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For Alumni of the National Outdoor Leadership School Spring 2014  •  Vol. 29 No. 2


From the Director

Another cold snap is settling in here in the Wind River Mountains, and as I walk through the chill to NOLS Headquarters, I think of warm evenings bundled up with my family in the living room. More than one article in this issue of The Leader made me think fondly of both family and NOLS. In my life, the past 30 years of which have been tied to NOLS, the two often run together, and I know I am certainly no anomaly among all those NOLS has touched over the course of the school’s history. This month’s magazine highlights a number of stories of NOLS being much more than a single experience in a lifetime. NOLS changed the course of my life. In the case of Jim Margolis, it changed the course of his father’s life, set the course for his career, and helped him reach a peak with his father decades after it all began. This was an exciting accomplishment to learn of, and I congratulate Jay on his return to the Grand. Join us in celebrating their success by reading on page 16. Another warm story of a NOLS graduate who discovered something within himself and turned it into a lifetime of success—then saw his daughter change her career path as a result of her NOLS course, can be found on page 29. NOLS doesn’t only have a lasting impact on a person’s career or adventures (or even both). We find NOLS in many relationships—in the catalyst, in their growth, and in their enduring. We’re not the only ones who see this and celebrate it. The phenomenon of NOLS marriages graced the pages of Teton Valley Magazine recently, as well. You can read a few excerpts and learn how to share your love story on page 14. As a father of three, I have seen the NOLS lessons I carry with me impact my children for their entire lives. It runs from inter-personal skills to leaving no trace of our presence when we adventure in the Wind River Mountains. It is my pleasure to pass these important skills along, and though my children are NOLS grads now, it was part of my role as father to instill NOLS values in them anyway. If your personal connection to NOLS runs to your children, you will appreciate the hot tips Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin can pass along for taking your tyke trekking on page 22. To me, NOLS is family, and a prime example of this is the recent success of Campaign NOLS. I would like to extend my gratitude to this broad family, the NOLS community, for making this $20 million campaign ensuring our future a success. Thanks to your generous support, future generations of NOLS students will be able to create a sense of family with their coursemates, maybe even discover new love, and share NOLS with their family generations down the trail.



John Gans, NOLS Executive Director


Leader Casey Adams Editor Alisha Bube Designer Rich Brame Alumni Relations Director John Gans NOLS Executive Director

March 2014 • Volume 29 • No.2 Published three times a year in March, July, and November.

Postmaster: Send address changes to National Outdoor Leadership School 284 Lincoln St. Lander, WY 82520 The Leader is a magazine for alumni of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a nonprofit school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics. It is mailed to approximately 65,000 NOLS alumni. NOLS graduates living in the U.S. receive a free subscription to The Leader for life. The Leader accepts paid advertising and welcomes article submissions and comments. Please address all correspondence to or call (307) 332-8800. Alumni can direct address changes to or (800) 332-4280. For the most up-to-date information on NOLS, visit or e-mail The Leader is printed with soy-based inks in Portland, Ore., on paper using 30 percent post-consumer-recycled content. A paperless version of The Leader is available online at

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.




6 ISSUE ROOM: Utah Classrooms Debate


7 WILD SIDE OF MEDICINE: A ‘Thank You’ Note 8 ALUMNI PROFILE: From mountains to the battlefield and back 9 ALUMNI PROFILE: Following whales around the world

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

Two NOLS facilities have made moves and big improvements in the past year. Read about new NOLS Yukon and New Zealand campuses.


21 REVIEWS: A wide variety of reading options

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

22 GEAR ROOM: Deuter Fox 30


24 RECIPE BOX: Hot tip from an alumnus

25 JABBERWOCKY: Catch up on your coursemates’ lives 26 SUSTAINABILITY: LEED certification 27 SCHOOL NOTES: Miss your home branch? Catch up!


28 FIELD NOTES: The Illusion of Safety

29 BELAY OFF: Passions catch fire

The answer to last issue’s “Who Is This” is Adele (Del) Smith, former longtime NOLS instructor.

Three NOLS instructors embark on an adventure and professional development.

NOLS strengthens relationships, sometimes to the point of lifelong love.

31 TRAVERSES: All about Baja


A son and his girlfriend help a father and NOLS alumnus return to the Grand Teton, this time to summit.


ERIN ORWIG Wild Side of Medicine, pg 7 Orwig is the general manager of a rock climbing gym in Phoenix, Ariz. She renews herself through climbing and solo hiking and backpacking adventures in the Desert Southwest and the High Sierra.

TAYLOR GANZ AND ANDY BASSETT Feature, pg 12 Ganz and Bassett are both NOLS Field Instructors based out of Lander, Wyoming. Their passion for wild spaces and love of the outdoors is what brought them to NOLS. When they’re not in the field Ganz and Bassett like to climb, ski, eat Thai food, and plan their next adventure.

SARAH ANDERSON Field Notes, pg 28

JIM MARGOLIS Cover article, pg 16

“Sanderson” is a 21-year-old graduate of the NOLS Spring 2013 Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester. She is a statistics student at the University of Minnesota Duluth who can often be found climbing, guiding canoe trips, and volunteering as an EMT.

Margolis instructs rock climbing, mountaineering, and skiing courses for NOLS. He was Wyoming Summer Semester student in 2003, at the suggestion of his father, a 1974 Fall Semester student. He took an instructor course in 2009 and began working for NOLS in 2010.

Spring 2014





exPedition denali: inSPiring diverSity in the outdoorS FeATURe, PAGe 10

PAGe 16

technology in the Field FeATURe, PAGe 12

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

For alumni of the national outdoor leadership School Spring 2013 • vol. 28 No. 2

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Letter to the Editor Hi Casey, I want to thank both you and Larkin for the wonderful review in The Leader’s fall edition. Larkin encapsulated many of the themes and information we hoped to get through to viewers in such a comprehensive yet short write-up. We truly are grateful for your support and the support of NOLS. I reconnected with a few of my old NOLS buddies after the article ran too! We are proud to be alums. Thanks again and happy New Year!



Carly Calhoun, Downwind and Downstream


WILDERNESS QUIZ What is Lapland, where is it, and why is it so unique? Answer on page 25.






















In just over four years, NOLS has successfully raised $21,187,500 toward the endowment and annual fund. This investment in the world’s next leaders guarantees a strong return. To create a stronger global community and a healthy planet, we need leaders who know how to listen to and communicate with people from every background. We need leaders who can adapt to challenges presented by a turbulent market or a changing climate. At NOLS, we believe that positive ethical leaders change the world. Thank you for support, and helping us develop these leaders.

Mauricio Clauzet

Our Place on The Map:


The successful completion of Campaign NOLS: Endowing Our Core Values is a landmark accomplishment. Through the support of our alumni, family, staff, and friends, we have strengthed our programs and will continue to produce the competent, ethical leaders the world’s communities need. By tapping the tremendous commitment, vision, and creativity of our supporters, we have ensured that NOLS will remain an organization dedicated to our core values of leadership, community, safety, excellence, wilderness, and education and secured our place as the leader in wilderness education.

Achieved fundraising goal of $19,250,000 Mid-campaign gift received after raising initial $10 million Capstone gift of $750,000

C ampaign NOLS Endowing Our Core Values



Issue Room



Utah is home to 80+ Wilderness Study Areas, whose fate could be decided by Rep. Bishop's "Grand Bargain." Brian Hensien



From red rock cliffs to whitewater rapids, slot canyons to high desert plateaus, Utah is home to some of the nation’s most awe-inspiring backdrops for recreation. The state also possesses rich mineral deposits in addition to oil and gas reserves. Like much of the West, over half of Utah is federal land. Meaning that we, the people, have a stake in it. While these three factors have led to many heated land-use debates over the years, there have also been some noteworthy compromises in the past. Take for example Utah’s Washington County lands bill. President Obama signed the bill into law in 2009, protecting 256,000 acres from oil and gas leasing while simultaneously selling between 5,000 and 9,000 acres of less-wild lands to developers. The result of lengthy public discourse, this bill is viewed by many as a blueprint for how such agreements should be reached. Since that effort, Utah Congressman


Rob Bishop, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, has initiated a similar effort for eastern Utah. In early 2013, Bishop began to explore potential congressional designations for Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) and other landscapes and waterways on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. WSAs exist in a unique kind of limbo as lands that possess exceptional characteristics deemed worthy of protection but have not been considered by Congress for formal Wilderness designation. Since their creation following inventory studies in the 1980s, the goal has been that each WSA would be periodically reviewed and moved up or down the ladder of protection. In the meantime, they are managed to maintain their wilderness quality. Utah’s BLM lands are home to 86 WSAs totaling 3.2 million acres, and Bishop feels the timing is right to move

many of them out of land management purgatory. Staffers from the congressman’s office and his colleagues’ have facilitated dozens of public meetings and field trips to see where common interests can be found when deciding what to do with these lands. Historically a proponent of oil and gas development, Bishop has nevertheless expressed a desire to help stakeholders—environmentalists and the energy industry alike—find compromise. Many domestic NOLS courses take place on WSA lands. From Split Rock in Wyoming to Hell’s Half Acre in Idaho, these areas provide staple classrooms for the school. In Utah, students rappel over canyon ledges, paddle whitewater rapids, and explore ancient ruins while traversing WSAs. Due to the slowchanging nature of their designation, and the present protections these lands enjoy, they are typically ideal for NOLS courses. Therefore, when opportunities arise, NOLS is eager to advocate the qualities that make these places so ideal for wilderness education. The public lands initiative in Utah is no exception, and the so-called “Grand Bargain” may have enough momentum to bear fruit. Interior Secretary Jewell has expressed her interest in forging agreements in the debate between conservation and development. Bishop and fellow Utah Congressmen Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart have indicated their hope to introduce a bill once consensus has been reached around re-drawing the maps. In the meantime, the affected counties in Utah are holding meetings and drawing up their preferred outcomes. Other stakeholders are making their opinions known as well, including recreationists of all stripes. Contact for more resources. Your testimony about the value of these backcountry areas could aid decision-makers.

