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NOLS Scholar Becomes Fulbright Scholar 14 13 Courses in 33 Months


Teamwork and Communication in Search and Rescue 18

Step Forward: The Campaign for NOLS 20

From the President

THE LEADER November 2018 • Volume 34 • No. 1 Published three times a year in April, August, and November.



Emmi Laakso Kristen Lovelace


arely is an issue of The Leader dedicated primarily to one topic. You—our alumni and friends—are a multifaceted group, and the aim of this magazine is to connect with you. Satisfying that diversity usually means a wide variety of stories are contained in The Leader. We’re making an exception with this issue. Numerous stories in this publication—though not all—highlight Step Forward: The Campaign for NOLS, our $30 million comprehensive campaign. The seeds of Step Forward were planted shortly after our 50th anniversary. We recognized that as leaders in wilderness education, we have to lead into the next half century. Step Forward is our commitment to you and future students to expand access to people of all backgrounds. We seek to reach out to welcome people who may never have been exposed to all the wilderness offers, or who may not even know it’s available to them. Step Forward will also address improvements to facilities like our Patagonia and Wyss Wilderness Medicine campuses, support for wilderness classrooms through sustainability initiatives, and core support to help meet immediate needs. We hope you’ll join us. We’ve set an ambitious goal. As Marc Randolph, Chairman of the NOLS Board of Trustees put it, we considered several numbers, and deliberately chose the hardest one—$30 million. We want to stretch far to meet it because we know a NOLS experience can change lives. Dan Kenah’s story on page 20 will give you a fuller picture of the goals for Step Forward. For a personal look at what our access and affordability goals mean, see NOLS’ Diversity and Inclusion manager Justin Forrest Parks’ story as a person of color looking for peers in the outdoors. Justin’s story is on page 5. On page 6, you’ll learn more about how the NOLS Patagonia program has outgrown its rustic campus and what’s needed to best serve our students there. And a perspective on what a NOLS experience can mean for one NOLS Gateway Scholar who is now a college senior with a triple major—and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship—is on page 14. There are other stories in these pages, and we hope you enjoy them all, but Step Forward is the cornerstone because meeting this campaign’s goal helps ensure future graduates of all backgrounds can have the same experience our more than 300,000 grads have already had. A NOLS education has always been about stepping forward—and as we embark on this campaign to improve access to NOLS, we’re counting on you to continue that tradition. Best,




Brad Christensen ART DIRECTOR


Sandy Chio Gary Wilmot Molly Herber Brooke Ortel Postmaster: Send address changes to NOLS 284 Lincoln St. Lander, WY 82520 The Leader is a magazine for alumni of NOLS, a nonprofit global school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics. It is mailed to approximately 74,000 NOLS alumni. NOLS graduates living in the U.S. receive a free subscription to The Leader for life. The Leader welcomes article submissions and comments. Please address all correspondence to leader@ nols.edu or call 1-307-332-8800. Alumni can direct address changes to alumni@nols.edu or 1-800-332-4280. For the most up-to-date information on NOLS, visit www.nols.edu or email admissions@nols.edu. The Leader is printed with soy-based inks in Los Angeles, Cal., on paper using 10 percent post-consumerrecycled content. The Leader is available online at www.nols.edu/leader. Cover photo: John Sink

John Gans NOLS President 2 | THE LEADER


Recognize the wild that every person faces. NOLS Expedition is . . . | What is it?..............................................4 The NOLS Curriculum | What you learn . ....................... 5 What to Know about a NOLS Expedition ..................... ..6 Choosing an Expedition | Which is Your Course? ����������� 7 Wilderness Skills | Skills and Certifications.................. 8 Worldwide Expeditions | Explore Your World.................9 Locations | Where NOLS Operates. ........................... 10


Teach the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate uncertainty. Curriculum | The Moment I Knew We’d Be a Great Team


