Page 1



eat, hiKe, sLeeP, hiKe hiKinG the LenGth of south aMeriCa PAGE 16

the ruGGed GLaMour of Miss WyoMinG ALUMNI PROFILE, PAGE 9

Wyss WiLderness MediCine CaMPus oPens its doors to students FEATURE, PAGE 10

for alumni of the national outdoor Leadership school Fall 2012 • vol. 28 No. 1


From the Director


Generations of NOLS L ast month I spent part of my afternoon teaching and meeting with the students from two of our Fall Semesters in the Rockies. It was a lively exchange with students who were excited about their months of adventure, learning, and wilderness living. As we leave behind our boreal summer season and move to fall, winter, and spring, hundreds of students are with us on semester-length expeditions. It is a unique and amazing experience that for many is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Throughout the semester, they visit a wide variety of wilderness classrooms in changing seasons, which leads to diverse opportunities for developing wilderness skills and encountering a broad variety of natural history. Elevations change, methods of travel change, and the demands on leadership constantly adjust to the developing skills of the group. It is a powerful educational experience with constant feedback and learning moments as the months on the calendar pass. My last semester in college was a NOLS Semester in Africa. I had studied physics and math in a more traditional classroom setting for three and a half years, and in my final semester I was finishing my credits while hiking, climbing, and camping in Africa. I found the lessons from that semester were longer lasting, more powerful, and clearly more impactful than my previous semesters. In one semester living under the African skies, my views changed on education, the wilderness, my career path, my view of the world, and my place in it. I found it the most intense of my semesters and yet somehow the most comfortably paced. When I watch or interact with NOLS semester students today, it reminds me of the power of my own student experience. It is also a reminder of the change of seasons and the opportunity we have to educate in greater depth as we move into the next season. What are you doing with the next four months of your life? As you read through this issue of The Leader, I draw your attention to a couple of the articles. First off is the opening of the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus on page 10. By the time you read this issue, we will be teaching our first wilderness medicine courses on this new campus. The campus will allow us to grow our wilderness medicine offerings and will also offer other NOLS courses, especially semesters, an indoor classroom when they need one. This project was developed with great attention to our carbon footprint and environmental impact. It’s one we are excited to use for years to come. While NOLS is about the wilderness, at the end of courses it is also very clear it is about the people. As the NOLS community grows, we see many examples of NOLS spreading within families. We have many multi-generation grads from the same families and many relationships and marriages that had their foundation in the wilderness. On page 12, you will find in this issue an article about Tod and Dave Schimelpfenig working a course together this fall. Tod has worked at NOLS for decades, but this was the first course that he worked with his son. Once again, a sign of the growing NOLS family and community. Finally, you should read the article on page nine about Holly Allen. This summer, we enjoyed watching Holly compete as Miss Wyoming in the Miss USA contest—it is not every issue that includes an article on a beauty pageant contestant. Holly comes from a long line of NOLS students and employees. Many worked for us as horsepackers hauling rations into the mountains. For that matter, I am sure some of you were rationed by Holly, so here is a story on her other life.



John Gans, NOLS Executive Director


Casey Dean Editor Allison Jackson Designer Sam Baker Designer Jessica Halloran Design Intern Rich Brame Alumni Relations Director John Gans NOLS Executive Director November 2012 • Volume 28 • 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 60,000 NOLS alumni and an additional 10,000 prospective students. 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

What are these boxes? They’re QR codes—two-dimensional barcodes that can be read by smartphone cameras. Search “QR code” to find a free app for your phone, then use it to read images of the QR codes in The Leader. Scan the code above to see the latest episode of The NOLS Cooking Show.




5 Field Notes: Crossing the street without a hand to hold 6 Issue Room: Making our voices heard

10 Wyss Wildernes Medicine Campus opens its doors to students

7 Wild Side of Medicine: Chug, chug, chug

8 Alumni Profile: They know The Nose 9 Alumni Profile: The rugged glamour of Miss Wyoming

With the completion of the state-of-the-art sustainable facility, eager students christen the new Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus on the first courses offered at the Red Canyon location.

20 Alumni Trips: Return to the backcountry. Bring a friend.

Who Is This?

21 Reviews: A look back, a look ahead, a look inside

12 NOLS’ first father-son Instructor team

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 alumni@ The answer to last issue’s “Who Is This” is former longtime instructor and professional photographer Deb Sussex.

22 Gear Room: Soft slumber

24 Recipe Box: Saag with tofu 25 Jabberwocky: Catch up on your coursemates’ lives

Tod and Dave Schimelpfenig completed a course in the Wind Rivers in September as an instructor team. They were NOLS’ first such team.

26 Sustainability: The wheels on the bus ... 27 Branch Notes: By the numbers

14 NOLS Research Hits the Road

27 Giving: Holiday gifts

29 Belay off: Asking for help 32 Traverses: Three Peaks Ranch

NOLS has been conducting a plethora of research on various NOLS courses for decades. We share some results and some teasers.

16 Cover: Eat, Hike, Sleep, Hike

Three young women. One year. One thousand, seven hundred eighty five miles up the length of South America.


Cole Nelson Field Notes, pg 5

Geoffrey Journeay-Kaler

Nelson worked with several non-governmental organizations in India after completing a NOLS Himalayan Mountaineering course in 2010. He is now a NOLS instructor who spends his free time climbing, kayaking, and studying for medical school.

Journeay-Kaler grew up in Austin, Texas and attended Naropa University in Boulder, Colo. He is a 2011 graduate of the NOLS Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator and is currently an intern at NOLS Rocky Mountain. Journeay-Kaler has a passion for cooking frontcounty and backcountry cuisine.

Recipe Box, pg 24

liz reed Belay Off, pg 29

Trinity Ludwig Cover Feature, pg 16

Matt Leslie Feature, pg 14

Reed, a two-time NOLS grad, is a professional coach, helping women who are dissatisfied with the status quo transform their lives and live with passion, abundance, and inspiration. Learn more at www.

Ludwig, an Alaska Mountaineering and WFA graduate, knew from an early age that her calling was in the outdoors. Fate (and luck) would bring her to Denver for an investment banking position at George K. Baum & Company. Ludwig also sits on the board of cityWILD, a nonprofit that brings culturally diverse and low-income youth into the wilderness.

Leslie was a summer 2012 ​ intern at NOLS Rocky Mountain, as well as a NOLS Patagonia Mountaineering grad. He is currently a senior at Pacific Lutheran University majoring in business marketing and minoring in sport psychology.

Fall 2012



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

team up with military (This letter was shortened due to space constraints.) None of us who have not experienced combat or similar forms of danger can even begin to understand a soldier’s culture shock returning from combat. But clearly, the first two levels of culture shock are shared by campers and soldiers returning from being “out there.” And so, NOLS should team up with the military to routinely offer veterans a step down opportunity: instead of returning immediately back to normal life, veterans should head out with a team, or their team, and/or their spouses, on a NOLS trip. A group experience which is not combat can offer a smoother transition, allowing a veteran a chance to gradually adjust to non-combat situations. A spouse joining the group, as mentioned in the article, can help to reconnect the spouses in a neutral and exciting setting. How difficult it would be to go home to a spouse who is still on his/her home turf and try to fit in. By contrast, if both arrive to a NOLS trip, they connect with each other on a shared adventure, with none of them having set ways of doing things or feeling as if the homecoming soldier is invading the home. A NOLS instructor who is also a veteran would be a great team leader. When your wonderful article came out, it became clear the above thoughts were not entirely original. The only thing that seemed missing was the explicit concept of using a wilderness experience as a transitioning tool the military may find valuable. It would be fascinating to see a research study that determines the emotional, mental, and physical helpfulness to returning veterans. Anyhow, thanks very much for the article and the underlying veteran care! leslie landau (wilderness camper and mom of a NOLS graduate)



Thanks so much for your input! To see what we are currently researching, turn to page 14.


Facebook Feed We asked, “What is superficial frostbite?” you responded: zaCh Marrs: Frostbite that cares way too much about it’s hair?

fell short (This letter was shortened due to space contraints.) The article “Physical Health: A Foundation For a Lifestyle,” included the offensive descriptive terms “Prisoner Squats and Prisoner Lunges.” Have we become so immune to human rights abuse and torture that workout jargon now includes terms that describe stress positions used by the U.S. military to extract information from detainees? It is the power of words and awareness of their meaning that I believe were mindless, not the workout or the challenge of physical fitness. May I also comment on the article “veterans ‘Come Home’ to Wilderness.” National parks, wildlife, and all conservation land are in danger and under siege. But the danger does not come from Iraqis or Afghans. It comes from corporations, real estate developers, mining companies, and their political allies. Our military operations in the Middle East do not guard against these formidable foes. John Gans’ message on the first page of The Leader spoke of imparting knowledge and wisdom to students in a wilderness setting. The latest issue of The Leader was weak in both those areas. Sincerely, Alex Chanler A response from the editor: I take full responsibility for my oversight in the use of the terms “prisoner squats” and “prisoner lunges.” I could have been more cognizant while vetting the content we published. NOLS’ first role is to educate. Our publications have a goal nothing short of the same. Correction: In the last issue of The Leader, we published a photo on page 14 with the article “Physical Health: A Foundation for a Lifestyle.” We inaccurately credited the wrong photographer where Alexis Alloway should have been credited. The Leader staff regrets the error.

nathan Cashion: Frostbite that doesn’t affect the deeper tissues. Skin appears white and waxy, patient may feel mild tingling and numbness. Area will be swollen and painful after thawing. Won’t develop blisters. Josh rodas: Frostbite that thinks its way better than everyone else… Joshua zPuonavoPeC burLeson: Frostbite,

like burns, has three divisions, with superficial being the second. In superficial frostbite the epidermis and upper layers of the dermis are affected, whereas in deep frostbite the entirety of the skin tissue in that area, through the hypodermis, are effected. tiM LubeCKi: frostbite that only cares about itself? northWWood’s adventures: Frostnip

If you’re interested in getting regular wilderness medicine refreshers, be sure to “like” NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute on Facebook.

Twitter aLexabiron: Just got my copy of @NOLSedu’s

The Leader. Loving the story of The Payback Run! @LizreedCoaChinG: Fun announcement: this

piece from the blog will be published by @NOLSedu this fall. So excited! Re-read it now! @Madasaur NOLS here I come. Can’t wait to spend a month in the mountains.

