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

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: Live the Dream, wilderness medicine, first aid

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: Behind the Scenes, winter, avalanche, Alumni

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

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, and a new service expedition.

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