Research | Socioeconomic Background and Learning Outcomes


How To | Layer Clothing for an Overnight Winter Adventure


How To | Celebrate Holidays in the Backcountry


Alaska ���������������������������������������������������������� 12

Reviews | Riding into the Heart of Patagonia and Hiking Apps


East Africa ���������������������������������������������������� 12

Gear Review | Pro-Tect Copper Socks


Location 3 ����������������������������������������������������� 12

Nutrition | Lucy Smith’s Fruitcake


Location 4 ����������������������������������������������������� 12

Location 5 ����������������������������������������������������� 12

Location 6 ����������������������������������������������������� 12




Push people to experience the uncertain.


Feature | Areli Hernandez: NOLS Scholar Becomes Fulbright Scholar


Feature | 13 Courses in 33 Months


Feature | Teamwork and Communication in Search and Rescue


Cover Story | Step Forward: The Campaign for NOLS




Hiking into the Cirque of the Towers, WY. Nathan Page

Editor’s Correction A photograph taken by NOLS instructor Nathan Page, used in the summer edition of The Leader, was inadvertently credited to another photographer. Nathan took the stunning photo of hikers near Pingora Peak in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming used in the story Father and Son Rediscover the Winds Together.

We appreciate all photos donated to NOLS and regret the error. Learn how to donate your course photos at www.nols.edu/en/about/photos-videos/ share-your-memories.

Love NOLS? Share your memories with us. Send your feedback, artwork, photography, or personal story to leader@nols.edu, post on social media, or give us a call at 1-800-710-6657 ext. 2254. Find past issues online at www.nols.edu/leader.



NOLS IN ACTION | DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION By Justin Forrest Parks Diversity and Inclusion Manager

Justin Forrest Parks and NOLS instructors at POC Rendezvous. José Gonzáles & Anthony Fox


s a young African American rock climber and mountaineer, I’ve often found myself feeling lonely and confused, wondering if outdoor spaces were a place for me, a person of color. This was especially true given the lack of access to outdoor environments I had growing up and seeing very few Black/Brown role models highlighted in these spaces or viewed as leaders in the outdoor industry. That’s why I found so much inspiration in hearing Expedition Denali member Stephen Shobe speak at the first Color the Crag climbing festival in 2017 about his experiences as an African American mountaineer. Hosted by Brothers of Climbing and Brown Girls Climb, Color the Crag is centered around creating equitable, welcoming,

and inclusive spaces to encourage, celebrate, and promote diversity within the climbing community. Listening to Stephen’s achievements and stories of climbing Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Kosciuszko, and Aconcagua, I realized he was the mountaineer I’ve always dreamed of: a Black mountaineer, just like me. After his speech, I asked Stephen how I could get involved in the work he was doing as an outdoor educator, and he mentioned the NOLS Fellowship and Instructor in Training (IIT) program as a pathway into this field of work. So, I signed up and joined the NOLS Fellowship and IIT program, which provides a structured pathway for selfidentified people of color to become field instructors. Fellows spend up to four

months at one of the NOLS operating locations, learning about the logistics of running a large-scale wilderness school and serving as instructors in training on a series of wilderness expedition courses as contributing members of instructor teams. Now, as I transition into my position as diversity and inclusion manager at NOLS, I find myself becoming more excited each day regarding opportunities around the school that have been or are being created to encourage, inspire, and empower individuals and communities from all backgrounds to explore wild spaces and learn the skills to thrive in them. Continuing the work of building a welcoming, equitable, and diverse community inclusive of individuals from all backgrounds, NOLS launched Step Forward: The Campaign for NOLS. Part of the campaign’s goal is to raise funds to specifically support making NOLS education accessible and affordable to all. For those like me who want to live, laugh, and learn in the outdoors, NOLS scholarships, fellowships, partnerships and additional access initiatives around the school will help make that a reality.

