The Leader - Summer 2016

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For NOLS Alumni

Summer 2016  •  Vol. 31 No. 3


Failure. It’s something we strive to avoid at all costs. The terrifying thing is—we are raising a generation afraid of failing. This theme is interwoven in several articles in this issue. At NOLS, one of our primary teaching methods is letting students learn from their mistakes. We allow students to develop grit through failure. Whether that means hiking in the wrong direction, missing steps of their patient assessment in a scenario, or arguing with co-workers during a leadership training, we value teaching our students leadership in uncertainty. Why? Failure creates more competent leaders. It takes great self-awareness to admit you were wrong, and to re-examine your actions. Students leave NOLS knowing how to debrief and make fewer mistakes in the future. This issue’s cover feature is on the Archer School for Girls, a school whose core competencies include “The Character and Drive to Lead.” In 7th, 9th and 11th grades, Archer students come to NOLS for one-week backpacking courses called “Arrow Week”—a stark contrast from life in urban Los Angeles. Talk about a venue for developing grit. One student reflected: “I came into Arrow Week full of anxiety, tired, and hoping that the week would go by as quickly as possible … I’ve grown as a person since then and I've realized that Arrow Week is the best. I’ve learned how to cope with difficult situations, how to stay positive, how to be gritty, how to learn to love something, and how to stay in the present. I’ve changed a lot because of Arrow Week and I am so grateful that I have. I believe in the NOLS mission. I believe that I have become a better person because of NOLS.” Moving into our 51st year, we aim to engage, educate, and expose even more students to the NOLS experience. At NOLS, we have revamped our brand structure to communicate about our school. In this issue, you will notice that we have changed our brand architecture and naming conventions. We feel NOLS has heart, and that the wilderness lies in wait for everyone.

John Gans, NOLS Executive Director

Leader Editor Kim Freitas Designers Kristen Lovelace Liz Schultz Anna Boyle Nikole Wohlmacher Alumni Relations Director Rich Brame NOLS Executive Director John Gans Creative Director Brad Christensen Art Director Eryn Pierce Editorial Board Bruce Palmer Anne McGowan Pip Coe Melissa Hemken Molly Herber

August 2016 • Volume 31 • No.3 Published three times a year in April, August, and November.

Postmaster: Send address changes to NOLS 284 Lincoln St. Lander, WY 82520 The Leader is a magazine for NOLS alumni which is a nonprofit school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics. It is mailed to approximately 71,000 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 email The Leader is printed with soy-based inks in Portland, Ore., on paper using 10 percent post-consumer-recycled content. The Leader is available online at www.nols. edu/alumni/leader.



Cover photo credit Brian Hensien




6 ISSUE ROOM: Chugach National Forest Plan


7 WILD SIDE OF MEDICINE: First Responder for Your Own

5 FIELD NOTES: Let the Mountains Teach Us—To Fail

Head Injury

We outline the various wilderness medicine course offerings.

8 ALUMNI PROFILE: Learning to Go Off Trail in the Wind


River Range

WHO IS THIS? 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

9 ALUMNI PROFILE: The Adventure Rolls On

20 ALUMNI TRIPS: Return to the Backcountry with Friends 21 REVIEWS: Way of Wanderlust and Mother Nature’s Child

Ervin Mejía recounts bringing these courses to his home country.

22 GEAR ROOM: Lamina Z Sleeping Bag Review


24 RECIPE BOX: Backcountry Cheesecake

25 JABBERWOCKY: Read up on your coursemates’ lives 26 SCHOOL NOTES: Updates from various locations 27 SUSTAINABILITY: Planting Memories 28 BELAY OFF: Blizzards, Newswires, and Teton Climbs 30 INSTRUCTOR PROFILE: Q&A with Katie Baum Mettenbrink 31 TRAVERSES: Desolation Canyon in July

Zion Garcia started a peer-to-peer tutoring program at his high school.


NOLS Custom Education runs courses for high school girls from Los Angeles.


ANSWER TO LAST ISSUE The answer to last issue’s “Who Is This?” is Molly Doran. She spent years instructing NOLS courses in North America, South America, and Africa.

GREG VEREGIN Wild Side of Medicine, pg 7

SARAH BUER Alumni Profile, pg 9

ASHLEY DRAKE Feature, pg 16

LOGAN CLAYTOR Recipe Box, pg 24

Veregin has followed the road less traveled to adventures across multiple states and provinces, baking sourdough biscuits and trail running as he goes. A Wilderness First Responder and certified BodyTalk™ practitioner, he is usually found with dirt underfoot somewhere off the beaten path.

Buer is a Wyoming native and NOLS Wilderness Medicine’s Marketing Coordinator. She loves music and design, and outside the office enjoys performing with her guitar, chasing powder on her snowboard, and spending time with her family and other half.

Drake is an Operations Coordinator for NOLS Custom Education. She has visited over 24 countries and when at home she can be found skiing, hiking, or beating her husband at strategic board games.

Claytor hails from Virginia, and is a NOLS Semester in Tanzania ‘14 graduate. When not working in the NOLS Admission office, you can find him around Lander enjoying playing with his dog, Pasta.

Summer 2016


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

NOLS Instagram

What’s Your Summit? Buy a NOLS flag at our online store and use it to take pictures that highlight your own peak experiences. Use the hashtag #whatsyoursummit to see what fellow NOLSies are up to. See page 23 for a discount!

We asked: Chocolate chips are ready for rations at the Gulch! What is your favorite trail mix addition? You said: • csoflaherty: The trades I used to make for malted milk balls. People were voluntarily cleaning my dishes and filtering my water for days... • bumlogic: Chocolate covered coffee beans, honey roasted peanuts, Swedish Fish, marshmallows. • mia.papa: Pretzels with peanut butter in them! • wiehestudios: Fond memories of the Gulch. Thanks for sharing pic.



• ty_rex317: My first reaction upon seeing this was that I got mad that we didn’t get these in our rations for my courses in Australia. Then I remembered my courses were in Australia.



Midway through leading a backpacking expedition composed of 15 college freshmen, I asked Claire — the nervous student designated to lead the day’s hike — if she had ever failed. At anything, ever. She furrowed her brow and then shook her head. She could not think of a single time. Claire made the varsity volleyball team as a freshman, got straight As and earned a full ride to the University of North Carolina. She was successful by all traditional metrics, but still unsteady, unconfident. I see students like this on every NOLS course I teach, and I worry that we are raising a generation of Claires: students who are wonderfully accomplished and terrified to fail. When I worked in admissions at Dartmouth College, I fielded calls from parents looking for advice on where to send their child to high school. Public or private? This boarding school or that one? They wanted to know the surest way to guarantee the child would go to an Ivy League school. The question came from a good place, yet it left me deeply troubled. If we orchestrate kids’ success from day one, how will they ever see that we trust them to deal with failure and to create their own future?

