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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

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, Live the Dream, rock climbing, NOLS Alum, parenting, Free Solo, leaders of color, stories

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

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

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: adventure, 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: 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, Live the Dream, outdoor education, stories

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, Behind the Scenes, Semester, culture, education, outdoor semester

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: Wyoming, Backpacking, Environmental Stewardship, Alaska, education, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, climate change