting

Learning Expedition Behavior With Kids: Winter Edition

By Alyssa Walker on 2/28/19 12:48 PM

Photo by Alyssa Walker.
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Topics: leadership, expedition behavior, winter, parenting, story

Andrew Bobilya: Taking the Classroom Outdoors

By Brooke Ortel on 2/20/19 8:34 AM

Andrew teaches rock climbing during an “Introduction to Outdoor Pursuits” class. Photo courtesy of Andrew Bobilya.

As an undergrad studying outdoor education, Andrew Bobilya didn’t aspire to be a professor. He didn’t plan on going into academia. Like many expeditions, his career didn’t follow exactly the path he expected.

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Topics: NOLS Mexico, NOLS alumni, NOLS Grad, Baja Sea Kayaking, Live the Dream, outdoor education

Case Study: A Backcountry First Aid Mystery from the ’80s

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 2/13/19 11:23 AM

Fashion trends might change, but some things don't! NOLS students backpacking in the mountains. Photo from the NOLS Archives.


This is a tale from the early 1980s. Reagan was President, the internet and cell phones only a dream, and disco thankfully on its last legs. Two friends and I had recently learned wilderness medicine skills through an advanced first aid course, which was an early generation of the Wilderness First Responder (WFR).

Read along to see how you would react to a similar first aid situation today.

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Topics: Wilderness First Responder, first aid, wilderness medicine, altitude illness, case study, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Everything You Need to Know About Winter Camping

By Rob Motley on 2/8/19 5:40 PM

Students during dawn patrol. Photo by Katie Oram.
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Topics: camping, leave no trace, winter, backcountry skiing, snowboarding, splitboarding, story

The Places that Scare You: First Ascents on Patagonia’s Northern Icefield

By Willy Oppenheim on 2/4/19 8:38 AM

Approaching Pantragruel (left). The peak at right is Gargantua. Photo by Willy Oppenheim.
 

Months later, I still find myself wondering what brought me there, and what I brought back.

Always it is like this: from the warmth of home, the mind moves towards cold and distant lands. From known to unknown, from comfort into fear, from one set of questions towards another at once more vast and elemental. From union into aloneness, and then back again—but never to stay.

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Topics: Patagonia, Educators Notebook, mountaineering, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), Instructor expedition, story

Case Study: Is That Frostbite?

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 1/24/19 9:13 AM

Rescuers practice giving patient care. Photo by Aron Gooch.
 

The Setting

You’ve been leading an outdoor skills course for young adults, most of it taught indoors or on day hikes. This weekend is the culminating overnight snowshoe trip where you plan to sleep in hollowed-out snow shelters, called quinzhees.

The snowshoe hike went according to plan and you and your group arrive at your planned campsite. Everyone appears weary, happy, and healthy. You note that it is much colder than any previous trip you’ve led, with temperatures hovering near 0°F (-18°C).

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

My Semester in Baja, as Told in Food and Sunsets [photo essay]

By Claire Burgeson on 1/22/19 8:40 AM

On the seventh day of my Spring Semester in Baja, we bought a goat.

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Topics: sailing, Baja Sea Kayaking, culture, Live the Dream, photos, Semester in Baja, NOLS Expeditions, story

A New Map: A NOLS Grad’s Journey to Walking Again

By Dan Kenah on 1/14/19 9:39 AM


Photo by Mireille Brown.

In his 1997 Idaho Adventure Course evaluation, Jim Harris’ instructors noted that “map reading comes easily to Jim.”

He reflected on that skill recently, and how it felt like he "was given the keys to the castle. I could go anywhere on the planet" with it.

But at the time he had no idea it would lead him down a path where few maps exist to show the way forward.

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Topics: Alumni, Live the Dream, leadership, story

Best of NOLS Instagram in 2018

By Caleb Walker on 12/21/18 11:33 AM

Your favorite photos of wilderness, friendship, and leadership from NOLS Instagram.

Find a little inspiration as you start dreaming of your adventures for 2019… 

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Topics: NOLS Patagonia, NOLS Rocky Mountain, NOLS Alaska, Backpacking, NOLS Pacific Northwest, Live the Dream, river crossing, mountaineering, winter, tent, NOLS Three Peaks Ranch, photography, photos, story

Your 8 Favorite Wilderness Medicine Posts of 2018

By NOLS on 12/19/18 4:43 PM

While wilderness medicine is a constantly evolving field, some things stay the same—like people wondering whether it’s really ok to suck out snake venom, or the steps of the Patient Assessment System.

As 2018 wraps up, our team gathered this year’s most popular wilderness medicine topics from the NOLS Blog. Take a look to refresh your skills and get ready for whatever comes your way in 2019!

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, Live the Dream

Leading in the Avalanche Safety and Education Industry

By Kim Freitas on 12/19/18 12:34 PM


Musnicki climbing on Mt. Moran in the Tetons. Photo by Paul Rachele.

Editor's note: Adapted from the Fall 2016 issue of The Leader. 

When Jaime Musnicki was first introduced to skiing at age two, it led to a lifelong love of winter sports and an unexpected career path.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, avalanche, winter, story

Meeting the Experts: NOLS Winter Instructor Kate Koons

By Caleb Walker on 12/18/18 2:47 PM


Kate Koons takes a photo of her friends on an expedition in Alaska.

Kate Koons has a love affair with winter sports.

It began when she learned to ski as part of an after-school program in northern New Jersey.

"There was one lift and one Poma and many of my first memories revolved around trying to push my sister off the Poma lift, or not fall down while skiing the icy moguls to the bottom."

These days she is referred to as the "winter guru" around NOLS.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, winter camping, winter, NOLS Teton Valley, backcountry skiing, snowboarding, splitboarding, story

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, risk management training, risk management, Educators Notebook, education, Wilderness Risk Management Conference