Now that I live in Silicon Valley, I am surrounded by an ethos that celebrates failure. My classmates at Stanford clamor to take classes like “Lean Launchpad,” which emphasize rapid prototyping (in other words: try, fail, repeat) and idolize entrepreneurs who “fail forward.” While the mantra almost seems passé now in Silicon Valley, one important upshot of this mindset is that it asks us to disentangle our self-worth from our accomplishments. We need to model this attitude for our children, especially girls, earlier in life. We need to let go of the urge to ensure their success, and instead create more opportunities for them to take on real challenges, with real possibility of failure. On Claire’s leader day at NOLS, for example, we hit classic “summer” weather in Norway’s mountains: sideways sleet and a full-on whiteout. I let Claire and her classmates lead and I trotted behind — while they hiked for five hours in precisely the wrong direction. When we hit the Swedish border, they finally realized they had botched the navigation, big time. And then they solved their way out of the mess. They pored over maps, figured out the error, busted out emergency peanut M&Ms,

Taking a moment to celebrate. Roger Martin

and hiked until midnight to make it to camp. When we arrived, Claire looked utterly exhausted — and triumphant. In the morning she told me, “Yesterday I learned that I am capable of much more than I think I am.” This is education at its finest. It is not a series of “right” decisions that optimize the way a student looks on a college application. It is building an environment that says: We trust you. We will be here if you really screw up. In the meantime; go make some mistakes. Read the full story on the NOLS Blog:

Students work together to help each other cross a river. Roger Martin

Summer 2016



Backpackers explore Prince William Sound in Alaska. Liz Schultz

The Chugach National Forest released a draft forest plan in January 2016. When finalized, this plan will guide management of the national forest for the next ten to fifteen years. NOLS developed and submitted a comment letter to the Forest Service expressing our concerns. The primary concern for NOLS Alaska operations on the Chugach is management of the Nellie JuanCollege Fiord Wilderness Study Area (WSA), which includes a large portion of the Prince William Sound. The draft plan has several shifts in language loosening protections and allowing increases in activities like personal timber harvest, motorized uses, and construction of facilities that could degrade the wilderness characteristics of Prince William Sound. In recent years, substantial increases in motorized vessel traffic have already impacted NOLS sea kaya-

king courses in the WSA. Emphasizing the importance of pristine qualities, NOLS students routinely identify the most valuable part of their course is the remoteness and wild, natural beauty of Prince William Sound. CHUGACH NATIONAL FOREST


NOLS Alaska operates in the Chugach National Forest, located along the coast of Alaska.



QUESTION Which U.S. land management agency turns 100 this summer? Answer on page 25.



NOLS believes proper management of Nellie Juan-College Fiord WSA requires a strengthening of resolve, and a renewed effort of education and enforcement of the existing regulations and management direction. The NOLS comment letter advocated for the Nellie Juan-College Fiord WSA to be again recommended for congressional wilderness designation. It is the responsibility of the Chugach National Forest to preserve the existing wilderness character of the WSA until it is either released or designated by an act of Congress. The increased use of the WSA necessitates heightened protection, not less, in order to preserve the diversity of fish, wildlife, wilderness, scenery, solitude, and recreation opportunities of the Prince William Sound.


A patch of ice, a spinning car and a rock wall left me with a concussion. The first responders were well intentioned but not well trained. Here are some things I learned. As a patient: Things happen fast, a clear understanding of what happened may be elusive. I remember some details but not others. Clearly communicate what you remember. Things happened fast. I shared with first responders that I hit my head and that I did not think I was unconscious. Get thoroughly checked by first responders. Neck, shoulder and rib pain were immediate but nausea and headaches, the early symptoms of my concussion, developed later. Get help if you experience symptoms. I thought I was fine and self-treated with ibuprofen. Seeing a doctor would have been a reasonable precaution. Thank your responders. There are

Demonstrating proper head splinting technique. Travis Welch

legitimate dangers involved in getting to the patient and getting back safely. A simple please or thank you can go a long way. As a responder: Do a thorough and complete patient assessment for all patients. I was A+Ox4 after the accident but the first responders on scene did not check my vital signs. It is important to have a baseline for reference in case vitals

A patient at the scene of an accident. NOLS Archives

change over time. Empathize with the patient. I have a better understanding of why patients become irritated with the repetition of questions throughout the patient assessment. Maintain a positive attitude towards the patient. Be kind and compassionate. Tone of voice, body language, vocabulary, and lines of questioning can influence a patient’s cooperation and willingness to be open and honest about what happened, and how they are feeling. Engage the patient. My incident occurred while traveling solo in unfamiliar territory, and I felt overwhelmed and alone. Knowing a first responder was concerned with my well-being would have been a huge comfort. My NOLS Wilderness Medicine training helped me to seek treatment when my symptoms of concussion persisted. I highly recommend taking a course, as you never know when your first aid skills will be called upon.

WILDERNESS MEDICINE QUIZ TRUE OR FALSE? It is appropriate to try to restrain a patient having a seizure. Answer on page 27.

Summer 2016



When Steve K atz saw NOLS’ now iconic Thirty Days To Survival on television in 1970, he knew he had to make the mountains a part of his future. That summer, he boarded a train in New York City and headed out for adventure with NOLS in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Struck by the landscape’s beautiful colors and the vastness of the wilderness, Katz recalls magical moments from that course, including an unforgettable night hike and gorging on berries with his coursemates during their “survival” section. Like many NOLS students before and after him, he remembers the extreme burden of their heavy packs and the taste of fresh-caught trout. Today, Katz is the publisher of Mother Jones, a nonprofit, independent print and online journalism outlet. Katz also worked at Earthjustice, the nation’s largest nonprofit environmental law organiza-

tion and several other environmental and social justice nonprofits. He believes his career in nonprofits and the environment was certainly influenced by his NOLS experience. “I came out of the Winds in the summer of 1970 with the confidence that I could manage whatever came my way. My career path has not been a typical one, I kind of took advantage of opportunities as they arose and always had a sense of wanting to do work that was really focused on some kind of social change, and so there’s a certain kind of risk involved in stepping outside of the expected routines and life choices. In a sense, that’s what NOLS does … It teaches you how to be ready to go off trail and make your own way.” Katz also says that NOLS taught him several lessons that he still uses. Reflecting on his course, he remembers the value of working with a team of vir-



Each summer, students still come to NOLS to explore the Wind River Range. Courtesy of Nicholas Byrne


The Wind River Range was a memorable place for Katz. Courtesy of Nicholas Byrne

tual strangers. “We really had to learn how to work with each of the ten or so who was in the group …” Still today, he remembers the lesson of “how important it is to give the team the chance to come together and to recognize that, in their own way, everybody is a leader.” Finally, Katz says he learned the value of living in the moment while still looking ahead and being prepared. “In those five weeks, it was like you had to be completely there, every day, to do the things that had to be done and to really enjoy the incredible, noble, powerful beauty of this place and at the same time get to the next resupply point!” When asked what advice he would give to today’s NOLS grads who are weighing how their inputs on global, national, or local issues can make a difference, Katz, the publisher, PhD, and veteran of many uphill social causes says: “Roll up your sleeves, and get to work.” Mother Jones, based in San Francisco and first published in hard copy in 1976, now has 10 million combined online and print readers as well as a staff of 75 journalists, technologists, and publishing professionals in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.


Exploring the great outdoors of Mayflower Gulch, Colorado. Courtesy of Eric Thompson

Eric Thompson is on the go, in more ways than one. He decided to earn his Wilderness EMT, which brought him to Lander, Wyoming. “It was definitely a very high level, professional course that was not only technically accurate but also engaging in a fun way,” he said of his time here in 2008. “We got to do the full immersion, which was really advantageous. Whenever you couple that with the handson scenario training for wilderness, it definitely prepares folks much better than a lot of more traditional EMT classes.” Thompson said his completion of the WEMT course helped with his career as a commercial raft leader, making it easier to get job interviews, move to various places, and to act as medical personnel on trips. November 12, 2012, Thompson’s world took a turn when he was in a car accident that paralyzed him from the waist down.