Field Notes

Kolkata The City of Glimpses of Joy By Cole Nelson, NOLS Instructor

“Closer... closer... I have secret,” he said. I shift along the blue bench as the man with no arms in his blue shirt and only one leg in his blue pants motions with a dark, scarred stub from his mouth to my ear. “Closer” he says, and I lean in until my chin nearly touches the coarse, stained cloth of his top. Close enough to feel the acrid vapors of antiseptic filling my nostrils. Close enough to brush the sharp grey stubble of his cheek against mine. Close enough for him to make his practical joke possible as he sticks the point of his right nub into my ear and begins to laugh raucously. I receive a wet-willy from a man with no fingers, using instead the flesh covered tip of his humerus. This man, who can no longer walk but is reduced to scooting around Kalighat, India on a piece of plywood with wheels propelled by his remaining leg, is unable to feed himself or raise a cup of chai to his lips, but can still use what he has to make a joke. This is not unusual for Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart) Home for the Destitute and Dying, founded by Mother Teresa, in Kolkata (Calcutta). There are glimpses of normalcy, undertones to the general atmosphere of men and women seeking a peaceful place to die, or just shelter from the slum necropolis of Kolkata. How to describe Kolkata, Mother Teresa’s organization, or even India? Travelers know what only other travelers can understand. Regardless of your prowess as a wordsmith or photographer, the experience, emotions, senses, and feelings from a moment can never fully be conveyed. The absurdity that is India, as Lonely Planet aptly describes it, “promises to jostle your entire being.” I was eased into the culture during my NOLS Himalayan Mountaineering course, a hand to hold for the first 40 days in the country as I learned basic Hindi and was introduced to glacier mountaineering, but NOLS let go of my hand and now I’m crossing the street alone looking both ways

Cole takes in the scenery during his course in India, a stark contrast to the view of Kolkata at night, shown at right. Cole Nelson

and dodging rickshaws. With plans to attend medical school and an interest in service, I found my way to Kolkata. I wanted to give back to the community that had accepted me and allowed me to blunder through it with hardly more than snippets of Hindi and an apologetic smile. Over the tracks and into the slum. This is where the full extent of years of poverty, and the compliment of its harsh realities, are realized. I help a pleasant Sikh named Binder finish bathing patients: a brisk, cold, exposing process. We carry the patients by their armpits and legs—stretchers and wheelchairs are cumbersome in the close quarters and few are to be found, anyway. Malnutrition can be seen in their protruding ribs and wasted muscles. One man’s knee is twice as wide as the flesh of his thigh, not because his knee is large, but because his thigh is so small. Massaging the non-elastic skin, I feel like I am holding a wrist, not a muscle made to hold a man high and power his body forward. Scars are remnants of abuse and hard work; amputations and infections, the lack of available medical care. Next, we give the patients tea. As they drink, if they can drink, we begin the massive amount of laundry. Four basins are filled with water, and the volunteers sit and begin to wash. Gloves are pointless as they rip while washing, so I dip my bare hands and arms into the basin which

eventually becomes a vat of human waste soup, soaking into my skin a smell which the cold shower at Hotel Maria is unable to completely expunge. Donations of washing machines and dryers are turned down: volunteers don’t need repairs, though they do sometimes break. We volunteers talk and laugh while doing laundry, though I try to keep my mouth closed when people wring, pass, or dip the clothes and sheets … brown droplets splash everywhere. In the past, Nirmal Hriday has received criticism about its standard, and I do not agree with or condone all of its practices, but the care and quality of life that the sisters, mashis, and volunteers provide is better than the care that some of those patients can get anywhere else, which is none. Patients have consistent meals, a bed, cleaner clothes than they came in with, and the smile of volunteers who care for, talk to, and hope that they have made a positive difference in the patients’ lives, even if the patients do not show it. Every volunteer is here for a different reason, though few for any sort of acknowledgment. All recognition truly goes to the sisters and mashis, though they don’t want it either. Crossing over the tracks or crossing the ocean, the greatest works are done by those whose stories will never be written, but those are the stories that touch deepest the community of humanity. Fall 2012


Issue Room

The First National Forest

A Critical NOLS Classroom By Amy Rathke, NOLS Environmental Stewardship Coordinator

It was not lost on Paul Petzoldt as he founded NOLS in Lander in 1965 that, just outside city limits, there lay an expansive mountain range governed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Split into the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the west side of the Wind River Range and the Shoshone National Forest on the east side, some of the nation’s best wilderness classrooms would be situated right outside the school’s doors. The Shoshone National Forest boasts the distinction of being the first National Forest. Extending from South Pass all the way north to the Montana border, the Shoshone spans not just the Wind River Range, but the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains as well. The 2.4-million-acreForest is home to extensive recreation opportunities and is 55 percent congressionally designated Wilderness. This makes it an ideal classroom for NOLS courses, as access to wild, untrammeled places and solitude are abundant. Now, after seven years of preparation, the administrators of the Shoshone National Forest are close to completing a plan for their vision of forest management for the next 10 to 15 years. The recently released Draft Resource Management Plan details objectives for nearly every aspect of the forest. Once finalized, the plan will identify areas appropriate for oil and gas development, road building, timber harvest, and primitive backcountry recreation. It will consider wildlife populations, such as grizzly bears and wolves, as well as impacts from climate change. A public comment period was open until Nov. 26, and each unique comment will be considered by the USFS in its development of a final plan. The Shoshone endures in the memory of many NOLS grads, as it is a staple Wilderness Quiz



There are three National Parks in Iceland; can you name any of them? Pronunciation counts. Answer on page 29.


The Shoshone National Forest, which NOLS uses for classrooms, is home to countless breathaking views. Amy Rathke

classroom for many Rocky Mountain courses. Wind River Wilderness, Absaroka Wilderness, Outdoor Educator, and Semester in the Rockies students all travel on the Shoshone. Whether reaching the summit of Gannett Peak or enjoying the solitude of the Forest’s many alpine meadows, it is rare for a student to leave the forest untouched by its remote backcountry feel. Access to any of our wilderness classrooms, however, is never a given. For example, within the draft plan, group size was listed as a primary impact mitigation technique. We know through experience that if a group understands and practices minimum impact camping techniques that often one cannot tell after visiting a campsite whether they have been there or not—even a group as large as a NOLS course. Accordingly, NOLS submitted comments on the draft plan, noting the importance of requiring Leave No Trace training for outfitters and the impact of outdoor recreation on the local economy. The school also encouraged current students and graduates to comment on

the process. In fact, we gathered nearly 100 separate letters from Semester in the Rockies students and submitted them to the USFS during the public comment period. Students noted the lack of light pollution on the forest, the outstanding hiking and mountaineering, and the abundant opportunities for solitude as highlights of traveling on the Shoshone. NOLS has been closely involved with the forest planning process for the past seven years, building positive relationships with both Forest administrators and local ranger district personnel. Though there are some underlying concerns, NOLS is generally satisfied with the direction of the new plan and expects to will be able to continue operating on the Shoshone as we have for decades. If you have spent time in the Shoshone National Forest and would like to follow the USFS as it updates its plan for the region, visit the Shoshone National Forest’s planning website at http://www.fs.usda. gov/main/shoshone/landmanagement and click the “forest plan revision” link.

Wild Side of Medicine


Water, supplement Recommendations should vary By Tod Schimelpfenig, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute Curriculum Director

Endurance athletes are challenging conventional wisdom on the limits of human performance. The growth of ultra-marathons has been a fertile field for research in nutrition, hydration, and heat illness. This summer’s buzz has been about Waterlogged, a book written by wellrespected endurance athlete and exercise science researcher Tim Noakes, M.D. As the title implies, Waterlogged speaks to the dangers of over-hydration and argues we are drinking more fluid than necessary. It also questions the need for salt intake during exercise. This book challenges decades of hydration dogma. How much should I be drinking? It is a myth that hydration, by itself, prevents heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or altitude illness. It certainly helps us tolerate heat, altitude, and cold, but the only illness hydration prevents is dehydration. We have been told that thirst is a poor measure of hydration, to drink before we get thirsty and after our thirst is quenched. Athletes have been advised to drink 250-300 cubic centimeters of water every 20 minutes—almost a liter an hour—during exercise. We have learned to “stay ahead of thirst,” and we experience a steady diet of advertisements for sports drinks. However, Noakes believes the sports drink industry has spun the research to devalue our sense of thirst and drive their sales. He argues thirst is a fine-tuned mechanism, a sensitive indicator of the need to drink. He believes exaggerating fluid needs causes the over-hydration (hyponatremia or low blood sodium) seen in marathons of late. Current wisdom tempers the waterpounding rhetoric. The goal of drinking water is to prevent dehydration. We exercise and sweat at different rates in heat and cold, in dry and humid air, at sea level and at altitude. Athletes need to follow the ancient guide “know thyself.” NOLS’ guideline of three to four liters

of fluid a day has served our students well for decades in the outdoors and is an appropriate reference point. Should I add anything to my water? Competitive athletes face the question of whether to drink plain water or sports drinks with sugar. Research supports participants in athletic events longer than one hour drinking solutions containing 4-8 percent carbohydrates. On wilderness expeditions, daily nutrient intake should be based on well-balanced meals and on-trail snacks, not sports drinks or energy gels. Should I take salt supplements? Athletes once gagged down salt tablets on hot summer days to replace sweated electrolytes. On wilderness courses in the ’70s, the instructors solemnly doled out crystals of rock salt as a cure for all that ails you. Noakes thinks salt supplements are unnecessary, that we obtain ample salt with a balanced diet. Distance athletes tend to disagree and find they may need to take salt tablets while they exercise. People working hard and long in hot weather should consider electrolyte supplements but, as with many things, in moderation. Though it’s important to hydrate, hyponatraemia is a legitimate consider Adding salt to your diet will not prevent ation. Rich Brame over-hydration. Excessive water intake will still tip this balance to hyponatremia. water and a balanced diet are effective in most cases. Individual athletes may prefer Summary: Hydration Advice or need supplements, but again, this is an for the Outdoorsperson individual and variable decision. Ultimately, water and electrolyte intake should be determined by such factors as temperature, body composition, and length and intensity of exertion. Fluid needs vary from person to per- Wilderness Medicine Quiz Hyponatremia in athletes is commonly caused by son, activity to activity. Monitor your a. Not eating salt supplements performance and learn from experience. b.  Exercising in the heat A good starting point is three to four c.  Drinking too much water. liters of water each day. Thirst and dark, d.  Excessive sweating odorous urine are indicators of the need Answer on page 26. to hydrate more. But don’t force fluids when you’re not thirsty. Finally, simple Fall 2012


Alumni Profile

Overcoming Doubts to Achieve Greatness WMI grads set speed climbing record By Larkin Flora, NOLS Alumni & Development Communications Coordinator



Fear of failure is the one thing that will make a dream impossible to achieve. This was at the forefront of Jes Meiris’ mind last winter as she sent out over 200 emails asking friends and family to support her and her climbing partner, Quinn Brett. She felt vulnerable sharing their objective to break the women’s speed record on the legendary big wall in Yosemite Valley. El Capitan’s The Nose is a 3,000-foot, 31-pitch route that takes most teams four days to ascend. They were aiming to climb it in under 11 hours. “The hardest part about the whole thing, more than the climbing, was exposing ourselves at the beginning, risking failure with all those eyes on us,” explained Meiris, a Wilderness First Responder graduate. “They were expecting us to do what needed to be done to make this happen. We had no idea if we actually could.” Through the winter and spring, the two women trained separately, building endurance and core strength. Brett, who is a Wilderness EMT graduate, trained in Seattle, Wash. Meiris did her work in Colorado Springs, Colo. They set regimented training programs and stuck to them as best they could. But the best way to train for climbing is to climb—a lot. As the date for their attempt neared, the two women met to practice speed-climbing techniques in Colorado’s El Dorado Canyon before heading to Yosemite Valley. In the early morning of June 10, Brett and Meiris headed to the base of El Capitan. The team had spent nearly two weeks in the valley, learning the wall and rehearsing the big climb. Both women had doubts. “You can’t have any hesitation,” Brett said. “You have to know that when you’re standing at the bottom you’re going to be at the top, there’s no in between.” Brett and Meiris are a strong team


with complimentary climbing skills, and they split up the pitches accordingly. The Nose demands proficiency in aid and free climbing, along with French free climbing techniques where climbers pull on gear but also use a free climbing move here and there. Speed climbing requires switching between each of those techniques quickly and efficiently. Each led the sections that suited her strengths, with Brett taking the lead with free climbing and Meiris heading up the aid climbing. The doubts never went away, even as they climbed. On one of the middle pitches, Meiris came to Brett unsure if she could complete the climb. “That was a big blow: we’d been training for this for six months, to be on the wall doing it and hear her doubt,” Brett recalled. “How we pushed through was to say, ‘No, we’ve been training for this together, we can do this.’” “We chose to let go of [the doubts] on a moment-to-moment basis and take the plunge anyway. ‘Thanks for sharing, doubts, but I’m standing for something bigger than you,’” Meiris chuckled. “‘And I’m going to do this anyway.’” And they did, reaching the top in 10 hours 19 minutes, a full 20 minutes faster than the previous record holders, Libby Sauter and Chantel Astorga. In September, Astorga took the record back with new partner Mayan SmithGobat, climbing the 3,000 feet in an incredible seven hours and 19 minutes. “We suspected that it would get broken,” responded Meiris in an email. “I felt slightly disappointed, excited that one of our goals of inspiring others to push their limits was met, and also very motivated to train my ass off!” Brett added, “It [feels] good to be part of a trend of ladies motivated to push themselves and the limits of climbing. Records are meant to be broken, I just hope that it is more about the pushing limits and boundaries than competing

Jes Meiris (left) and Quinn Brett held the women’s speed record on El Capitan’s The Nose this summer and may again soon. Steve Bumgardner

against one another.” Having overcome doubts and gained confidence from their record-breaking ascent, Brett and Meiris already have a return trip to the valley in the works. From there, they plan to climb all America’s big walls in single-day pushes. After that? Perhaps they’ll go on to tackle all the big walls in the world, and maybe one day even become NOLS instructors.

Climbing for a Cause Brett and Meiris dedicated their climb to SOS Outreach International, a nonprofit based in Avon, Colo. committed to empowering youth through outdoor adventure and education. To learn more about the organization’s connection to courage, visit http://www.

Alumni Profile

Holly allen:

‘Talk about a NOLS family’ By Casey Dean, NOLS PR specialist & writer

“I am a product of NOLS,” Holly A llen states matter-of-factly, something that earned her the nickname “NOLS Baby” on her Alaska Backpacking and Sea Kayaking course in 2007. That, and her other moniker, “Hollywood,” wrap up the rugged glamour that is Miss Wyoming USA 2012. A matter of weeks ago, Allen handed off her crown, bringing to an end a reign of advocating the importance of spending time outdoors and exploring new challenges. The latter explains her somewhat unexpected pursuit of pageantry. The former was instilled in her as she grew up in Lander, Wyo., working on her parents’ ranch. A NOLS partner, the Diamond 4 Ranch runs re-rations to courses in the Wind River Range; her father founded the ranch after falling in love with her mother while instructing the horsepacking section of one of her courses. Logically, Holly eventually took a NOLS course. “I had never been introduced to kayaking, and I am terrified of the ocean,” she said of her course selection. “So it was kind of one of those, ‘conquer a fear and try something new [decisions].’” Five years later, she entered the Miss Wyoming USA pageant a few weeks prior to the event. She had competed once before, in high school, on the thought process of “why not? It’s a challenge.” “My fellow NOLSies think it’s hilarious,” she said, adding she has a strong support system in ther coursemates to this day. For example, Anna Gast, her instructor who has since taken a “desk job” with NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, has remained very close and supportive of Allen. In fact, she traveled to Las Vegas this year as an honorary family member to watch Allen compete for Miss USA. “Talk about a NOLS family,” Allen said. She found her NOLS experience benefited her as she pursued the crown, and,

Holly Allen lives in the two very different realms of pageantry and outdoorswoman (photo on right taken on her NOLS course in Alaska) but has found her passions and leadership skills carry over from one to the next. Holy Allen

in turn, winning has helped forward the NOLS value of getting youth outdoors. As she found herself competing for Miss USA after being crowned Miss Wyoming, Allen employed her ability to tolerate adversity, which she learned in Alaska. New to the large-scale pageantry scene, which is fast-paced, full of pressure, and wrought with criticism, Allen was able to keep a healthy mentality throughout. Furthermore, being crowned threw her into a position of leadership, an experience she had had before thanks to NOLS. Allen spent her year as Miss Wyoming talking to the state’s youth about principles NOLS also emphasizes, namely the health aspects of time spent out of doors. Healthy body, healthy mind is a connection she drew for students of

all ages across Wyoming. “Even if it’s just picking up a soccer ball in your backyard, your health and wellbeing and being active leads to a healthy mind and spirit,” Allen explained. This is a balance “Hollywood” knew she would be able to strike when she moved to Los Angeles, Calif. after handing over her Miss Wyoming crown. While there in February on an acting scholarship offered through Miss USA, she discovered Runyon Canyon, replete with trails for running and hiking, “right in the middle of the city.” She expects after she makes the move, she’ll find even more to satiate her need to interact with the natural world. After all, it’s in her blood.

Fall 2012


Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus Opens Its Doors to Students



By Melissa Hemken, NOLS Foundation Relations Officer


Along the southeastern flank of the Wind River Range 12 miles south of Lander, Wyo. lies the Red Canyon, home of the new NOLS Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus. Designated as a National Natural Landmark of the U.S. National Park Service in 1980, the canyon is also home to six species of large game, an extensive list of plant life, and now, NOLS students. The residential education facility allows NOLS to expand its Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) training opportunities. The NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) provides pre-hospital medical training for participants on backcountry expeditions, clinical care efforts in under-resourced nations, and emergency response teams both domestically and abroad. In fiscal year 2012, WMI instructed 14,669 students on 645 courses in 41 states and 19 countries. WMI conducted 14 WEMT courses nationwide last year, making NOLS one of the largest intensive EMT training programs in the country and the largest provider of WEMT courses. “Our WEMT program is growing,” said WMI Director Melissa Gray. “It is imperative that we have our own facility that provides student housing, classrooms, and open space for wilderness medicine scenarios.” Located near the Little Popo Agie River that flows through the largely federally protected canyon, the Wyss Campus only impacts a small portion of the 243 acres NOLS acquired to meet this need. NOLS’ decision to leave most of the property undeveloped assists in the conservation of valuable wildlife habitat within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. “NOLS began this project through the generous gift of Hansjörg Wyss,” said John Gans, NOLS executive director. “Hansjörg Wyss’ commitment to medicine and land conservation coincides well with our mission to continue developing wilderness medicine, training professional health caregivers, and caring for the land.” What does make up the campus? Seven structures— five student cabins, the main educational facility, and a caretaker residence—totaling almost 20,000 square feet. The multi-functional facility includes residential capacity for 32 students, and the main building holds an additional 30 day-users in the classroom and main dining area. The campus contains highly efficient building and energy-usage technologies that will be used to educate all users on their viability. NOLS is balancing simultaneous strategic goals of growth with reducing schoolwide carbon output 30 percent by 2020. As new facilities are purchased and built to meet programming Top: The Wyss Campus has minimal footprint on the property. Lindsay D’Addato Bottom left: Hansjörg Wyss addresses a full house during the dedication. Lindsay D’Addato Bottom right: (From left) Hansjörg Wyss, NOLS Executive Director John Gans, NOLS Board Chair Kate Gunness Williams, WMI Director Melissa Gray, and Wyss grandchildren cut the ribbon to dedicate the campus. Brad Christensen

needs, NOLS works to harmonize the additions with ongoing environmental sustainability efforts. The Wyss Campus was constructed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) re- “Hansjörg Wyss’ quirements and is expected to earn the highest level commitment to of certification. medicine and land “The campus is designed to be capable of net-zero conservation coincides energy use,” explained John Stoddard, NOLS Wyss well with our mission Campus project manager. “We seriously considered to continue developing energy efficiency at every turn in planning the facil- wilderness medicine, ity. The high performance buildings are models of training professional how to use the least amount of energy.” health caregivers, and With 280 user days booked in its first year, the caring for the land.” facility hosted its inaugural WEMT course this No- NOLS Executive Director vember. From that first course at the Wyss Campus John Gans forward, students will not only learn about wilderness medicine, but also about energy efficiency, sustainable building, natural resource conservation, and history of western landscapes. It is important for today’s leaders to understand their sense of place and how our lifestyles impact our land.

Wyss Campus Dedication The Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus was dedicated on an overcast, windy Friday, October 12, during NOLS’ annual meeting of the Board of Trustees, Advisory Council, and Branch Directors. The weather did not dampen the spirits of the approximately 130 people who gathered to celebrate the highly energy efficient facility. NOLS parent Hansjörg Wyss, shown above (right) with daughter and board member Amy and her husband, was the lead donor for the campus. He addressed the crowd regarding his appreciation of NOLS and the Wyoming landscape. Other speakers were Wyoming State Senator Cale Case, WMI grad and physician Brian Gee, NOLS Chair Kate Gunness Williams, NOLS Executive Director John Gans, and WMI Director Melissa Gray. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the environmentally sustainable features of the Wyss Campus, including daylighting, recycled building materials, rainwater collection, composting toilets, structural insulatedpPanels (SIPs), geothermal wells, and water-efficient appliances. Though the campus has been dedicated and courses begun, landscaping, final details, and some fundraising remain.

Fall 2012





NOLS’ First Father-Son Instructor Team By Casey Dean, NOLS PR specialist & writer

Somewhere in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, Dave Schimelpfenig told his students to pay attention to the patrol leader: “Okay, we’re about to learn how to fly-fish from the man who taught me how to fly-fish,” he said of his father, Tod Schimepfenig. That course, the Sept. 2 Wind River Wilderness course, was the first NOLS course taught by a parent-child instructor team. The father-son duo has been exploring the Winds together Dave’s whole life, and, as Tod pointed out, leading those less experienced in the backcountry. “We’ve taken Dave’s younger brother and sister,” he said. Over all those years of traveling in the backcountry together, both have grown and learned as individuals—father and son—and as a father-son team. Dave said he found the official role of course leader, supervisor to his dad, “interesting.” “When you start camping with your parents when you’re a child and you continue camping with them as you both grow older, those roles tend to reverse a bit anyway. I went from needing to be carried into the mountains to now I’m able to carry most of the weight…. Not that he wasn’t carrying his pack, but there is just kind of that change in roles anyway, and this just took it that one step further,” Dave mused. Tod was visibly proud to hand off some of that “weight.” “He’s a very impressive NOLS instructor,” he said of his son. Together they led a fast-paced and enthusiastic 23+ WRW course. They celebrated Tod’s birthday on the summit of Raid Peak. They shared a routine mastered over the years and a return to their home range. It’s fitting they would come together as NOLS’ first father-son instructor team in the Winds, where Tod was drawn from New Jersey,

and where Dave was raised and Tod worked for NOLS as it blossomed into the thriving school and community it is today. These mountains have a history with the Schimelpfenigs. Dave currently lives in Mexico but tries to find his way into the Wind River Mountains annually. “It’s maybe the perfect mountain range,” his dad agreed. This was a particularly special return to the Winds. Teaching a course together was Dave’s idea, whose career with NOLS began with high school summers in the NOLS Rocky Mountain issue room. “I thought it would be really fun to be able to share something with my father that we both really enjoyed and impacted our lives across two generations,” he reflected. Dave was raised with the NOLS philosophy, values, and community, “maybe not in the official lingo, but in the way of life,” he said. In this way, he and Tod epitomize transference between NOLS lessons and everyday life. They’ve also been witness to the development of NOLS over the decades. They reflect together on what has changed (more and improved tools for teaching leadership) and what remains consistent (the core experience of “living, learning, traveling through a wilderness”). And, that week in September, they were talking about what was about to change: Dave was off to marry a NOLS instructor, opening up a whole new range of instructor-family possibilities.

Above: Tod (left), Dave at about age 8 (center), and brother Sam navigate in the Winds. Tod Schimelpfenig. Bottom left: The students on this historic course. Erik Christensen Bottom right: Tod and Dave stand atop Raid Peak on Tod’s birthday during the course. Dave surprised his dad with a cake that night. Erik Christensen. Fall 2012


NOLS Research Hits The Road By Matthew Leslie, NOLS Rocky Mountain Intern

As one of the most well reputed organizations for producing research in the field of outdoor education, NOLS is constantly contributing to the academic and practical aspects of research. John Gookin, PhD., oversees the NOLS Research and Curriculum department and has been with NOLS for over 30 years. Each year, the department collaborates with researchers from universities and institutions to conduct research on NOLS courses. Along with giving us more information about the inner workings of our courses, students, and outcomes, these projects help represent the successes of NOLS to outside organizations and the larger educational research community. The year 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for NOLS research for both projects in process and finished studies being published and presented for the first time. Studies in Progress In 2012, NOLS utilized 55 courses, over 600 students, and four partners to complete the following research projects. Results are expected in 2013. • A study on group dynamics included six Wind River Wilderness courses out of NOLS Rocky Mountain to analyze the impact of group composition on group dynamics. Researchers at the University of Utah are analyzing surveys and post-course interviews with students. • The Social Climate Study looked at 40 courses and close to 500 students at the NOLS Alaska, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountain locations. Designed and analyzed by University of New Hampshire doctoral student Ben Mirkin, this study gives insight into the factors contributing to positive group experiences. Mirkin will analyze how group outcomes aligned with student expectations and any factors that played a role in group formation and function. • As a large NOLS Professional Training client, the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) took advantage of USNA-NOLS courses to see if certain trainings can improve stress tolerance. The research team included high-level sports psychologists who performed extensive psychometric and physiological tests before and after the course. • Several USNA summer students took a test measuring ill-structured problem solving. This test includes eight skills that measure collaborative capacity, contextual thinking, and cognitive complexity. Similarly, researchers from the University of Utah are looking at creativity and decision-making by fall semester students in the Rocky Mountains. Results should help us better represent decision-making training at NOLS. • After several projects around the topic of energy needs and nutrition, NOLS is working with the University of Utah Dietetics department to improve nutrition education for instructors and students at NOLS.

Recent Publications and Presentations—Results for the first time! Publications Mechanisms of Learning Transfer—A 2007 study of 538 NOLS alumni took a look at how various methods of learning impact the ability for NOLS students to transfer their learning into daily living. Findings show that instructors, inherent qualities of courses, and curriculum are the primary mechanisms for learning on a NOLS course. As far as what students learned, the top responses were change in life perspective, an appreciation for nature, and an ability to serve in a leadership role. Find more in the Journal of Experiential Education 2011, Volume 34, No. 2, 109–126, Sibthorp, et al. Developing Lifelong Learners—Data from semester courses in 2010 examined the way students learn during university classes and during a NOLS course. It was not surprising that students found a NOLS course to be a more optimal environment than a university classroom. Learn more in the next publication of Research in Outdoor Education. Research in Outdoor Education—Printed in the fall of 2012 through Suny Cortland, this publication three articles that represent NOLS research. Topics include optimal learning, Leave No Trace and wilderness ethic, and course quality predictors. Each of these projects was executed in conjunction with researchers from the University of Utah. Presentations SEER Research Symposium—NOLS Research Projects Manager Mandy Pohja presented Energy Needs in the Backcountry in Madison, Wisc. during this symposium Nov. 1–3. Association of Experiential Education—Pohja sat on the Trends and Issues in Outdoor Education Programs Panel of this conference in Madison, Wisc. Nov. 1–3. Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education—Pohja joined Jim Sibthorp of the University of Utah and Nate Furman of Green Mountain College Nov. 8–10 to present Can We Teach for Transfer? in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sibthorp and Rachel Collins, also of the University of Utah, also presented Fostering Self Directed Learning in College Aged Students through Wilderness Semesters at this conference. Each of these studies aligns with mission to “support, develop, and disseminate knowledge that contributes to education, to the preservation of wildlands, and to the quality of the experiences of those people who visit wildlands.” NOLS is excited to use our wilderness-based classroom and curriculum for further learning on a growing number of diverse topics. If you would like to learn more about the NOLS Research and Curriculum Department, visit

Fall 2012




Photos courtesy of Trinity Ludwig

Leader By Trinity Ludwig, Wilderness First Aid ’05, Alaska Mountaineering ’09, Wilderness First Responder Recert ‘10

eat, hike, sleep, hike

Meeting Don Rial We were relieved to hear a barking dog as we approached el viejito’s (the little old man’s) cabin after a three-day hike on an overgrown locals’ trail. He was home, the man who could tell us how to get over the pass. We opted out of balancing over a brittle log to cross the river separating the trail from his cabin and instead removed our pants to wade across. A thin, old man appeared at the top of the hill dressed in a black beret and loosefitting clothing that he likely filled in his younger days. He made a shooing motion with his hand and quickly disappeared. “Did he just wave us away?” we asked ourselves in confusion, but since he was our only hope of crossing the pass, we continued across the river anyway. Later we learned the shooing motion actually means “come here” in Chile. As we approached the cabin, smoke started to pipe out of its small chimney. We had expected to get his information on the trail over a quick maté (tea) and be on our way. However, all-knowing Don Rial knew we would stay. He ushered us into the second room of his two-room cabin and asked us to leave our backpacks beside the two wooden cots the three of us would be sharing. We passed the maté gourd around and made small conversation as we watched him prepare a mouthwatering meat stew large enough to serve four. Still, he brushed off our questions about the trail and insisted we stay the night. We explained to him our reason for being in a hurry: we had to reach Cochrane within four days. A couple carabiñeros (Chilean highway patrol) had stopped and questioned us on the dirt road approaching the trail. Sizing up the three of us smiley, light-haired girls with our seemingly way-too-small backpacks, the carabiñeros cautioned us against crossing over the pass to Cochrane, Chile, claiming it was too dangerous: it would be difficult to find the trail, there was too much snow, and then they recounted stories of deaths. We rattled off our hiking credentials and our knowledge of the route (gathered from a local hostel owner) hoping to give them more faith in our ability. Finally, these carabiñeros acquiesced when they realized we wouldn’t back off; however, there was a catch. They took our passport numbers and told us they would send a helicopter search party if we didn’t Cover: Field (front) and Ludwig (back) walk on the Salar del Hombre Muerto (Dead Man’s Salt Flat) in northern Argentina. Opposite page: Field and Brook climb through trail-less forest in Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo. Above left: Don Rial holds a picture of NOLS instructor Milenka Heran. Above right: Brook lets donkeys pass walking into Cajatambo, Peru.