Wild Side of Medicine



Erin credits her WMI education with her ability to respond well to an emergency in the backcountry. Erin Orwig

A Wilderness First R esponder (WFR) course teaches three things, though most people only think of the first: 1) wilderness medicine; 2) how to stay calm, focused, and react objectively under pressure by taking a mental step back; and 3) a problem-solving rather than problem-suffering mentality. The latter two have helped me in all aspects of my life since my WFR, but it all came together for me in November 2013 when I had to play WFR to myself on a solo hike in the Utah backcountry. Even established trails can be treacherous. This one in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park wove in and out and over areas of slickrock, smooth sandstone that erodes into hummocks and bowls characterized by long slabs, and stacks of small ledges. At the top of one slickrock bowl along the cairn line, I stepped down from one ledge to the next, and it was like it disappeared under my foot. I took an eight-foot barrel roll over the edge, and in the landing heard and felt

my right ankle snap. It was 45 degrees outside, overcast with precipitation in the forecast, on a Monday at the end of the tourist season, and I had no cell phone reception. When you’re hiking alone in these conditions, YOU are the only one who can help you. I found myself going into “WFR Mode” immediately. A veil of calm dropped down and I focused first on preventing shock. I elevated my leg and leaned back against my pack, closed my eyes, and focused on my breathing while I took stock of the rest of my body. Thankfully, aside from a few scrapes, the busted ankle was my only injury. Next came an assessment of appearance (swelling but no visible offset), range-of-motion (none), and if I could bear weight on it (definitely not). Considering the environmental conditions, there could be no waiting around hoping for rescue. I told myself, “It’s only a broken ankle, and it’s only a mile back to the car.” I took ibuprofen and thorough-

ly taped my ankle, then used a combination of crawling, rolling, crab-walking, and hopping with a big stick to make my way to the trailhead. That one mile was the longest of my life! I buoyed my spirits by making up a litany of ways it could have been worse and laughing at how ridiculous some were. At the trailhead, I iced my ankle and planned my return to civilization. Had I experienced such an injury before my WFR, I likely would have handled the situation very badly. Before, I tended to freak out in emergencies, and I would look to others to get me out of difficult situations. Now, it’s automatic to look within for answers instead of trying to seek advice elsewhere. The sense of independence coupled with confidence I gained has freed me, inspiring adventure after adventure. Again, thank you for teaching and empowering me and so many wilderness enthusiasts. I’ll be back for my recert!

WILDERNESS MEDICINE QUIZ A KEY POINT FOR DECIDING TO EVACUATE A PATIENT WITH AN ANKLE INJURY IS: A. Amount of Swelling C. Mechanism of Injury B. Usability D. Anti-inflammatory Medication Supply Answer on page 26.

Spring 2014


Alumni Profile


Derek and his service dog the first night he brought him home. Courtesy of Palm Beach Post

On June 14, 2012, while leading a Marine Special Operations Team on patrol in Afghanistan, Captain Derek Herrera was shot. The bullet lodged between two vertebrae in his spine, paralyzing him from the chest down. Seven years, nearly to the day, before that fateful patrol, Herrera and 11 fellow “I’VE BEEN ABLE TO DRAW ON THE THINGS I LEARNED DURING MY EXPEDITION TO PERFORM BETTER AS A PERSON AND AS A LEADER OF MARINES.”



midshipmen walked out of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains. The team had completed the third-ever Naval Academy Mountaineering Expedition designed and led by NOLS Professional Training. Beyond leadership and communication skills, the midshipmen encountered something unfamiliar: uncertainty. Until that point in his military career,


Herrera had been told what to wear, where to be, and what to do when he got there. At the beginning of his course, Herrera and his coursemates found it challenging to function without a concrete plan, familiarity with the environment, or pre-set culture and rules. When pressed, his instructors stated, “We are going to go here and then make a decision on what to do next.” The midshipmen, like all NOLS students, had to forge a plan together as they went. They had to adjust to this newfound self-reliance, but Herrera realized there are many times in life, and the military especially, where patience is essential to a situation. “At a certain point you will realize that you have the information you need to make a decision, or that you have to make that decision with the information you have currently,” explained Herrera. “This simple understanding has helped me immensely throughout my career.”

While Herrera had been afforded the opportunity to lead before, it was never with such purpose. The NOLS environment allowed him to lead a team to accomplish very challenging tasks. “I’ve been able to draw on the things I learned during my expedition to perform better as a person and as a leader of Marines,” he stated. “I leverage these lessons often. Everything from creating culture and shared vision within teams to managing expedition behavior has proved valuable for me.” Herrera raves that courses for midshipmen are “uniquely suited to offer a complimentary experience to the skills taught at the Naval Academy.” He believes while academic frameworks are important to learn what people think and why they may act the way they do, getting out and leading is the best way to learn leadership. He’s so passionate about this philosophy, he’s centered his business around it. He founded the Special Operations Leadership Experience, which employs military–trained special operators to teach civilians how to lead in challenging, uncertain environments. While based on military leadership training, Herrera admits the framework is very similar to the NOLS leadership model. It focuses on three leadership truths: situational awareness, self-awareness, and communication. Like NOLS, he believes leadership can be learned and anybody can be a leader; it just takes time, practice, and experience. What is so remarkable is that he’s doing all this as a wounded warrior. Perhaps it’s his type-A personality that won’t let him quit or his unfailing optimism. Perhaps it’s his keen ability to adapt to any situation. Or maybe it’s his commitment to serving the people and country he loves and who have given him so much. For all of these reasons and so many more, Herrera is a truly inspirational NOLS leader.

Alumni Profile



The mysteries of the ocean run deep. It is said we know more about the moon than about the ocean floor. One person shedding light on the ocean’s mysteries is Kristin Rasmussen, two-time NOLS graduate, and marine biologist studying humpback whales and other cetaceans (marine mammals). Rasmussen fell in love with the outdoors at an early age while attending a canoeing camp in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. After high school she decided to take a year off and enroll in a NOLS course. Of her month-long course in the Wind River Mountains in 1989, she remembers being caught in a sudden snowstorm and dancing and singing with her coursemates to stay warm. Looking back on her NOLS experience, Rasmussen said, “I love telling people now that I once did not wash my hair or use toilet paper for an entire month. People seem to think that that’s crazy.” She went on to study at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. During her last semester there, she took a class in marine science, fell in love with the subject, and never turned back. She went on to pursue a Master’s in marine science at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories where she did her thesis on the migratory patterns of humpback whales. One of Rasmussen’s research findings is that a population of humpback whales that divide their time between the

warm waters of coastal Central America and the cold waters of Antarctica have the longest migration route of any mammalian species at 5,160 miles. This discovery involved research missions to the Antarctic where researchers photographed the tails of cresting whales. Each whale has a unique tail pattern, similar to a human fingerprint, that allows researchers to track it over its lifetime. Whales photographed in the cold, Antarctic waters were later found near Central America thousands of miles to the north. The whales embark on their great odyssey in search of a milder environment in which to raise their young. In the warm waters north of the equator, they nurse their calves until they are strong enough to make the journey back to their cold home. The implications of their voyage are far reaching; it is insufficient to protect any one area of the ocean. Today, Rasmussen is president of Panacetacea, a nonprofit dedicated to the study and protection of marine species. When she is not on the open ocean searching for whales, she is educating Central Americans on the need to protect underwater habitats. Rasmussen is

invested in ensuring the ocean remains a pristine place thriving with life and providing enjoyment and wonder to humans and cetaceans alike. She says the top problems facing our oceans are overfishing, pollution, climate change, and coastal development. Panacetacea is doing its part by providing scholarships to Central American students to take part in marine research and promoting the development of marine parks and reserves that protect marine species in much the same way Wilderness areas protect terrestrial ecosystems. Rasmussen said it took a lot of selfreliance to see her nonprofit become a reality, a skill she learned on her NOLS courses. It took many years of traveling through Central America by bus and convincing fishermen to take her out on the ocean to conduct her research to make it to where she is today. “Going through a NOLS course and learning how to be self-reliant and learning that [I] could do it was really helpful to me,” she reflected. “It was at times daunting, but I always knew that I could do it.” Learn more about Panacetacea's initiatives at