Justin Forrest Parks Justin Forrest Parks is a passionate rock climber, mountaineer, outdoor enthusiast, and community advocate born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. His mission in life is to promote, encourage, and celebrate diversity in the outdoors.



Alex Chang – Cornell Leadership Expedition


45° S, 72° W

By Anne McGowan Development Communications Coordinator


shack, a shed, and an old barn. That’s all that stood on the verdant terrain when NOLS purchased the 437-acre campo, or working farm, in Coyhaique, Chile, that became NOLS Patagonia in 1992. Today, with some add-ons, the shed serves as a rations room, classroom, meeting space, and wash-up area. A new quincho, or kitchen, is now the hub of the property, joined by staff dormitories, a commons area, office, boat barn, equipment sheds, and a caretaker’s cottage. The campo buzzes with activity when the more than 600 annual students are on campus from NOLS Wilderness Medicine, expedition, custom education, semester, year-long, cultural, or Spanish programs courses. Despite some newer buildings, though, the property is still largely rustic, with an emphasis on self-reliance and frugality. The classroom’s roof is tin, installed with volunteer labor from instructors and staff. That’s why the Patagonia campus

is part of NOLS’ Step Forward campaign: funding will allow the facility to be on par with other NOLS locations— including better facilities for rations storage, and a classroom that can host more than 30 people. “There’s a lot of stress on facilities,” Associate Director of Development Judd Rogers said. “NOLS Patagonia went from a few simple structures, hosting two semesters per year, to the secondbusiest NOLS location in student days. It needs to accommodate the success of the program.”

Anne McGowan Anne grew up camping and hiking with her family in Pennsylvania. A Wind River Wilderness - Prime grad, she left newspaper publishing to write about all things NOLS.

QUESTION | What are the top five U.S. states (in order) with the most acres of designated Wilderness? 6 | THE LEADER

NOLS Patagonia, located near Coyhaique, Chile, is a land of unclimbed peaks, rural ranching communities, and stunning, rugged coastlines. The weather and landscape in this part of the world can be extreme, but it’s the perfect place to hone outdoor skills.

In-town staff 29 Employees

Courses offered NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Custom Education, week-long to year-long expeditions, cultural, and Spanish program courses are offered.

Wilderness Quiz Answer on page 30.


Fun Fact Semester students bag all rations for their 75-day course in one day. It generally takes about six hours to measure and bag the food.




By Anne McGowan Development Communications Coordinator

“My hope is that more parents are dropping catalogs on the kitchen table—not just in the homes of families who can afford a NOLS experience, but in homes where it has never been a possibility.”


hen Gary Wilmot was a teenager, his father regularly dropped a NOLS catalog on the kitchen table and asked his son what he wanted to do that summer. Gary needed little encouragement and completed his first NOLS course, North Cascades Mountaineering, as a 15-year-old. He went on to take three more courses before becoming an instructor and eventually working more than 230 weeks in the field. Those field weeks took him from NOLS Rocky Mountain to the Pacific Northwest and Southwest locations. He met his wife, Aileen Brew, also an instructor, in the lobby of the Noble Hotel in Lander. He is a father of two, a new NOLS parent, and worked indoors as well to support the NOLS mission as a program manager. Gary returned to NOLS at the end of 2017 after 10 years working in public lands conservation. During that time, he led fundraising efforts for the Wyoming Outdoor Council, and went on to direct the organization for his last five years. In his final year he was tapped by Wyoming Governor Matt Mead to co-chair the state’s Outdoor Recreation Task Force. And his success in all of it he attributes to skills learned at NOLS—first among them the confidence to step forward and

lead when it matters. Now NOLS’ development and alumni director, Gary has come full circle, returning to the school with the goal of sharing NOLS with more and more people through charitable giving. “I was fortunate; my parents could afford to send me to NOLS—and the experiences I had were life-changing. By coming back, I’m committed to working with our alumni and parents to create opportunities and pathways for people from all backgrounds to participate.” Step Forward—the school’s $30 million comprehensive fundraising campaign—is consistent with that vision, and it’s in part why Gary returned to the school to lead alumni and development efforts when he did. “Access and affordability top the list of priorities in this campaign and that’s at the heart of why I’m here.” “At the end of the day,” said Gary, “my hope is that more parents are dropping catalogs on the kitchen table—not just in the homes of families who can afford a NOLS experience, but in homes where it has never been a possibility.” For more information about the Step Forward Campaign and how to give, see nols.edu/step-forward/

