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Winter & Spring 2020 Expeditions Now Online

By NOLS on 6/11/19 3:02 PM

Kayaking in New Zealand. Photo by Lisa Moen.
 

Summer's here, and we want you to savor every single late-evening walk and early morning paddle.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, education, backcountry skiing, Prime, splitboarding, announcement, spring break, affinity

Taking a NOLS River Expedition

By Rob Motley on 6/5/19 8:48 AM
Photo by Austin Danicic
 

“It’s impossible to be bored running a rapid,” according to Fabio Oliveira.

He would know. Despite spending 289 weeks in the field as NOLS instructor, he’s never gotten tired of leading river expeditions. A long-time instructor from Brazil, Fabio has spent the last five years primarily teaching whitewater courses that are full of rapids, cheering, and giggling.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, canoeing, kayaking, River, leadership, whitewater rafting, NOLS Expeditions

12 Days That Changed My Life: A Homestay in East Africa

By Steve Stoddard on 5/6/19 12:27 PM

Photo courtesy of Steve Stoddard.
 

Rather than my watch alarm bringing me out of sleep, it was roosters and cows. Instead of bundling up to get out of my tent and start boiling water for my cook group, I was waking up in someone else’s home.

This was all pretty different than what I had gotten accustomed to during the previous six weeks of backpacking on my NOLS semester.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, study abroad, culture, NOLS East Africa, story, homestay

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

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

New Courses for Winter & Spring 2019

By NOLS on 11/5/18 3:30 PM


Photo by Nikole Wohlmacher.

For winter and spring 2019, we’re excited to offer two new women-only courses, backpacking in the Southwest and backcountry skiing and snowboard touring in the Tetons, and a new service expedition.

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Topics: leadership, Behind the Scenes, expedition, all-women, new courses

How Valuing Different Leadership Roles Makes Better Teams

By Molly Herber on 10/23/18 8:13 AM

Photo by Brad Christensen.
 

Picture a leader in your mind.

Maybe you're imagining a lone individual singlehandedly making decisions and wielding authority.

Or, maybe you're thinking of someone completely different—like your friend who avoids the spotlight, but always has their eyes open for places to help. 

Which one’s a “real” leader? Of course, the answer’s both—and more.


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Topics: Behind the Scenes, leadership

What You Learn on a NOLS Semester

By Brooke Ortel on 8/30/18 9:10 AM


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, leadership, outdoor semester

Research Connects Wilderness Experience with Stronger Problem-solving Skills

By Shannon Rochelle on 8/28/18 9:11 AM

Photo by Justine Cornelison.
 

Last summer, the Antler River was a knee-deep stream flowing through a broad meadow deep in the mountains of Alaska. Now, it was a moving lake, flooding the entire meadow.

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Topics: Semester abroad, Behind the Scenes, Semester, Research, Problem Solving, education, leadership, outdoor semester

NOLS and the Wilderness Risk Management Conference: 25 Years of Facing Challenges Together

By Molly Herber on 7/25/18 8:28 AM


Crossing a river. Photo by Eric Page.

While taking my instructor course to teach for NOLS, we spent a lot of time talking about decision making. For example, would we cross this river using the snow bridge or a wading technique—the bridge looking like the more comfortable option compared to the guarantee of wet boots, but which might collapse and dump us into the chilly water anyway.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, WRMC, Wilderness Risk Management Conference

New Courses for Fall 2018

By Molly Herber on 5/16/18 10:09 AM

Planning a trip always represents new possibilities: Where will we go that’s new? And where will we return to in a way that’s radically different?

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, expedition, new courses

Climbing for More Than the Summit

By Ben Lerman on 4/5/18 8:22 AM


Ahlqvist on an acclimatization climb in the Himalaya. Photo courtesy of Carina Ahlqvist.

“I am driven to do my part for a better world, not just reach the summit and get an adrenaline kick.”

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Topics: Himalayan climbing, Behind the Scenes, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, mountaineering

Lynn Hill on Mitigating Risk with Wilderness Medicine

By Jared Steinman on 2/8/18 7:51 AM

“To my knowledge, none of the climbers I was with were formally trained in the way of wilderness medicine and with only a medical kit and no radio communication, I felt very out there. I knew that if anything went wrong or if someone needed help, we couldn’t do much of anything.”

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine