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For Alumni of the National Outdoor Leadership School Fall 2014  •  Vol. 30 No. 1


The end of the fiscal year has passed, and the end of 2014 is nearly upon us. As 2015 approaches, so does NOLS’ 50th year, so it only seems fitting that in this “Thanksgiving issue” of The Leader, we give thanks. NOLS has done countless great things since 1965, an accomplishment exponentially amplified by our inspiring graduates. Though we have grown over the years and expanded our reach around the globe, we have never strayed from our mission. We still do the same things Paul Petzoldt imagined when he founded the National Outdoor Leadership School. It’s wonderful to think that as we celebrate our history, we are celebrating our current work. We owe thanks to Paul for his vision and action. We owe thanks to our graduates for employing your competence in making a difference in the world after your courses. Your successes make us proud, and your continued support is invaluable. We owe thanks to our phenomenal instructors for communicating the power of living in the backcountry and leadership wisdom to bright-eyed students for decades. Our grads wouldn’t become leaders without you. We owe thanks to one another for demonstrating expedition behavior, be it while instructing courses together, running operations in town, or taking friends on adventures with our NOLS skills. The joy of adventure rests on the team with which we travel. We owe thanks to the leaders who discovered NOLS years ago and today help this nonprofit thrive with their judgment and decision-making. We owe thanks to our students for their tolerance for uncertainty as they sign up for the adventure of a lifetime and make their way through adverse conditions in the backcountry in the pursuit of excellence. We owe thanks to Paul for recognizing that he shouldn’t climb mountains in cowboy boots anymore, for his self awareness that eventually brought about the unheard-of business of teaching wilderness leadership. With a thankful heart and excitement for the future, I invite you to celebrate your NOLS history. Congratulations on your diploma, whether you earned it in 1965 or in 2014. You hold a precious part of our story.

John Gans, NOLS Executive Director

Leader Editor Casey Adams Designers Alisha Bube Eryn Pierce Alumni Relations Director Rich Brame NOLS Executive Director John Gans Creative Director Brad Christensen Art Director Samantha Pede Editorial Board Bruce Palmer Larkin Flora Pip Coe Melissa Hemken Molly Herber

November 2014 • Volume 30 • No.1 Published three times a year in March, July, and November.

Postmaster: Send address changes to National Outdoor Leadership School 284 Lincoln St. Lander, WY 82520 The Leader is a magazine for alumni of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a nonprofit school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics. It is mailed to approximately 65,000 NOLS alumni. NOLS graduates living in the U.S. receive a free subscription to The Leader for life. The Leader accepts paid advertising and welcomes article submissions and comments. Please address all correspondence to or call (307) 332-8800. Alumni can direct address changes to or (800) 332-4280. For the most up-to-date information on NOLS, visit or e-mail



The Leader is printed with soy-based inks in Portland, Ore., on paper using 30 percent post-consumer-recycled content. A paperless version of The Leader is available online at




5 FIELD NOTES: Finding the green grass


6 ISSUE ROOM: Wildfires

7 WILD SIDE OF MEDICINE: Leadership + medicine

NOLS launched its inaugural Exploration Film Tour this year. Get a sneak preview for next year’s plans.

8 ALUMNI PROFILE: The NOLS connection 9 ALUMNI PROFILE: Just keep climbing


20 ALUMNI TRIPS: Return to the backcountry, and bring a friend


21 REVIEWS: Expedition Denali, backcountry readings

Recognize this person? The first 10 people to contact us with the correct answer will receive a free NOLS t-shirt. Call NOLS Alumni at (800) 332-4280 or email

22 GEAR ROOM: How was your sleep?

One NOLS instructor looks at the process of teaching the joy of fishing via two very different tools.

24 RECIPE BOX: Gourmet pasta


25 JABBERWOCKY: Catch up on your coursemates’ lives

26 SUSTAINABILITY: B-A-N-A-N-A-S 27 SCHOOL NOTES: Miss your home base? Catch up! 28 INSTRUCTOR PROFILE: Ida Martin 29 BELAY OFF: SoDak

NOLS grads return to their homes with a new set of skills and often with a desire to share their experiences and learning, especially with young people in their communities. NOLS graduates who live in Austin, Texas, have found a local nonprofit to be their outlet.

31 TRAVERSES: Paint and words


This NOLS instructor sets out to explore misty palisades and the ragged edge of his ability.


ANSWER TO LAST ISSUE The answer to last issue’s “Who Is This” is longtime NOLS instructor Ken Clanton.

ZAND MARTIN Profile, pg 8

JEFF WOHL Feature, pg 12

CHANSIN ESPARZA Feature, pg 14

ERIK BONNETT Cover Feature, pg 16

Zand Martin has been a NOLS instructor since 2008 and in his spare time travels widely on personal expeditions, often with other NOLSies. Find his writings and trip logs at

Jeff Wohl has worked as a NOLS instructor since 1999 teaching hiking, climbing, horse packing, and caving. He loves fueling students’ sense of wonder in wild places, as well as helping people connect to the natural history near their homes.

Chansin Esparza served on staff at Explore Austin, a nonprofit where she met some amazing NOLS grads. She now works for LifeAustin Church as their connection coordinator. Esparza and her husband enjoy fitness, traveling, and good food.

Erik Bonnett is an alpine climber and NOLS instructor who lives in the Sierra foothills of Nevada County, California. He earns a living designing communities focused on making small pieces of the world more ecologically and socially just.

Fall 2014


What do you think? Join the conversation. Send your feedback or conversation starters to, post it to Facebook, tweet it (@NOLSedu), or give us at call at (800) 710-6657 ext 2254. Find back issues online at

Letters to the Editor Ted Muilenburg Enjoyed The Leader Summer 2014—you folks are doing a super job. Great journal. I attended NOLS in 1967, Paul Pezoldt was on the course, and I enjoyed several visits with him after the course. He visited with me and met colleagues at Emporia State University and a few years later at West Virginia State University. I sent students to NOLS from both schools. Great experience at NOLS that shaped my teaching and personal leisure activities and practices. I just retired after 50 years of teaching in universities. NOLS was a significant part of my life experience and memories of Paul are treasured! Thanks NOLS. Mike Northcott Reading through your latest edition of the The Leader, I was particularly interested in your Vision 2020 Strategic Plan. My experience with NOLS as a WFR (trainee and recertified) has been to support otherwise (mostly) mechanized exploration. It strikes me that there is a potential extension for NOLS training with a growing community of “adventure” motorcyclists and off-road riders. This community is mostly male, averaging (I’d guess) in their mid-30s and 40s, ranging from teens to 60s. The folks I’ve met share a common set of interests, they enjoy the outdoors, camping, exploration, and have a passion and respect for the environment. My experience is that off-road motorcyclists don’t typically fit the Budweiser-fueled, camo-clad ATV stereotypes that claim the title “sportsman.” Nor are they the

caged drivers of 4x4s lugging tons of equipment across the hills. Motorcycling is risky enough and the skills needed for wilderness and single-track riding simply aren’t a good match for those in a hurry or somehow impaired. As riders we have to travel light, and while we strive to leave no trace, the tires we use aren’t more impactful to trails than the hooves of a horse. As an aside, according to one site, the carbon footprint of riding a motorcycle capable of 50 mpg 10,000 miles is roughly 50 percent less than that of flying the same distance. ( NOLS appears to address a broadly younger age group, primarily focused on locomotive forms of exploration (airplane flights notwithstanding). Yet your values are a good fit for this particular tribe of bikers and I believe you could bring a great deal of useful training on safety, wilderness skills and survival techniques that would really enhance riders' appreciation and respect for the environment. There might be several starting points for NOLS: collaborating with the various off-road riding schools like PSSOR, Rawhyde Adventures, and BMWs. Or cross-marketing with manufacturers like BMW, KTM, Triumph, Suzuki, and Yamaha, and organizations like the National Forest Service and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Fortunately, my WFR skills are not in much demand, but it’s personally reassuring to have them and I think they make me a better teammate (I’m the hydration nag). Rick Pallister Nice caricature of Ken Clanton in The Leader! I did quite a few adventures with him back in the ‘70s including a Denali Expedition in 1974 in which he, Dave Neary, John Hamren, and myself were the staff. Also fun to see the article and old pictures of Paula Hunker and Mary Jo Newbury. Paula and I were on course together in 1972 … now she is my boss at The Nature Conservancy … that's a nice circle! Always a joy to receive The Leader! Keep up the good work. WILDERNESS QUIZ



What is Wilderness50? Answer on page 25.



send the plastic in work clothes, and how they look in the process does not matter.