Gary, at right, with wife Aileen Brew and daughters. Scott Kane

Anne McGowan Anne grew up camping and hiking with her family in Pennsylvania. A Wind River Wilderness - Prime grad, she left newspaper publishing to write about all things NOLS.




By Tess Donovan Marketing Representative


“Ultrarunning may seem like a solitary experience, but it’s just like going on an expedition. You’re looking out for each other, especially in remote areas.”

o many people, running 100 miles seems like an impossibility, let alone running 100 miles through canyon, forest, and mountain terrain. For Nicole Ederle, though—accomplished ultrarunner, former environmental lawyer, NOLS semester grad, and mother of three—it’s a natural combination of her favorite things. Ultrarunning, competing in races longer than the 26.2 miles of a marathon, weaves together popular hiking and mountain biking trails to travel through challenging, remote areas. Lasting several hours and covering thousands of feet in elevation changes, these

Nicole training for a race. Courtesy of Nicole Ederle


demanding races require months, and sometimes years, of preparation. However, Nicole sounded casual as she reminisced, “I’ll remember the birds I saw, the plants I noticed, sometimes marking my runs by naming them for the animals I saw.” Recalling her first 50 kilometer race on Arizona’s Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, she cited her NOLS Semester in the Rockies to explain why she feels so prepared for each race: “Ultrarunning may seem like a solitary experience, but it’s just like going on an expedition. You’re looking out for each other, especially in remote areas.” When Nicole signed up for a NOLS semester during her 1991 gap year, the longest she’d spent in the outdoors was three days. Still, she felt a strong desire to be out West, in the wilderness. So much so that after her semester, Nicole spent summers in Lander working as a horsepacking guide for early NOLS instructor and now outfitter Jim Allen. Nicole went on to study environmental law, specializing in water-use legislation, water rights, and waste management. When discussing her love of the environment, her energy is infectious. “All the not-so-glamorous stuff is just as important, if not more important, and is what makes us aware of our impact on the land.” Though she only practiced envi-

ronmental law for a short time, she went on to spend several years volunteering full time for Judge Advocate General division at military bases around the world. While her husband worked in special operations, the military was where Nicole saw a profound use for expedition behavior, and the lessons she learned through NOLS became vitally important. In charge of facilitating communication between commanders and more than 150 families—navigating ranks, backgrounds, and personalities— Nicole said her job “felt like a test in expedition behavior.” Currently, Nicole is balancing time between raising kids and training for her second 100-miler next August to honor military friends who died in a 2009 helicopter training accident in Leadville, Colorado. At 10,000 feet of elevation, this race is unlike anything Nicole’s ever trained for. But she’s not concerned—Nicole likes a challenge.

Tess Donovan Tess, a newcomer to Lander from Manhattan, works at NOLS headquarters in the Marketing Department. She is an ROC grad who enjoys cats, climbing, and Bachelor in Paradise.


