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Brooke Ortel

Brooke Ortel
Brooke is a runner and writer who enjoys finding adventure in the everyday. True to her island roots, she loves sunshine, that salty ocean smell, and the sound of waves against the shore.

Recent Posts

Creating Space: Why All-Women's Expeditions Matter

By Brooke Ortel on Mar 5, 2020
Photo by Nadine Lehner

“In a lot of ways, it’s just a normal NOLS course. But there’s also an aspect of recognition that the outdoor world is still predominantly male, and it’s cool and empowering to be out here with a bunch of women who historically haven’t always been accepted in this realm of work and play.” —Katie Oram, NOLS Instructor

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Topics: Leadership Skills, Research, all-women, female leaders, inspiring women, NOLS Expeditions, affinity, Leadership

How Outdoor Adventures Set Teens up for Life Success

By Brooke Ortel on Mar 2, 2020
Photo by Kirk Rasmussen

In today’s world, students find the idea of failure appalling, intolerable. It’s like standing on the edge of a looming precipice or swift-flowing river with no guarantee of a safe crossing. But in reality, the prospect of failure isn’t (usually) a looming gorge—it’s a botched exam, lower-than-desired SAT score, getting cut from the team, losing the race for class president.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, teens, Adventure Courses, Research, education, NOLS Teton Valley, NOLS Expeditions, Leadership

Jimmy Chin’s Journey from NOLS to the Oscars

By Brooke Ortel on Feb 3, 2020
Photo courtesy of National Geographic

It’s Oscar season once again—a great reason to celebrate Jimmy Chin, co-producer of the top documentary feature film of 2019. Not only is Jimmy a world-renowned skier, climber, and film-maker, he’s also a NOLS alum, former instructor, and current Board member. Years before he stepped into the international spotlight, Jimmy started his journey with NOLS.

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Topics: NOLS Grad, nols instructor, Rock Climbing, NOLS Alum, parenting, Free Solo, leaders of color, Stories, Alumni Accomplishments

Cold Weather Recipe: Cheesy Potato Soup

By Brooke Ortel on Jan 23, 2020
Photo by Jordan Cranch

When you’re tired and chilly after a rainy hike or day of backcountry skiing, this hearty soup is a perfect way to refuel. A classic from the iconic NOLS Cookery, our favorite potato soup is guaranteed to warm you up. Even your grumpiest pal can’t stay hangry with a bowl of cheesy goodness!

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Topics: backcountry cooking, recipe, Camping, NOLS cookery, video, backcountry recipe, Food and Gear, Food

Camping Recipe: How to Make a Backcountry Pie

By Brooke Ortel on Nov 26, 2019
Photo by Jordan Cranch

Let’s face it: No meal is truly complete without dessert. Even (or maybe especially) when you’re camping. This classic fruit pie is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth after a long day of hiking—and put a smile on your friends’ faces.

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Topics: backcountry cooking, recipe, Camping, NOLS cookery, dessert, video, Food and Gear, Food

Our Favorite Places to #OptOutside

By Brooke Ortel on Nov 14, 2019

Join the NOLS community in opting outside on Black Friday! We hope you’re able to get outdoors this Thanksgiving, whether that means hiking a favorite trail, walking in a local park, or exploring nearby public lands.

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some of our favorite places to #OptOutside!

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Topics: Events, adventure, NOLS Events, Thanksgiving, Stories, #optoutside

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.

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Topics: Environment, Risk Management, education, NOLS Risk Services, trip planning, Wilderness Safety Training

Andrew Bobilya: Taking the Classroom Outdoors

By Brooke Ortel on Feb 20, 2019
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, Kayaking, outdoor education, Stories, Alumni Accomplishments

What You Learn on a NOLS Semester

By Brooke Ortel on Aug 30, 2018
Photo by Jordan Cranch

On her Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator semester, Erin Phillips skied backcountry mountains, canoed whitewater rapids, and hiked more than 100 miles across the Utah desert. Each new landscape brought fresh experiences, including the day she and her coursemates hiked for hours to reach a water source in the desert’s slot canyons and danced in celebration.

The desert awakened another kind of thirst as well, a burning curiosity about the beautiful and harsh environment that surrounded her: “Escalante taught me a very special lesson: to stop. To stop doing and start listening.”

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Topics: Semester abroad, Leadership Skills, Semester, culture, NOLS semester, education, outdoor semester, Leadership

How Climate Change Might Impact Your Next Backpacking Trip

By Brooke Ortel on Aug 13, 2018
Backpacking in New York. Photo by Kirk Rasmussen.

It’s a familiar scene: piles of food and gear, a trusted backpack unzipped, ready to be (carefully) stuffed full. You’re getting ready for your next backpacking adventure in the mountains.

As you run through your mental checklist, your friend casually asks, “So, you’re going to see those glaciers while they’re still there?” You pause, thinking for a moment. They’re only half kidding.

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Topics: Environment, Skills, Wyoming, Backpacking, Alaska, sustainability, climate change