Top: Kristin Rasmussen listens for humpback whales off the coast of Northern Costa Rica. Marco Saborio Above: A humpback whale breaches near Panama. Kristin Rasmussen

Spring 2014







Past students at NOLS Yukon may reminisce fondly 25 minutes away. Students and staff have several reasons to be excited about the pink-floored warehouse where they prepared about the move. At the old location, NOLS had to rent instructor for their course. Starting this summer, students can housing and students stayed at a local campground. It was, “less than say farewell to this quirky trait and hello to a five- ideal,” noted NOLS Yukon Director Jaret Slipp. The new facility has minute walk to hot springs. Across the Pacific Ocean, on-site lodging for instructors and space for students to camp. Slipp students at NOLS New Zealand are also seeing some said, “living and operating will be better.” The first course will run out big changes. Though there are no hot springs, students of the new location June 16, though the NOLS Board of Trustees will will find a river running through the campus with test it out first during meetings there on June 10. ample opportunities for swimming Turning our attention south, NOLS and kayaking. With these exciting New Zealand settled into its new lochanges, it is time to make the big THE NEW [NEW ZEALAND] CAMPUS cation in May 2013. The operation is announcement. We moved! now located in Aniseed Valley on the IS 'A PLAYGROUND FOR OUTDOOR northern tip of New Zealand's south For both locations, the decision to move revolved around longevity for island, about 250 miles north of the PURSUITS OF EVERY KIND.' operations in the area. The original old location near Christchurch. The NOLS Yukon location, though first students arrived at the campus in adequate, was at risk of being sold. By moving, NOLS August 2013. With a full season that included four semesters, an inYukon preempted a possible scramble to find a new structor course, and a Wilderness First Responder course, the location, facility. The more deliberate move gave NOLS time to which NOLS purchased, is working well. find a facility that best serves both students and staff. When not in the field, students will have plenty to explore at both With a 10-year lease at the new location, NOLS Yukon new locations. Those hot springs located just five minutes from NOLS can now focus on long-term goals. Yukon are the perfect way to finish a day of exploring the trails and In New Zealand, an imminent highway expansion other recreational options nearby. In the southern hemisphere, instrucproject will result in a segment of highway running tors already kayak in the river regularly, and there are ample opportuthrough the property NOLS rented until recently. nities for hiking, biking, and even berry picking just out the door. As Additionally, two major earthquakes in 2010 made it Mark Jordan, the director of NOLS New Zealand, aptly states, the new difficult to secure insurance for developing a property in campus is “a playground for outdoor pursuits of every kind.” the area. As with NOLS Yukon, the new location offers Though the new facilities are exciting and fun, it is the people behind the opportunity for further growth with more long-term the scenes that make it all possible. In-town staff and instructors at both security than the previous location. locations did an incredible job with the move while maintaining the On Sept. 1, 2013, NOLS Yukon moved from the high-quality courses for which NOLS is known. location adjacent to the Whitehorse airport to a campus Opposite: NOLS New Zealand started welcoming new students in May 2013. Top: NOLS Yukon features outstanding housing for instructors and students alike. Mark Jordan and Jaret Slipp Spring 2014



Tonsai Bay: the heart of sport climbing in Thailand. After weeks of planning, packing, studying guidebooks, and a long trip across the Pacific, we were here. Rounding the Prah Nang Peninsula in our longtail boat we saw it for the first time. Limestone cliffs soared 500 feet out of the jungle and tangled in the clouds of afternoon rain showers. Spires and rock faces hung over the white sand beaches and above the crystalline water. Unloading ropes, quickdraws, rock shoes, and the rest of our gear from the boat we waded to shore, anxious to tie it. What we found did not disappoint; climbs consisting of wild and fun movements onto overhanging stalactites and tufas, formations created by the dissolving and dripping of minerals through the cliffs. Over the next few weeks we explored the islands of southern Thailand, finding a diversity of challenges in the unique three-dimensional climbing. This was a climber’s paradise, but it wasn’t always perfect. The bugs could be horrendous and the heat and humidity were often stifling. Our main concern however, revolved around stainless steel expansion bolts, initially used to develop the climbing here. While these are the standard for protecting climbs in the United States and much of the world, the chemicals in the rock combined with the tropical climate that cause such unique climbing corrode these bolts at an astounding rate. Often this means that a normal looking steel bolt could be internally rusted and unsafe without showing any signs of wear. Over the past decade, Thai and foreign climbers have invested vast amounts of time and money to rebolting routes with safer titanium bolts.*

Not all routes have been updated as we found leading up the technical and sustained first pitch of “The Hand of Buddha,” clipping questionable steel bolts in the face of long runouts. Nearing the summit 300 feet directly over Koh Phi Phi Bay, the rock became razor sharp with glassy holds of delicate fossilized coral embedded in the limestone. Falling was not an option. The dagger-like rock could cut a tensioned rope, not to mention what would happen to your skin. Despite the extra spice factor, the location, quality of the climb, and camaraderie made this a highlight of our trip. Elsewhere we found challenges closer to the ground, fighting off monkeys while climbing the excellent routes “Gladiator” and “Stolen Russian Submarine.” Another favorite was “Humanality,” the only five-pitch climb we’ve ever done finishing with a free-hanging rappel touching down on the patio of a beachside bar. This amazing journey to explore Thailand was possible with help from the NOLS Instructor Development Fund. A quick look at a map of NOLS operations will reveal NOLS does not offer courses in Thailand. Nonetheless, this money is set aside for instructors to hone our skills: to explore, to grow, to develop, and ultimately better serve our students. Opportunities like these add to our list of why we choose to work for NOLS. Our trip ended with a visit to the city of Chiang Mai to explore cultural elements of this ancient city and of course, sample a little more climbing. As the sun began to drop at the end of our last day, we rappelled down and began coiling our rope. That was it. Our last climb in Thailand. No fanfare, no sending the project we were working on, just one last excellent pitch, like so many of the others we found. Instead we were left with memories of a “Trip of a Lifetime.” Traveling to the other side of the world can seem daunting, but sometimes it’s just the challenge you need to fuel the next adventure.

*For more information on the re-bolting effort, visit

Opposite top: Taylor makes her way up the formation shown in the photo on bottom left. Jared Steinman. Opposite bottom left: Taylor and Andy head back to their hotel after climbing The Hand of Buddha on the Oyster Blade. Jared Steinman. Opposite bottom right: Jared boulders at the 1, 2, 3, Wall at Railay East. Taylor Ganz. Above: Andrew Basset and Jared Steinman board a longtail. Taylor Ganz. Spring 2014






In just one tiny valley in the Rocky Mountains, one reporter found four couples whose relationships had been forged thanks to the NOLS connection. “Not that NOLS is an intentional singles service, but couples inevitably meet up as they zing about the country and the world attending courses as students or instructors,” writes T. Hamish Tear in the article “Solid Rock Relationships: Four couples manifest one man’s vision.” The article, featured in the Winter 2013-14 issue of Teton Valley Magazine, continues, “They find they have common interests in adventure and education, and there’s the strategic advantage of being practiced at calm and collected problem-solving. That is, they have learned the skills to keep relationships together, including their own.” Just in Driggs, Idaho, Tear found Amy and Dan Verbeten, a former instructor and current NOLS Teton Valley operations manager; Abby and Willy Warner, NOLS Teton Valley director and former NOLS Canada director; Bruce and Kat Smithhammer, instructors; and Andy and Molly Tyson, former NOLS Patagonia program director and instructor. Only a few issues ago in this very publication, we ran a profile about a NOLS graduate whose parents met on a NOLS course. In just a few issues of The Leader, it’s easy to find familial connections within and across articles, even within the staff who produce the magazine. In the collective knowledge at NOLS Headquarters alone, a handful of heartwarming stories of love found, families begun, legacies continued or rekindled (see pg 16) circulate regularly with smiles and exclamations. But it’s not all that surprising, as Tear points out. NOLS is a hub of like-minded individuals well equipped in the ways of fostering and supporting relationships, even when they’re put on hold for 30 days at a time. Surprising or not, stories like Amy and Dan, Abby and Willy, Bruce and Kat, and Andy and Molly are the stuff of storybooks and history books. What better time to celebrate the unexpected matchmaking role Paul Petzold has been playing since 1965 than the 50th anniversary of his school?