Becca and friends go on a climbing adventure in Horseshoe Canyon. Courtesy of Becca Spiro

In the modern classic NOLS reading : “Briefing for Entry into a More Harsh Environment,” Morgan Hite reminds us that the skills we learn at NOLS are widely applicable, regardless of where we call home. While I fully agree with this opinion, I wonder what advice could be offered to students returning to places where access to the wilderness is limited or even non-existent. How can students who live in cities, far from mountains, rivers, and forests satisfy their insatiable craving for the outdoors? The answer is not simple and the solution might be an ongoing project, but after a year and a half of living and teaching in Memphis, Tennessee, I have developed a few tips for those city-slicker NOLSies yearning for that outdoor fix: Find people who share your passion for the outdoors. Better yet, introduce and induct newfound friends to outdoor recreation. They will soon become equally infatuated, and you will be more motivated to drive the distance to the nearest crag. Even if you can't leave the city until Friday at 5 p.m.,

in the brunt of rush hour traffic, you'll have some company and undoubtedly get to know your new friends on the road. WARNING: In all likelihood, these people will not be walking down the street in their gaiters. They might even be wearing heels or loafers. Do not be deceived. Take initiative and don't make assumptions. While embarrassing to admit, it took me six months to Google “rock climbing gym, Memphis” because I assumed nothing like that existed in the city. While the place I eventually discovered is just one wall (as opposed to a gym), and is only sporadically open, it exists and it is open to the public, and that is certainly something for which to be grateful. Going one step further, one might even argue that this kind of climbing venue is superior to gyms in Boulder, Seattle, etc., given the unexpected and undiscovered location. That is to say, instead of the unfriendly, competitive vibe that can exist in fancier gyms, at Climb Bridges* people of all colors, shapes, ages, and sizes can

Accept, celebrate, and cherish where you live. Memphis is known for barbecue, Elvis, and Johnny Cash, not the outdoors. But that doesn't mean that those who yearn for fresh air and beautiful views have to live without. When I'm in town, I try to take advantage of what the city has to offer. During the week I cycle through the east suburbs of Memphis and run along the Mississippi River, and in the fall and spring I visit the farmer's market a block from my apartment. If I just don’t have time to get outside, I try to eat dinner on my balcony, diverting my eyes from the ugly parking lot to the blossoming dogwood nearby, because even a little bite of nature is incredibly therapeutic. Where we live is not always ideal. You might have moved somewhere for a job or a partner, or perhaps you simply thought it would be different. For me, Memphis is not somewhere I will stay, but I am so glad I’ve had the opportunity to dive into the Southern culture and experience all this city has to offer. Biophilia—the “hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature” (Miriam Webster Dictionary)—is real, and it is possible to maintain that innate connection while living in a city. Attitude can change everything, and we are in control of how we interact and perceive our environment. The grass is equally green on both sides of the fence if we want it to be. *Climb Bridges is part of Bridges, a nonprofit organization in Memphis, co-directed by Brandon Bland, a NOLS alumnus who holds a masters in Adventure Education from Prescott College. He is dedicated to expanding the climbing community in Memphis.

Fall 2014


Wallow Fire (2011)


Backpacking courses through NOLS Professional Training were slated to use this new classroom before the fire closed the area.




1. Oak Fire (2014)

5. Upper Falls Fire (2014)

2. Silver Fire (2013)


Backpacking sections of Semesters in the Southwest and Outdoor Educator courses stand to be impacted by this fire in the Galiuros, though the full scope of the impact is still unknown. Semester sections and Lightweight Backpacking courses were re-routed to other backpacking classrooms.

3. Whitewater-Baldy Complex (2012)

The Gila Wilderness, a staple backpacking classroom for the Southwest, was closed in the areas that NOLS normally uses. Semester sections, Lightweight Backpacking, and Medicine in the Wild courses were all re-routed.

4. Wallow Fire (2011)

A North Cascades Backpacking course was forced to leave the backcountry one day early to avoid the approaching wildfire, which was part of the Carleton Complex fire.

6. Hardluck Mountain (2013)

Absaroka Wilderness, Outdoor Educator, and Horsepacking courses were all re-routed to avoid this burn area.

TETON VALLEY 7. Pine Creek Fire (2011)

One backpacking course had to use a new route prior to being dropped off in the Absaroka Mountains.

Backpacking courses through NOLS Professional Training were slated to use this new classroom before the fire closed the area.



Wildfire, and the ecological and economic impact thereof, is a hot topic these days in the West. Private landowners and public land managers alike are affected as fires move through droughtridden areas during summer months, threatening homes and burning through Forest Service budgets. And fire season is only getting longer; arid conditions and hotter summers, coming on the heels of decades of fire suppression policy that led to readily available fuels, have increased the severity and size of wildfires. Given that most domestic NOLS classrooms are located in the West, and many in areas that have been experiencing persistent drought for years, it should come as no surprise that our courses would cross paths with wildfire at some point. In some summers, this means that instructors in Wyoming’s Wind River and Absaroka Mountains use satellite phones to call a “fire line” periodically throughout their courses to find out if they and their students are near a wildfire and if they


should reroute accordingly. Other years, it means that a backcountry classroom becomes a charred landscape during NOLS’ off-season, and hiking courses have to deviate from traditional dropoff and pick-up points. In the summer of 2014, one fire grew so quickly and so unexpectedly, that administrators at NOLS Pacific Northwest worked closely with Forest Service staff to determine whether one course needed a helicopter evacuation. Fortunately, leaving the backcountry a day early on foot provided that group ample buffer from the wildfire in question. Though this may seem like a grim picture, and there is plenty of cause for concern, NOLS does not lack world-class wilderness classrooms in the region. The news cycle tends to focus on wildfire’s impacts in the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), the areas surrounding many western forests where increasing numbers of homes and structures exist. The vast majority of wildfires—somewhere

around 99 percent, the Forest Service estimates—are manageable and do not cause significant damage. Farther in the backcountry, it is undeniably inconvenient for NOLS courses to hike and camp in freshlyburned areas. Not only does travel become more difficult with debris barring easy walking, but charred surfaces can be tough on lightweight nylon gear. However, observing the impacts of fire on an ecosystem can provide a striking illustration for instructors teaching ecology classes. While fire does indeed have the potential to devastate flora and fauna, it is also a key component of habitat health and vitality. Witnessing a hillside turn purple with fireweed blooms in the months following a burn is a clear lesson that the fire cycle doesn’t only mean death and destruction. NOLS locations remain nimble in the West’s present conditions so that our courses will continue to enjoy these landscapes without needing to “get out of the kitchen.”

Prevention and Self-awareness:


I once heard lightning expert M ary Ann Cooper, M.D. say that the primary risk factor in lightning danger is not the lightning itself; it’s the inconvenience of risk mitigation, the unwillingness to change plans in the face of inopportune weather. I’ve heard altitude illness expert David Shlim, M.D. say that to prevent altitude illness, ambition and schedules must be tamed. I’ve heard many an outdoor leader say that an unwillingness to acknowledge the irritation on your foot, to ask the group to stop while you check your feet, is a leading risk factor in foot blisters. Within the wilderness medicine theme of prevention is a link to selfawareness, a key leadership skill. Lightning risk is managed by abandoning the desire for the summit, by changing the route or the schedule. We have to stop and wait, to change our plans. We get off the mountain or the lake, away from exposed and wet places. Altitude illness is managed by stopping ascent when we experience symp-

toms and descending if those symptoms do not abate with rest. Hypoxia may be the physiological cause of altitude illness; ego, impatience, and schedules are contributing human causes. A common theme in severe altitude illness is ascending in the face of symptoms. Prevention may hinge on a willingness to acknowledge we are sick and a willingness to descend until we are well. Abandoning goals and plans can be difficult. In the world of outdoor leaders and wilderness rescue, acknowledging we are tired, over-tasked and over worked, or that we need to give up some of our weight or attend to that hot spot on our feet can be difficult. After all, we pride ourselves on our fitness and skill. We need to be aware of these tendencies, willing to acknowledge our limits, and willing to stop and prevent the problem before we have to stop and fix the problem. Anyone who has treated dehydration, hypothermia, altitude illness, heat exhaustion, sunburn, snow blindness,

Sometimes the bigger danger is the human factor. Brad Christensen

It is important to be comfortable stopping and assessing. Becky Mares

blisters, wound infection, etc., knows that it is so much easier to prevent these problems in the first place. The skill of prevention is founded on knowledge of the cause; for example, the value of dry insulation and calories in preventing hypothermia, hydration in preventing dehydration, rest in the hot hours of the day in preventing heat illness, wide brim hats and sunscreen in preventing sunburn. It is also founded on a sense of the human factors at play in every scenario and on the leadership skill of self-awareness—of monitoring how we feel and what emotions are driving our decisions. It is founded on having the strength to admit it’s time to stop and intervene, to change plans, to abandon the shortterm glory of the summit in the name of the long-term goal of going home with health and friendship intact.

WILDERNESS MEDICINE QUIZ LIGHTNING A. can strike the same place twice. B. does not strike within a 45-degree arc under a tall object. Answer on page 26.