check in with the carabiñeros in Cochrane seven days later. After quietly listening to our predicament, Don Rial chuckled and said they would send no helicopter as they never do. If there is an emergency in the area, the officials seek Don Rial first, since he is the only one who really knows anything about the area. We were happy to stay the night with him, not only as protection from the cold Patagonia wind, but also to find out what more this man had to teach. We had more to learn from him than just how to get to Cochrane. We ended up staying three nights with the sage 67 year-old, waiting out bad weather huddled around his wood-burning stove, sharing maté, and drinking tea brewed with mint harvested from the pasture. We cooked meals for him with meat from his 1,000-head herd of cattle (best of our lives), ate his homemade wild rhubarb jam, learned how to bake bread in a mound of ashes (pan a semilla), fetched drinking water with buckets from a nearby stream, and ran outside when his seven brilliant horses galloped in from the forest, unscheduled, looking for salt. He shared stories of his sheep-herding days in Argentina, the time a couple years ago when he broke his leg in the middle of winter and waited out the season before seeking help, of his many ex-wives and chosen solitude, and life-to-trail lessons such as “tener razon” or to “use good sense.” He explained we should use good sense when looking for the trail, as it would be the path of least resistance where a gaucho (cowboy) would be most apt to herd his cattle. Then we made an unbelievable small-world connection. He had hosted several groups of NOLS students for cultural homestays on backpacking and mountaineering courses. He even pulled out a plaque of honor from NOLS and a picture of Milenka Heran, former NOLS Patagonia program supervisor and instructor to this day, a friend of a friend who I had been in touch with the week prior solidifying our Christmas plans at the NOLS Patagonia headquarters in Coyhaique. On our third morning at Don Rial’s, the clouds were higher. We set

Fall 2012


Ludwig and Field camp on their approach into Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chile.

off with full bellies from our delicious meals, heavier backpacks carrying his gifted food, and singing hearts with the beautiful experience this wise man bestowed on us. We forded back across the river while, more nimble than we, he skipped across the log. He guided us a mile beyond his cabin to ensure we started out right. Four days later, after fording several glacial rivers, climbing through dense forest, post-holing through snow fields, scrambling up a falling river cliff where the trail was washed out, and losing the trail after dodging a charging cow, we arrived in Cochrane.



Three Girls, Five Countries, 11 Months and 1,785 Hiked Miles Two months earlier, in October 2011, Sarah Field (Wilderness First Aid ‘06), Shelley Brook, and I started hiking north out of Ushuaia, Argentina, which is at the southern tip of the continent, and toward our final destination of Quito, Ecuador that we would reach in August 2012. The next 11 months, our trail would open up ahead of us by our choosing interesting points on the map and connecting them, mostly by talking to locals and, per Don Rial, using common sense. We mostly hiked, twice swam, often waded, and occasionally bussed or hitch-hiked to ensure our on-time arrival in Quito. Sarah, Shelley, and I were originally connected and infused with our love for the mountains via Cheley Colorado Camps. Sarah and I met as campers when we were 14 years old, and later we met Shelley on staff in 2005. Over wine in fall 2010, I told Shelley I wanted to hike the length of South America but didn’t have anyone to do it with. She quickly and simply stated, “I’ll do it with you.


Sarah will too.” We called Sarah, and five minutes later the three of us had decided to embark on a trip of a lifetime and did a short year later. The three of us came back together from different walks of life. I (age 27) worked at an investment bank in Denver, escaping to the mountains whenever I could, minus my Blackberry. Shelley, 26, worked seasonally as assistant manager in the ski school sales office for Breckenridge Ski and Ride School and as a server in the summer, accommodating “shoulder seasons” of hiking and road trips. Sarah, 27, a perpetual student and dedicated “foodie,” studied nutrition and restaurant management for undergrad, attended patisserie school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, has worked as a chef, caterer, server, and prep cook, and, most recently, graduated from New York University with her M.A. in food studies with an emphasis in food culture. People always ask us, “How could you leave your life? How did you pull it off?” To which we reply, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” We knew when we started out that we had no idea what we were getting into, and we didn’t have a clue. We relate our trip to the Appalachian Trail but “on steroids.” There was no set trail, no trail guidebook, few detailed topographic maps available, and no “bounce” boxes (many thru-hikers “bounce” postal packages with electronic chargers and resupply items from town to town along their way). Since chatting with locals provided our most valuable trail information, the trip ended up being an immense cultural experience in addition. Our path took us from windy Tierra del Fuego through glacial lakes dotted with icebergs in Torres del Paine (Chile), volcanoes and bamboo forests of northern Patagonia, salt flats and “moonscapes” of northern Argentina, the muscular and indigenously populous mountains of Bolivia covered in a patchwork of farm plots, the Incan trails and high-altitude snow peaks of Peru, and alpine steppe of Ecuador. Our self-selected trail was a combination of local paths, dual-track ranching roads, dirt roads, paved highways, Incan trails, animal trails, and no trail at all. Our hiking schedule varied with the weather, season, and sunlight. In January (the southern hemisphere’s summer), we slept late, left camp at

Map: An example of their typical map (from Cienaga Redonda to Los Molinos, Argentina): up and over that valley, turn right at the end of the salt flat, follow the river, turn left at the tire tracks, through the valley of sand and turn right at the pile of rocks and then follow the horse “trail” to get to Los Molinos in three days. Three girls: Field, Brook, and Ludwig overlook Cordillera Raura, Peru.

noon, and hiked with sunlight until sunset—sometimes 11 p.m. In the scorching desert of northern Argentina, we adopted the siesta (naptime) from about noon until 5 p.m. when hiking would exhaust our bodies and sap our precious water supply. Prior to the trip, I was inspired to go lightweight after meeting some lightweight hikers on the Continental Divide Trail. They appeared to be out for a leisurely day hike while I was tiresomely lugging a gargantuan backpack. So we started out with a pack weight (without food, water or our outfits) of around 20 pounds each and were able to reduce that by a couple pounds en route and season-dependent. I got my pack down to 12 pounds. Each item served a dual purpose. Our 27-ounce backpacks integrated our sleeping pad as back support, our tent stakes served as a pot stand for our oneHelping Scientists ounce popcan stove, and Along The Way we used our trekking poles An additional purpose to our journey to pitch our tent. included collecting data from remote areas A few times throughout along the Andes for scientists back in the the year, we were able to U.S. We collected general biodiversity receive much-needed clothdata for the Pacific Biodiversity Institute ing and gear resupplies from (Seattle, Wash.) and lupin flower data for visiting family and friends Washington State University at Vancouver. and a few sponsors—Gos We decompressed each night by reflectsamer Gear, Sierra Designs, ing on the day and recording data on lupin, Isis,, and wildlife, agriculture, ecological information, Patagonia. We never sucwater availability, land-use information, cessfully received a postal camping, and travel logistics. We were package (with the exception connected to the scientists through the of a re-routed package we organization Adventurers and Scientists received five months late). for Conservation, founded by our mentor The trip was, of course, Gregg Treinish (we repeated long sections not without complications. of his and Deia Schlossberg’s South One of our mottos became

“Here’s to flexibility!” Near El Chalten, Argentina, Field’s sleeping pad flew irretrievably into a giant lake, but she survived another six months on a couple substandard replacements. In small Cochrane, Chile, one of my trail runners was stolen by a dog which left me with showstopping blisters after wearing thin-soled $20 replacements for two days; it took me three days of hitching, ferrying, and bussing to get to Coyhaique to purchase adequate replacements (en route, my pants were also stolen out of the laundry). In northern Patagonia, we hiked in summer heat wiping off hoards of horseflies and trying to tune out their buzzing as they circled our heads. In Bolivia, we all were bed-ridden with nasty stomach bugs. When we arrived in Huancacalle, Peru we were told we couldn’t continue due to the presence of drug traffickers who had detained 30 workers on our intended trail a few months prior. On a bus in Ecuador, my backpack was slashed and tent poles stolen, leaving us “homeless” for our last week of the trip. Conversely, our layover with Don Rial is only one of many displays of hospitality we received over the year. Throughout Argentina and Chile, we even received abundant hospitality from border patrol and police stations. They often provided us with a meal, lots of shared maté, a place to stay, and, once, a sunset horseback ride. One night in Taitani, Bolivia, we were taken into a 19-year-old girl’s modest one-room home where we stayed up giggling about boys, figuring out how to accommodate her visiting friend’s cell phone in the charger, and explaining where the U.S. was located, which proved to be difficult since she also didn’t know of the Atlantic Ocean. And on Christmas day, we partook of a Christmas feast at the NOLS Patagonia headquarters. Read more about this adventure and view more breathtaking photos at

American journey completed in 2008). Fall 2012


Matt Burke

Alumni Trips & Reunions

Alumni Trips If a month is too much to ask from the boss, the NOLS Alumni office offers shorter backcountry trips specifically designed for our working grads. We encourage you to bring family and friends along on these weeklong expeditions to reconnect with the school and introduce others to the NOLS experience. These trips have the same top-quality instructors, and though they aren’t guided trips, 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 nonrefundable 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

Upcoming NOLS Alumni Events NOLS is coming to your community this fall! We’re hosting alumni reunions for grads, friends, families, and guests all across the nation. Reunions include snacks, tales of adventure, a gear raffle, camaraderie, and networking. Look for events in your area this spring:

• Jackson, Wyo. • Salt Lake City, Utah • Chicago, Ill. • Boston, Mass. • Durham, N.C. • Seattle, Wash. • Portland, Ore. • Denver, Colo



For more information, see


Rock Climbing at Joshua Tree National Park Dates: Feb. 27–March 5, 2013  |  Cost: $1,495

This trip takes place in California’s Joshua Tree National Park. “JT” is known for its huge number of outstanding granite climbs and stunning desert ecosystems. To maximize climbing time, you’ll base in a rustic campground.

Horse Packing in Patagonia

Dates: March 4–14, 2013  |  Cost: $2,700 Explore the immense wonders of South America’s Patagonia region while enjoying the breathtaking scenery in the company of humans and horses. Traveling in this time-honored tradition allows you to appreciate the experience while learning horse skills.

Skiing the Tetons’ Yurts

Dates: March 10–15, 2013  |  Cost: $1,200 Visit Wyoming’s stunning Teton Mountains on this six-day adventure. The trip splits its time between NOLS branch-based day skis, ski area downhill practice, and lodging at backcountry yurts.