If you met your significant other on your NOLS course or through a NOLS connection, NOLS Alumni would like to share your tale (personal or anonymous) in an upcoming history book about NOLS. We believe an outdoor adventure, with all of its drudgery, discomfort, required tolerance, awe, beauty, humor, and tenacity make a good litmus for partnership, so stories to support our 50-year thesis will be helpful and entertaining. Furthermore, if a NOLS classroom inspired the naming of your pets, kids, or other, we’d love to hear about that, as well. We invite you to share your NOLS love story with us as we celebrate all that NOLS has meant to our students, faculty, and staff over the past five decades. Send your story to NOLS Alumni at or give us a call at 800-332-4280 so we can share these romantic anecdotes during the celebration of NOLS’ 50th anniversary.

From left to right, top to bottom: Elizabeth Hardwick, an instructor, was told she needed to meet Jen, a program supervisor at the time, and when she did she found she didn't pay attention to a single thing during her briefing: "I was immediately in awe.". Zach Snavely and Katie Everson met at NOLS Headquarters in early 2013, and their adventures together started shortly thereafter. John Gookin proposed to Mary via radio from the top of Denali on a NOLS course. She said yes—that was 26 years ago. Dan and Amy Verbeten live in Teton Valley together (Dallas, Out Island Adventures photo). Phil Henderson, met his wife Brenda on his first day at NOLS East Africa, and they worked together for the next 100 days. Ariel and MJ Greene met at NOLS Alaska. Anna and Evan Horn's paths didn't cross at NOLS HQ until he hired her for a project. They figured out they loved each other and got hitched last September. Right: Erin Bohm and Eli Shostak met 14 years ago on a Southwest Outdoor Educator course. They now share their adventures with their daughter.

Spring 2014


'A Thorn in My Side for 39 Years' Alum returns to the Grand with a special team





Opposite: Jay on the Briggs Slab, the first roped section of the climb in 2013.Jim Margolis Above: Jay and tentmate Jim Acee with the Grand in the background, taken at the NOLS base in Driggs after their attempt. Jay Margolis A FAILED ATTEMPT ON THE GRAND TETON...

On a cold September morning in 1974, my father, Jay Margolis, and five other Fall Semester in the Rockies students began working their way up a boulder field to the Grand Teton’s Lower Saddle. Led by instructor Bart Womack, the group reached the infamous Belly Roll on the Owen-Spalding route around 1 p.m. Though not technically difficult, the Belly Roll requires the climber, while on belay, to tiptoe around a bulge with about 2,400 feet of exposure below. “Everything was going fine until we got to the Belly Roll. I looked down and felt like I was on the wing of an airplane. I got sewing machine leg and couldn’t get [my leg to stop shaking],” Jay recalled. “It was 1 p.m. and there were a few clouds accumulating in the sky, so the instructor decided we had to turn around. We got back to camp after dark and then we all packed up and hiked a few miles, making camp at 10 p.m. That was our longest day.” The climb on the Grand was optional for the course, and half a dozen decided to do it. “The views were spectacular. We were on a very narrow trail and you could see off both sides of the ridge. We roped up for the last 500 feet, I think. There was ice in the chimneys. [The climb didn’t feel] exposed until you got to the Belly Roll,” Jay said. “Nobody ever said a negative word to me about not making it up the Grand. Nobody ever criticized me

about…keeping them from getting to the top. I thought that was extremely generous of the other [students].” ...BUT A WORTHWHILE EXPERIENCE

Like many NOLS students, Jay learned about the school through wordof-mouth. He had some interest in the outdoors from his experience as a summer camp counselor. When he graduated from college, he got a teaching job in Waterville Valley, N.H., a ski town. “I had a friend … who used to take me with him on his adventures— rock climbing, whitewater canoeing, and cross-country skiing. [That] got me interested in the outdoors. [My friend] knew about NOLS and recommended it to me.” “I didn’t know a semester was offered; I thought it would be a 30-day course. When I heard they had a semester, I was excited at the chance to be on the first semester course. It was great being out there and it was little bit of a shock to come back.” Jay describes his semester as, “one of the best times of my life.” Fifteen students participated in an array of sections including backpacking and rock climbing in the Winds; backpacking in the Tetons and an attempt on the Grand Teton; backpacking, canoeing, and fishing in Yellowstone National Park; caving at Natural Trap; horsepacking in the Winds; kayaking across Lake Powell; desert backpacking; and backcountry skiing and winter camping in the Absarokas. Jay’s strongest memories are of the instructors who taught the semester: “[They] were so capable and dedicated to what they were doing … qualified and confident,” he reflected. “They loved what they did. I have tremendous respect and love for them as people. “[Bruce Hampton] gave us wildlife biology lessons out in the field. I

Spring 2014


Above: Jay on the Upper Saddle after the last rappel coming down off the Grand. Jim Margolis



remember him wearing a red bandana around his neck, and he had a dog with a matching bandana. One of the first nights we were out, [Bruce led us] down to the lake and trout were biting. We caught browns and rainbows. We put them in a bag with cornmeal and spices, shook it up, and had sautéed trout. That was a highlight. He was a really a good teacher. He had a contagious love for the wilderness.” Skip Shoutis visited with the course. “He didn’t go out on the course with us, but he came and spoke to us,” Jay recalled. “He said Paul Petzoldt would say he was an environmentalist because he threw his billy can (an old coffee tin) in the woods where no one could see it.” NOLS founder Paul Petzoldt talked to the course. “He was a big, white-haired man with a tan cowboy hat. He talked to us about his climbing experience. He looked old to me, but I guess when I was 25 everyone looked old,” Jay noted. Petzoldt was 66 at the time. “Haven Holsapple was our caving instructor. Haven carried a battery operated razor and would shave every morning. He was a real clean cut guy.” The caving section was in Natural Trap. They rappelled from a pickup truck; getting back up wasn’t easy. “I [had] the darnedest time getting out of there because I had never used ascenders,” Jay recalled. “You had the tendency that you wanted to pull yourself up the rope but that wouldn’t work. It was very slow [and] you were hanging in mid-air for a long time.” Then there was George Hunker. “We went to Yellowstone and learned to fly fish. I whipped my line back and the hook caught on my eyebrow. [Instructor George Hunker] took it right out. He was really nice; a long-working, popular instructor.”


Susan Margolis, Jay’s sister, was also a student on the semester. “Susan was the most skilled rider on the course. The horses were amazing. We went up and down these … really rocky and incredibly steep [canyons]. At night, we would put hobbles on the horses’ feet and put cowbells [around their necks]. So we listened to cowbells all night. The things wouldn’t stop going,” Jay recalled. The course went boating with Tim Schell on Lake Powell. Jay remembers him as “a remarkable guy,” because he had had polio. His lower body was affected but his upper body was very strong. Instructor Carolyn Gillette carried ice skates with her on the winter course. “She Jay's strongest shoveled off part of one of memories are of the the lakes and went ice skating out there in the backcountry instructors who in the Absarokas. That was taught the semessomething—an unforgettable ter: "They were so memory.” The winter course only fly- capable and dedicamped and never made snow cated to what they shelters, according to Jay. were doing." They were out for 15 nights and had temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Jay reflected that, “on the nights it didn’t get [that cold], it would snow a foot and a half.” He recalls frequently getting up to shovel out the tent. “We skied on long and wide wooden Army skis with bear trap cable bindings. [One day], we went up and over a pass late in the afternoon. We had 65-pound packs on. I was a fairly experienced skier, but I got about halfway down and fell down. [The section] was challenging.” The course gear was quite different than it is today. Jay recalled, “The lumberyard was where we used to get all our rations and gear. I just remember all these ladies sitting at sewing machines and making goods to be used for the courses—sleeping bags and parkas.”