C. only strikes under clouds. D. is fatal 70% of the time.

Fall 2014





When describing how he became a full-time outdoor educator, Josh Garubanda talks about taking a group of young people from the Twin Cities to Glacier National Park. While waiting for the train, one student, a football player, pulled Garubanda aside: “I’m scared. I’ve never left St. Paul.” “I looked a little closer at the group, and I realized that everyone was scared,” Garubanda reflected. But once they got to Glacier, “people’s heads [were] going around, cameras out, saying ‘Oh my god, look at that! Look at that!’ … people were in tears, saying ‘I didn’t understand, I didn’t know how beautiful it would be here.’” Garubanda noted that other park visitors were surprised to run into African American and Asian kids. “They were excited because they want to see them out here enjoying these parks,” he added. After that, Garubanda went to work with youth full time. Educator, storyteller, role model, youth worker, outdoor leader; of all the labels Garubanda has worn in his 29 years, he identifies first and foremost as a facilitator. His passion is obvious and extends far beyond the mechanics of youth empowerment. “One of my missions is to figure out ways to bring underrepresented populations and people of color into natural spaces,” he said. “These places should reflect our society and what it looks like. It’s wonderful visiting Yellowstone and knowing that there are packs of wolves roaming the Lamar Valley … and it would be wonderful to know that there are kids from Detroit in the Adirondacks.” “What is being lost in our history is our relationship to the land and our connection to nature,” he explained. “I think people come to wild places be-


Garubanda realized he had a role within NOLS thanks to Expedition Denali. Photo courtesy of Josh Garubanda

cause they want to be moved, and they want to see something that is greater than them. And see something beautiful that inspires them and renews their hope in the world.” Born in Kenya to Ugandan parents, Garubanda came to Minnesota at the age of 4 as his parents, educators themselves, pursued graduate degrees. His first foray into the outdoors was undeveloped land in his new neighborhood. In high school, Garubanda was asked to head an outdoor club. He had to build the skills and leadership to navigate the cultural currents of a diverse neighborhood and grapple with the nuances in language and identity. “Moving between these different cultures taught me the different codes," Garubanda said. Switching back and forth between them allowed him to teach directly to his peers. “This is when I first became interested in being an outdoor facilitator.” Today, Garubanda works for Wilderness Inquiry and consults for other

organizations dedicated to getting underrepresented populations, particularly urban youth, outdoors. He was initially skeptical of having a place at NOLS until he learned about Expedition Denali, which “opened that door and helped rebrand what it is to be an outdoorsperson,” he said. So he took a NOLS Outdoor Educator Course in the Wind River Range in 2013. “NOLS truly can be the leader that helps the next generation understand the outdoors,” he realized. Garubanda describes his role in this change: “When you don’t have visible role models, many people feel like they don’t have permission to do those activities. With the alternate role models, it allows us to open young people’s perspectives of what the world is.” With a perspective change comes a desire to protect the places Garubanda so values, an important piece of why he is committed to his work leading the way into the future.



“At age 67, I’m living the aging process every day,” said Neil Short, founder of the Be Strong Be Free fitness program for active baby boomers and seniors. The former NOLS instructor is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist with 50K and 50-mile races and Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim hikes under his belt. “Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School state that strength training is the single most important thing we can do to age well. My program, Be Strong Be Free, presents a simple, effective, home-based strength training program to people 55+ so that they can continue to enjoy life and function fully and freely well into their advanced years,” he explained. As Short approached 60, he was participating in endurance events and getting more serious about training. He noticed a few more aches and pains as well, and he found himself wondering why some seniors seem to power into the aging process while others “become withered and frail.” “I recognized that I owed it to myself and my family to do everything possible to age well. I actually thought of it as good expedition behavior,” he said. He found a great trainer who encouraged him to become a certified strength and conditioning specialist. This training process revealed how important strength training is to aging well. From there, he began writing weekly articles about strength training for seniors in a local newspaper. “The idea of a book grew out of those articles,” Short reflected. The challenge of such a book, Short acknowledged, is to educate seniors and boomers that there is no such thing as “usual aging” and that, furthermore, strength training is the best way to age with vigor, flexibility, and the energy to

continue to pursue one's passions. “Too many people over 55 see aging as a form of disability that is inexorable,” Short noted. “They just give up.” But Short wants to prove that with a little bit of time—in the gym or at home—adventurers of any age can keep climbing mountains, metaphorical or physical. “Sarcopenia … coupled with osteoporosis … is why we wither and become frail,” Short noted. He explained sarcopenia is a process that typically begins in the 30s at the cellular level that causes a steady loss of muscle mass and muscle quality. But he added that this is something that can be stopped, even reversed, by strength training. Through Be Strong Be Free, he has started to share his revelation with fellow athletes of his age. The program, online and in print, is a home-based strength training program that uses minimal equipment, like small weights and chairs, and only requires 30 minutes three times a week. In his book, Be Strong Be Free, Short outlines 30 exercises with his readers’ future in mind. He describes the exercises as easy to learn—and provides numerous large photos to match the large print to aid in that learning process—as well as scalable in intensity. Though this program can be completed in a gym, they are designed to be possible at home, as many exercises simply employ body weight or household items for resistance. Short’s passion for strength training, health, and continuing to adventure join with his NOLS tendency to share his passion with others through teaching. It’s easy to find contagious his enthusiasm for supporting fellow baby boomer outdoorspeople with what he calls “not your average geezer workout program.”

Aging hasn't slowed Short, and he hopes it won't slow similarly adventure-minded boomers. Photos courtesy of Neil Short

Fall 2014




Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” I share her sentiment, as do many, if not all, of you. It is from thoughts like this that the NOLS Exploration Film Tour was born. In recent years, the trend of film festivals has been to showcase professional or very high-level athletes slaying, crushing, hucking some of the hardest lines and biggest mountains in their sport. While these films are often visually stunning and compel some to push harder, they also attract audiences that already understand or are connected to a sport and can make us feel like we can never attain the level of performance that makes our pursuit of any outdoor endeavor legitimate. The NOLS Exploration Film Tour aimed to be something different. The main goal was to encourage increased participation in outdoor activities by making them more accessible. Secondly, we wanted to broaden recognition and a better understanding of the NOLS name and mission. All showings were free, making room for the curious as well as those already connected to the world of outdoor adventure. NOLS maintained a high standard for films included in this tour and managed to gather nine that inspired, challenged stereotypical cultural norms about who the outdoor enthusiast is, and encouraged critical thought toward lands we know and love as well as those that are unexplored. The inaugural NOLS Exploration Film Tour was a collection of films, known and obscure, that travelled to Alaska, Washington, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. It highlighted films created by and featuring NOLS students and instructors. This was the first of what we hope will become an annual event showcasing amazing places, expeditions, and regular people living life to the fullest and pursuing their passions. It was amazing to see how a few short films could clarify for so many people what NOLS does and the long-term value of experiencing time in the wilderness, hardship, and the beauty of nature firsthand. The story arcs that seemed most powerful were from Oakley Anderson Moore’s film “Wild New Brave,” Craig Muderlak’s “Maiden Light,” and Mark Fisher’s “Myanmar: Bridges to Change.” Folks of all ages commented on the desire to push themselves or to take a risk and discover something new about their own potential after watching “Wild New Brave.” “Maiden Light” solicited many thank you emails for showing how technical skills and a solid understanding of living and traveling outside could help to blend other passions like dance and artistic endeavors with the joy of being outside. “Myanmar: Bridges to Change” seemed to leave a lasting impression with audiences regarding the value of a journey rather than the destination and featured amazing footage of the jungles and

peoples of Hkakabo Razi National Park. We have already entered planning stages for next year’s tour. We are currently looking for short films, between two and 30 minutes, with amazing and professional footage made by or featuring NOLS grads and instructors, as well as any other films that have inspiring messages in line with the mission of NOLS. Please send films and contact information directly to To see the trailer of this year’s films and get a better sense of the quality we are looking for, visit: If you have a suggestion for a film or venue, are a venue owner, or have other ideas please fill out this form: Many thanks for all the help and support we received from local NOLS staff, area instructors, and students this year! We could not have had such a great first year if it wasn’t for all of you.

The crowd takes in the various exciting films in Atlanta. Elyse Guarino

Fall 2014


Fish Simply. Simply Fish.





M eet Sam: An exuberant, easily distracted, 17-year-old Wind River Wilderness course student in love with action-packed Game of Thrones books. If I had taught Sam in 1999, when I worked my first wilderness course in the Winds, this is how I would have taught Sam and his coursemates to fish: I would have started by introducing how to assemble the equipment (10 minutes); taught several knots (15 minutes); practiced casting on dry land with four rods and 12 students (30 minutes); sat around a white board as I drew where to find fish in the river, what they might be eating, and how to choose a fly (20 minutes). An hour and 10 minutes later, my students would finally let their first fly touch the water. This is how I taught Sam using the Tenkara fishing technique, which originated several hundred years ago in Japan: My instructors and I demonstrated setting up the Tenkara fly rods (30 seconds), gave the students instructions: “Most important thing you need to know is the fish are in the water. Keep your fly on the water as long as you can” (15 seconds), and showed them the most basic technique for getting the fly on the water (1 minute). And then Sam was fishing. Within the first hour, every single student, including easily distracted Sam, had landed a brook trout. After 15 years as a NOLS instructor, I have finally come full circle back to the way I learned to fly fish. It was Norman Maclean, in the book A River Runs Through It, who best summarized my early fishing technique: “‘Brother,’ he would say, ‘there are no flying fish in Montana. Out here, you can’t catch fish with your flies in the air.’” The Tenkara fly rod and fishing technique was designed to make fishing simple, fast, and effective. I grew up fishing many rivers with traditional equipment, and even spent a few summers guiding fly-fishing in Alaska. I still enjoy the artistry of a beautiful double-haul cast across a wide river. But what I enjoy more is getting people excited about fishing, and the best way I have found to do that is to make sure they catch fish without getting daunted or bored by the more tedious tasks of setting

Opposite: Instructor Oscar Soto demonstrates the simple technique of fishing with a Tenkara rod. Above: Soto shows evidence of the rod's efficacy.