Sail Navigation Class in the Caribbean Date:s March 10–12, 2013  |  Cost: $475

Hotel living lets you focus on learning and day-sailing practice. This class can be taken as a standalone training or in conjunction with the Sailing in the British Virgin Islands trip. You’ll have a chance to improve your skills and expand your sailing repertoire with experienced instructors.

Sailing in the British Virgin Islands Dates: March 13–20, 2013  |  Cost: $1,995

While learning and improving on sailing skills, you will experience breathtaking scenery and immense natural wonders of the area. Working with your fellow trip members to improve your sea skills and build on your expedition skills will allow you to share your NOLS experience with family and friends.

Hiking Utah’s Canyons

Dates: March 25–30, 2013  |  Cost: $995 This trip travels in Utah’s desert canyon environment with a focus on understanding the area’s natural and human history. Exposed landforms provide textbook illustrations of the land’s geologic past, and thickly vegetated riparian zones contrast the stark expanses of rock, sand, and ancient dwellings. This six-day trip traverses a 26-mile section of Grand Gulch and Bullet Canyon, one of the top NOLS hiking destinations in Utah.


wyoming’s red desert: A photographic Journey

the marble room: how i Lost god and found myself in Africa

Edited by Erik Molvar

By Bill Hatcher

Wyoming’s Red Desert: A Photographic Journey edited by Erik Molvar, is a coffee table-sized hardcover full of pictures of the diverse landscape of the Red Desert south of Lander, Wyoming. Each chapter details a Red Desert region with magnificent donated photos by regional photographers. Molvar adds cowboy poetry and stories of the West, illustrating the historical value of the region. Travelers’ anecdotes dot the book, as do mentions of notable fossil finds. The 90-page book is a photographic journey; most of the pages contain large, beautiful pictures that stretch across the page. Molvar shows the landscape and interesting formations of each region and includes fascinating tidbits about local plants and animals, such as the wild horses and rare fish with niche homes in the desert. The book’s pictorial section on the killpecker Dune Fields in the Jack Morrow Hills really stands out. The area includes North America’s largest migrating dunes, which are spectacularly shown in photos. The dune’s wind-etched ripples are striking, and the way the iconic, volcanic remnant Boar’s Tusk (elevation 6,808’) summit juts abruptly 400’ above the surrounding desert is incredible. This book is a fascinating look into Wyoming’s little-known and often threatened Red Desert. It’s a good read, visually striking, and will strike a conservationist chord with readers. Reviewed by Nate Robbins, NOLS PR and Marketing Intern. © 2011 Laguna Wilderness Press.

A central part of NOLS culture, instructors’ formative experiences allow them to confidently support the NOLS mission. In his memoir, former NOLS instructor Bill Hatcher opens the door on life before NOLS and how he found a life of adventure, camaraderie, and introspection. His autobiography, The Marble Room: How I Lost God and Found Myself in Africa details his experience in the Peace Corps as a geography teacher in an all-girls school in Tanzania. More than rote storytelling, this bracingly honest book follows Hatcher through a transformation from a red-blooded, all-American good old boy to an adventurer and global citizen. The greater context of spiritual awakening is played out in Africa, where Hatcher opens the doors to examining his long-held beliefs while climbing mountains, which “symbolized a psychological vault in which [his] soul had been locked away, and [he] senses that climbing them was the way—or at least part of the way—to break out.” Although he delves into realms which can often turn petty in human hands—religion, worldview, and morality—Hatcher is keenly honest, opening up about his struggles and revival in Africa. His experience from Africa to becoming a NOLS instructor was bridged by a desire to share his wilderness passion with others. “There’s a point between the forested areas and the higher alpine, there’s just something about it that activates and enlivens a part of myself that I want to share it with others.” Reviewed by Madeline Friend, NOLS Alumni Relations Intern. Copyright 2012 Bill Hatcher.

wilderness wisdom, second edition Edited by John Gookin Seeking inspiration, be it in the glorious skyscapes of remote wilderness or in the words of others who have come before us, is a commonality shared by NOLS instructors, staff, and alumni the world over. Whether you are sitting around a backyard campfire with friends and family or wrapped up in a sleeping bag deep in the mountains, Wilderness Wisdom has a quote to intrigue, inspire, or guide you. Topics range from rivers to character, from mountains to failure and success. The second edition contains over 1,000 quotes collected from a variety of authors, environmentalists, great thinkers, and famous leaders. The aggregate of knowledge contained in this text is a testament to the hard working and dedi-

cated NOLS staff who, throughout the history of the school, have compiled their own respective anthologies of wisdom and have now come together to share it as one unified text with the such names as Abraham Lincoln, Linus Pauling, Aldo Leopold, Albert Einstein, and many more —all in a book light enough to stuff in your pack. So, whether you are looking to motivate a group of scouts, impress your friends, or seek personal edification, there is something worth repeating in the pages of Wilderness Wisdom. “The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.” – Albert Einstein. Reviewed by Adam Swisher, NOLS Curriculum Publications Manager. © 2012 The National Outdoor Leadership School.

Fall 2012


Gear Room

NeoAir XLite review By Larkin Flora, NOLS Alumni & Development Communications Coordinator

When the box came containing my new NeoAir XLite Therm-a-Rest mattress, I was a little skeptical. No way it could fit in a package that small, which felt like nothing more than an empty box. But fit it did, and light it was. With the regular size weighing in at a mere 12 ounces, the latest in sleep system technology is a lightweight backpacker’s dream. Therm-a-Rest’s trick? They ditched the heavier, and more durable, fabric for a lightweight variety, tapered the design to fit the shape of a mummy bag, and got rid of the padding/air combo. This mattress relies solely on air to provide the cushion, but with the fully inflated pad measuring 2 ½ inches thick, it’s plenty soft. The NeoAir’s reflective layer and baffles make up for the lack of insulation by trapping body heat in multiple air pockets. I slept warm on this three-season pad during a multi-day summer trip above tree line, paired with a down bag that is thinner on the bottom. The baffling provides more than insulation, and I found myself sliding around less when on uneven ground than I have on smooth pads. All sizes measure 20 inches wide, providing just enough room for my arms when sleeping on my back. Because of its tapered design, the NeoAir also The NeoAir’s reflective layer and baffles make up for the lack of insulation by trapping body heat in multiple air pockets.

fits smoothly into sleeping bags with pad sleeves, such as Big Agnes bags. Beyond the weight, the biggest perk of the NeoAir is its size. It packs down smaller than a Nalgene water bottle, allowing increased pack efficiency by shoving it into the depths instead of lashing it to the outside. This dream pad does have a few drawbacks. The nylon material makes In addition to being light—just 12 ounces, the pad packs down to the size a crinkly noise, especially of a one-liter waterbottle, making packing a joy. Brad Christensen when un-inflated, although neither my trail-mate nor I noticed it Midwest Mountaineering, the 2010 Backpacker Magazine Retailer of the Year, Presents much once I settled in. the 55th Bi-Annual The thin, translucent material also shows interior condensation—and potentially mold—and appears less durable than other pads. If you don’t abuse it and use a ground cloth, you should be fine. It does come with a patch kit, just in case. Although I’m nearly 6 feet tall, I bought a small pad to cut even more weight. The pad measures 47 inches as November 16-18, 2012 opposed to the regular’s 72 inches, and it 85 FREE Presentations hits me at knee level when my head rests off the end. Because the pad has such 80 Exhibitors loft, I use a stuff sack packed with my puffy jacket and hiking clothes as a pillow to keep my head and neck at a comfortable height. To provide insulation for at Midwest Mountaineering, U of M Campus and Big-Top Tents my lower legs and feet, I place my empty F r i . 2 - 9 , S a t . 9 - 6 : 3 0 , S u n . 11 - 5 backpack below the pad. Overall, I was very satisfied with my Featuring: NeoAir XLite experience, and am lookThe Banff Mountain Film ing forward to bringing it on the trail Festival World Tour with me next season. The price tag is steep, ringing in at $160. If you’re in the market for a new pad or want to upgrade to an ultralight variety without sacrificing 309 Cedar Ave. So. Minneapolis, MN 55454 comfort, this is a great way to go. U of M West Bank 612.339.3433 1.888.999.1077




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Take The lead as an lnT MasTer educaTor

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The leave no Trace Master educator course is the highest lnT training, qualifying graduates to teach lnT courses. FEBRUARY 25–MARCH 1, 2013 Backpacking, Arizona MAY 5–9, 2013 Backpacking, Shenandoah National Park, Virgina JUNE 3–7, 2013 Backpacking, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah JUNE 17–21, 2013 Backpacking, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Celebrate the holiday season by taking 20% off winter hats. If you are hitting the slopes, playing Santa, or commuting to the office, show your love by sporting a NOLS-branded topper. Head to and enter coupon code nolsleader2012 at checkout to redeem this offer.

For more information on courses and available scholarships visit or call (800) 710-6657 x3

YOUR ORGANIZATION NEEDS A NOLS CUSTOM COURSE NOLS Professional Training • (800) 710-6657


Hey NOLS GradS!

Your NOLS Alumnus Status Can Help You Gates Richards

• Find an outdoor job • Build your personal and professional network • Score outdoor gear discounts • Save money on travel, lodging, and further education

Intensive Wilderness Medicine Training • This month-long course integrates an urban EMT course and a Wilderness Upgrade for Medical Professionals/Wilderness First Responder course. • T he course includes classroom education, practical skills, scenarios, and full-scale mock rescues, in addition to clinical rotations helping to provide care for real patients. • L earning takes place both in the classroom and in outdoor settings regardless of weather conditions. Come prepared for wet, muddy, cold, or hot environments. Thinking of taking a WMI WEMT course this year? Visit the Financial Aid information at:

NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute Tom Bol

For more information on your evolving list of benefits: visit or email

The Leader in Wilderness Medicine Education • (866) 831-9001

Recipe Box

Saag with Tofu

Awards, Galore

Submitted by Geoffrey Journeay-Kaler, NOLS Rocky Mountain Intern

No matter where your boots take you, you can enjoy the foods of the world over a Whisperlite Stove. This version of the Indian dish saag paneer replaces the paneer with tofu, but a white cheese would be a great option as well. The Mexican cheese, queso fresco, is a great replacement for paneer. A backpacking version of saag is surprisingly easy, even easier than making it indoors.