“Working as a wilderness EMT ... you end up in a lot of those challenging positions where there’s never enough resources available to make it right,” he said. “The situations can be very challenging—and very messed up—at times, but the fact of the matter is you don’t have time to be concerned about what you don’t have, it’s more about being prepared and figuring out how to make the most of a situation.” Today, Thompson is an athletic public figure. When he’s not pushing boundaries in the outdoor industry, Thompson works as an advocate for the disabled community, promoting ADA compliance to allow disabled individuals to safely access public establishments. “Very shortly after my accident, I realized that the region I live in West Virginia is terribly inaccessible and non-compliant with general universal accessibility, and no one was doing

anything about it” Thompson said. He aims to change that, promoting places that are accessible and using direct advocacy to implement changes to give disabled individuals better access. Currently, he is working on building his nonprofit, WVOnTheGo, whose mission is to help local businesses better serve clientele of all abilities and grow the local sustainable economy. Thompson’s message is one of resilience, optimism, and determination. He is an inspiration—as a WEMT graduate, an athlete, an advocate, and as an unstoppable individual. As he would put it: “‘Handicap’ just means you work harder, not that you’re disabled. The adventure rolls on.” Read the full story on the NOLS Blog:

Summer 2016



FOR OUTDOOR EDUCATION OR RECREATION Wilderness First Aid (WFA) This 16-hour training is designed for outdoor recreationists or trip leaders taking short trips, close to medical help. It introduces caring for the ill or injured while on an excursion. Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) This 40-hour course is designed for those recreating or leading trips in more remote areas who need more extensive training. It focuses on stabilization, treatment and evacuation guidelines, emphasizing long-term patient care management, and specific injury evaluation. Wilderness First Responder (WFR) This 80-hour course is the respected professional credential for most, designed to provide you with tools to make critical medical and evacuation decisions in remote locations over an extended period of time. Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator (OEC-W) Learn skills from some of the best-trained outdoor educators in the world. This course includes an 80-hour WFR certification and a 21-day expedition where you’ll learn to live, travel, and lead groups in the backcountry.




Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) Our 200-hour WEMT combines wilderness and urban medicine into a month-long program, including clinical rotations. This course will prepare you to handle medical emergencies in the wilderness or in town.

FOR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS Wilderness Medicine for the Professional Practitioner (WMPP) Adapt your existing medical knowledge! This two-day intensive course provides an introduction to critical wilderness medicine skills to take care of a patient in an extended care environment. Wilderness Upgrade for the Medical Professional (WUMP) On this 48-hour course, learn how to improvise equipment, deal with challenging environments, and make difficult medical decisions in remote locations with confidence. Wilderness Medicine Expedition (WME) Apply your professional medical experience to wilderness emergencies on this nine-day course. Begin with the WMPP course, then experience a week of intensive wilderness travel, and gain confidence in remote emergency response and team management. Medicine in the Wild (MED) Designed for 3rd or 4th year medical students, the one-month Medicine in the Wild course is taught by senior faculty and a senior emergency medicine resident from the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency (HAEMR).


Classroom based courses provide medical training and knowledge through in-depth lectures and hands-on indoor and outdoor scenarios that expand upon what you have learned in the classroom.

Emergency Medical Responder Bridge Course (EMR) This convenient online course provides current WFRs the opportunity to qualify for the National Registry Emergency Medical Responder written test. This bridge course covers EMR topics not addressed in a WFR course.


Wilderness Medicine Rescue Semester (WMR) This 90-day course begins with an intensive four-week WEMT course. After that, spend nine weeks in the field learning leadership, expedition behavior, communication and decision-making, as well as wilderness evacuation, swiftwater, and rock rescue skills.

MORE INFO: Please visit for more information and details on all NOLS Wilderness Medicine courses and recertification options.


Expedition based courses are designed to provide medical training and knowledge on an engaging wilderness expedition, giving you the opportunity to test your skills in the wilderness.























Summer 2016







A s the longer lasting light heralding the end of winter begins in Norway, land of fjords, mountains, and folktales of trolls and the huldra, “the hidden folk,” we get ready for the hours of the midnight sun. Here in the west fjordlands, another season along the third-longest fjord in the world and the second-deepest, the Sognefjord, comes to a close. As a NOLS alumnus, I am a firm believer in NOLS’ methods and philosophies. They have shaped the way I guide, live in the outdoors, and work here at NJORD, a sea kayaking and wilderness adventure company. What began as a long process to both sponsor and host Leave No Trace Master Educator Course in Norway, became a desire and need for a Leave No Trace center in the Scandinavian region. The plan: 1. Introduce Leave No Trace to the local Aurland community to preserve and protect the area. 2. Establish the concepts of Leave No Trace within the Nærøyfjord World Heritage Park. 3. Educate key players within the Sognefjord region on the concepts of Leave No Trace. 4. Require all of our guides to be Leave No Trace Masters. 5. Introduce other operations and organizations in Norway to the philosophy and structure of Leave No Trace. When I first started working in Norway in 2003 as a sea kayak and wilderness guide, I fell instantly in love with the people, the culture, and the landscape. It reminded me of my semester in Patagonia and my days guiding in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior. The magnitude and tranquility of the fjords were like the immensity and serenity of being on Lake Superior; the surrounding peaks, like Patagonia. From that first time, I have thought of ways to incorporate my learnings and skills, and bring the philosophies of my education to Norway and the place I work and call home. After some time in the backcountry, the impact on the land and the waters became evident. The backcountry (BC) or, rather agricultural/ wilderness frontcountry (AWFC), is often indistinguishable from the true frontcountry (FC) in a large part of Scandinavia, especially Norway, because most of the land is privately owned. Unlike the U.S. and other countries, the general public has access to much of this private land in the right labeled as “Allemansretten” or All Men’s Rights. So, what we many times encounter here is hundred-yearold abandoned agricultural land that has been reclaimed by nature and become wild again. So, although there are signs and remnants of humans having once been here, there is the feeling and essence of

As a NOLS alumnus, I am a firm believer in NOLS methods and philosophies.

Students having fun exploring Norway. Julie Polhemus

being in the wild. Over the course of ten long summers, I have seen growth in the number of users to this AWFC. Many users and visitors in the form of boat traffic which, although distant, leave their “memories,” trash that ultimately ends up on the shores of the fjord and or polluting the waters. This observation originally led me to the necessity of bringing Leave No Trace to the area. Incorporating NOLS principles into guide training and the minds of our participants and guests would not be enough. After much communication with NOLS Leave No Trace Manager Haven Holsapple, we created the first Leave No Trace Master Educator Course in 2003 in the west fjords region of Norway. With financial contributions from various players in the region including the NVP (The Nærøyfjord World Heritage Park), NCE (Norwegian Centres of Expertise), Flåm Camping and Youth Hostel, and Fjord Safari, we hosted and sponsored scholarships for Norwegian participants for the Leave No Trace Master Educator Course. Through grassroots efforts, word-of-mouth advertising, and social media, we were able to attract participants. The first course in Flåm, in the spring of 2014, consisted of folks from the Czech Republic, Norway, U.S., Iceland, and Finland, including instructors. The second course, held in spring 2015, consisted of another diverse group of folks from Ireland, Poland, Norway, and the U.S. In 2016, we are offering a few two- to three-day trainer courses to garner more awareness of Leave No Trace and its compatibility within the area and its many outdoor organizations. So, as the snow slowly disappears from the surrounding peaks, we await the continuation of the next objective; to introduce other guiding operations and outdoor organizations in Norway to the philosophy and the structure of Leave No Trace.

