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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

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, Pacific Northwest Backpacking, expeditions, story

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, story

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: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, Alumni Trip, Italy, story

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: gear, Expedition Prep, camping, gift

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 a 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: rock rescue, first aid, wilderness medicine, rock climbing, scenario