“I brought an old pair of dress slacks that were 100-percent wool. I wore them every day. Every student had to bring two old wool sweaters to the course and the seamstresses made them into one long wool sweater. “Everyone was issued a billy can. We would gather our cooking water with it. [Occasionally], we cooked on fires with billy cans.” When asked about what he ate on his course, Jay responded, “I can’t really remember anything other than ‘mac and cheese.’ I’m sure the students at NOLS now are living large compared to what we had.” "PUTTING HIS NOLS EDUCATION TO WORK"

When asked how the course impacted his life, Jay responded, “It made me realize how great the wilderness is and that it needs to be protected for other people to enjoy. [I came to understand] the importance of … taking other young people out in the woods so they learn to love it and appreciate it.” After his NOLS course, Jay became a teacher in Lime, N.H. “I taught the fourth grade,” he said. “We took three hikes in the fall. We worked on map reading, using the compass, staying together. We learned about the different trees and the leaves. I tried to mix in elementary school science with our hikes.” "A RETURN TO THE GRAND TETON AND LANDER"

I followed in my father’s footsteps and took a Summer Semester in the Rockies in 2003. I started as an instructor for NOLS in the summer of 2010. I found endless entertainment in my father’s memories about NOLS, especially after becoming an instructor. I could also tell that he wasn’t totally satisfied with his 1974 attempt on the Grand Teton. It was time for another try. In 2011, Jay, my brother David (Rock Climbing ‘06), my sister Jessica, and I climbed the Old Man’s Route (5.2) and the Old Ladies’ Route (5.2) on Seneca Rocks in our home state of West Virginia. This served as a perfect training climb. Jay had no problems with the climbing, and his legs never shook once. On Aug. 31, 2013, Jay flew to Riverton. After seeing the Noble Hotel again, he said, “The restoration was fantastic. Thank goodness there was no longer a bar and a Chinese restaurant. The moose head was still there.” The weather forecast was for 50-percent chance of thunderstorms all week, so he, my girlfriend and fellow NOLS instructor Angie Bates, and I spent another day hiking at low elevation, hoping the forecast would improve. It didn’t, but we hiked up to the Lower Saddle anyway. At 5 a.m. the next morning, the sky was clear, so we decided to go for it. At around 7:30 a.m., light rain began to fall. The storm appeared to be passing us to the north, so we continued with a watchful eye on the weather. We reached the Belly Roll just before 9 a.m. This time, Jay said he “just had to do it and wasn’t going down.” He climbed across without a problem. The obstacles after the Belly Roll fell away easily and Jay, Angie, and I reached the summit at 10:20 a.m. “This has been a thorn in my side for 39 years!” he said, elated to be standing on top of the peak that had eluded him in 1974. “When I came out [to Wyoming], I didn’t want to say anything to anybody about climbing the Grand because I didn’t know if I would make it,” Jay conceded. “After I climbed it, I was anxious to reconnect with people [from my course].” After the climb, Jay met with Peter Simer, former executive director of NOLS and the course leader for Jay’s winter section. Peter instantly

remembered Jay and his course. Two hours passed quickly as they reminisced on the porch of Peter’s house in Lander. “[NOLS] was one of the highlights of my 65 years,” Jay said afterward. “I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. I will always have that love for the school and the great people who have been instructors and students there. I am thrilled that the school has grown.” Regarding the failed attempt in 1974, Jay remarked, “I have to apologize to the people I kept from making it to the top. I hope they have had another chance and if they haven’t they should really try. The Belly Roll was really a piece of cake.” He went on to quote Yogi Berra: “90 percent of it is half mental.’” “[My son Jim] became a NOLS climbing instructor. He is the son of a dad with sewing machine leg. I guess that shows that evolution must be occurring.” Planning the climb on the Grand inspired Jay to reach out to his former coursemates. “I connected again with Jim Acee, my tent mate. I had not spoken to him in 39 years. I called him [twice and talked] about the instructors and students on our course. He was a long-time NOLS instructor. [It] seems like we haven't missed a beat. [We shared] very fond memories.” In the spirit of rekindling friendships and sharing stories, Jay would love to hear from his coursemates and former instructors. Feel free to contact him at

Fom left: Jim, Angie, and Jay pose at Lupine Meadows Trailhead. Jim Margolis

Spring 2014


Rich Brame

Brad Christensen

Alumni Trips & Reunions

ALUMNI TRIPS Are you interested in returning to NOLS in the backcountry but can’t take weeks off work? Do you want to share your NOLS experience with your non-grad friends and family? Do you want to adventure and network with like-minded, outdoorsy adults who know the meaning of “EB”? If you bellowed, “Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!” then join us on an alumni trip in 2014. NOLS offers short backcountry trips for our alumni and guests. These trips have top-quality instructors, and though they aren’t guided adventures, we do cater a bit more to the desires and maturity levels of our participants. Customized trips are also available. Call us to design your dream adventure. Signing up: A $200 per-person, non-refundable deposit is required for enrollment on all alumni trips. For more information or to sign up, call NOLS Alumni at (800) 332-4280 or visit

SEA KAYAK ALASKA’S PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND UPCOMING NOLS ALUMNI EVENTS NOLS is coming to your community this summer! 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. Watch for events in your area in 2014:

• Boston, Mass. • Freeport, Maine • Chicago, Ill. • Denver, Colo. • Bozeman, Mont. • Portland, Ore. • Seattle, Wash. For more information, see

Dates: July 20-26, 2014  |  Cost: $1,800

Paddle in Alaska’s world-famous Prince William Sound, past towering tidewater glaciers that moan and crackle. Crystal-blue icebergs bob on the ocean’s surface, and wooded coves dot the shore. The sea teems with various forms of life, and you’ll have the ideal vantage point to view it all. You’ll work hard paddling with all your gear stowed in your boat, but you’ll have opportunities to play as well.


Dates: July 21-31, 2014  |  Cost: $2,295 (alumni only) This classic backcountry mountaineering trip to Gannett Peak (the top o’ Wyoming!) involves robust hikes, glacier crossings, moraine living, mixed routes, and the stunning and rugged granite core of the Wind River Range. If you’d like to add mountaineering to your list of NOLS skills, join us on Gannett Peak (13,804 feet).


Dates: August 3-9, 2014 |  Cost: $1,995 Alaska’s Copper River is a huge, moderately technical, glacial river. Beautiful scenery, the chance to learn paddle and oar rafting, and incredible natural history all make this a memorable trip. Skills include the basics—camping, map reading, stove use, and LNT techniques. Rafting curriculum includes paddle strokes, group travel, rigging, river hazards, reading water, and rescue techniques. Bring your family and friends for an unforgettable adventure!


Date: August 10-16, 2014 | Price: $595 (subsidized by NOLS)



NOLS grads and families venture into Wyoming’s beautiful Wind River Mountains for a week of camping, camaraderie, and service. Conduct a service project to protect public lands and enhance visitors’ backcountry experience. Projects include trail construction, bridge maintenance, or campsite rehab. Service work is demanding. We’ll use shovels, hammers, pry-bars, and team muscle. There is also time for photography, socializing, and possibly summiting a peak or fishing.



The Centre Cannot Hold By David Gulden, Semester in Kenya ‘91 Things aren’t always black and white. The cruel and uncomfortable yet beautiful and raw reality of the Kenyan wilderness often receives a romanticized filter through photographs appearing on major news networks and publications. Human conflict and death make headlines while images of nature and wild animals get exposure intermittently. “The Centre Cannot Hold” is a concentrated collection of images that evokes emotion and exists to change the glamorization that is all too often woven into the content that we interact with. For over 10 years, NOLS Semester in Kenya grad David Gulden has committed himself fully to capturing images of the flora and fauna of the Kenyan bush. In this wonderful compilation of photographs, Gulden’s efforts

become very obvious. He has spent that decade familiarizing himself with the land, with the animals, and with his camera. When these three elements ultimately converged, he created a stirring collection of images that have pushed the envelope for wildlife photography in this region. With each turn of the page containing a new adventure, tangible emotions, and texture unique to this part of the world, this book is an experience in and of itself. It deserves the viewer’s patience and attention, not to mention a spot on his or her coffee table. That Gulden has chosen not to clutter the pages of his book with distracting captions and descriptions also works in his favor. Like the locations and animals in Gulden’s book, our imaginations are uncaged and free to wander. Great photography tells a story. This book delivers that story in its truest form. Sometimes, things are black and white. Reviewed by Jared Steinman, Social Media Coordinator. © 2012 David Gulden.

For The Common Good; Redefining Civic Leadership By David D. Chrislip, former NOLS instructor, and Ed O’Malley Though the title declares civic leadership as the focus, the concepts articulated in this book apply to leadership in general. In broad definition, Chrislip and O’Malley note civics “include the role of ordinary citizens and others in the organization and workings of society to address common concerns.” These words prove genuine in more narrow and specific settings as NOLS courses, a familiar environment for Chrislip, a NOLS instructor from 1975 to 1987. Chrislip and O’Malley divide their book into parts focusing on the state of, the practice of, and the heart of civic leadership. Along with introducing the story and mission of the Kansas Leadership Center, Part I examines and reviews civic challenges and their impact on leadership. Crucial to this section are the examination of what leadership is and the introduction and examination of adaptive challenges to leadership. Part II focuses on competencies for responding to civic challenges. These chapters introduce the skills of managing one’s self, diagnosing situations, intervening skillfully, and energizing others. The authors use stories of civic

leaders and activists exercising leadership and effecting constructive change to highlight each competency. The skills introduced also resonate in an expedition environment. Part III returns to the whole, to the common good. As noted by the authors, leadership, though risky, is an activity available to anyone at anytime through engaging oneself and others. Chrislip and O’Malley posit leadership not as a selfish endeavor for personal advancement but rather shared responsibility “in pursuit of the common good.” The tenets put forth in this book create a strong foundation for leadership and expedition behavior in society-at-large as well as within the small-group expedition setting. Reviewed by Marco Johnson, Field Staffing Director, © 2013 David D. Chrislip and Ed O’Malley. Chrislip will present at the 2014 NOLS Faculty Summit.

