NOLS Blog

Browse by Category

How Backpacking Sparked a Love for Wilderness Medicine

By Jack Johnson on Oct 9, 2019
Foggy hike in the Bighorns. Photo courtesy of Jack Johnson.

Hiking to Head Injury

During the summer of 2017, when I was 14 years old, I took part in a 21-day NOLS backpacking course in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. Just halfway through the course, I watched what (at the time) I considered to be an incredible feat of medicine. Another student on my course tripped and fell while walking across a burned-out section of forest and—under the heavy weight of his pack—hit his head on a rock. In the days that followed, I watched my two incredible instructors treat a possible concussion.

Read More

Topics: Wilderness First Responder, first aid, wilderness medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Managing Risk Outdoors: Backcountry Wildfires

By Brooke Ortel on Oct 7, 2019

Photo by Matt Howard.

It’s no secret that wildfires in the U.S. are getting bigger and more intense.

Even if you haven’t personally been affected by a fire, you’ve probably seen the haunting photos and devastating reports on the news. Demolished homes, displaced families, firefighters risking their lives to contain walls of flame. These stories are evidence of a deadly, and growing, threat.

Read More

Topics: risk management, education, NOLS Risk Services, trip planning, Wilderness Safety Training

Spring Break 2020: Get Ready for Adventure

By NOLS on Oct 1, 2019

Photo by Molly Hagbrand.

Make your spring break an adventure. Forget the crowded ski resorts or touristy beach vacation—it’s time to do something different.

Read More

Topics: Baja Sea Kayaking, rock climbing, education, backcountry skiing, NOLS Expeditions, spring break

Continuing Your Wilderness Medicine Education at the WRMC

By Colleen Kelley on Sep 26, 2019

Practicing skills during a medical scenario. Photo by Tod Schimelpfenig.
 

Wilderness medicine courses do an excellent job of preparing outdoor leaders to respond to the unexpected but there are some important limitations. Remember all of those scenarios? They tested your assessment skills and helped you hone your treatments while letting you practice evacuation decision-making in a low stakes environment.

But what happens next? Your WFR course left off at the decision to evacuate—and that’s where the Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) picks up the story.

Read More

Topics: WRMC, Wilderness Medicine

A Rural Surprise: Utah Officials Support National Parks

By Rich Brame on Sep 25, 2019

Utah wildflowers.
 

Southern Utah is a land of contrasts. High peaks border deep canyons. Wide slickrock plateaus divide narrow, winding washes. Sought-after resources like coal, uranium, and natural gas lie beneath open space, wildlife habitat, and crystal skies. National parks, with their focus on visitors, are rimmed by rural communities with agricultural roots.

Read More

Topics: Environment, stewardship, wilderness, leadership, activism

3 Mottos I Learned From My AMGA Ski Guide Training

By Jesse Quillian on Sep 18, 2019

Managing loose dry sluffs in "Mozambique." Photo by Mike Poborsky, Course Director.
Read More

Topics: instructor, winter, education, backcountry skiing, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), leadership

Learning to Say “Thank You:” The path to building community while climbing

By Andy Notopoulos on Sep 3, 2019
Photo by Alex Thomas.
 

“Thank you!!!”

Read More

Topics: self confidence, wilderness education, instructor, rock climbing, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), story, thank you, gratitude

Business Undergrads Look to Wilderness Expeditions for Leadership Training

By Stephanie Cantu on Aug 26, 2019

Editor’s note: Dozens of candidates from undergraduate business and MBA programs across the U.S. go on wilderness expeditions with NOLS each year. Stephanie Cantu, Senior Student Program Coordinator and academic advisor for the Canfield Business Honors Program at The University of Texas, shares what she sees her students gain from these expeditions, and how they’re set up for success in the ever-changing business world.

Read More

Topics: leadership, wilderness education, Business School, students, MBAs, wilderness, NOLS Custom Education

Wilderness First Aid: 5 Steps of a Scene Size-up

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Aug 19, 2019

Photo by Jared Steinman.

You’re out for a hike, enjoying a beautiful day in the mountains. Pausing to take a sip from your water bottle, you survey your surroundings—and suddenly notice the fallen hiker up ahead. You put your water bottle away and start walking toward the crumpled figure beside the trail.

Read More

Topics: patient assessment, first aid, wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

ABCs of Wilderness Medicine: The Initial Assessment

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Aug 19, 2019

NOLS Wilderness Medicine students participate in a hands-on scenario. Photo by Lena Conlan.

Your weekend adventure in the mountains takes an unexpected turn when you spot a fallen hiker beside the trail. Fortunately, after a brief moment of panic, your wilderness medicine training kicks in and you complete a thorough scene size-up.

Read More

Topics: patient assessment, first aid, wilderness medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Welcome to NOLS India: Expeditions in the Himalaya

By NOLS on Aug 12, 2019

Written by Annalise Grueter and Manohar D'silva. 


Photo by Kirk Rasmussen.


A line of solemn, snow-capped giants stretches across the three northernmost states in India.

These soaring peaks belong to the world’s highest mountain chain: the Himalaya.

Read More

Topics: Himalayas, Himalaya, Educators Notebook, NOLS India, education, cultural expedition

Start Dreaming: Summer 2020 Expeditions Now Online

By NOLS on Jul 31, 2019

Camping on a summer day in the Yukon. Photo by Ari Bruns. 

Dreading the end of summer? We are too, just a little.

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes, Adventure Courses, NOLS semester, education, announcement, classic courses

Wilderness Safety Training: Key for Any Risk Management Toolkit

By Elizabeth Bezark on Jul 29, 2019

Photo by Shelli Johnson
 

Going to the backcountry or rural communities fosters growth, transformation, and opportunities for learning. But, often these experiences have inherent risks, like being far from medical care or in places where communication is difficult.

That’s why anyone, from solo adventurers to expedition leaders in these settings, needs skills in risk management. Strong risk management makes it more likely you will achieve individual and group goals for learning and recreating.

Read More

Topics: risk management, Trip Leader, NOLS Risk Services, trip planning, Wilderness Safety Training

SOAR Act Introduction to the House of Representatives

By Aaron Bannon on Jul 26, 2019

Photo by Trip Davis.
 

For newly-minted outdoor programs, and for well-established ones like NOLS, the business of permitting and access on U.S. public lands is becoming increasingly challenging. Agencies responsible for permitting are under-resourced, mired in administrative processes, and compelled to prioritize other resource needs first.

Read More

Topics: Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, leadership

Case Study: When Heat Stress Hits an Entire Group

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Jul 23, 2019

Photo by Pascale Gulick
 

The Setting

You’re the supervisor for several crews doing volunteer trail maintenance in a local national forest.

Since your crew leaders are new, you decide to head out to their work sites to check on their work. (Plus, it’s a good reason to get out of the office, away from email, and enjoy a hike in the hills.)

The weather has been unusually hot and humid, with daytime temperatures in the 90s °F (30s °C).

You find one of your crews around lunchtime resting under a few trees. They look lethargic and tired.

One crew member is lying on his back with his feet elevated and a wet bandanna on his forehead. Your crew leader gives you a SOAP report on the patient.

Read More

Topics: first aid, summer, wilderness medicine, case study, heat illness