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How Climate Change Might Impact Your Next Backpacking Trip

By Brooke Ortel on 8/13/18 8:50 AM


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, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, climate change

NOLS Instructor Expeditions of 2017

By Molly Herber on 6/6/18 9:36 AM


Photo by Eric Page.

How do you become a better educator? There’s no one best answer, but continuing to be a learner yourself is certainly up there.

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Topics: canoeing, Himalaya, kayaking, mountaineering, Alaska, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), leadership, packrafting, Instructor expedition

5 Ways Expedition Behavior Helps You Raise Kids

By Alyssa Walker on 5/3/18 8:27 AM


Photo by Alyssa Walker

The most miserable and telling moment on my monthlong NOLS Alaska Outdoor Educator Course 13 years ago—descending a steep talus slope—taught me the value and beauty of expedition behavior, or EB. It also prepared me for an even bigger life adventure: parenthood.

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Topics: Family, Live the Dream, expedition behavior, Alaska

Up Mountains and Down Rivers: Packrafting at NOLS

By Tim Kelley on 1/16/18 8:35 AM

I found packrafting in the summer of 2015 on a three-week trip in Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. While I was already an avid whitewater paddler and backcountry hiker, packrafting clarified my love for the backcountry into something more simple. It was not just about the feeling of traveling with a river’s current or across eddy lines. It was not just the feeling of lactic acid in my legs after a steep climb. Packrafting was a synthesis of all I loved about exploration—a celebration of traveling through the backcountry by any means. It begged me to look further and it opened doors to adventures that were otherwise impossible.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Alaska, packrafting

The Poetry of Experience

By Daniel Koepp on 11/6/17 8:30 AM

“What’s it good for?” Our pilot asked me that question as we flew deep into Alaska’s Brooks Range. A thermal rocked our Beaver bush plane and we lurched heavily. Below us, the tree line was falling away. From the rain-speckled cockpit it looked like a giant green circle where no brave spruce grew.

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Topics: Backpacking, River, Live the Dream, Alaska, Brooks Range

Climbing Denali, in Photos

By Stéphane Terrier on 10/24/17 9:18 AM

When I arrived at NOLS Alaska for my 2011 Brooks Range Backpacking and River course, I learned that the Denali expedition, a trip for NOLS alumni, had just returned from a successful ascent. It was easy to distinguish its members from all the other students, since they hadn’t had the chance to shower yet! That memory stayed with me not just because of the smell, but also because I was fascinated with Denali ever since I first saw the mountain during a visit to Denali National Park in 2004.

Covered with white glaciers, Denali towers incredibly high above all the other Alaska Range peaks and the surrounding green tundra. With its summit at 6,190 m/20,310 feet, it's the highest mountain of North America and one of the coldest mountains on Earth, notorious for its storms. I was instantly impressed by it.

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Topics: Live the Dream, mountaineering, Alaska, Denali

Expedition Denali Launches Kickstarter Campaign for Feature Film

By Casey Adams on 4/11/13 5:24 AM

This June, nine mountaineers will attempt to become the first all-African-American expedition
to climb Denali (a.k.a. Mount McKinley) in Alaska. This team’s goals go far
beyond summiting North America’s highest peak and making history. Their
ultimate objective is to inspire people of all colors, young and old, to get
more engaged in the great outdoors.

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Topics: inspire, nature, Behind the Scenes, NOLS course, first, Expedition Denali, African American, media, feature-length film, tax-deductible, film, role models, history, youth of color, Outdoors, Mount McKinley, summit, race, video, Alaska, prizes, Kickstarter, Diversity, Denali, documentary

Expedition Denali: Team in Training

By Casey Adams on 10/8/12 6:04 AM

After a summer of training hard in Washington's Cascade Range, British
Columbia's Waddington Range, and Alaska's Chugach Range, the Expedition
Denali
team is poised to embark on their journey to Denali in June 2013.

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Topics: NOLS, Behind the Scenes, Waddington Range, team, Expedition Denali, Mt. Baker, black, Cugach Range, African American, National Outdoor Leadership School, Cascade Range, Outdoors, British Columbia, Alaska, Denali, Washington

From our history into the future, together

By Casey Adams on 7/11/12 4:01 AM

NOLS’ and Skander Spies’ histories have weaved through one another extensively over the past five years.

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Topics: Missoula, responsible, NOLS, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, LEED, Serious, American made, wilderness medicine, Northwestern University, Energetechs, windows, Live the Dream, energy efficiency, Alaska, sustainability, Montana, Denali