NOLS Canoeing Alexander Martin, NOLS Instructor For several centuries, the canoe was a primary method of travel for explorers and settlers. Today, it remains an important part of a NOLS wilderness experience and also an enjoyable leisure activity among friends and family. Whether the reader is planning a day on the water or an extended expedition in the backcountry, this book will be an excellent source of reference. This book is the latest in a series of books authored by NOLS staff. Alexander Martin in this book provides the reader with firsthand experience based knowledge and advice. The book discusses the technical skills needed for all types of water—flat water or whitewater. All aspects of canoeing are covered in this book, basic equipment, environmental ethics, navigation,

water science, expedition planning, and most importantly, safety. Both novice and experienced canoers will benefit from reading this detailed and wellillustrated book. There are plenty of color photos and detailed illustrations to give examples of the author’s explanations. Paddlers have a role to play in the protection of our waters, whether true Wilderness, parkland, or an abused local river. Paddlers tend to know a place best and the ways to work to conserve it. This book emphasizes ways to minimize our impact as well. The success of any expedition depends on proper preparation and the skills needed on it. This book would be a great addition to anyone’s reference library for future outdoor adventures. Reviewed by Diane Shoutis, NOLS Alumni Relations Coordinator © 2013 National Outdoor Leadership School.

Fall 2013


Gear Room




A fter over five years of playing Sherpa /burro /donkey/pack mule to our son, we finally had the opportunity to get him back, thanks to the Deuter Fox 30. As we prepared for our first outing with the Deuter Fox 30, I felt both guilty and smug. A little devil was jeering over one shoulder, “Haha! That’s 30 cubic liters of space that you can now stuff with all the things HE needs that YOU’VE had to lug around for the past few years! Layers! Water! Snacks! Toys! Books! Even those Star Wars Legos he INSISTS on carrying around everywhere even though he KNOWS he’s going to lose little bits and pieces along the way and have a tantrum later! (Insert evil laugh)” The little angel was looking at me with judging eyes, pleading with me to have mercy on the poor little tyke. “Bad mom—he’s only five! And he hasn’t even skied before. Why would you burden him with all these things when you could very easily carry it yourself? (Insert tut-tutting.)” The devil won. And thank goodness he did. Kieran absolutely loved the Fox 30. Compared to the Deuter Junior, which he carried on a five-day backcountry trip last year and now carries to school every day, the Fox 30 fits more snugly (it has a waist belt) and will fit everything he needs for not only a long day in our local Nordic ski area, but a longer day of hiking in our backyard— the Wind River Range. It also provided great cushioning as the little man kept wiping out on his skis. We’re looking forward to using it this summer on our third annual llama packing trip in August, when Kieran will hopefully be able to hike even longer miles without bugging us to retrieve various and sundry items out of our backpacks. Am I feeling just a teensy bit guilty about making him wear a big pack? Maybe. But am I also feeling some redemption? Definitely! Oh, and let’s not forget that the Fox 30 also just empowered my little boy to become a true backpacker.



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Recipe Box


NEW CINNAMON BUNS Bread • 1 tbsp yeast • 1 ½ cups luke warm water • 2 tbsp sugar • 2 tsp salt • 2 tbsp butter or oil (optional) • 3 to 3 ½ cups flour Filling • 4 tbsp butter • ½ to 1 cup brown sugar • 1 tbsp cinnamon • ½ cup nuts (optional) • ½ cup raisins (optional)

Directions: Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water with sugar and salt. Cover and let sit for five minutes in warm spot until it froths. Add half the flour and beat vigorously two to three minutes; the wet batter will smooth out and start to get stringy. Add butter and remaining flour to make a thick dough. Knead the bread on a floured fry pan for 10 minutes. The dough will be silky and springy. Shape into a loaf and place in a well-oiled fry pan. Press dough out to edges and grease the top with oil or butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour. Spread roll into a large rectangle ½ inch thick. Mix butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until creamy. Form small patties of dough, spread with filling, and pinch into buns (watch video on NOLS.TV). Cover and bake, using a twiggy fire, for 2535 minutes.

Nate Denn

We recently received an email from Nate with a recipe that couldn’t be better suited to the 10th issue of what has become a NOLS classic itself: the NOLS Cooking Show. His recipe is a modification of the NOLS favorite, classic cinnamon rolls. Nate wrote that he and his wife have made the classic NOLS treat many times while on the trail and at home. “One lazy Sunday morning while at home we decided to change things up a bit,” he wrote. “Instead of rolling the dough in the traditional manner, we pinched off small portions of dough, placed a spoonful of filling inside, and closed up the dough like a bun.” Nate’s wife noted these new “cinnamon buns” resembled Chinese Bao. So they decided to put it to the test on their next trip. “They turned out better than cinnamon rolls made the traditional way!” Nate reported. The gooey, sugary filling did not leak out, making cleanup very easy. In fact, it melted into the bread while it baked, yielding a delicious, tidy treat. Nate noted the bun format is more portable than traditional rolls; if, on the off chance you have leftovers, they can be pack up for easy transport for a quick snack on the go later. Nate and his family have experimented with other fillings, including pasta sauce and cheese with great success, so we thought we’d jump on board. Watch Casey Pikla and Amy Rathke make their own bun variations at NOLS.TV or by scanning the QR code below. Read more about Nate’s adventures at




Watch Casey’s expert technique in preparing this twist on a classic at NOLS.TV or by scanning this QR code!



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

GRADS FROM THE ‘70S Wendy Ritchey, Tennessee Mountain Craft Course ‘72 Wendy took a caving course in the 1970s in Tennessee with Jim Ratz. She thru hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2012 doing a series of watercolor paintings along the way, then did a series of oil paintings based on these and had an art exhibit at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Sciences gallery. Another upcoming showing at RTKL Architectural firm in Chicago features paintings of midwest national forests. Craig Caddell, Wilderness Fly Fishing ‘75 At the beginning of his course, he was paired up with John Doane from Santa Barbara and they weathered experiences together such as waiting out an electrical storm at the summit of Harrower Peak and a shiver bivy that night. Their friendship had taken root. John went off to Stanford and eventually medical school while Craig did a variety of things including sailing to Australia. Craig and

John only see each other every five or 10 years, but it’s as if no time at all has passed. Their friendship forged 39 years ago in the Winds is still going strong. GRADS FROM THE ‘80S James “KG” Kagambi, Denali Expedition ‘89 and instructor, and Emilie Cortes, Wilderness First Responder ‘12 KG and Emilie were introduced virtually by another NOLS alumnus and met in Nairobi in August 2012. Emilie runs Call of the Wild Adventures, adventure travel for women, and KG runs KG Expeditions. Emilie and KG are now working together to bring American women exciting trips such as climbing Mt Kenya in Kenya and trekking the Rwenzoris in Uganda. John McConnell, SIC ’86 and instructor, and Virginia Rhoads, Kenya semester ’85 John and Virginia are thrilled to move their home and business (Jempe Center) to a small ranch on Whidbey Island near Seattle. This retreat-like

WILDERNESS QUIZ LAPLAND: An area often explored by NOLS courses, is a cultural and geographic region of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Considered by many the last great wilderness in Europe, Lapland is a diverse, stunning, and remote region of the world primarily north of the Arctic Circle. The Sami indigenous people, rich in tradition, have a strong presence in the area and they are commonly known for their reindeer herding. Glaciated peaks, fjords, and abundant lakes also characterize this region. UNESCO has designated a portion of this area as a World Heritage Site called Laponia. Among the beautiful culture of the Sami, this area is home to myriad and varied animal species including moose, reindeer, lemmings, lynx, fox, brown bear, and wolverine!

setting brings them closer to the land and is the perfect setting for their nature-based life coaching and leadership training work. In March they took a group of clients to John Hauf’s ranch in Patagonia and in 2014 they will take a group to Tanzania. Christopher Adventure Course ’83, and Molly Barnes, Baja Sea Kayaking ‘90 Former NOLS instructors Christopher and Molly along with their sons, Jack and Porter are sailing around the world. You can follow their travels on GRADS FROM THE ‘00S Neil Rosenberg, Medicine in the Wild, ‘06 Seven years ago Neil was skeptical about having his Medicine in the Wild course located in southern Utah. He has found himself visiting two to three times a year ever since, and he finally moved to Salt Lake City this past summer. He couldn’t be happier, and feels he owes a big thanks to NOLS! Karolis Karalevicius, Alaska Sea Kayaking ‘07 Last year he spent three weeks in a super remote location in Patagonia, near Raul Marin Balmaceda, not very far from the site of Chaiten volcano that erupted in 2008. The experience of living in true wild for three weeks made him reminisce about NOLS and the time he spent in Alaska in 2007. It was that sea kayaking course in 2007 that really put the foundation in place