ALUMNI PROFILE LUCAS ST. CLAIR By Sarah Jeno Development Officer

“I should be here to advocate for Maine, our public lands and environment.”


he seeds of Lucas and Yemaya St. Clair’s personal and professional lives were planted long ago—on a 1998 NOLS Semester in Patagonia. When Lucas St. Clair arrived on a street corner in Puerto Natales, Chile, he was immediately struck by coursemate Yemaya’s smile and enthusiastic blue eyes. The two became great friends during their semester, eventually traveling around Patagonia after their course ended. Pulled to opposite coasts of the U.S., they promised they would meet again in eight years—and stayed in touch during that time by writing to one another. Almost eight years to the day, Lucas traveled from Maine to Seattle to reconnect with Yemaya. They were married shortly after and settled in Seattle. During their time in Chile, the two saw the work conservationists Kris and Doug Tompkins were doing, turning privately owned land into a national park in South America. At the time, Lucas’s mother was taking on a similar project back home in Maine. Inspired by them and committed to ensuring everyone has access to the opportunities they had growing up, Lucas and Yemaya moved back to Maine to preserve and protect a piece of wilderness in Maine’s North Woods. Lucas was told by the White House and members of Congress he needed to get the public’s support in order to make the project a reality. Ensuring everyone’s

voice was heard and acting on behalf of the group—something he admits he was not very good at during his semester— Lucas continued to hone his leadership skills. “During my course, I don’t think I ever fully adjusted to being aware, or caring much, about other people’s needs,” he said. It wasn’t until much later that he realized a group can only succeed when everyone has their needs met. While the biggest takeaway from his Patagonia semester was meeting his wife, Lucas also credits NOLS with his understanding of group behavior and the ability to get others to come along with his plan. Through actively listening to the needs and wants of Maine’s constituents, Lucas was able to come up with compromises to meet everyone’s needs so that 87,500 acres of land could become an accessible, protected area for all to experience nature. Katahdin Woods and Waters officially became a National Monument in 2016. Now possessing the skill to listen and advocate for folks in his community, and put off by what he called the lack of both in the current U.S. Congress, Lucas ran for the Congressional seat in Maine’s second district earlier this year. When asked what prompted him to run he said, “members of Congress are disconnected from their constituents’ wants, and as someone who’s learned the skills of listening and compromise over and over again, I should be here to advocate for Maine, our

public lands and environment.” Although Lucas’s bid for office was unsuccessful, he and Yemaya will continue to use the lessons they learned at NOLS two decades ago at home and in their work, ensuring the connectedness nature gives is an experience everyone can have.

Lucas and Yemaya St. Clair and family. Courtesy of Lucas St. Clair

Sarah Jeno Sarah is a NOLS major gifts officer and Lightweight Backpacking alumna. When not at NOLS you’ll find her hiking with her dog, reading in the sun, and running half marathons around the country.





nterested in another adventure with NOLS? Add an alumni trip to your calendar in 2019! You can travel the world with other alumni, as well as family and friends. From the top of Kilimanjaro to the clear blue waters of the Bahamas, each trip offers something different for all interests and skill levels. Come join us somewhere new and exciting!

NOLS Alumni Reunions The fall reunion season is coming to a close, and we would like to thank everyone who made it one of our best seasons yet. From Los Angeles to New York City, we reconnected with and fostered NOLS communities all over the U.S. You are what makes NOLS awesome and keeps us motivated! Whether your course was two days or three months, we are connected through a love of and respect for the outdoors. What better way to celebrate this than with friends, family, and good food? We’re already getting ready for the spring, so keep an eye out for invitations for Portland, Houston, Boston and more!

We have a wide variety of offerings each year and are adding even more trips in 2019. If you don’t see something that appeals to you, inquire about a custom trip designed just for you and your family and friends. For more information or to sign up for a trip, call 1-800-332-4280 or visit www.nols.edu/alumni.

1. Backpacking in Thailand DATE | January 25-February 3, 2019 COST | $2,195 including intra-country flight and pre/post-trip lodging in Chiang Mai Explore the rugged mountains and villages in northern Thailand with NOLS. Your group and a local guide will visit and stay in small villages of the Karen people while exploring the Mae Hong Son region. The remote landscape, jungle environment, and rural communities are highlights of this beautiful area. Moderate


Cultural immersion blends with challenging, trailed jungle hiking.