Ingredients: saag: 1 ½ cups freeze-dried spinach 1/3 cup freeze-dried tomato chunks ¼ cup powdered whole milk ¼ tsp cumin ¼ tsp coriander ¼ tsp turmeric ¼ tsp ginger powder 1/8 tsp cayenne 1/8 tsp garlic powder 1 ½ Tbs oil

Instructions: Mix together the curry powder, salt tofu: and water. Add in the tofu and let it ¼ cup water soak up all of the liquid. While the ¼ tsp curry powder tofu is rehydrating, put the spinach 2 pinches salt into a bowl. Add the tomato chunks 1 slice dried tofu and whole milk power. 2 tsp oil Back to the tofu: heat the 2 tsp of oil on medium heat. Add the tofu. Fry on all sides until it is browned and crispy. Chop the fried tofu up and set it aside for later. Heat the 1 ½ Tbs of oil, add all the spices at once, and fry them briefly on medium low heat. Don’t let them burn! Add in the rehydrated spinach, tomatoes, and milk. Stir the saag, breaking up any clumps of spinach that did not fully rehydrate with your spatula, and distribute the saag evenly across the pan. Cover and cook on medium low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and add the tofu. Stir together. Cover and cook for 2-3 more minutes, allowing the tofu to soak up some of the liquid. Serve over basmati rice, on bread, or solo. Serves 1-2 with the rice.



Intrigued? Watch our backcountry chefs whip this recipe up by scanning this QR code or visiting and searching “Cooking Show.”


This summer, NOLS was named one of the best places to work in the nation by Outside Magazine for the fifth year in a row. On Oct. 13, we recognized outstanding grads and partners who have benefited from this dedicated staff and helped foster this community. The Alumni Service Award is given to a devoted alumnus who has served the school in exemplary ways. This year’s award goes to Lori Bukiewicz (Semester in Kenya ‘99, WFA ‘10), a long-time alumni stalwart, motivator, and volunteer in New York City. The Alumni Achievement Award is given to an alumnus who has taken what he or she learned at NOLS and become notably successful in outdoor recreation, education, or conservation. This year’s award goes to Jamie Williams (Semester in the Rockies ‘84, Rocky Mountain IC ‘86, former instructor), president of The Wilderness Society. The Stewardship Award is given to an individual working within the region of one of our operating areas, selected for his or her support of recreation, conservation, and education. This year’s award goes to Darrel Trembly, Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails regional manager, and Sinks Canyon State Park superintendent for 20 years. Darrel’s commitment to responsible recreation, his responsiveness to the public, and his reliance on education make him an easy choice for this award.


Contact the Alumni Office via telephone (800-332-4280) or email ( to find contact information for any of your course mates. Grads from the ‘90s

Grads from the ‘00s

Todd Baird, Brooks Range Backpacking ‘95 After medical training at Brown University, Todd is a radiologist in Richmond, Va. Todd wrote the lacrosse movie Crooked Arrows, which was released this past summer.

Bill Andrews, Yukon Outdoor Educator ‘01 & Outdoor Educators Kayaking ‘03 It’s been an exciting summer. Bill created Treeline Expeditions; he and his wife guided seven backpacking high school students for nine days in New Mexico’s Pecos Wilderness on the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests. The trip ended with rafting on the Rio Grande.

Nicholas Bratton, Whitewater River Expedition ‘96 & Rocky Mountain IC ‘02 Nicholas participated in a two-week Greenland glacier expedition to locate and extract the remains of WWII U.S. military pilots. He is also board treasurer of the nonprofit Fallen American Veterans Foundation, which is affiliated with North South Polar, the company leading trips to find and repatriate aircrew who lost their lives in the polar regions. This expedition is being covered by National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.

Stephanie Obsitnik, Spring Semester in the Rockies ‘07 Stephanie lives in Australia and works at an adventure camp for kids and adults. Dylan Herd, Yukon Outdoor Educator ‘10 Dylan recently solo hiked and backpacked around Europe. He visited Amsterdam, Paris, Normandy D-day beaches, the Jura Mountains in Switzerland, the Swiss Alps, Pompeii, Rome, Zurich, Munich, Sicily, and much more. His NOLS skills gave him the self-confidence

Wilderness Quiz The National Parks of Iceland are: Snæfellsjökull is a 700,000-year-old stratovolcano with a glacier covering its summit in western Iceland. The mountain is included in the Snæfellsjökull National Park (Icelandic: Þjóðgarðurinn Snæfellsjökull). In August 2012, the summit was ice-free for the first time in recorded history. Vatnajökull is Europe’s largest glacier. Generally measuring a quarter to over half a mile thick, the glacial ice conceals a number of mountains, valleys, and plateaus. It even hides some active central volcanoes. Þingvellir is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. It is the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is also home to Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland.

to dive into unknown cultures. Dylan feels strongly that he would never have embarked on such a journey without NOLS. He is now at West Virginia University completing a degree in wildlife and fisheries sciences. Marriages, Engagements & Anniversaries Mary (MJ) Joyner, Fall Semester in Patagonia ‘01 & Ariel Greene, British Columbia Wilderness ‘97 NOLS instructors MJ and Ariel were married Sept. 8 at the Sinks Canyon Center near Lander. Kary Sommers, Fall Semester in the Rockies ‘03 and Josh Beddoes Kary, NOLS marketing manager, and Josh were married Aug. 4 at the Museum of the American West in Lander, Wyo. Josh Bickley, Pacific Northwest Backpaing ‘99 & Kate Lindberg – Spring Semester in New Zealand ‘05 Josh and Kate were married Aug. 4 in Cascade Locks, Ore. They met while working at NOLS Pacific Northwest. Tod Williams, Brooks Range Backpacking ‘10 & Emily Swalm, Prince William Sound Sea Kayaking ‘99 NOLS graduates Tod and Emily were married April 21 at Pawleys Island, S.C. They live in Charleston, S.C. Anders Fristedt, WMI Instructor and former Scandinavia Base Manager, married Rachel Kelley, on April 21. Their wedding site at 8,500 feet in the Sierras was accessed

Newlyweds MJ Joyner and Ariel Greene.

via chairlift. The two met while working outdoor education for the Chadwick School in the Southern Sierras in June of 2007. Anders now works as the California program director for Big City Mountaineers while Rachel is the director of outdoor programs for the Urban School of San Francisco. New Additions Scott Clark, Rock Climbing ‘97 Scott and his wife are excited to introduce Eloise (Ellie) Jane Clark. Ellie was born Sept. 12 at 5:48 a.m. and measured a healthy 7 pounds, 11 ounces. Ellie and her mom are doing well.

Justin Thompson, Spring Semester in Mexico ‘00, & Renee Thompson, Alaska Mountaineering ‘01 Justin and Renee became the proud parents of a baby girl on June 25. Trilyn and her happy parents are living in Billings, Mont. Trilyn is also the granddaughter of NOLS grads Paul and Donna Thompson of Lander, Wyo. David Schneiderbeck – Baja Sea Kayaking ‘10 David and his wife, Amy, are the proud parents of a baby boy, Asher Jay Schneiderbeck. He arrived July 2 and weighed in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce. Both mother and baby are healthy and happy!

Fall 2012 25


In Remembrance Eric Tietze, Wilderness First Responder ‘05 Eric died on July 12 in a mountaineering accident in Wyoming’s Teton Mountains. A long-time Bridger-Teton National Forest employee, Eric had worked 10 seasons on the Forest’s trail crew. Alan Poindexter, NASA Leadership Expedition ‘00 & ‘06 Former astronaut Alan “Dex” Poindexter, 50, a space shuttle commander who flew twice into space, died July 1 after being injured in a water sports accident in Florida. Poindexter was jet skiing near Pensacola Beach, Fla., when the accident occurred. Emory Alden James Corwine, Rock and River ‘07 Emory passed away June 15 in Airway Heights, Wash. as a result of an accident. Emory was the son of Mark and Sandra (Moore) Corwine. After high school graduation, he spent a year with AmeriCorps; helping with the cleanup of Hurricane Katrina, and worked with Habitat for Humanity. In 2009, Emory put his NOLS training to a different use by volunteering to serve in the U.S. Air Force, where he graduated with honors in the SERE (Search, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) program.

David Heitke, Wilderness First Aid ‘08 David died on June 29 of a heart attack while descending from Mount Sneffels in Colorado. Dave had a lifelong love of the outdoors and had climbed 50 of Colorado’s 14’ers. He is survived by his wife, Kris, and two sons. Saxon Boswell, Year in the Sonoran ‘09 Saxon, age 24 of Charlotte, N.C., died Sept. 8 at his home. He was the son of Stewart and Gay Fort Boswell. He attended Charlotte Country Day School, Deerfield Academy, and Myers Park High School before going on to the University of Alabama. Saxon completed his Sonoran Year with NOLS in 2009 and went on work at to U.S. National Whitewater Center.


Brian Hensien

Blaine Versaw, Prince William Sound Sea Kayaking ’06, and Trish Lovewell, Alumni Dolomite Trip ‘10 Blaine and Trish are the proud parents of a baby boy Paxton Robert Versaw born Aug. 21 weighing 6 pounds, 6 ounces.

NOLS continues to chip away at our goal of reducing our carbon to 30 percent below 2006 levels by 2020. We have just 10 percent to go! We naturally focus on facility efficiency and are happy to see those efforts paying off in both environmental and financial gains. In the past year we’ve also begun to address the 40 percent of our footprint that comes from transportation in NOLS-owned vehicles. We’ve hit a place of diminishing returns on driving efficient routes. In order to keep moving toward our goal, we’re exploring fuels that will allow us to transport a growing number of students while reducing our carbon emissions. To that end, on Aug. 19, we hosted a petroleum reduction seminar presented by Phil Cameron and the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition, a designee of the Department of Energy Clean Cities program. Nearly 30 participants from five NOLS locations and the Lander, Wyo. community heard from seven speakers. Topics ranged from the cutting edge of alternative transportation technology to real-world experiences in managing fleets that shifted from petroleum fuels to alternative and cleaner options. There were also six demonstration vehicles on site that participants were able to view and test drive. We were thrilled to host and participate in this event as we continue our pilot programs with alternative fuels in an effort to increase our efficiency and decrease carbon emissions. For more information on how to reduce petroleum consumption with alternative fuels, vehicles, and strategies, visit the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition at or on Facebook at Transportation Tip: Tire Pressure: You can improve fuel economy by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires properly inflated to the recommended tire pressure. Under-inflated tires increase rolling resistance and reduce fuel economy. Tires properly inflated are also safer and last longer. Learn more at

Wilderness Medicine Quiz



c. Hyponatremia might also be called water overdose.