From the beginning, NOLS courses have been full of fun and humor (top), as well as challenge. Ken Jones.

to be comfortable in places like Patagonia, including solo backpacking a full circuit of Torres Del Paine over six days. GRADS FROM THE ‘10S Erika Mittermaier, Wilderness First Responder ‘11 Erika has used her WFR skills more than her EMT certification skills! Quick thinking and having a first aid bag handy saved her co-worker and friend after he fell 15 feet from the top of a climb. He was able to hike/

limp out after the bleeding was stopped and his ankle was properly packaged. Practicing splinting and packaging is as essential as knowing where everything is in your first aid bag! MARRIAGES, ENGAGEMENTS & ANNIVERSARIES Erin Newbury, Wind River Wilderness ’03, and Mike Hogan Erin and Mike were married Fall 2013 25

Joshua Mathews, Baja Sea Kayaking ‘98 & instructor, and Ashley Brock, former NOLS employee Joshua and Ashley were married Aug. 10, 2013 in the redwoods near Ben Lomond, Calif. The couple resides in Berkeley, Calif. with their two dogs, Tucker and Maisie. NEW ADDITIONS Mark C. Yanni, former instructor, and Robin delaFuente Mark and his wife Robin are excited to introduce their triplets Ajax Salvatore, Nico Robert, and Francesca Geraldine, born Dec. 9, 2013. Marlow Stanton, River Instructors Course ’08, and Erin Riley Stanton, River Instructor Course ‘08 Marlow and Erin are the proud parents of a baby girl born Jan. 7, 2014 at 10 am. Kora Lodore Stanton weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces. The new family is doing great. IN REMEMBRANCE Jake Merrill, Alaska Mountaineering ‘11, WFR ‘12 Jake died in an avalanche while guiding Feb. 11, 2014 in Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains.

Thea Linnaea Pyle, Wilderness Expedition Course ‘69 Thea 66, of Grays River, Wash., died Nov. 20, 2013, at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, after a 10-year courageous and challenging co-existence with ovarian cancer. Thea is survived by her husband Bob, sister Anne (Leon) Martin, son Tom (Iliana) Hellyer, daughter Dory (Jeb) Van Bockel, four grandchildren David, Cristina, Edward, and Francis, and her former husband David (Terri) Hellyer of Chelan. John V McCormick, 25-andOver Wyoming Wilderness Course ‘86 John passed away at the age of 77 on Jan. 5, 2014. Surviving are his wife of 53 years the former Louise M. Veltman, daughter Kristina Formica of Denver, Colo., son Randall McCormick of Flushing, N.Y., and granddaughter Samantha Formica of Denver. Derek Neufeld, Semester in the Yukon ‘11 Derek passed away Dec. 31, 2013. Derek is survived by his parents Verna and David, brothers Christopher (Jo) and Trevor (Bailey); nephew and niece Jasper and Amber, and girlfriend Tiffany Peters.


Brad Christensen

last November in Charlotte, N.C., where they now reside.

GOLD STANDARD EDUCATION, PLATINUM ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICES There are few things that make the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator at NOLS happier than a resource conservation effort supporting other school-wide goals. There is no better embodiment of that alliance than the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus. Built to be a worldclass educational facility for NOLS’ growing Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI), it has also earned the recognition of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program in the form of LEED Platinum certification in late 2013. In obtaining this certification, the Wyss Campus became the second building in Lander to receive a LEED certification and the fifth building in Wyoming to garner a LEED Platinum certification. The campus is designed from the ground up for educational excellence and resource conservation. The average student will enjoy a number of sustainable features that enhance their learning experience. For instance, any wintertime student will appreciate the warm toes provided by the geo-thermal-powered radiant heat floors and cozy classrooms sheltered by extensive insulation. When a WMI instructor warms up the LCD projector to help out those visual learners, the 18.8 KW of solar panels will help power that education. Inside, WMI students will take notes and practice skills in the natural classroom lighting. Outside, they will participate in scenario-based learning on landscaping nourished by rainwater collection. At NOLS we always strive for maximum impact education and minimum impact practices. The school’s commitment to this maxim has no better illustration than the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus.




B. This is the practical approach in the wilderness. Usable injuries are treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and brace or taping/wrap support as needed. Unusable injuries are assumed to be fractures or dislocations and are immobilized with splints.


School Notes

NOLS AUSTRALIA • Sharon Ferguson, Australia Branch Program Manager, belongs to a roller derby league in Broome, Western Australia. They were 5-0 last season. • The town of Broome, location of NOLS Australia, was originally founded in the late 1880s as a pearling port. Pearl farming is still an important export for the region. • The Kimberley region, where NOLS Australia operates all of our hiking courses, has been home to indigenous people for at least 30,000 years prior to the arrival of Europeans. • The Kimberley Wilderness Area is one of the world’s last great wilderness areas. Covering an expanse of nearly 163,321 square kilometers and with an estimated population of just 30,000, it has fewer people per square kilometer than almost any other place on Earth. • There are only two seasons in northwest Australia. NOLS Australia expeditions start at the end of the wet season (tropical storms, high humidity and high temperatures) and finish up in the dry season (hot days, cool evenings, and lots of sunshine).

Oscar Manguy

NOLS NEW ZEALAND • Ernest Rutherford, a New Zealand-born physicist and Nobel laureate who became known as the father of nuclear physics, was born only 10 kilometers from NOLS New Zealand. The chemical element Rutherfordium was named after him in 1997. • We have been operating at our new facility, in the Aniseed Valley near the town of Nelson, for only five months but it already feels like home! Read more on page 10. • Six countries are represented by our in-town staff team this year: USA, New Zealand, Mexico, England, Chile, and Australia. • The NOLS New Zealand resident Weka (a protected native bird) family had their first brood of three chicks in November 2013. • The second film in the Hobbit trilogy—The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug—features an exciting Orc attack while floating down the Pelorus River, which is just a stone’s throw from NOLS New Zealand in Richmond Forest Park where we run hiking courses.

Jim Chisolm

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

The Alumni Achievement Award is given to an alumnus who has taken what they’ve learned at NOLS and become notably successful in the outdoor recreation, education, or conservation industry. NOLS is pleased to present the 2013 Alumni Achievement Award to Caroline Byrd. She is the executive director of the conservation-focused nonprofit organization Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC). The Alumni Service Award is given to a devoted alumnus who has served the

school in exemplary ways as NOLS pursues its mission to teach leadership, conservation, and outdoor skills. The 2013 NOLS Alumni Service award goes to semester grad David Lucchino in recognition for his years of service. His efforts have consistently opened doors for the school, particularly at Boston’s iconic Fenway Park. Lucchino’s assistance has connected hundreds upon hundreds of Boston grads, friends, families, and prospective students with NOLS.

Oscar Manguy

Annual Alumni Award Recipients

Top: A scene in the second Hobbit film features the Pelorus River. Middle: Sunrise in New Zealand’s Kahurangi Range. Bottom: Tidepool discovery in New Zealand’s Malborough Sound.

Fall 2013 27

Field Notes


After being on cue all day, Sarah and her coursemates found they let their guard down in the parking lot. Tod Schimelpfenig



Finally, a real injury! But in the parking lot before heading back to camp. Dave demonstrated “sausage finger” by slicing his deeply on an edge of the canoe trailer, right in the parking lot, even as the first aid kit, neck collar, back boards… were being stashed away into trucks. Already during the Wilderness Medicine and Rescue Semester we had rappelled through narrow slot canyons, hiked for days without instructors, and participated in realistic Wilderness EMT scenarios—all without so much as a scratch. During the three-day swift-water rescue section, we camped at a campground and drove to the river each day. That particular day, we had swum through rapids and waited out a thunderstorm up-canyon between narrow,