Teaching with a Tenkara rod lets students like Brooke get to the catching part faster. Jeff Wohl

up and learning to use the equipment. Tenakara rods and techniques get to the core of fishing: get the fly on the water. These fly rods are an average of eight telescoping graph- “ You do not have to ite sections reaching an overall speak monosyllables length of 10 to 13 feet. The to be simple. What bottom section has a cork hanwe mean by simple is dle, and the entire rod collapsfinding the core of es to fit into a two-foot plastic the idea.” tube. There is no reel; the line Chip and Dan Heath, is permanently attached (unMade To Stick less you want to change lines), and extends with the rod. When collapsed, the line is wound around the cork handle and the fly stays attached for lightning-fast deployment. The entire set-up takes less than a minute to extend and start fishing. For the really big fish, like the 18-inch golden trout our course caught at Wall Lake, Tenkara is more challenging without the play of a traditional reel. However, the increased challenge only seemed to increase the excitement, and nearly everyone on the course was able to land one of these magnificent, sizeable fish. One of the most responsible and experienced students on the course, aptly named Brook, has been fishing with her father, a guide in Montana, since she was four. She described Tenkara fishing as, “So user-friendly for learning and great for the backcountry because it is so much fun for small fish. It is light to carry and you don't have to mess with a reel.” My conclusion: Tenkara allows me to focus on what’s important, and simply fish.

Fall 2014


NOLS Grads Become Mentors in Austin





Opposite: Instructing for NOLS instills essential educating skills. Above: NOLS grads play the roles of educators and mentors to students who might not otherwise discover the delights of outdoor exploration. Chansin Esparza

NOLS graduates who live in Austin, Texas, have found a local nonprofit to be their outlet for service, leadership, and outdoor adventures: Explore Austin Take Hillary Kunz. She graduated from a NOLS Semester in New Zealand in 2010 and has since found a home in Explore Austin. So have Dave Andreas (NOLS Southwest Backpacking 2011), Carolyn Newman Phillips (Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator 2003), and many others by serving as mentors. Explore Austin brings people’s enjoyment of the outdoors together with their concern for young people through a six-year mentoring and adventure program. The mentor groups—each consisting of 15 kids and five adults—go on nine outdoor “Saturday Challenges” during the school year and one week-long wilderness trip each summer. Through increasingly difficult adventures, the “explorers” are taught perseverance and leadership—traits modeled by their mentors. “NOLS taught me a lot about myself as a leader, which is what we're trying to do for our explorers in Explore Austin,” Kunz said. The organization serves three schools in East Austin, an area of predominantly Hispanic students. When joining the program as sixth graders, many learn from their mentors how to swim or ride a bike. Most would never have had a chance to go on summer trips, such as rock climbing in Oklahoma, or backpacking in Colorado. While on her NOLS course, Kunz realized she had difficulty making decisions for a group. Before, she preferred deflecting decision-making to other people, but her experience with NOLS taught her it was best to make a recommendation. Now, as Explore Austin’s program manager, Kunz makes countless decisions that impact other people. From gear to vendors and camp locations, she determines hundreds of logistical and communication details. Grateful for the leadership skills they developed with NOLS, Kunz and other grads have turned the tide to instill the same skills in the sixth- through 12th-grade explorers they are serving. Similar to NOLS, Explore Austin utilizes a “leader of the day” and a journaling element at each adventure. The kids learn how to set up a tent, use a camping stove, paddle for hours, and survive in the elements. Along

the way, the mentors talk with them about honesty, problem solving, community service, and more. William Gammon serves on the advisory board of Explore Austin and was the original connection between NOLS and Explore Austin. He is a 1993 grad of the two-week Wind River Wilderness course in Lander, Wyoming. “At Explore Austin you're leading youth in the wilderness, training them to lead themselves through the proverbial wilderness of their future lives,” Gammon said. “NOLS does the same thing for leaders everywhere. They’re the best in the business to help push that dream forward.” Gammon sponsored the former CEO of Explore Austin, Todd Hanna, to take a NOLS Pacific Northwest Trip Leader course to further his understanding of industry best practices. Hanna says he appreciates the lessons he learned from NOLS: Leave No Trace Skills, leader of the day practices, backcountry recipes, and techniques for climbing, backpacking, and paddling. He used all of that and more as a mentor and CEO. Current Explore Austin CEO Mike Braeuer has continued the partnership with NOLS: Gammon extended the same offer to take a NOLS course. The entire Explore Austin Programs Team will take NOLS courses in 2015. “Both NOLS and Explore Austin believe there is no better place to teach leadership than the outdoors,” Hanna said. Explore Austin and other programs can readily use the technical, medical, and leadership skills NOLS grads possess. Alumni involvement with local youth programs is a fulfilling and effective way to bring NOLS skills and perspectives into your community.

Fall 2014


INTO THE UNKNOWN Exploring misty palisades and the ragged edge of one's ability.





L ooking through the notch, all I could see were blank granite walls dropping abruptly to the broken Alaskan glacier a thousand feet below. “Crap! The plan to climb that way won’t work,” I realized. Burgundy droplets of blood splattered the ledge as I belayed my partner up. I wasn’t hurt, but my hands were in rough shape after the hard physical climbing we’d done to get up to the tiny perch. It wasn’t just my hands either; we were starting to wear ourselves ragged. This was our second attempt on the remote granite spire that had never felt a climber’s hands before. Later, we’d have to drag, carry, and paddle almost 100 miles to get back to our truck, though right now all our effort was focused on moving upward. But we were tired. We were moving slowly. We were behind schedule. And we knew it. My expedition partner, Max Fisher, and I had come to these remote mountains, across the border from the NOLS Yukon mountaineering course area, to push ourselves as alpine climbers and mountaineering instructors. We wanted to climb hard, at our grade, in mountains where nobody had climbed before. As I watched Max struggle to rappel diagonally toward a ledge system, suspended from a tiny iron knife-blade piton we’d battered into a small seam, I reflected: we were doing it. On the NOLS Alaska Mountain Instructor Course I had taken exactly five years earlier, I learned about the Leadership Pyramid, the concept that advanced skills can only be performed reliably when basic skills are mastered. Since that time, I had slowly built my critical outdoor skills, like learning to deep-fry pancakes in horizontal sleet. I had performed rep after rep until I could sleep well on lumpy tundra tussocks and catawampus rock slabs—after shimming, padding, and snuggling in, of course. These were skills I’d started to learn on my NOLS course and had now mastered. Coming off rappel, I awkwardly balanced on small crystals beside Max, who’d had to look hard to find safe gear to build an anchor. I led again up the ledge system past the drooping, now Salvador Dalian snow ledge we’d constructed at the high point of our previous attempt. It was those basic skills I’d learned as a NOLS student that we had tapped to sleep pretty darn well on that icy ledge, even stuffed as we were like nesting silverware inside our single sleeping bag, tied into our harnesses so we wouldn’t slide off. Though when we awoke early in the morning on that shelf, we had decided to descend as foggy clouds began to wring out their moisture into the down of our sleeping bag and puffy jackets. Now, to continue ascending the moss campion-encrusted ledge system beyond the location of our previous snowy bivouac from which we had retreated on our previous attempt, I quickly switched out of my rock shoes into mountain boots and unsheathed my ice tool. That’s the part of the pyramid we’d come to these grey walls and buttresses to learn. Alpine climbing is like another distinct skills pyramid balanced atop a mountaineering skill set, which itself is a set of skills instructors often place high on the NOLS Leadership Pyramid. Climbing light and fast in the mountains takes a finely honed set of climbing skills for ice, snow, rock, and every gradation in between (e.g., we found a lot of “snice” and snow-covered rock).