2. Backpacking New Zealand’s Heaphy Track DATE | February 5–February 12, 2019 COST | $2,295 including pre- and post-trip lodging Join NOLS on one of New Zealand’s great, classic walks, the Heaphy Track. This 50-mile hut-to-hut route winds its way along the coast’s stunning scenery. Alpine tussock, limestone caves and cliffs, and beech forests are all part of the terrain to soak in with your fellow NOLSies.



Rustic hut living means lighter backpacks but the trail is challenging.


Travis Welch


Michal Klajban



id you know NOLS offers the chance to delve into the culture of other countries? That you can spend a portion of a Semester in Patagonia living with a local poblador family? Or learn firsthand from locals about the ecology and history of the Himalaya on a Semester in India? Even alumni courses, like Greek Sailing, dive into the history and culture of that ancient nation. The highlight of many grads’ NOLS experience, cultural experiences allow students to learn about the local customs, history, and language of the country they’re in while considering the values of their own culture from a different perspective. Caroline Herman, a NOLS Year in Patagonia graduate, reflected on the cultural section of her course, saying, “There’s something satisfying about riding horses each day, working directly for the food you put on your table, and making a connection to the land you live on.” NOLS creates cultural experiences in three formats: Cultural Expeditions, Cultural Sections during semester or yearlong courses, and a Service Expedition. Additionally, many courses that don’t specifically include a cultural-skill component have cultural elements. On the Scandinavian Backpacking course,

for instance, students have the chance to meet members of the indigenous Sami people and learn about their hunter-gatherer traditions. For Ignacio Martínez, a native Chilean who is studying in Santiago, a homestay on his Semester in Patagonia provided ample learning opportunities about cultural differences in his own country. He stayed with a family on a remote ranch near the Chile-Argentina border. A typical day started with breakfast—bread fried in lamb fat and steaming mate tea. News came in by VHF radio and revolved around events central to the neighborhood, like the height of rivers, what their neighbors were doing, and firewood for sale, before playing chamamé, the classic music of this area. Chores, like harvesting potatoes, would come later. “It was autumn and the leaves were red, orange, and purple, and the air smelled beautiful,” he recalled. Ignacio said his perspective was broadened by “thinking about how these people have another relationship and interpretation about the interaction with nature.” Similarly, Semester in East Africa students are exposed to a variety of cultural interactions. Most courses focus on a service project for a community, aiming to leave a tangible impact while living with local families. Previous

students have built rooms for local government schools, taught English to area schoolchildren, and cooked meals for community members. Other students visit the pastoral people of the Mangati or Datoga tribes, who are longtime rivals and cattle raiders with their neighboring tribe, the Maasai. They also spend time in Lake Eyasi basin, home to a small group of people who represent an ancient culture, the Hadza—or Watindiga—people. Such experiences are powerful. “In a lot of ways,” Caroline said of her cultural section in Patagonia, “it was the reason I loved my expedition with NOLS—life felt important and authentic.” For more information about NOLS courses with planned cultural components, see www.nols.edu/en/ coursefinder/skills/cultural/.

Caleb Walker When Caleb is not at the office, he’s usually somewhere in the backcountry with his dog— trying to decide what to cook for dinner.

Top: Cultural experiences include learning about local dress and customs. Oscar Manguy



ALUMNI IN ACTION | JAKE BLACKWELDER: MOAB BASE JUMPING RESCUE By Ben Lerman NOLS Wilderness Medicine Marketing Coordinator

Jake Blackwelder likes the problem solving challenges of wilderness medicine. Jake Blackwelder


absolutely love bringing calm to chaos. In the backcountry when someone gets hurt, one of the first things I think goes through people’s minds is, ‘I’m screwed!’ I enjoy stepping up to the challenge to unscrew a situation.” In his roles as a flight paramedic, ground paramedic, and Search and Rescue (SAR) technician, Jake Blackwelder cares for and transports some of the sickest and worst injured people. He likes the challenge of problem solving these medical situations, describing wilderness medicine as “a big puzzle to work through.” It began with a two-day Wilderness First Aid course to satisfy a trip-leading job requirement. “The spark quickly turned into a flame. I wanted much more,” reflected Jake. This led him to take a Wilderness EMT course with NOLS, quickly followed by a NOLS Wilderness