Left: Kayaks lined up at the NJORD sea kayaking company base. Courtesy of Ervin Mejía

Summer 2016








Zion Garcia saw a need for a tutoring program at his high school, Madison Park Academy, and thought he could be part of the solution. After experiencing peer-to-peer student learning on his Wind River Wilderness ‘15 course he wanted to bring this learning style back to his school. “When I got back from my course and started school, I realized there was a major problem with academics. Many of my peers were not academically stable. I also noticed there were a great number of honor roll students.” His solution was to create a peer-centered tutoring program at his high school in Oakland, California called Change for a Hundred. This title means changing your academic work ethic to one hundred percent. He wants to encourage students to bring their maximum effort to their schoolwork. Right now, the Change for a Hundred program has six elite tutors, who are all honor roll students with a GPA of 3.6 or higher. There are two tutors each in 9th, 10th and 11th grade chosen by their academic advisors and the high school principal. Change for a Hundred runs three designated study halls on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Additionally, Garcia’s former elementary school is used as a space for Saturday study halls. Along with these study halls, Garcia created a “Student Guidebook to Success,” which includes different study habits and tools. This resource is another way he’s helping support his classmates. Garcia’s NOLS course was made possible through a NOLS Summer Search scholarship. After receiving this award, Garcia headed to Wyoming for his NOLS course, not knowing exactly what to expect. He found his backpacking course was a physical and mental challenge. At NOLS, he discovered his peers always had his back and he did the same for his coursemates. “There were people on my course who felt like they weren’t physically capable, and I had to motivate them that it’s not really about the physical part. If you tell your brain you can do it, it’s the strongest thing, your brain can tell your legs to move.” Similarly, Garcia sees academics as a motivational challenge. He believes all students are capable of making the honor roll; some just don’t do the work. Garcia sees honor roll students as having the key to success

At NOLS, he discovered his peers always had his back and he did the same for his coursemates.

that other students need. By pairing up those struggling with academics with peer tutors, Garcia is implementing a concept he learned at NOLS: helping your peers to carry the heavy pack. “I want to see more students that are ready to step into a leadership role to teach more students peer empowerment for academic success. We can really learn a lot more if we pay attention to each other and reach out when we need help.” Garcia wants to glorify peer-centered learning, in his generation he sees that peers don’t like helping each other and wants to change that notion. Students don’t always want to respond to teachers talking at them and the peer-to-peer model is a great success. Change for a Hundred is a nonprofit, and peer tutors are not paid. Garcia offers incentives to tutors and students alike. For tutors the incentives are extra credit, gift cards, and movie tickets. The students receiving tutoring can also earn these incentives. This year, Garcia is a senior but plans for Change for a Hundred to continue after he graduates high school. As the program enters its second year, Garcia hopes for more student academic success stories and positively impacting lives of peers in his community. “Education is a really big key to success. We are all given the opportunity to get educated, and I feel like we should take advantage of it.”

Learning from their peers is an essential part of the program. Courtsey of Zion Garcia

Clockwise upper left corner: A student studying during a tutoring session. Garcia got to explore apline lakes in the Wind River Range on his NOLS course. A group of students at Madison Park Academy participating in the Change for 100 tutoring program. Courtesy of Zion Garcia A view of the WInd River Range. Jared Steinman Summer 2016


Extraordinary Young Women: NOLS and The Archer School for Girls





“The value of an education lies in its outcomes. A n A rcher girl graduates with strength of character, a creative and entrepreneurial spirit, a powerful voice, and above all, the drive to lead.” -Elizabeth English, Head of School, The Archer School for Girls


Our third night in the field, we made pizza. Eight young women, high school juniors from Los Angeles, huddled under a damp shelter in the dark determined to enjoy hot, cheesy pizza they would cook themselves from scratch­­—a concept downright laughable just a few short days earlier. The girls tried not to get in each other’s way as they hunkered around their camp stoves, surrounded by an impressive array of plastic ration bags, pots, pans, personal bowls, water dromedaries, and wet clothes. At one point a girl was playing with her ball of dough and accidently dropped it. She stood there staring at the dough and screamed, “What do I do? What do I do!” Her cook group screamed back, “Pick it up, pick it up!” They watched in horror as their dinner slowly oozed into the damp dirt as the girl who dropped it dissolved into laughter. She eventually retrieved it and brushed off the worst of the grit as the rest of us giggled and cooked our dirt-free dough. “It’s not funny!” her cook group yelled. It was super funny. The enormous facade of Mount Baker, shrouded in September fog, watched over our little group as we laughed and screamed in the drizzle. Grades, expectations, parents, pressure, technology, homework, sports, and cliques were all forgotten in the face of the biggest challenge of the day: making dinner. Despite all their training and experience, the carefully planned classes and thoughtfully orchestrated itinerary, this was arguably the most important gift our instructors could offer these young women: a break.

In September 2015 I joined a NOLS Custom Education course with The Archer School for Girls. I am an Operations Coordinator with NOLS Custom Education in Lander, Wyoming, and Archer is one of my clients, so I was thrilled to see the course in action at our Pacific Northwest (PNW) location in Conway, Washington. Over the summer I worked with the instructors and PNW staff to organize travel, equipment, and rations—all the various parts and pieces that go into taking 80 students, 8 chaperones, and 16 instructors into the Washington wilderness at the same time. After days of prep, the busses finally rolled down the driveway and girls streamed out. What had been a sleepy lawn bathed in afternoon sunshine was suddenly a mess of long hair, bright pillows and black leggings. Instructors were suddenly filling the space with their voices and smiles, commanding attention and organizing the chaos. It was go time. My group consisted of eight students, Archer chaperone Coach Mathis, myself, and our two instructors Ellie Chikkaraju and Jeff Huntington. We drove to a trailhead in the Mt. Baker Wilderness

where Chikkaraju and Huntington guided our little band of heroes as we walked along pine needle paths between damp green pines, slogged along lake shores, slipped down muddy trails in meadows full of mountain blueberries, and drank in the view from the edge of a glacier, all in just five days.

Facts about Archer • The Archer School for Girls is a private, all-girls school in Los Angeles, California serving grades 6-12. The school was founded in 1995 by Megan Callaway, Victoria Shorr, and Dr. Diana Meehan, all mothers of middle-schoolaged girls at the time. The school was built on the principles of innovation, community, and diversity, within the structure of a single-gender learning environment. • The name “Archer” refers to Artemis, the Greek goddess who was the protector of young girls and was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. • Tuition at Archer is approximately $40,000 a year, with flexible tuition options supporting the school’s commitment to socioeconomic diversity. Financial aid is offered to 24 percent of students, ranging from a small percentage up to full scholarships. • Archer’s student body is 39 percent students of color and students come from 86 different zip codes throughout the city of Los Angeles. • In 2013, Elizabeth English, the head of school at Archer, presented at the NOLS Faculty Summit on the value of a single-gender education in developing female leaders and the partnership between NOLS and Archer. The video, “How Girls Learn Best” is on YouTube.

Archer and NOLS

In 2011, The Archer School for Girls approached NOLS Custom Education about facilitating an outdoor experiential education program named “Arrow Week.” Arrow Week is a leadership progression

Top: Archer students complete a river crossing. Lindsay Yost Bottom: Archer students cooking a backcountry meal. Ben Fox Summer 2016


Archer students showing school pride in the backcountry. Brian Hensien

of three backpacking expeditions in different locations: Utah canyons in 7th grade, Southwest deserts in 9th grade, and a final expedition in the Pacific Northwest in 11th grade. As of May 2016, approximately 615 Archer students have graduated from at least one NOLS Arrow Week expedition.

How is Archer different?

Archer courses are unique for NOLS trips; they are short, usually one week long, students are all female, and students arrive as an intact group. Archer girls do not elect to participate in the course; it is an expectation of enrollment—a notable difference from other NOLS participants. For this reason, student buyin can be a challenge. Attitudes can range from students who are psyched to be adventuring outdoors to others who act like they’ve been dropped in a special circle of hell, with most falling somewhere in the middle. Archer courses also present a logistical challenge to NOLS locations and in-town staff. The Pacific Northwest and Southwest usually support a handful of courses at any given time. When Archer courses roll in, they bring an additional 70-80 students plus chaperones. Rations become a complex puzzle of roster sizes, dietary preferences and food allergies that often change at the last minute when “surprise vegans” arrive for the course. A standard gear inventory isn’t large enough to outfit Arrow Week and locations will ship in extra clothing and



Archer students may have little to no exposure to the outdoors ...


equipment to accommodate the demand. Often the facilities also can’t accommodate the additional staff, so meals are catered and instructor housing overflows to tents on the lawn. Archer students may have little to no exposure to the outdoors and their parents are just as uncomfortable with the idea of backpacking as their daughters are. The girls are concerned that they won’t be able to sleep, don’t understand how going to the bathroom in the wilderness “works,” and don’t want to be separated from friends.