Erik Bonnett exits vertical terrain, with ill-fated hopes to find moderate terrain through the notch above. Erik Bonnett

Alpine climbing rests on a solid base of mastered skills like managing nutrition, route finding through giant crevasse fields, and navigating in whiteouts. We had smoothly performed these base skills on another outing earlier in the expedition and had managed to summit the pinnacle via an easier “mountaineering” route. The moderate climbing had been well within our abilities and we had moved up the route’s snowy slots and broken ridges quickly and efficiently. Though we had been excited to stand on the summit, we weren’t satisfied. We had not yet achieved our goal of alpine climbing in hard, unknown terrain. That’s why we had returned to the spire’s face and were now halfway up, making for the upper ledge systems that would lead to the summit in an effort to put all of our skills together in a kind of peak performance. As I continued climbing up to the end of the lower ledge system, I finally found a quasi-solid boulder protruding from the snow and slung it for a belay. I realized I needed a mental break. I felt OK physically, even after nearly 12 hours of climbing, but it was time for Max to take over again. We’d both trained hard for the physical aspects of the climb. I’d been in the gym and to Yosemite, throwing myself at the proud lines of yesteryear. Max had been leading NOLS Patagonia expeditions and putting up new ice lines on sea cliffs near his New Brunswick home. As I passed the ice screws and brass stoppers to Max, I realized I hadn’t trained at all for the mental stress. That’s what

Left: Max Fisher works his way up a narrowing crack on the party's second attempt of the Kooshdakhaa Spire's face. Erik Bonnett

Fall 2014


Next time? Max ponders the spires and faces above as he begins the trek home. Erik Bonnett

was wearing us down. We’d climbed a lot of scary pitches at that point. On our first attempt on the wall, we’d both had to pendulum swing on imperfect protection to escape a widening crack. We’d climbed through insecure, sugary, near-vertical snow to climb the breathtaking stone chasm to the south of the spire’s headwall, the first line ever climbed in the area. We’d also made the first as-



Even near the solstice, there are some places where the midnight sun barely reaches. Kooshdakhaa Spire, South Couloir. Erik Bonnett


cent of the spire via the north couloir as sloughs (mini avalanches) bombarded us as they raced toward the cliffs below. Even on the climb up to the ledge where we now stood, Max had pulled himself up on an apparently solid rock horn, only to find himself alongside the stone in sudden freefall. The rope caught Max, but only after a long fall. The mental stresses were adding up. So as Max slowly picked his way through the crumbly seams above the ledge, I wasn’t surprised when he let me know that probably none of the gear he’d placed so far would hold a fall. We weren’t there to get hurt or killed; we had made the expedition to push ourselves and to learn. We had done both. So it was with some disappointment, but also relief, that we decided to head down. Perhaps we could have continued, but we felt we’d given the face our all. More than simply completing the climb, we wanted to complete it in style: light, fast, and with grace. That wasn’t going to happen for us this time around. But before we’d even finished rappelling to the steep, snowy apron below the cliff we were already talking about coming back … What I love about the mountains, the reason I keep coming back, is that they are a place where I can fail. I can make mistakes. I can learn by experience. Were I to fail on a regular basis at my job as an architect, I would be fired. My buildings could even end up collapsing and killing people! Much of human endeavor is expected to meet high rates of success. Mountaineering and exploration is not so. In fact, the grant we had received from the American Alpine Club to help fund our expedition was designated specifically for teams pursuing objectives that were unexplored, and therefore with a small chance of success—at least the first time. That’s the real learning: the really rewarding part isn’t actually in failing, but in returning. First, being pushed so hard you can’t do it. Then, reflecting and learning, and trying again. And again. And then, finally, succeeding. That process is why I keep coming back to the mountains. It is also why I returned to NOLS as an instructor, and I think why so many students find their NOLS experience to be meaningful, even decades later. Max and I talked a lot about what it would take to succeed over

the next week, making our way back to our truck, parked far away by the ocean in Haines. The valley of the spire was too steep and rocky to descend reasonably, so we hauled our gear over a pass to reach the glacial terrain NOLS Yukon courses sometimes visit. Could we go heavy and haul our way up the spire? Bringing portaledges and haul bags, tents, and more gear up the wall, we could break the challenge into smaller, manageable pieces. But the spire isn’t really big enough to require that. Maybe more people would help, we thought as we ferried our loads down the next hanging valley toward the Chilkat River. First we schlepped our heavy packs, then hiked back up to our packrafts and paddling gear, thrilled to be descending the same valley for a second time via little rapids that had never before hosted a boat. All that carrying surely would have been easier with some porters to carry our loads. Maybe climbing the spire would be more achievable if we invited some of our friends to split up the hard work of leading the rock pitches. But to dilute the challenge with numbers also seemed to erode the reward. We continued to reflect on our climbing efforts as we glided through the confluence of our icy cascade and the main glacial waterway. The valley’s faultless beauty dwarfed our petite rubber rafts: verdant Sitka spruce and slide alder forests enveloped black granite walls. Moose and bear tracks encircled our gravel bar camps. And as we prepared to portage the slot canyon that protects the upper watershed from jetboats and WHAT ARE THE ROOTS THAT snow machines, a pack CLUTCH, WHAT BRANCHES GROW of timber wolves briefly OUT OF THIS STONY RUBBISH? presided over our alpine SON OF MAN, academy’s commenceYOU CANNOT SAY, OR GUESS, ment ceremony. FOR YOU KNOW ONLY Putting our rafts A HEAP OF BROKEN IMAGES … back in the current beAND I WILL SHOW YOU SOME- low the buggy, sweaty, THING DIFFERENT FROM EITHER bear-moose-wolf-scary YOUR SHADOW AT MORNING portage, we had decided STRIDING BEHIND YOU on a strategy for our reOR YOUR SHADOW AT EVENING turn. Rather than trying RISING TO MEET YOU … to make the spire smaller with gear or numbers, we —FROM "THE WASTE LAND," would work to make ourT.S. ELIOT selves stronger to meet the challenge. We resolved to learn to be better aid climbers and faster free climbers. We committed to train for the mental stresses, as well as the physical challenge. Our climbing partnership will become stronger for having thus grown together. We don’t know if this will be enough, if we will succeed in climbing our line next time. But I am certain we will be back … to the spire, to the mountains, and to the challenges and opportunities they guard. We wish to thank NOLS for financial and logistical support of the expedi tion and are also grateful to have received the Copp-Dash Inspire Award, made possible by Black Diamond Equipment, La Sportiva, Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia, with in-kind support from Adventure Film Festival, Alpinist Magazine, The American Alpine Club, and Sender Films.

Top: Reentering the current. Even going light, there is still a lot to load into a little rubber packraft. Bottom: Below the glacier. Max explores drops and eddies, leaving the mountains behind ... for now. Erik Bonnett

Fall 2014


Lena Conlan

Nick Hall

ALUMNI TRIPS Are you interested in returning to NOLS in the backcountry but can’t take weeks off work? Do you want to share your NOLS experience with your non-grad friends and family? Do you want to adventure and network with like-minded, outdoorsy adults who know the meaning of “EB”? If you bellowed, “Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!” then join us on an alumni trip in 2015.

NOLS offers short backcountry trips for our alumni and guests. These trips have top-quality instructors, and though they aren’t guided adventures, we do cater a bit more to the desires and maturity levels of our participants. Customized trips are also available. Call us to design your dream adventure. Signing up: A $200 per-person, non-refundable deposit is required for enrollment on all alumni trips. For more information or to sign up, call NOLS Alumni at (800) 332-4280 or visit

COASTAL NAVIGATION SEMINAR: BAJA, MEXICO NOLS ALUMNI REUNIONS In 2015, we’re celebrating NOLS’ 50th birthday with volunteer-led and NOLS-organized reunions and informal local events around the world. If you’re keen to host an event in your community, contact us ( to discuss ideas, options, and formats. NOLS’ 50th Anniversary event list is growing, so watch the alumni website (http://www.nols. edu/alumni/reunions/) for details. Our likely event sites include:

• Chicago, Illinois • Jackson, Wyoming • Boston, Massachusetts • Denver, Colorado • Portland, Oregon • San Diego, California • Seattle, Washington




Dates: February 4-6, 2015  |  Cost: $275

Engage your mind and develop your skills and understanding of coastal navigation. This “classroom-based” seminar takes place at NOLS Mexico on the gulf side of Baja California. Improve your chart plotting skills, understand collision regulations, learn aids to navigation, and expand your sailing repertoire with experienced instructors.


Dates: February 7-14, 2015  |  Cost: $1,850 The Bay of Loreto National Marine Park is the ideal setting for coastal cruising in a fleet of versatile Drascombe Longboat sailing vessels. Learn and hone seamanship, navigation, and the basics of sailing and coastal cruising! Sailing among whales and dolphins, tide pooling, snorkeling, and coastal hiking are all features of this trip.


Date: February 14-20, 2015 | Cost: $1,650 (includes pre/post trip lodging) This trip takes place at Cochise Stronghold, a culturally historic and striking southwest landscape in Arizona. To maximize climbing time, this trip bases in a rustic campground. Crafted for climbers of all experience levels, this trip focuses on skills: climbing techniques, knots, belaying, anchors, protection placement, traditional and sport climbing systems, rappelling, and lead climbing theory.


Dates: March 29-April 3, 2015 |  Cost: $995 (includes pre/post trip lodging) This trip travels in Utah’s desert canyons with a focus on the area’s natural and incredible human history. This six-day trip traverses a 26-mile section of Grand Gulch and Bullet Canyon, one of the top NOLS hiking destinations in Utah.