Branch Notes

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 New Zealand • This is the first year we’ll be offering a standalone sea kayak course; this 14-day expedition is open to New Zealanders and Australians 16 and older. • We have only six more months of operation at our current facility; by the start of next season we will operating from our new base in the Aniseed Valley near the town of Nelson. • All seven members of our in-town staff are New Zealand citizens or residents, although only two were born in New Zealand and can claim “genuine Kiwi” status. • New Zealand-made Bumper Bars—energy snacks made from whole grains, fruits, and chunks of chocolate—are a student favorite, and we send dozens into the field each section. The Bumper Bars factory is just four  kilometers from the NOLS branch. • The first film in The Hobbit trilogy—filmed and produced in New Zealand—opens in U.S. theaters Dec. 14. Many scenes were filmed in regions where NOLS runs backpacking and mountaineering sections. NOLS Australia • David Summers became the Australia director in 1998 and ran the branch for 15 years. Congratulations to Mark Jordan, who is stepping into his shoes. • The Drysdale River National Park—where we run our spring semester course—has an abundance of rare and unusual flora; there are at least 594 plant species including 30 aquatic and swamp plants. Twenty-five fern species occur in the park. Two of these have not been recorded anywhere else.  • The Kimberley Wilderness Area is one of the world’s last great wilderness areas. Covering an expanse of nearly 163,500 square miles and with an estimated population of just 30,000, it has fewer people per square mile than almost any other place on Earth. • Australia is a 2008 epic historical romance filmed in Western Australia where we run courses and is the country’s second highest grossing film of all time.  • The King Leopold Ranges—a summer course area—are shaped like a crescent with a length of 352 miles; the range is estimated to cover a total area of 11,890 square miles.

NOLS Southwest • Size of NOLS Southwest solar array: 19.7 kilowatts (kW) • Annual electricity generated: 37,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) • Average American household uses 14, 000 kWh annually • Amount of compost generated so far this season: 65 gallons • Amount of water storage capacity at NOLS Southwest: 385 gallons (rain barrels). NOLS Southwest is currently engaged in a project that will substantially increase water storage by adding a cistern with increased water catchment. • Number of crazy costumes worn when doing “the wave” as student groups depart for the field: too many to count NOLS Teton Valley • NOLS Teton Valley purchased a 10-acre farm adjacent to the north border of our current campus. We are really looking forward to converting the 4,000 square-foot machine shed in to an amazing boat barn. We are also excited to house our vehicles under cover in the pole barns to make winter windshield scraping a less consuming task every day. • As part of our initial farm clean up, we removed 207 gallons of mixed oil and water from barrels on site. • How many all-girls courses are run at NOLS? One! For three years running, we have hosted a two-week backpacking expedition for 14- and 15-year-old girls who rave about their experiences. • Although not a simple task, we loaned 44 avalanche transceivers to NOLS Patagonia for their spring mountaineering courses—an example of how sharing specific gear between NOLS locations helps the organization stay fiscally fit.

A New Zealand Sea Kayaking student poses with a seahorse. Oscar Manguy. Students make their way downriver on an Australia canoeing section. Dave Summers.

Giving The holiday season is nearly upon us. It’s a time to remember others and be thankful for what you have. It’s a time for giving gifts to friends, families, and favorite organizations. If NOLS has had an impact in your life, consider making a gift to the NOLS Annual Fund this season. Giving back to NOLS supports scholarships and essential programs, and is a great way to say thank you for the life changing experience you or your child had. When you donate by Dec. 31, you will be eligible for a 2012 income tax deduction. Online giving is an easy and effective way to donate, and will ensure that your donation is processed in time to count for 2012 tax purposes. Simply go to Thank you for supporting the NOLS mission, and have a safe and joyful winter season from all of us at NOLS.

Fall 2012 27



What’s the difference? Think of NOLS as a large investment, like buying a house. You have to make payments on your mortgage, but you also need to pay to keep the lights on. In the world of NOLS fundraising, the endowment is like the long-term investment of mortgage payments, while the annual fund is like the immediate need to pay the utility bills.

Lasting Security

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Belay Off

On asking for help: Lessons learned at 12,000 feet By Liz Reed, Wind River Wilderness ’99 and Summer Semester in the Rockies ‘02

I could barely lift up my boot to put one foot in front of the other. My pack was so heavy on my shoulders that with each step my legs quivered under its weight. Being around 12,000 feet above sea level made my lungs burn, and the sun reflecting off the snowfields was burning my skin. Many miles into a long day I was feeling tired and more than ready to be done. And then I saw her. She was up ahead of me coming across the snow. She was floating through the air, flitting about with the breeze in her wings with a smile on her face. She would reach into her small purple sack and sprinkle beautiful glitter all across the snowfields, causing the sun’s rays to dance in refraction. I remember thinking, “Wow, that is a beautiful, beautiful Glitter Fairy.” And then I vomited. Gross, I know, but true. Clearly, I was in trouble. I was backpacking through the mountains of Wyoming, and a combination of the elevation and dehydration was messing with my brain. It was July 3, and our Wind River Wilderness course was pushing hard to reach a plateau that would allow us to summit the highest peak in the state on July 4—cool way to celebrate, right? We were all so excited for it; we’d been looking forward to the climb and planning for it for days. And I was about to screw it all up. When I saw the Glitter Fairy, I still had enough of my wits about me to understand this was not normal. As I paused in the snow and one of our instructors came over to check in, I sheepishly admitted what I had seen, what I had thought. He expressed some concern but mostly hid it behind an encouraging smile. Most of our group was about 500 yards away, tucked behind some boulders to take a break and set up for our next push. For those 500 yards I had my instructor walking right next to me, making sure I was taking safe and steady Fall 2012 29

Belay Off

Over her many adventures, which include two NOLS courses, Liz Reed has grown a great deal. One lesson she felt compelled to share was learning to ask for help. Liz Reed.



steps. After a long and arduous forward shuffle, we finally reached the rest of the group. I shrunk down into the ground to have some water and scrounge for a snack, telling no one else about what had happened. I was ashamed that my body was having this reaction, was falling apart. Maybe if I just rested for a bit I’d be better? Yes, more water, more snacks, give me 10 minutes, and I’ll be fine. But what if I wasn’t fine? I didn’t know what to think. My instructor pulled me over to where he was huddled in quiet conversation with his co-leader and broke the news. We were done hiking for the day; we would not be pushing on toward our summit attempt on the 4th, and I was the reason. He explained that my current condition was dangerous and the rest of the group would be responsible for getting me to a campsite at a lower elevation safely. He stated very matter-of-factly that all of the gear I was carrying in my pack would be split up between the group so I would be carrying nothing, and I would have a coursemate walk on either side of me as we hiked a half-mile down hill to our destination. In seconds, the whole plan we had been building, the hard work to get there, the excitement the group felt for this great summit dream, was over. Because of me. So I did the only logical thing I could think to do: I burst into tears. I was so ashamed. I was ashamed that I was the reason everything changed; it felt so shitty to be responsible for the disappointment that others would be feeling. But even more than that, I was ashamed that I needed to ask for help. For as long as I can remember I have had a hard time asking for help. In most situations I feel a responsibility to take the weight of the world on my shoulders and push through without asking for anything from anyone. Yet in that moment, on the side of a mountain with a stiff Wyoming wind drying my tears, was the first time that I realized people were more than happy to carry the load for me—both physically and metaphorically. When told of my needs, the rest of my group immediately shifted into caring mode. The whole tone of the day became focused on me (which was an entirely


different realm of uncomfortable), and if they were disappointed in the change in plans they never once showed it. In seconds, the entirety of my pack had been redistributed, two friends declared themselves my walking buddies, people were handing me the best snacks they could find, and off we went. I watched the team scramble down the rocky slope ahead of me, moving quickly with their even-heavier-than-before packs, in order to find a good campsite and have it all set up and dinner going by the time I arrived. I felt the presence of my walking buddies, who kept chatting with me to keep me distracted and held my hand when my balance was shaky. For the next hour I experienced, for maybe the first time in my life, what it really felt like to let others help me. What it was like to let go of my expectations, let go of the pressure I put on myself to be rock-solid and consistent, let go of the idea that asking for help makes me weak. I will not say that it felt good, per se; it mostly felt foreign and uncomfortable and I continued to struggle with feeling that I had let everyone down. But it did feel comforting to know that not a single person hesitated to jump in and help—even those who didn’t like me that much. It took such an extreme situation to make me realize that people are more than happy to lend a hand. People are more than happy to come to my rescue. I’m not putting anything on them that they didn’t want. As my friends, they wanted to be allowed to help me, to shoulder my worries (and my pack), and care for me. They wanted to be relied upon and leaned on when my life felt tough. It actually made them feel good to step up and help, not burdened as I had feared. It was a beautiful lesson in accepting and receiving the love and support of others. Over the years I’ve worked hard to allow myself to ask for help. To remind myself that I don’t have to do it all alone. To recognize that, when others pitch in and carry part of my gear along the path, we all get stronger together, we all feel cared for and needed. At times it’s a struggle to implement such an important lesson, but I keep trying. And to those 13 lovely souls who stood by my side in the Wind River Mountains, got me down to safety, cooked me dinner, and tucked me in to my sleeping bag as we gazed at the stars: thank you. Thank you for your selflessness, big hearts, and encouraging words. Thank you for teaching me what I desperately needed to learn.


“I am 22 years old, just graduated from college, and give what I can. To my fellow NOLS graduates: remember those leadership principles your instructor once wrote on the sleeping pad whiteboard? ‘Model the way’ and give what you can to Campaign NOLS.” Sydney Hartsell 2008 Wind River Mountaineering, scholarship recipient, and donor.

C ampaign nOLS Endowing Our Core Values

Sydney Hartsell 2008 Wind River Mountaineering graduate, scholarship recipient, and donor.

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


An alumnus takes a morning hike hear Rifugio Venezia on a NOLS alumni trip in Italy’s Dolomites. Rich Brame

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.

The Leader - Fall 2012  
The Leader - Fall 2012  

The Leader - Fall 2012