The social dynamic for this intact group is important. Embarrassments or failures that happen in the field will follow these girls back home, and likewise school personas and expectations follow them into the field. Unlike other students who individually sign up for a NOLS expedition course, these students don’t join their course with anonymity. As NOLS instructor Kevin Fleming observed, “Everything is relational for them. It’s all about their standing with other people.” The NOLS instructors working Arrow Week are just as exceptional as the students. Instructors squeeze curriculum into a week that they might normally teach over a month, they adjust expedition expectations to meet the abilities of these younger students, and discuss topics that are relevant to an all-female group from diverse backgrounds. Arrow Week is one of the only times female instructors work with an all-female student group and other female instructors. During an instructor briefing in April 2015, Sarah Annarella, NOLS Custom Education Account Manager for Archer, led an activity in preparation for the 7th grade course. She asked the twenty women in the room to think back to when they were 12 years old, and write down: What was important to you? What scared you? What did you need and value from the adults in your life? What would you say to your 7th grade self? “Be kind to that version of

yourself,” she said. Empathy is key for working with this group. It’s tough to leave your home, hand over your phone, and put your faith in adults you’ve never met in an environment you don’t understand. Seventh-graders are as young as twelve, hardly bigger than their backpacks, and many have never spent more than a night or two away from home. Contrast that with 11th grade students who are in an entirely different stage of life—they don’t consider themselves children anymore and encounter high expectations and pressure every day. Their greatest fear might simply be failure.


Archer is uniquely challenging both programmatically and logistically, and it is well worth the effort. NOLS courses are all about the students, and Archer students are amazing. They sing at the top of their lungs after a long day on the trail, they have honest discussions about peer pressure and body image, they learn to use a Whisperlite stove when they’ve never cooked before, and then laugh when they mistake soap for oil. Dan Richmond, a PhD student, NOLS instructor, and the NOLS Research Fellow at the University of Utah, recently studied the partnership between Archer and NOLS. In his research, Richmond found that Arrow Week outcomes fall into three broad categories. These outcomes were compiled from interviews with Archer faculty members and students.

Archer girls are achievers. They work hard. They want to succeed.

1. Social Connectedness: Arrow Week provides opportunities to deepen existing relationships, and make new connections between Archer students. In addition, students form relationships with chaperones from Archer and, in general, these relationships continue back at school. 2. Self-Efficacy in Leadership: Students find value in practicing various leadership roles, communicating with others, dealing with conflict, and giving and receiving feedback. These lessons are part of the NOLS curriculum and fall in line with Archer’s goals. 3. Recalibrated Sense of Self: Students report Arrow Week improves their confidence, self-efficacy, and ability to deal with challenging situations. Or as one instructor put it, “They exude confidence from their pores.” Students also appreciate separation from technology and their overscheduled lives to reflect on values and priorities. They learn to “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” Richmond found the key elements that lead to these positive outcomes are: • Peak experiences, achieving success after overcoming a

significant challenge, whether individually or as a group. • Being away from technology and other distractions. • Group bonding, opportunities to practice skills, and positive coaching.


For many NOLS students it is challenging to transition back home after a wilderness expedition. Friends and family may not be able to relate or understand the experience, and it’s hard to transfer values and lessons from the field to the frontcountry. Archer students have an advantage in this case; they are returning home with a community of students and teachers who share a common experience and can maintain relationships developed in the field. With transference in mind, Arrow Week curriculum is customized to meet Archer’s goals and suit the developmental stage of students. Lessons in teamwork, conflict resolution and communication are applicable back at school where teachers, coaches, and other students have learned the same concepts and use the same language from their experiences with NOLS creating a community on common ground.


The Archer course last September was my first NOLS expedition course. It wasn’t thirty days of backpacking in Wyoming or sailing in Baja, or raging down a river in India, or scaling glaciers in Alaska. It wasn’t what our community typically thinks of when we picture a “NOLS course.” It was a wilderness experience that challenged our students to step out of their comfort zones, learn new skills, initiate leadership, hit the pause button on normal life, and immerse themselves in the natural world­— an expedition that fits the NOLS brand. My hope is that we embrace these students as an opportunity to share our commitment to the outdoors and genuine leadership with this population of extraordinary young women. Archer girls are achievers. They work hard. They want to succeed. The NOLS experience is far outside their comfort zone, but they still hike long days, get dirty, cook rations, and sleep on the ground. They are pushed to their limits. As Kevin Fleming shared with me, “Arrow Week doesn’t make them stronger, it shows them how strong they already are.”

Summer 2016


Rich Brame

Rich Brame

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 2016.

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. For more information or to sign up, call NOLS Alumni at (800) 332-4280 or visit


NOLS ALUMNI REUNIONS Reunions are a great way to meet other NOLS grads in your community and build your network. These social events feature snacks, libations, outdoor gear raffles, camaraderie and tales of adventure. Guests are always welcome. See for details. Watch for details on NOLS alumni reunions this fall in ... • New York, New York • Chicago, Illinois • Bozeman, Montana • Freeport, Maine



• Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Dates: August 14-20, 2016 (starts and ends at NOLS Northeast, Gabriels, New York) Venture into New England’s backcountry for camping, camaraderie, and service. Trip projects protect public lands and may include trail construction, bridge maintenance or campsite rehabilitation. You’ll work hard using shovels, hammers, and pry bars, but will also have the opportunity for day hikes, photography, socializing, and refreshing outdoor skills.

TREKKING ITALY’S DOLOMITES: THE “CLASSIC” ALTA VIA #1 Dates: August 31-September 7, 2016, and September 9-16, 2016 (starts and ends in Bolzano, Italy)

Trek between rifugios (small, hostel-style lodgings) during Italy’s early autumn, which lets you savor Italian cuisine and culture while mixing with mostly European travelers in a dorm-style setting. Hut hiking lightens packs for daily hikes among the stunning spires, valleys, and peaks of northern Italy’s Dolomite Range.



By Don George

Directed by Camilla Rockwell

The Way of Wanderlust collects four decades of Don George’s travel writing, which “I have some friends who do this,” chronicles his desire to see everything, meet everyone, and drink deeply of what said a young African-American the world offers an attentive traveler. teenager as he casts a fishing George’s articles and stories are not travel logs. He avoids discussing train line into a murky green lake. schedules or recommending hotels, instead leaving that to travel agents and “But some of them just stay in the Internet. He attempts to capture the spirit of each place he visits, including the ho use and play video games plodding to the summit of Kilimanjaro all day.” or wandering the Acropolis’ ghostly Mother Nature’s Child is a ruins. Even the tales that reach a more recent documentary by Camilla painful side of a place, such as those Rockwell about the beneficial describing Pakistan’s intricate politics effects being in nature has on or Dubrovnik’s slow recovery from the young people, from toddlers ravages of civil war, reinforce his trust in to teenagers. humanity’s basic kindness regardless of This film will appeal to those interested country or circumstance. in the confluence of nature and education, and of the healing That optimism may feel extrava- potential of the wilderness. Featuring luminaries like gant to some readers. In a world where Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, this film a simple Internet search reveals a mile- focus on the positive effects that nature has on different long list of human wrongdoing, it’s age groups. difficult to read his stories without a Toddlers and very young children find that their imagination degree of skepticism. runs wild in the wilderness. Children in grade school and middle Don George surely encountered school learn about the deeper lessons in nature. people who were rude or malicious as he traveled; The film also focuses on urban youth going into the but that’s not the side of the world he chooses to represent in his writing. Rather, wilderness, and the experiences they have there. Rockwell he encourages his readers to explore and to trust. To seek relationships across masterfully showcases the life-changing potential of nature. cultures and, by seeking, to create them. His writing, vivid and detailed though it is, Reviewed by Nathan Rastatter, Student Services Representative. does not represent the whole world; it represents the brightest pieces of the world. © 2010 Camilla Rockwell Reviewed by Molly Herber, Writer. © 2015 Don George


NOLS Grads: Stay connected by subscribing to the biweekly Alumni Newsletter!