The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors By James Edward Mills, Alaska Mountaineering— Prime ’12 James Edward Mills has been part of the Expedition Denali story from the start. Though he didn’t make the historic summit attempt on North America’s tallest peak last summer, he was with the team in spirit, as well as the written word. The Adventure Gap is an exciting account of the first all-African American summit attempt on Denali and an argument for its importance to young Americans of color. The “adventure gap” is also a term Mills coined: “For many minorities in this country … expectations do not include embracing the outdoors, whether for sport or for work. Despite advances in so many other aspects of our society, there is a racial divide between those who participate in outdoor activities and those who don’t, a yawning chasm I call ‘the adventure gap.’” This book profiles not only the members of the Expedition Denali team that NOLS pulled together for this historic endeavor, but also other individuals in America’s history and present who are bridging the gap. He is brutally honest about current trends and what they mean for the future of the nation’s wild spaces and the people who would miss them. However, it is clear he wrote the book with hope: “The historic climb in the summer of 2013 stands not as a grand gesture of personal achievement, but rather a sincere expression of welcome to those who dare to follow. This team of black climbers made their ascent of Denali to extend an invitation, particularly to minority youth, to experience true freedom …” Reviewed by Casey Adams, PR Specialist and Writer © 2014, James Edward Mills

The Wild Wyoming Range Edited by Ronald H. Chilcote and Susan Marsh A glimpse into the overlooked region that runs south of Grand Teton National Park, The Wild Wyoming Range contains a stunning collection of wilderness imagery, historical information, and environmental essays that transport readers to remote areas including the Wyoming Range, Greys River, Salt River Front, and the Southern Ranges. If you’ve never spent time exploring the staggering glaciated terrain of this expansive southern portion of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the remarkable images and personal accounts detailed in this book will convince you to bump it to the top of your bucket list. A compilation of work by photographers, writers, scientists, environmental leaders, and Wyoming citizens, The Wild Wyoming Range eloquently captures the beauty and remoteness of the backcountry while bringing to light ongoing political concerns that could forever alter the future of this pristine recreational refuge in western Wyoming. Reviewed by Alisha Bube, Graphic Designer. © 2013 Laguna Wilderness Press.

Fall 2014



You’ll sleep soundly with the Big Agnes Q-Core, regardless of what might be on the ground beneath. Jared Steinman



Do you remember the fairytale by H ans Christian A nderson, “The Princess and the Pea”? On a dark, stormy night, a rain-drenched young woman shows up at a prince’s castle. She claims to be a princess. The prince’s mother tests the young woman by putting a pea under 20 mattresses. If she feels the pea under the mattresses, she is a true princess. In the morning, the young woman declares she had a sleepless night because she was kept awake by something hard in the bed. Voila! She is a true princess, marries the prince, and lives happily ever after. What that princess needed was a Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core 3.5 inch inflatable sleeping pad for a comfortable night’s sleep. This pad has alternating I-beam construction that gives it a quilted look and distributes weight evenly. It also means that if one of the I-beams blows out, it does not create the problems of traditional I-beam construction: a large bulge the entire length of the mattress. With an estimated R-value of five, this is a great three-season mattress. Made of durable, lightweight ripstop nylon, the 20 x 72 inch model weighs 27 ounces. The mesh stuff sack has a handy pocket on the inside end that stores the included repair kit. However, I did have some challenges getting the mattress small enough to fit back in the stuff sack. The Q-Core takes a little more effort to set up than a self-inflating mattress. It took me approximately two minutes to blow up, which left me feeling a little lightheaded upon completion. With all that moist air being blown into the mattress, it could create an environment for


mold and mildew to grow. Big Agnes addressed that issue by giving the mattress x-static synthetic insulation to enhance the thermodynamic, anti-microbial, and anti-odor properties. To accommodate different backpacker sizes, the pad comes in three different lengths: 66, 72 or 78 inches long, all 20 inches wide and 3.5 inches tall when inflated. The 78-inch model also comes in a 25-inch width. The thickness of this pad is great for sleeping on uneven, rocky ground and it can double as pool lounger for a quick float around the lake. Overall, I thought this was a great sleeping pad and I certainly did not feel any rocks when I field-tested it camping on gravel bars and tundra. So I guess that means I must not be a princess!

The Big Agnes Q-Core provides ample cushion. Pip Coe

Lena Conlan



Vacation Condo - Sleeps 9 Frisco, Colorado



For Friends and Families of NOLS Summer $89/night + tax Winter $139/night + tax

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Find out how to get college credit for the NOLS course you COMPLETED! Log on to for more information





CHALLENGING MEDICAL DECISIONS IN REMOTE ENVIRONMENTS Whether you are new to wilderness medicine, gaining certification to lead multi-day trips, or seeking continuing education credits as a medical professional, we have a course to meet your needs.


Ingredients 1 cup potato pearls 2 cups warm water 2 cups flour 1 tsp salt

Directions: 1. Rehydrate the potato pearls with the two cups of warm water in a large pot. Stir together until well blended and no dry bits remain. 2. Mix together the flour and salt, then gradually add to the potato mixture in two to three batches. 3. Stir until a cohesive dough ball starts to form, then knead with a (clean) lightly floured hand. Continue kneading for three to five minutes until the pasta dough is smooth and tacky, but not sticky. If the dough is too dry, add water in tablespoon increments. If the dough is too wet, add flour in the same manner. 4. Form the gnocchi into half-inch squares, balls, or pieces. 5. Cook the gnocchi in boiling water for four to six minutes. They will rise to the surface when they’re done. 6. Serve with your favorite sauce and enjoy!



Alisha Bube

Makes enough gnocchi for four hungry individuals.


Contact the Alumni Office via telephone at (800) 332-4280 or to find contact information for any of your coursemates.

GRADS FROM THE ‘60S Steven McFadden, Wind River Wilderness ‘66 Steven recently authored his 14th nonfiction book: A Primer for Pilgrims. It’s an eBook relating true stories of some epic spiritual expeditions in North America. Check his blog, “The Call of the Land,” for details.

Wyomingite to run the Pittsburgh Marathon. He also ran the Saint George Marathon in Utah in October and is hoping to qualify for Boston in 2017. In August, he celebrated his son Samuel’s (11) and daughter Sophia’s (6) birthdays. From his home in Lander, Wyoming, Judd works as a NOLS development officer and field instructor.

Jacob Nacht, Whitewater River Expedition ‘94, Fall Semester in the Rockies ‘96 Jacob, a two-time NOLS grad, graduated from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in May and started his residency in emergency medicine at the Denver Health Residency Emergency Medicine in June 2014. GRADS FROM THE ‘00S

GRADS FROM THE ‘70S GRADS FROM THE ‘90S Jefferson Brown, Wind River Wilderness ‘71 Jeff was on a course with Neil Short, Horace Bone, and Cody Paulson as instructors. He helped with the Denali Climb in 1974, packing gear in for them. In 2007 Jeff achieved a lifelong goal of working for NOLS. Married since 1987, Jeff and his wife lived in Pinedale, Wyoming for years and now reside in Salmon, Idaho. GRADS FROM THE ‘80S Judd Rogers, Wind River Mountaineering ‘89 Judd proudly reports that in May he was the sole

Greg Dotson, Former instructor, Mountain Instructor Course ‘92 In May, the Center for American Progress announced that Greg Dotson will join them as their vice president for energy policy. Dotson was a top staffer on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In that capacity, Dotson played a vital role in the passage of comprehensive climate change legislation and clean energy, pesticide safety, drinking water, and clean air laws.

WILDERNESS QUIZ Wilderness50 is a coalition of wilderness user groups including federal land management agencies, nonprofits, and schools whose goal is to implement activities, events, and service projects that increase public awareness of and appreciation for the Wilderness Act’s 50th anniversary. The Wilderness Act was signed Sept. 3, 1964, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It set aside 9.1 million acres of wildlands in the U.S. “for the use and benefit of the American people.” Over the past 50 years, 100 million additional acres have been declared Wilderness, which the Act defines as “area where the earth and its communities of life are left unchanged by people, where the primary forces of nature are in control, and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain.”

Ann Gibson, Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator ‘04 Ann is exploring the intersection of adventure and wellness, connecting with communities who care about making a positive difference on the planet. She helps adventurous women get to the cause of complex health issues. Ann is the founder and functional medicine/nutrition practitioner for Adventure Wellness. Max Neale, Spring Semester in Patagonia ‘06 Max and his climbing partner, Chris Simrell, summited Alaska’s Mt. Huntington in May 2014. After several training trips, Max and his climbing partner, Zeb Engberg, summited Denali on July 3, 2014. Max is senior editor of OutdoorGearLab, an online gear review company. Debra East, Wilderness First Aid ‘07 Debra recently completed her first sprint triathlon three days after turning 60. Debra is the wilderness medicine admissions supervisor at NOLS HQ in Lander, Wyoming. Jessie Allen, New Zealand Backpacking ‘13

WMI Admissions Supervisor Debra East completed her first sprint triathlon this summer in Lander. Jared Steinman Sarah Lancaster and Mark Hamlin are now married. Kelli Boyd

Jessie, daughter of NOLS grads Jim and Mary Allen of Lander, Wyoming, was crowned Miss Wyoming 2014. Jessie obtained a bachelor’s degree in communication with a marketing minor from the University of Wyoming in 2012. She is considering a partnership with the Department of the Interior’s “Lets Move Outside” and the National Wildlife Federation’s “Be Out There” campaigns. MARRIAGES, ENGAGEMENTS, AND ANNIVERSARIES Mandy Pohja, Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator ‘07, and Brian Fabel, Winter Outdoor Educator ‘07 Mandy and Brian, both NOLS instructors, were

married August 29, 2014. For the wedding, they left their home on bicycles (15 miles), hiked into the Cirque of the Towers (25 miles), climbed the Northeast Face of Pingora (IV 5.8 9p), got married, and reversed the approach. NOLS Instructor Jamie O’Donnell officiated the ceremony. Mark Hamlin, North Cascades Mountaineering ’87, and Sarah Lancaster, Brooks Range Expedition ‘02, WEMT ‘09 Mark, NOLS stewardship coordinator and instructor, and Sarah were married on October 18, 2014 in Savannah, Georgia. They reside in Lander, Wyoming, where Sarah is the Fremont County Business Advisor. Fall 2014 25

IN REMEMBRANCE Alice Lumpkin, Semester in Africa, ‘82 Alice was an environmentalist and animal lover who, with her husband, owned and managed their Worthington Valley farm in Maryland. Alice died July 5 of cancer in Towson. After graduating in 1979 from Garrison Forest School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in geology with an environmental option from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, in 1984. As an undergraduate, Alice spent a semester in Kenya with NOLS, which “further ignited her passion for nature and wildlife.” Jordan Samuel Cohen, Semester in Alaska ‘09, Semester in New Zealand ‘13 Jordan, age 26, died August 9, 2014. A lifelong resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Jordan loved life, adventure, traveling, the outdoors, yoga, and snowboarding. A graduate of Naropa University, Jordan approached each day with passion and an infectiously positive spirit. He spent his summers as a camp counselor for children with autism.

