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3 Mottos I Learned From My AMGA Ski Guide Training

By Jesse Quillian on Sep 18, 2019
Managing loose dry sluffs in "Mozambique." Photo by Mike Poborsky, Course Director.

In Spring 2019, NOLS instructor Jesse Quillian, also the field staffing director, participated in a 10-day AMGA Ski Guide Course based out of Jackson, WY, through the support of NOLS’ Pete Absolon Memorial Endowment and the Field Instructor Development Fund.

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Topics: Skiing, Skills, Becoming an Instructor, winter, backcountry skiing, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), Stories, Instructor Stories

Learning to Say “Thank You:” The path to building community while climbing

By Andy Notopoulos on Sep 3, 2019
Photo by Alex Thomas

“Thank you!!!”

My words echoed into the misty air that hovered between the granite canyon walls where cracks, edges, and ledges wove together a treasure of rock climbs. I was amidst a rescue skills test of Single Pitch Instructor exam with the American Mountain Guides Association, with support from the NOLS Instructor Development Fund.

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Topics: wilderness education, climbing, Skills, Becoming an Instructor, Rock Climbing, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), gratitude, Stories, Instructor Stories

5 Things I Learned from Going on a Paddling Expedition with My Spouse

By Ashley Drake on May 13, 2019

Going on an expedition is one thing—going with your spouse can be something else entirely. NOLS Instructor and Custom Education Account Manager Ashley Drake shares how, with intentional planning and plenty of good humor, adventuring with your spouse can be some of your best time spent outdoors.

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Topics: Skills, River, nols instructor, Becoming an Instructor, inspiring women, whitewater rafting, NOLS Expeditions, Stories, Rafting, Instructor Stories

Turnback Canyon: A NOLS Instructor Shares Lessons from Whitewater Paddling the Alsek River

By Natalie Sands on Apr 9, 2019

I sit on a rocky shelf, studying the colours and rock formations of a mountain across the river that seems to stare back. The ridge below Bates Creek has bright orange scree that contrasts against the nearby grey and black rock, still scarred by the ancient glaciers lining this valley.

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Topics: whitewater, Skills, Kayaking, Yukon, Becoming an Instructor, inspiring women, paddling, Instructor expedition, Stories

Instructor Expeditions of 2018

By NOLS on Mar 25, 2019

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

In 2018, NOLS instructors took their professional training to the heights of Washington and Alaska, to rivers around the world, and to the hills of Wyoming, on both wilderness expeditions and frontcountry trainings.

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Topics: whitewater, Training, Kayaking, Becoming an Instructor, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, education, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), Instructor expedition, Stories, Instructor Stories

Sea Kayaking the Great Bear Rainforest

By Jonathan Brooks on Feb 6, 2018
Jonathan with bonsai island. Photo by Julie Bremner.

“This place is full of life on life on life!”

Julie’s assessment of a toppled sitka spruce couldn't have been more accurate. This giant nurse log spanned the tides, it housed a slug oozing over deer ferns at one end and a crab picking over some barnacles at the other.

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Topics: Sea Kayaking, Skills, Kayaking, British Columbia, Becoming an Instructor, Instructor Development Fund, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), Stories, Instructor Stories

Black Wolf Expedition: First Descent Packrafting in the Canadian North

By Chad Lorenz on Nov 13, 2017

“I am going to say it's not really possible to connect the Broken Skull with other rivers in the area, the mountains are just too impassible…Black Wolf Creek is unknown. Drops at a significant gradient from Grizzly…and passes through some very narrow canyons which would probably be huge whitewater. Not really recommended to go there...It is not possible to connect Broken Skull or Black Wolf (to) Thundercloud Creek without helicopter support.” -Local river guide

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Topics: Canada, Becoming an Instructor, Instructor Development Fund, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), packrafting, Instructor expedition, Stories

Educator Expedition: Family Time Rafting on the Middle Fork

By Will Stubblefield on Apr 17, 2017

We arrived at Velvet Falls, one of the first notable rapids of this family trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

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Topics: Becoming an Instructor, NOLS Teton Valley, whitewater rafting

4 Ways You Can Always Be Learning

By Molly Herber on Mar 16, 2017
Photo by Kate Collins.