The Alumni Newsletter includes: • News about NOLS • Information on alumni benefits • Curriculum and career services updates • Alumni-only trips, seminars, and more


Summer 2016



Relaxing in the Lamina Z on a canyon course. Courtsey of Joe Frost



I recently field-tested Mountain H ardwear’s Lamina Z Flame sleeping bag on an alumni trip in the canyons of Utah. Over the course of six days, we experienced cold temperatures in the high 30s and unseasonably wet conditions. Despite these challenging weather conditions, I slept warm and soundly. The Lamina Z tested was rated to 21°F (you can customize it to your needs with bags from 0° to 34°) and it felt like it would have no problem keeping the user warm at that lower end. This bag maintained its hefty loft—utilizing crafty welded chamber design … no stitching that allows heat loss. After a few times of compressing it to move locations, it still looked like a burly winter bag at the end of the trip. The bag weighs 2lbs. 11oz., so it’s not an ultra lightweight option, but it has the filling and loft to guarantee the temperature


rating, which is not always true with the lightweight options out there. As the weather turned foul the bag held its own, even with significant moisture hanging in the air. The Lamina Z’s design of a full-length zipper prevents drafting without the need for a double-zipper system. The stash pocket which stores your headlamp or watch for the night is wisely located in the neck region, and won’t disturb your sleep if you roll onto it. One negligible drawback of the bag was the draft collar and hood closure. I had a hard time really battening down the hatches without the draw cord hanging in my face and the hood threatening to move over my eyes. If you’re really pushing the bag into the nether region of its temperature zone, this could give you a compromised fit or some unwanted ventilation. Overall, I was very impressed with this bag. The Lamina series sleeping bags were always great, and the improvements they’ve made in the “Z” family have moved this design into the next class.


I never thought cheesecake was a food I could make in the backcountry. After spending an afternoon exploring, I found a place to relax and test the Fry-Bake cheesecake recipe found


Serves Crust 6 3 tbsp. butter 1 tbsp. brown sugar 1½ cups of granola or grape nuts 3-4 tbsp. water Filling 2 cups powdered instant cheesecake mix 6 tbsp. powdered milk (regular, soy, coconut, or Nido) 2-2½ cups water

in the 6th edition of the NOLS Cookery. The result was an easy-to-make dessert. Feel free to get creative and make variations with your favorite toppings.

Recipe 1. To start making the crust, melt butter and brown sugar in your Fry-Bake. 2. Add your grape nuts or granola and stir for 2-3 minutes. 3. Add water, and stir for another minute. 4. Remove the mixture from heat and use the back of a spoon to press the concoction into an even crust on the bottom of your Fry-Bake. After this step, you won’t need to use the stove again. 5. Slowly add water to the filling ingredients and mix it together. 6. Pour the mix onto the crust and even it out. Now comes the hard part, playing the waiting game! Let the cheesecake stand for an hour in a cool place to firm the filling. Variations: Chocolate Cheesecake: Follow the same steps as before, just add 1/3 cup of cocoa mix to the filling. Throw in some chocolate chips for some extra chocolate flavor. Fruit Topped Cheesecake: Drain some of the liquid from a can of blueberries or other fruit and mix it with about 1-1 ½ tbsp. of flour. Cook the mixture on low heat and mix until the ingredients thicken. Pour over cheesecake and let stand.



Testing the backcountry cheesecake recipe. Kirk Rasmussen


Contact the Alumni Office at (800) 332-4280 or to find contact information for any of your coursemates. GRADS FROM THE ‘60S Diane Newbury Shoutis, Former Alumni Relations Coordinator Shoutis retired from her position in the alumni office on May 27 after working for NOLS over 26 years. She enjoyed helping NOLS stay connected to early grads and helping new students stay connected to NOLS. Now she plans to focus on her family and the many chores on the small family ranch near Lander.

Jim Damico, Semester in Kenya ‘87 Damico just finished 27 months as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Thailand where he worked alongside Thai teachers. It wasn’t easy, but it was rewarding. Damico extended his service a third year to expand his reach and begin working with other schools in the area. A basic foundation in English helps the students expand opportunities later in life. After Thailand, Damico hopes to reapply to the Peace Corps in Mongolia.

GRADS FROM THE ‘70S GRADS FROM THE ‘90S Charles Peltosalo, Semester in the Rockies ‘74 After NOLS 32 years ago, Charles married a Wyoming girl and dove for the bushes. He now lives in the Great Swamp of Lowcountry South Carolina. He has 11 critters and fasts each August with Native friends from University of Montana outside of Sturgis, South Dakota.

Nicole Allison, Alaska Wilderness Course ‘96 Allison currently works at the National Hockey League managing sponsorships in New York City. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) last year and wants to do another course before she is unable. Her goal is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and raise money for MS.

GRADS FROM THE ‘10S Helena Bigelow, Wind River Wilderness ‘15 Bigelow recently did an early spring snowshoe camping trip with her father. After her NOLS course she is getting friends to go on camping trips with her. Bigelow will be hiking the Long Trail in Vermont with fellow NOLS grads this summer.


Kim Goldsmith, Alaska Outdoor Educator ‘13 Goldsmith lives and teaches in South Korea. It is a small country, but it is covered with mountains and rivers. Goldsmith has spent many weekends hiking and cycling the river paths that connect Seoul to Busan.

Kelly (O’Neill) Ahern, Pacific Northwest Outdoor Educator ‘03 Ahern teaches physical education, specializing in outdoor education at Victor High School in Victor, New York. She spends a lot of time taking students on trips to the

Peter Jeffries, Patagonia Mountaineering ‘13 Jeffries recently returned from a backpacking trip at Big Bend National Park, hiking the Outer Mountain Loop and the South and North East Rim. Last fall he spent a week backpacking and avoiding fires in the Sierras.

GRADS FROM THE ‘80S John Gookin, Former Curriculum and Research Manager Gookin retired in May after over 35 years of working for NOLS. He has many future plans, including NOLS backcountry work and growing plants in the huge greenhouse he just built outside of Lander.

Adirondack Mountains, her favorite playground. Ahern thinks of NOLS almost every day and its impact on her life. Ahern often discusses NOLS with her students and sends many in that direction, especially for gap year programs.

Top: Marina Fleming and Kevin Redmon’s wedding was just outside Lander, Wyoming in May. Courtesy of Marina Fleming

MARRIAGES, ENGAGEMENTS & ANNIVERSARIES: Marina Fleming, Rocky Mountain Instructor Course ‘15 and Kevin Redmon Rocky Mountain Instructor Course ‘13 Instructors Fleming and Redmon were married on May 28, 2016, near Red Butte outside of Lander, surrounded by family and friends. The Flemings reside in Lander, Wyoming and continue to work for NOLS.

IN REMEMBRANCE Keri Elizabeth Meagher, Former instructor Meagher passed away on January 31 in the loving home of her parents. She began her career in outdoor guiding in Alaska with NOLS and ultimately guided with Alaska Pacific University and the Alaska Mountaineering School. Satisfying her long-felt need, Keri switched professions to the practice of medicine. She became an emergency room physician assistant in Cooperstown, New York in 2011, where she was employed until her death.

WILDERNESS QUIZ ANSWER The National Park Service (NPS) was created on August 25, 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. Today, the NPS manages over 400 National Parks and Monuments.

Summer 2016 25

Remember the moment you first set foot in a NOLS building, wherever in the world it was? All novel and unfamiliar during the first days, it was comfortable and familiar by the time you were deissuing and celebrating your course. It’s business as usual at NOLS locations around the world. Stay up to date on the activities here, or on the NOLS location Facebook pages.