NOLS courses and individual students. His kindness, everpresent maté, and stories of old Patagonia will be sorely missed. George Brooks Emeny, Mountain Instructor Course ‘90 George, age 72, of Andover, New Hampshire, died March 25, 2014 at his home. A lifelong learner both in and out of the classroom, George had a deep respect for diverse cultures and was an accomplished student of Native American—specifically Lakota Sioux—ways. A youthful, empowering soul, he taught at Proctor Academy in Andover from 1964–1988 and from 2007–2013. He was truly authentic: a naturalist; an explorer; a playful, kind, and generous man.

David Curtis, Former NOLS Instructor David Curtis wandered off on his last expedition through a painful bushwhack with pancreatic cancer Sept. 30. He was born and raised in New Zealand. In 2003, he married Jennie, who he met hiking in New Zealand, and they moved to Colorado in 2005. He began instructing for NOLS in 2007. David was known to those with whom he worked as a skilled outdoorsIvan Ribera Barrientos, man, a strong, caring, talented, Longtime NOLS Patagonia and effective instructor. David Horse Packer walked his path with great vigor Ivan passed away suddenly in and was invested in helping August 2014. Born and raised others to find their passions and at the remote family campo in follow them with enthusiasm, Bahia Murta, Ivan was warm, friendly, and welcoming to many joy and grace.



A. Statistics vary, but many people survive lightning strikes. Lightning can strike out of the blue, far from the edges of a storm, and the 45-degree arc, also known as the cone of protection, works only for very tall large towers and has no relevance for us in the outdoors.





Sustainability coordinators often find themselves promoting projects that seem less than exciting on the surface. HVAC rebuilds, light bulbs, low flow toilets—none of it seems particularly exciting, but when you start thinking about it, it’s really amazing! It is in this vein that I find myself writing an article about a septic system. But listen, it’s totally self-contained. Constructed from recycled materials. It grows bananas and pineapples and papayas! What more can you ask for? This summer, NOLS Amazon installed a new bio-septic tank that does all that and more. The system is based on permaculture principles, using an evapotranspiration basin with plants on top of the tank to evaporate excess water and bacteria and fungi in the bottom of the tank to digest waste. Because water only leaves the system through evaporation, it is completely free of contaminants. The tank is filled with rubble sourced from an onsite house demolition. This allows water to percolate up to the plant roots, which in turn complete the majority of the decontamination process. Additional demolition waste sits on top of the tank with wood mulch from old walls to allow the plants to grow and complete the water treatment process. Infrastructure built from resourced and recycled materials that protects the surrounding environment and grows bananas? This is a project that promotes itself. Check out the NOLS Amazon Facebook page for more information about this project.

Brag Bar Congratulations to our outstanding alumni award recipients Laura McGiffert Slover and Gretchen Warner. 2014 Alumni Achievement Award: Laura McGiffert Slover Laura McGiffert Slover was appointed to the District of Columbia School Board in 2007 and was elected twice to the State Board of Education. Slover began her career in education as a high school English teacher and coach in Colorado, as well as a ski-patroller and NOLS instructor. Recently, she became CEO of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a group of states working to develop assessments measuring student preparation for college and careers. PARCC has a core belief that assessment should enhance teaching and learning. We applaud Slover’s challenging work on the national level. PARCC and the nation benefit from her confidence and determination—skills she surely honed on her NOLS Mountaineering and other courses.

Remember the moment you first set foot in a NOLS building, wherever in the world it was? All novel and unfamiliar in the first days, it was comfortable and familiar by the time you were de-issuing and celebrating your course. Well, it’s business as usual at NOLS locations around the world; stay up to date on the activities here or on the NOLS Blog at

NOLS TETON VALLEY • We’re excited to bring two new river courses on the Main Salmon River in 2015. We have a robust and technical rafting trip for folks 23+ years in mid-June and a two-week rafting trip with hard-shell kayak training for 14-15 year olds later in the season. Our students consistently enjoy contact with the ranching and homesteader communities along the Salmon. • Our outfitting facility near Driggs, Idaho now sports an improved boat barn with a concrete floor for better gear maintenance, organization, and group involvement. • Winter in the Tetons means snow. We’re busily adding AT gear to our telemark equipment options for the ski season. We’ll also try out Patagonia’s new Nano Air Puff jackets in the field this season.

2014 Alumni Service Award: Gretchen Warner Gretchen Warner has shown years of commitment to the powerful educational partnership between NOLS and the Archer School for Girls. The school is an educational community that supports and challenges young women to discover and realize their true potential. A career educator, Warner has been Archer’s dean of students since 2011. She came to NOLS in 2006 on a twoweek Wind River Wilderness course and recently returned to the trail as chaperone on a NOLS Archer Wilderness Expedition. Warner was instrumental in creating the NOLS Arrow Week program, which delivers six-day courses for all of Archer’s 7th, 9th, and 11th grade out of NOLS Rocky Mountain, NOLS Southwest, and NOLS Pacific Northwest.

NOLS Teton Valley is bolstering its telemarking arsenal. Matt Burke

• Last summer, we supported the Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s (GYC) multi-day hiking circumnavigation of the Yellowstone Ecosystem by supplying sleeping bags, pads, and shelters. Almost 700 hikers participated in this event that raises awareness of conservation issues in our region.


NOLS Northeast now boasts a combo course so students can explore on foot and by boat. Jen Sall

• We’re thrilled to launch a new September Adirondack Backpacking Course for students 23 years and over in the High Peaks Wilderness. The course gets the chance to travel through the area’s incredible fall colors and highest summits. • Our new combo course combines 150 miles of paddling with 40 miles of hiking. Students walk to the canoe put-in in the St. Regis Canoe Wilderness and paddle right to their hiking start. • As fall colors and new college students cover our base at the sugar shack at beautiful Paul Smith’s College, we’re buttoning up the gear until our program reopens in June 2015. • A few staff recently competed in the 90-mile Adirondack Canoe Classic race. Over 275 boats participated. The “open touring C4” NOLS team crossed the finish in about 17 hours, while the winners blazed the flatwater paddle (including about five miles of portaging) in about 13 hours. We’d love to field future NOLS staff and alumni teams on this classic, fun race that occurs in the first weekend in September. • Summer 2014 for NOLS Northeast concluded with 10 courses overall: two Adirondack Backpacking and Canoeing combo courses (21 days) and eight Adirondack Backpacking courses (14 days), totaling 74 students. • For summer 2015, NOLS Northeast will offer a new Alumni Service Trip in the Adirondack High Peak Wilderness.

Fall 2014 27


“Pursue your dreams with energy and be open to change.” That’s the advice senior NOLS instructor Ida Martin has for her students. Her advice comes from the heart and is backed by experience. Whether she is leading a NOLS Sea Kayaking course in the Sea of Cortez or cooking for a group of hungry WFR students at the NOLS Three Peaks Ranch, Martin is always positive. Her joy for life despite any curveball thrown her way is perhaps her defining characteristic. Martin finds light even in grim situations. She can barely keep from laughing as she recounts the story of the worst meal she’s ever made in the backcountry. It was a breakfast dish, complete with leftover macaroni and egg powder that resembled a soupy quiche, which co-instructor Ryan Williams still contends was the worst food he’s had on a NOLS course. Martin grew up in Toronto with her three younger brothers. Her family, though not particularly outdoorsy, did manage to get away from city life once or twice a year for family camping trips. That’s all it took for her to get hooked. “There is something powerful in being outside for a long period of time. It’s the calming routine; it’s the peacefulness,” said Martin. At age 16, she took a NOLS canoeing course in the Yukon, where she nurtured an interest in environmental stewardship. A year later she was at the University of British Columbia studying environmental science. Martin excelled in her class, receiving a prestigious grant to study arctic oceanography. After graduation, as she boarded the massive ice-

breaker CCGS Louis St. Laurent to conduct research in the Beaufort Sea, her life seemed to be steering in a certain direction. However, after a year of processing the data from her arctic expedition, she decided she wanted to work more closely with people and issues than she did with numbers and reports. Martin returned to the University of British Columbia, this time seeking a law degree. She passed the Canadian Bar in 2009 and shortly thereafter began work as an associate at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, one of Canada’s biggest law firms. At Fasken Martineau she specialized in labor, employment, and human rights disputes, helping her clients seek restitution for injustice. The work, however, challenged her uncompromising positivity. “Law is a difficult culture. You’re always dealing with people that are mad at each other,” Martin said. It was then that Martin decided to pursue a simpler life and seek fulfillment teaching and travelling in the wilderness. In the spring of 2011 she enrolled on a NOLS instructor course, and she has been working for the school ever since. She said of her time working for NOLS, “they have been some of the best years of my life.” Martin has always worked diligently toward what she wants to do, even if what she wants changes over time. That’s why she encourages her students to follow their passions and not limit themselves to one career path as they enter high school or college. Her words prove an inspiration to students like Katherine Gottsegen. “Ida rolls with the punches so smoothly. I think about that when I’m freaking out about what to do after my last semester of college,” Gottsegen said. “There is a whole world of possibilities out there,” Martin said, “so don’t worry about making the right decision that will set you up for the rest of your life. Every day is a new opportunity.”