At the start of a 10-day rock climbing seminar for NOLS instructors, I didn't know what to expect. It was my first seminar, and I worried that I wouldn't know as much as everyone else and would always be working to catch up. But once I got to NOLS Southwest and started meeting my coursemates, I quickly realized that wasn’t the case.

It’s true that we all represented different skill levels, but every one of us wanted to learn and grow.

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Topics: Skills, nols instructor, Becoming an Instructor, Rock Climbing, Stories, Instructor Stories

Educator Expedition: Paddling at the South Pacific Sea Kayak Symposium

By Jonny Hepburn on Jul 21, 2016

Southern Chile offers world class sea kayaking. In northern Patagonia, where NOLS is based, the Pacific Coast of South America fragments into a network of islands and fjords that offer some of the most remote, challenging, and beautiful paddling in the world. I had the chance to spend almost five months travelling and working for NOLS in Chile this past winter, and was grateful to receive an IDF grant to attend the South Pacific Sea Kayak Symposium in December.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, NOLS Patagonia, Sea Kayaking, Educators Notebook, Becoming an Instructor, education, IDF, Instructor Development Fund

Educator Expedition: A Day in the Waddington Range

By Katie Oram on Jul 18, 2016

We arrived in Bluff Lake, British Columbia at 1:30AM from various places: Roger and I driving 30 hours from Wyoming, Jeremy flying in from California and Dane just finishing up class in Vancouver. We had been talking about it for a while now, applied for the funding from the Instructor Development Fund, but still it had just been this idea: a ski expedition to the Waddington Range in British Columbia, home to some very remote, high peaks and endless miles of glaciers with real hazards.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, NOLS Yukon, climbing, adventure, Educators Notebook, Becoming an Instructor, Mountaineering, backcountry, IDF, Instructor Development Fund

Thriving as Women Boaters on the Main Salmon River

By Liz Hardwick on May 24, 2016

NOLS instructor Liz Hardwick writes about learning new tricks on a familiar river.

Jen pokes me awake as I am drifting off, trying to sleep before the moon gets up above the canyon walls. “Do you think I can run Vinegar in a solo boat?” she asks.

We’re camped on the Main Salmon River, all white sandy beaches, steep dry mountains and fun, fun rapids. This is the night before we get off the river and Vinegar is downstream of us, the last big rapid and one of the most challenging ones on the river.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, NOLS Rocky Mountain, canoe, adventure, Educators Notebook, Becoming an Instructor, education, NOLS Teton Valley, IDF, Instructor Development Fund (IDF)

Educator Expedition: La Patagonia Desconocida - The Unknown Patagonia

By Marissa Bieger on Apr 25, 2016

… Perhaps when I say the word Patagonia, most of you will think of legendary places like el Chaltén or Torres del Paine, but here is the difference, my Patagonia is a land unknown to many and familiar to few. Yes, that is what I speak of, of that land that still has magical air to explore, that which hides in maps without information, mountains without name and routes that definitely do not exist.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, NOLS Patagonia, climbing, Educators Notebook, Becoming an Instructor, Mountaineering, education

The Ethics of Cheap: Why You Don't Need the Newest Gear

By Allie Maloney on Apr 22, 2016

If you’re new to backpacking and are getting ready for your first trip, to find the right gear you have a couple of options.

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Topics: Gear, Expedition Prep, adventure, Becoming an Instructor, backcountry

Educator Expedition: Winter Exploring

By Ethan Wolston on Apr 22, 2016

Three winters ago I cut my old Never Summer snowboard in half and made a splitboard from the pieces. It was a fun project and the beginning of a new adventure exploring the winter backcountry around my home.

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Topics: adventure, Educators Notebook, Becoming an Instructor, education, backcountry, NOLS Teton Valley, backcountry skiing, splitboarding