Learning about local culture on a NOLS India course. Annemarie Vocca

NOLS PATAGONIA • We recently completed several construction projects that improve our student services: 1. Quincho —the community kitchen where students take their meals has been expanded and had a face-lift. It is larger, brighter, and a more welcoming place to drink mate, eat cordero, and socialize. 2. The student bathhouse has been renovated, and our electrical and communications have expanded capacity. • A new expedition type, the 31-day Patagonia Cultural Expedition, had its inaugural course in January. This course includes backpacking, wilderness travel, and cultural immersion. • In November, we’re starting a new, 31-day Patagonia Coastal Expedition combining hiking and sea kayaking. Students will use kayaks to access hiking areas in the remote west coast and the Aysén region’s archipelagos. • Our Spanish Programs office had a record year. Spanish-language courses are very popular and successful. We are also partner with CONAF (Chilean version of the U.S. Forest Service) to provide training for their field staff. • Our operations are re-expanding to the south. Several recent courses explored the Magallanes region of Chile where NOLS last operated in 2007. We’re excited to return to this remote and challenging environment.

NOLS NORTHEAST • Over 150 students will attend NOLS Northeast programs this summer. Expeditions include an Alumni Service Trip, Adirondack Prime Backpacking, and NOLS Custom Education courses for C5 Youth Association, Clarkson University, and Paul Smith’s College. • We’re exploring new routes in the Adirondacks including Cranberry Lake and McKenzie Wilderness areas where we offer canoeing, backpacking, and even some climbing. • July 2016 marks our 6th summer operating in the expansive Adirondack Park where backpacking and canoeing courses for youth are our forté.

NOLS SCANDINAVIA • As we set up our summer operations at Katterjåkk Turiststation, Sweden (~600 miles north of Stockholm and two miles from the Norwegian border), we are also saying goodbye to sunsets. From late May to late July, the sun is up all night so headlamps are not needed! • This is NOLS Scandinavia’s ninth summer operating backpacking and sea kayaking expeditions. • A new sauna for staff and students is being built at the tourist station. • New field rations this season include three different kinds of sausage and four different delicious local cheeses. Reindeer sausage is a hit!

NOLS AUSTRALIA • This is our 20th year of operations! • For five years, NOLS Australia has qualified as an advanced operator by the Australian national EcoCertification program.



NOLS INDIA • After a busy fall season celebrating NOLS’ 50th anniversary, 2016 marked our 25th year of operations at Ranikhet, Uttarakhand. • In April, we launched the Himalayan Cultural Expedition, a 32-day expedition that includes Himalayan hiking and a homestay cultural component. • NOLS India operates in the Kumaon Region, where 20 dialects (out of the 365 in India) are spoken across its 9,653 square miles.


From late May to late July, NOLS Scandinavia says goodbye to sunsets. James Leonard

NOLS SOUTHWEST • Our two new course types at NOLS Southwest, the Spring Break Hiking course and the Trip Leader course, were successful additions to our spring course line-up. Students appreciated the shorter course offerings that fit into their life schedules. • Mary Michelbrink and Amber Boyce, spring interns, spent time in the field for a course visit and got the opportunity to climb with our Semester on the Borders students at Cochise Stronghold. It was an amazing learning opportunity for our interns. • This season we utilized our rainwater catchment system more than ever through permanent dunk stations and a pump for gear and vehicle washing. This significantly reduced our impact on city water resources and our dependence on the Colorado River!

NOLS Southwest’s rainwater catchment system. Kathleen Pelto

NOLS WILDERNESS MEDICINE • Six months into our year, we’ve already had over 150 AmeriCorps students. AmeriCorps folks can use their benefits for course tuition. • We ran nearly 330 wilderness medicine courses this spring for over 7,000 students. Our shipping department moved about 2,000 pounds of course materials per week. • The Teton Science School, a 26-year educational partner, came to Lander to discuss risk management and to (finally) tour the Wyss Campus! • A Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) course sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, USAID, and NOLS was taught in Bumthang, Bhutan in April. Thirty three high altitude Bhutanese park rangers were trained. • We provided interpretive services to deaf students on multiple Wilderness First Aid (WFA) courses this year. Over a handful of sign language fluent students received a Moving Hands Scholarship for their course tuition. • Wilderness Medicine and NASA Leadership Expedition grad, engineer, and doctor David Saint-Jacques has been chosen to crew the International Space Station in 2018—the ninth Canadian to travel to space. Our grads go on to do amazing things, don’t they? NOLS TETON VALLEY • Our new Salmon River Adventure (14 and 15year olds) rafting and kayaking course had so much interest we added a second date. • NOLS Teton Valley stewards public lands by organizing staff and student work days with our forest district trails crew. In 2017, we’re excited to move this partnership forward by hosting a week-long backcountry Alumni Service Trip in the Tetons.



NOLS graduation day is a time for reflection, appreciation, and celebration. Perhaps there was even a tradition or ceremony you took part of to commemorate this passage. At NOLS Pacific Northwest, one of their treasured traditions is for every semester course to plant a native plant on the location during their graduation ceremony. Students and instructors symbolically honor the time spent growing together and nurturing each other through the course. It is also a way to give back to the earth and to the special place that fostered so many memories and magnificent outdoor experiences. What seems like a simple act of planting a native plant actually has multiple benefits to the environment and for human health. For one, planting a native species contributes to the health of the local ecosystem by providing shelter or food for other plants and animals. Plants also sequester underground the carbon dioxide that lingers in the atmosphere there, mitigating climate change. Then, there is the aesthetic appeal of filling out the location with vegetation instead of pavement, which is better for human health. Consider planting native vegetation the next time you want to commemorate an achievement, it will give back in more ways than one.


Salmon River Adventure kayaking from the NOLS Teton Valley is a hit! Deborah Sussex

A: False. Attempting to restrain the patient may cause injury to the patient and to well-meaning bystanders. You can protect the patient from injury by moving objects they may hit, padding or cradling the head if it’s hitting the ground, etc. Let the seizure subside and conduct a full patient assessment with the patient on their side to help maintain an open airway.

Summer 2016 27


When telling the history of NOLS, most people start with Paul Petzoldt—the charismatic, larger-thanlife founder of the school—who first climbed the Grand Teton in 1924 at the tender age of 16 while wearing cowboy boots. He made the first winter ascent in December 1935. The last time he climbed the Grand in 1994, when he was nearly blind at age 86, Petzoldt climbed it with assistance, and stopped just 2,000 feet short of the summit. In those intervening 70 years of Petzoldt climbing, there’s another story, one of calculated risk and nationwide renown: every New Year’s Day, from 1965 to 1980, Petzoldt led a group of NOLS students up the 13,770-foot mountain on an expedition called the Grand Teton Climb. Some years the group summited and other years they didn’t, but regardless the climb was always followed with anticipation and fanfare by news agencies across the country. The largest motivation for the New Year’s climbs was NOLS’ natural pursuit of challenge, skills, and excellence. When a cadre of skilled expedition mountaineers and teachers take a break from the backcountry, it’s natural for them to conjure up audacious exploits. Climbing the Grand Teton in winter is an iconic challenge and taking students there was a natural, if controversial, step for staff, instructors, and Petzoldt to embrace. Mountaineering excellence was a motivator, not creation of an organized rescue team. Publicity was a byproduct, not the catalyst.