Ida Martin maintains focus on her goals even in the face of adversity, a skill she teaches her students. Brad Christensen



Maksim Semeniuk in the middle of the spires of Mount Rushmore National Monument. Robert Peshke

Millennia ago, in a flat, sea covered and sleepy land, the earth felt some great force of change. A deep pressure welled up miles below the surface, which the land could feel in its core. It started just like a lump in one’s stomach, but this pressure grew and grew until it could grow no further and the earth had to move. At first, it only twitched, but as the force grew below it, it could sleep no longer. The land shuddered and stretched, then finally, the earth woke up and shook off the sea that covered most of North America. It rose as a fluid, malleable surface, until it stretched too far and became cracked and broken. That is where it froze, as a magnificent dome with hairline fractures running across its breadth. The dome appeared solid, broad, and motionless, but inside, soft highways of lava were winding through the rock until they would freeze in an underground maze, and thus the round dome was veined with hidden, hard, dark rock. The old sea hovered near the dome and lapped at its feet. With each advance of the ancient waters, a new set of fauna washed up and thrived until they died out, becoming fossils. The sea would then recede, taking back bits of the dome’s surface. Thus the eerie rocks hidden below were revealed and fractures and channels became a land of exotic peaks. The wind caught on and pulled off dustings of sand grains over thousands of years and left a rough Braillelike texture in the form of sharp, egg-sized quartz crystals. The ancient maze of frozen magma became windswept pinnacles that would dot the plains for miles and create the needles of the Black Hills. When we hopped in the car to drive to South Dakota, or SoDak,

as we had come to call it, Mike, Jake, Joe, and I left late at night when everyone had finished their day jobs. Taking turns, we drove until our eyes hurt, switched off, stopped for late night coffee at small town gas stations across the Great Plains, and finally entered The Needles, too late to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, but perfectly on time to catch the early morning mist hanging in the Cathedral Spires. Now we’re here, watching the sun hypnotize the film of water vapor that covers the needles and lures it up and off until the rock and the sky are clear and dry. Our limbs warm up and the land begs us to come play. While Joe leads off the first climb, Mike and I flake our rope next to our climb. Jake is found gripping the side of a slabby wall, while I sit atop a narrow pinnacle, watching my friends pop up all over the place. I find them to be as unpredictable as the climbs. They throw their ropes at any spire just to see where it goes. The sharp crystals hook our shoes and cut our hands. Crevasses and chimneys hundreds of feet up guide our paths to SoDak’s big open sky. I can see for miles across the bison-dotted hills scattered with giant stone obelisks. The bison, one last ancient fauna that the sea left untouched, stare at the world with their bulging, prehistoric eyes, and go on shaking their giant heads, with

Fall 2014 29

their patchy old fur hanging off their backs. The wind bites our faces and the sun nips at our ears. Our hands are raw and dry, and our clothes are dusty. Jake admits he is no longer feeling the juju, Mike sees the sky clouding over, and we confirm that one climbing day has come to an end. These are the times when we sneak out to Hill City, a town of not quite 1,000. This is when we share our stories at the local winery while we sip the sweet and intoxicating drinks. Mike comments on the unique attractions in Hill City: museums, quilt shows, and high school football games; Joe talks of his project—120 feet of tiny sharp crystal climbing; and Jake and I strike up conversation with the jovial tourists, who tell of their stops by Wall Drug, an old haven for traveling cowboys which today boasts a t-rex and five cent coffee, among many western trinkets. A land of travelers and fables, every attraction leading to the Badlands has risen from nothing but great expanses of flat ground. Once a series of mining towns that took a downward turn, South Dakota became a land of tourism instead. They decided that constructing statues of humans walking dinosaurs on leashes would be fitting. Then they went on to create displays of the ancient sea’s gifted fossils as well as a contrived animal they named the jackalope. They even went through the trouble to carve the faces of presidents into a cliff ’s side. South Dakota attracts all types: geologists, adventurers, and even motorcyclists cruise on through as a part of a national rally. The land knows it is a mix of so many ironic things. It laughs because it was once malleable like the living world and it watches life wander and change from sea creatures and ancient forests to natives and cowboys to tourists and bison ranchers. It laughs in stony pinnacles and fog, midsummer hail storms and hot springs, crystal caves and petrified wood.



Kaybe Loughran at the summit of the Tsunami in the South Seas, Mount Rushmore National Monument. Jacob Dunn


Joe Zelman climbs Tricouni Nail in the Tenpins, Custer State Park. Jacob Dunn

Today, Mike and I coil our rope, grab our shoes, and set off into the spires. What looks obvious from a distance becomes a kaleidoscope of rock up close. We hunt for spire four, the tallest of the Cathedral Spires and our intended climb for the day, and are forced to discern between the two routes in front of us by means of rock-paper-scissors. Leading off, Mike calls down “trad climbing is kinda scary!” but continues on. I’ll have to admit that the 5.4 climb seems harder than expected, but ratings here are arguably stiff. I lead the pitch where the guidebook’s “wormhole” appears to be replaced with a short, overhanging crack. This will be my first trad lead ever, a rather exciting way to start out. Following this, we find a run-out slab of crystals and ridges to the top. Four pitches promised by the guidebook, and four pitches climbed, each ever so slightly different than what we were expecting ... At the top, we look around the world, and lo and behold, across the valley a proud and tall spire is smirking at our navigation skills and our trust of rock-paper-scissors. This spire is clearly taller than whatever we are standing on. So where are we? Where the East meets the West, in the center of the United States and somewhere on the way to the Rockies is where we are. We have met this place’s people across miles of open road and in a handful of quirky towns, and we have seen its open spaces. We have to keep our heads together just long enough to make it safely out, but by then we will have made use of all of the daylight hours and all that the spires have to offer.


A rt and the outdoors are two of the most consistent passions in my life. The adventure they elicit inspires me. Adventure makes me feel alive and is something that I thrive on. Both art and the outdoors feed this hunger for adventure in their own unique way. Despite working with a variety of mediums and styles, all of my art originates from the same place: a desire to explore my connection to adventure and wild landscapes. This deep yearning I have for exquisite landscapes feeds my creativity. This yearning is something I would have a difficult time expressing in a photograph or writing. The rich colors, text, and line-work in my illustrations allow me to better express the internal experience of travel. My illustrations are inspired by landscapes that are influential to me both for their natural beauty and relevance to me as a climber. Some are rather literal representations of specific landscapes, while others are more figurative. Many of my illustrations are marked with lettering or text. This style has developed out of my love for book-arts and

journaling. Sometimes the text is legible, but most often it is jumbled letters or words. Usually, I implement the text as a pattern or graphical component. It represents the propensity for these landscapes to elicit emotional responses and valuable human experiences. Recently, my life has taken a detour from spending as much time in the outdoors as I had as a NOLS instructor and guide. My connection to these wild places has taken on new meaning. The lettering and obsessive detailing of the illustrations represent my yearnings for these landscapes as well as the realization that, despite frequenting them less, they remain powerful and alluring influences. Artwork is available at

We’d love to hear from you! Send letters, cartoons, rants, limericks, or watercolors our way, and we’ll get them on the pages of The Leader. We’re easy to contact—try Facebook, Twitter @NOLSedu, email ( or the phone at (800) 710-NOLS.

Fall 2014


National Outdoor Leadership School 284 Lincoln Street Lander, WY 82520-2848 • (800) 710-NOLS THE LEADER IN WILDERNESS EDUCATION

Donate. “Thank you NOLS donors for this incredible opportunity. Over a month long period, the three instructors and the 30 students became a team. It is incredible to remember how disorganized we were on our first scenario. By week four, we had a leadership structure in place and responded to mass-casualty scenarios with an instinctive flow that I hope to re-create in my outside work. Thank you for the opportunity to acquire the skills and confidence to respond to wilderness medical emergencies.” Geena Ann Jackson

Marcio Paes-Barreto

Wilderness EMT ‘14 scholarship recipient


The Leader - Fall 2014  
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