steep walls. We had practiced various tech- heavy moving pieces. Dave’s sausage finger niques for rescuing foot-entrapped boat- was a first-hand example of letting the ers. Risk management was at the front of illusion of safety affect decision making. our minds. Why did the worst real injury Clearly, then, it is safest to never leave of the semester happen that evening, in the wilderness where we acknowledge the parking lot? our vulnerability, right? Maybe not; the Nineteen students were anticipating dry more times we paddle the same river clothes and dinner, trying to quickly un- without incident, the more likely we are load the trailer. Several of us realized at the to fall under the illusion of safety. As we same time that the back trailer door was begin to feel familiar with the eddies and jammed by a pin holding the top door obstacles, we can become blind to subtle open. Impulsively, some people pushed on changes. If we then make mistakes and the back door, some people pushed on the get away with it, unaware and lucky, our top door, and Dave pulled out the safety illusion of safety is reinforced. Our group pin. The top door fell on his finger. Next had already successfully unloaded and thing: “Oh that’s bone…” reloaded the trailer multiple times. When Order was quickly restored. After the we moved quickly and did not get away bleeding was stopped and his laceration with it—when we became complacent— was dressed, Dave got in the van for the Dave ended up stating matter-of-factly, two-hour drive to town for stitches. We “Oh that’s bone.” sat down to debrief this ironic, but real, Can we learn to recognize complacency incident. We were lucky to have been in without making blood sacrifices? Yes, to a parking lot. There was no prolonged some degree. We can practice and develop wilderness evacuation. And Dave was sur- a critical self-awareness, where we rememrounded by more EMTs than most people ber to increase our guard and our focus will ever encounter. We agreed that next and decrease our pace because we see the time we should pause in the moment to campsite. We can subtly alter our emphacoordinate a sis to understand plan, appoint incidents that do AS WE BEGIN TO FEEL FAMILIAR — OUR a single trailer occur. ILLUSION OF SAFETY IS REINFORCED. director and The NOLS Wilfewer people derness Handbook hands-on. We understood Dave’s accident points out, “If a person attempts a peak could have easily been prevented, had any despite deteriorating weather and sufof us recognized our frenzied pace and fers hypothermia, was it ... the storm or called for us to slow down. the person’s decision to push ahead that But in a parking lot, and everyone an caused the injury?” EMT! In retrospect, it makes sense that Our best hope is to debrief after every after a full day of conscientiously managing day, whether it goes smoothly or not, and risk, we let our collective guard down when ask, “Did I get after it, or did I get away we arrived at the familiar parking lot. Our with it?” one critical omission was forgetting to see On Dave’s unlucky day, the answer was the familiar canoe trailer as a hazard with simply “no.”

Belay Off


L ast summer, Don Whittemore returned to a place that had a profound impact on him and he returned the favor. “What happened to me in 1976 here is why I’m back here,” he said, surrounded by wildland firefighters at the incident command post in Lander, Wyo. In 1976, Whittemore was 16, self described as rambunctious, unfamiliar with leadership. But as one of the younger students on an Absaroka Wilderness course, he ended up learning a great deal about teams in leadership and discovering a lifelong passion. Having the trust of his teammates, as well as their support when he stumbled, rather than being alone in a position of leadership, was eye-opening for Whittemore. He recalls one day selecting a route on the map that would take them through a white space on the map that appeared to be easy ground to cover. They got to that place only to find a boulder field. Whittemore felt the weight of a “terrible decision” settle in his gut, but that day he learned a lesson more important than discernment in map-reading. “As a leader, you’re going to make mistakes,” he said, adding, “How you react, recover, respond is as important as the decision itself.” “I didn’t fully understand it at 16, but it helped me understand that leading is pretty cool,” Whittemore noted. He has been fascinated with leadership and team dynamics ever since, even returning for a second NOLS course in 1981. Whittemore became intrigued with his second love, firefighting, in his mid 30s, and these two interests led him to set his sights on being an incident commander. He built a Type-3 team in Boulder and is currently the deputy incident commander of one of the Rocky Mountain Type-2 Incident Management Teams, inter-agency groups tasked with handling wildfires, floods, and other disasters of regional and national significance. While on the team, he has also served as division supervisor, structure protection specialist, and planning section chief. “My NOLS lessons set the stage, made it safe to be a leader, to explore those aspects of myself in a safe, supportive environment,” Whittemore reflected. “I learned that the strength of a team comes from the environment

a leader creates for sharing, suggesting, listening, being aware of the team and dynamics.” Whittemore has been building and leading impressive teams for some time now, making his way from T5 fire organizations up to T2, responding to the second most complex disasters within the Incident Command System. His passions for leadership and fire management brought Whittemore back to Lander in July 2013, and his “MY NOLS LESSONS SET THE love for NOLS only made his work STAGE, MADE IT SAFE TO BE A that week that much more meaningful LEADER, TO EXPLORE THOSE to him. On July 22, a fire broke out ASPECTS OF MYSELF IN A SAFE, in Sinks Canyon southwest of Lander. SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT.” The Fairfield Fire grew quickly to a T2 fire, calling for a more advanced team of wildland firefighters than Lander had: Whittemore’s team. A T2 incident commander in-training at the time, Whittemore and his team directed the Fairfield Fire away from structures in the area and tamed the blaze. While camped out at the Lander Valley High School, Whittemore reflected on how serendipitous his career path, which he started late in life, and his return to Lander were. He teared up while discussing the power of his NOLS experience and the importance of his work in the mountains of Wyoming where he discovered his passion for leadership.

Don Whittemore briefs resources during Hurricane Sandy in New York City in 2012.

Fall 2013 29

“[At 16] I learned that being chosen to be a leader exemplifies a level of proficiency and respect,” he said. “If you’re a leader, people respect you for who and what you are, if taken honorably.” It was apparent at incident command in Lander that Whittemore took his position with great honor. He spoke passionately of his responsibility to his team and to the land he was endeavoring to save from inferno. “THE CHANGE ON HER FACE—I WISH I COULD CAPTURE THAT FOREVER. SECOND TO HER BIRTH, IT WAS HER MOST AMAZING MOMENT WITH ME.” A week after it started, the Fairfield Fire was declared 100-percent contained and Whittemore and his team turned the last of the fire management and cleanup back over to the local firefighters. No buildings were damaged or lives lost. Whittemore’s passions have lifted him to renowned expert and speaker on fire and disaster incident response and wildland fire behavior. He is an instructor on the topics of fire behavior, incident management, leadership, and decision-making. In his many years of experience, he has grown to appreciate that incident leadership and response is both an art as well as a science. His continually seeks to better understand and communicate the “art” sides of leadership, decision-making and incident management. Perhaps this explains why he speaks so eloquently and ardently on the subject of leadership. It was clear to this writer a few moments into an interview, and over a lifetime a daughter would certainly come to understand the importance Whittemore places on his NOLS education perhaps better than anyone. And at age 16, his daughter Madison sought out her own NOLS experience on a Wind River Wilderness course in 2009. “It was a really neat moment dropping her off,” Whittemore reflected, so many years after he had taken his course at the same age. “And when I picked her up, the change on her face—I wish I could capture that forever. Second to her birth, it was her most amazing moment with me.” Shortly before the Fairfield Fire, Madison had returned to NOLS and completed her Wilderness First Responder with WMI. She is also enrolled in a Fall Semester in India with NOLS. “The WFR got her interested in medicine; now she’s interested in EMS and ride-alongs with the fire department,” he bragged. As it turns out, NOLS may just play a role in Madison finding her passion like it did her father.



Top: A view of the Fairfield Fire from NOLS Headquarters in Lander, Wyo. Brad Christensen. Bottom: Whittemore played a key role in putting the fire to a stop before it reached any homes. Don Whittemore





The Osprey

By Sarah Losen

By Ben Stevens

Here we sit, our backs together, Soaking up the warmth and taste of salt. His body has been twisted by the wind and sea. Gnarled and smooth to the touch, I can feel his long journey, Drifting from shore to shore. We rest here in the sand, Breathing in and leaning back, We think on where we have been and where we will go. He feels warm and comforting, my temporary pillar. I will move on and leave for the the next passerby. But here and now this time is ours, feeling the sun and tasting the sea.

Sitting, floating, in the sky. Searching, looking, way up high. What stick or twig or critter will do for dinner or nest, perhaps the two. Riding the wind or chasing the waves, the Osprey’s search can last for days. Always still, but continually in motion. This unique beast, spirit never broken.

Haiku for Spotted Eagle Rays By Eric Cowen

Jumping Twirling High Acrobatic Eight feet wide Searching for the sky

Haikus for the Cardón By Ell Olson

Growing so slowly A couple centimeters Average per year A Cardón can be Over two hundred years old And weigh ten tons, plus. Edible fruit, but… It’s no Pitaya Dulce So we don’t eat it. Where to find Cardón They grow only in Baja So search no further.

By Alisha Bube

We’d love to hear from you! Send letters, cartoons, rants, limericks, or watercolors our way, and we’ll get them on the pages of The Leader. We’re easy to contact—try Facebook, Twitter @NOLSedu, email ( or the phone at (800) 710-NOLS. Fall 2013


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

Donate. “The untainted beauty of the Yukon and its wildlife still leaves me speechless. I could never have imagined that such a paradise exists on Earth...It was an experience that I will never forget. I am so grateful to have received a scholarship. NOLS has made an enormous impact on me. I cannot thank you enough.” Shunn Thiengi Yukon Backpacking and Canoeing 2013, scholarship recipient


The Leader - Spring 2014  

The Leader is a magazine for alumni of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a nonprofit school focusing on wilderness skills, lead...

The Leader - Spring 2014  

The Leader is a magazine for alumni of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a nonprofit school focusing on wilderness skills, lead...