The 1965-1966 Attempt The first Grand Teton Climb was in late December 1965 and January 1966, and was marked—as were many to follow—by bitter cold and frigid winds. Newspaper accounts from that time reveal a possible answer for those who asked why climb, and why in the winter. Petzoldt, then age 58, told reporters he took the 16 climbers into the Tetons with “hopes to establish a mountain rescue team eventually.” Petzoldt made it clear to reporters there’d be no party on the mountain. Instead, their New Year’s Eve celebration “will probably consist of tanking up on hot tea and soup.” There’s no doubt hot drinks were sipped, but a summit did not happen: a blizzard, with howling gusts to 75 miles per hour, stymied the climb. “From the standpoint of trying to reach the top, we failed, but from the standpoint of experience for our national rescue group, the extremely difficult weather was the best experience we could have,” he said. The 1971-1972 Climb Diane Newbury Shoutis, a 1968 NOLS graduate, was NOLS Rocky Mountain’s rations manager in 1971, when she saw friends preparing for the 1972 New Year’s Day climb. “Other people were going and I wanted to go, too,” she said simply. “I’d never been winter camping, but I could ski and I could camp.” The last week of 1971, frigid gusts blew into the northwest corner of Wyoming. Shoutis remembers the thermometer read -20° at Bradley Lake, the first leg of the climb, but The Denver Post reported wind chills closer to -80°. Grand Teton National Park officials warned of avalanche potential.



New Year’s climbs were a popular headline in newspapers across the country. Kirk Rasmussen


A photo from one of the New Year’s Day climbs from the 1970s. NOLS Archives

The climb was covered extensively in the national news. “Grand Teton Climbers out of Contact with Rangers,” was a headline from the Jan. 3, 1972, Wichita (Kansas) Beacon. The Denver Post ran daily updates about lack of radio contact, and on Jan. 5, a headline nearly shouted, “Word Sent by Petzoldt: 12 Made It.” Neither Petzoldt nor Shoutis were among the dozen who reached the top. The 1975-1976 Climb

Walter Cumming was a 1975 NOLS Spring Semester graduate and an artist who admits he was probably the least qualified climber on the trip. He also was included for a unique reason: Petzoldt had granted Cumming free tuition in exchange for a piece of art, a ninefoot-wide by two-foot-high painting of Cumming and his semester course mates. It hangs in Lander’s Noble Hotel dining room today. On December 27, 1975, the United Press International reported “the 11th assault on Grand Teton peak with about 25 climbers” commenced. A weather report published that week showed heavy snow and strong winds began early on December 31, and continued through Jan. 1. Peter Simer, NOLS’ executive director said, “the temperatures … couldn’t get much worse.” As news agencies gathered in Jackson to cover the event, Cumming remembers all two dozen climbers reached a hut at the Upper Saddle. Nine pushed on toward the summit, in -25° temperatures and whiteout conditions. Anxiety built as hours of gale force winds and snow pounded the rustic hut where Cumming and a few others waited. “Maybe 10 hours after the predawn start, we saw a snowcovered human form in a climbing harness fall into the hut through the entrance,” Cumming remembered. Cumming—along with Petzoldt—didn’t reach the summit on that climb. Nevertheless, he said that night changed his life, and went on to spend time with Petzoldt in the Tetons over the next few summers.

One might wonder, why did Petzoldt attempt ascents of the Grand at a treacherous time of year? Did he use them, as he stated in early interviews, as a training ground for the mountain-rescue group he hoped to create? Was it for the publicity? The annual climbs certainly generated press, and Petzoldt’s New York Times obituary even mentioned his tendency to “encourage attention from the news media.” Petzoldt’s 70-year impact on the historical fabric of Teton mountaineering is assured. The New Year’s climbs were powerful experiences for over a decade of participants, instructors and the fledgling organization that led the effort. Media attention sparked interest across the country that surely ignited the imagination of readers. Just maybe, because of the New Year’s climbs’ daring exploits, a few new students and instructors ventured to Wyoming in search of an adventure.

Petzoldt’s winter climbs included difficult technical ascents. Illustrations by Walter Cumming

Summer 2016 29


We asked NOLS instructor and senior risk management consultant Katie Baum Mettenbrink to tell us about her NOLS journey. Q: You’ve chosen a unique and impressive career path. What were the steps along the way?



When I applied for the Instructor Course in 2003, I thought I was just looking for summer work options. But when my first course began in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, I fell in love with NOLS and have been working here ever since. As an instructor, I’ve worked all kinds of courses from hiking and caving to climbing and mountaineering. I have been incredibly lucky to lead courses with passionate co-instructors and students in diverse landscapes including Cochise Stronghold in Arizona, the Wrangells in Alaska, and the Chacabuco region of Patagonia. After five years and 100 weeks of teaching students in the backcountry, I became interested in the bigger picture of course and instructor supervision. I was fortunate to work as a program supervisor at NOLS Alaska while working field courses in the off-season. Program supervisors and managers work closely with staff on their curriculum planning and development. I was basically a coach, supervisor, customer service trouble-shooter, and friend to senior and brand-new field instructors. I helped create a positive work and learning culture, improved instructor briefings and debriefings, and am proud to know that many of those systems and practices have lasted beyond my tenure. In 2010, I continued instructing and became the staffing coordinator at NOLS Custom Education, which customizes the school’s curriculum delivery for specific audiences and groups. For instance, we provide expeditions and leadership development for hundreds of U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen and U.S. Forest Service wildland firefighters as well as mid-level managers at Google. It’s a diverse clientele that demands skilled and flexible instructors. My job there focused on staff hiring and development as well as working with our clients. One element of NOLS Custom Education focuses on risk management training and program evaluation. Many outdoor organizations, camps, and schools can really benefit from exposure to NOLS’ analytical and nuanced perspective on


Katie Baum Mettenbrink in Lander, Wyoming. Kirk Rasmussen

identifying, articulating and mitigating program risk. I became involved helping groups examine everything from their enrollment paperwork to their staff training to how they track climbing gear use. It’s a fascinating process with some incredible clients and it’s now the majority of my job. Q: It sounds like the instructor role is an important thread throughout your time with NOLS. What do you bring to NOLS courses as an instructor?

I strive to be a supportive, compassionate educator who is genuinely invested in my students’ development as leaders and as human beings. I want my students to see in me someone who cares about them, holds them to high standards, helps them connect to wild places, and fosters a community where they feel empowered to be themselves. Q: How does your current position as senior risk management consultant allow you to use your skills?

I have the opportunity to make a real difference in how the outdoor industry cares for people involved in outdoor and adventure programs around the world. My field and management experience also help me contribute to a professional culture of sharing information. NOLS is a fantastic place to work. The school is interested in sharing our best ideas about what works, to grow our collective competence. I feel lucky to come to work here every day.


What could I say about the sound of a river that you could know if you had not heard it yourself? We have this time in this wild place to remember who we are or grow into a new self. I love this river with my stomach. We wake up before the sun has crested the canyon rim, when the sky is a fragile blue. There are no distractions. The river has been flowing all night. We eat food and prepare the boats. Sunlight begins pouring over the reddish canyon wall as if to be the essence of each nuance of love as it manifests in our world and words are knocked out of my head as I exist singularly within this. I find I cannot speak I can only be thankful. We are learning the chilled water where people have lived for thousands of years and slowly the walls of rock are speaking about effort and beautiful impermanence.

We are learning our heritage, the human family. Animals, plants, and interacting elements in a cacophony of experience where we can explore the silhouette of rock and sky the gradient of shadows glacially moving and sunlight careening we are freed from the world to play in the kingdom of perfect physicality abiding by universal laws of gravity / water / light / dark and inside us we are beyond material we are unbounded we are the is-ness we are of this canyon we are each other we are here and everything is now. Whitewater River Expedition 7/15/2015

At night we go to sleep beneath the scattered infinity of stars and are reconnected to our most basic humanity that the earth gives us life and life is good. Watch the video on the NOLS YouTube channel:

Summer 2016




284 Lincoln Street Lander, WY 82520-2848 • (800) 710-NOLS



Donate. “One thing’s for sure: I would not have been the same person if I had just gone to college after high school. As a college student now I realize just how sweet the whole NOLS experience was. I personally think if everyone took a NOLS trip sometime after high school, the world would be a better place.” Elianna Paninos Fall Semester in Baja ‘15, Gap Year

Courtsey of Elianna Paninos

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