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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

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

How to Take the Mountains Home: A Gateway Scholar Reflects on Horsepacking

By Cristina Edwards on 11/19/18 7:40 AM


Picture captured by Eve Cinquino.

Before Rebeca Espinosa set off on her Wilderness Horsepacking course, she wasn’t sure she’d be challenged on the 21-day expedition. With horses carrying all the gear, and students and instructors riding on horseback, it was hard to see what about the course could be difficult.

At 5:45 a.m. the next day, it became clearer. 

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Topics: horsepacking, scholarship, Live the Dream, Gateway Partner, Gateway Scholar, story

Sketches from Tanzania

By Mingyuk Chen on 11/14/18 11:45 AM

At the first camp site in Tanzania, I was so taken by the silhouette of the thorn acacia trees outlined by the setting sun that I found myself sketching them in the dark with just a dim light behind me.

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Topics: Live the Dream, wildlife, NOLS East Africa, NOLS Tanzania, safari, visual art, story

Why I Left School for a NOLS Semester

By Claire Burgeson on 10/15/18 9:50 AM


Photo by Claire Burgeson

The second week of my sophomore year of college, I walked into my 9:00 a.m. history class and asked myself, “What am I still doing here?”

I was doing what I'd always done: what was expected of me. I had graduated high school, chosen a college, and just chosen a major—journalism. I got good grades, had friends—on paper, I was a list of checked boxes.

At the same time, I felt my energy and creativity drain through the holes that the classroom grind had worn through me.

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Topics: study abroad, NOLS Mexico, Gap Year, outdoor semester, Semester in Baja, story

Simple Views Teach Profound Lessons: Sunrise in the Himalaya

By Chris Pouch on 10/2/18 8:45 AM

Students en route to Camp 1 on a cold, clear morning, with Nanda Devi (middle) and Nanda Devi East (right) in the background. Photo by Chris Pouch.
 

Nanda Devi, according to the legend of villagers in the Garhwal and Kumaon regions of India, was a beautiful princess. When a prince fell in love with her and asked to marry her, she refused, sending him into a rage. The prince declared war and forced Nanda Devi to flee to the mountains. She climbed to the heights of a snow-covered peak in search of refuge. When she could go no higher, she rested, looking down from the top of the world. This summit proved to be her final resting place as she merged with the mountain, leaving behind only her spirit, present in the wind and snow, and her name, which now belongs to the place that took her: Nanda Devi.

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Topics: Himalaya, Live the Dream, mountaineering, NOLS India, story

Why Car Camping With Kids Was Harder Than My NOLS Course

By Alyssa Walker on 9/18/18 7:45 AM


Photo by Alyssa Walker.

On our last family car camping sojourn, a three-day affair two years ago, we learned that two- and four-year-olds are too young for anyone to enjoy any aspect of car camping. There were diapers. There were legions of biting insects. There was not one, but two kid backpacks. There was a frog potty. There were tantrums. Everything was sticky. It rained. We were too close to our neighbors. Fun, but not. At all.

We took a break for a year, thinking two potty-trained kids, at a minimum, would help. This time, we resolved, would be better, more fun, the stuff of memories and traditions. Our children, at four and six, were ready. So were we.

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Topics: Tolerance for Adversity, Live the Dream, expedition behavior, kids, parenting, car camping, story

Tolerance for Uncertainty: Sea, Mountains, and Culture on a Patagonia Semester

By Molly Herber on 7/30/18 7:01 PM

Enjoying rainbows in Patagonia. Photo by Ignacio Martínez.

“Learn, just learn about this unique and remote place in the world, connect with the people, nature, history, and its wild places—the glaciers, ice fields, rivers, lakes, islands, and sea.”

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Topics: chile, Semester, Sea Kayaking, culture, Live the Dream, mountaineering, Semester in Patagonia, story

The Engineer’s Return in the Yukon: Part One

By Stéphane Terrier on 10/28/15 8:00 AM

After his first NOLS experience, engineering PhD candidate Stéphane Terrier of Lausanne, Switzerland, was eager to go back into the field for more.

Stéphane had already built a relationship with NOLS thanks to the stunning photos he submitted after his first course, so we were thrilled to hear he had enrolled on a Yukon Outdoor Educator course.

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Topics: Alumni, canoeing, NOLS Yukon, Expedition Prep, Backpacking, backcountry, photography, story

City Girl Loves Life in the Wilderness

By Erin Daily on 3/6/13 1:32 AM
Photo by Trip Davis
 

Accustomed to California sunshine and city living, 16-year-old Ale Sternberg was launched into a world unknown in fall 2012 as she spent a week backpacking through the North Cascade Mountains in Washington state.

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Topics: Expedition Prep, Archer School for Girls, Wind River Wilderness Expedition, Archer, Arrow Week, NOLS Professional Training, NOLS Custom Education, story, women in leadership