Medicine Instructor Training Course. Last summer, Jake’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team, based in the Moab area of Grand County, Utah, was recognized for its response to a base-jumping accident with the state’s “Incident of the Year” award. During the 2017 rescue, Jake and a team of other EMS and SAR members responded to a fallen base jumper, whose parachute opened shortly before he hit a cliff face and the ground, then crash landed about 600 feet up a steep, unstable talus slope. The patient had multiple broken bones, including a closed fracture to one leg and a near amputation of the other (the bottom half of his leg was still hanging on by some skin). Jake and the other first responders controlled the patient’s bleeding, treated for worsening shock, stabilized his spine, and managed pain, among other treatments.

Together, Jake and his teammates spent more than 11 hours in the backcountry with the critically injured patient. They provided continuous care through the night on the side of the mountain, until a helicopter could evacuate the patient to a hospital trauma center. He survived. Regarding the “Incident of the Year” award Jake said, “These are passionate care providers who love their jobs, love their community, and make a lot of sacrifices to serve. To win this award is recognition for the very difficult job that we do in the beautiful and unforgiving place that is Moab.” He credits NOLS for the fundamentals of the Patient Assessment System that he relies on daily for both instructing NOLS courses and caring for patients. “I have used that assessment style on each of the over 2,000 patients that I have ever treated,” he said. “A lot of hope is placed onto the shoulders of first responders and I enjoy seeing that hope in people’s eyes when I show up on a scene,” Jake said. “My reasoning for doing rescue work is multifaceted but I feel really good about putting my passions toward a greater good.”

Ben Lerman Ben is a NOLS Wilderness Medicine WFR graduate who works as the pillar’s marketing coordinator. He loves to hike and climb all over the mountain ranges near Lander.


GATEWAY TO ADVENTURE | THE NOBLE TURNS 100! By NOLS Staff Adapted from The Historic Noble Hotel


he Noble Hotel in Lander turns 100 years old this year! Since its opening in 1918, the Noble Hotel has been a jumping off point for travelers venturing into Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains, Absaroka Mountains, and Yellowstone National Park. The tradition of beginning and ending wilderness adventures from the Noble continues today as NOLS instructors and students use the historic brick building on the corner of Third and Main streets as a dormitory, meeting place, and dining room. Along with witnessing Western migration and various military explorations, Lander saw its first train roll into town in 1906, carrying adventure seekers from around the world traveling to Yellowstone and beyond. The town was a final stop in civilization before entering the rugged mountains, so the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad asked Lander bankers to build a hotel to accommodate travelers until the rail spur to the national park was built. In the meantime, the railroad provided motor coaches for travelers to continue their journey into Yellowstone. In 1918, the Noble Hotel opened its doors as one of the most modern and palatial hotels of its time. It stood in stark contrast to the rugged West, providing luxury accommodations that included 60 rooms with bathrooms and telephones. The Noble rivaled hotels in Denver and Chicago with its marbled first-floor lobby, mahogany woodwork, wildlife trophies, art-glass ceiling, and large fireplace. The dining room seated more than 100 and boasted white linen tablecloths with silver service. In 1930, during the height of the Depression, local businessman Harold Del Monte purchased the hotel. He

redesigned 10 rooms into suites with hand carved headboards, paintings by noted western artist J.K. Ralston, and dressers depicting Wyoming’s pioneer history. Hand-woven drapes and bedspreads made by Arapaho women on the Wind River Reservation also told stories of the West’s development. The dining room became the Indian Grill Room, a gallery of sorts where handicrafts from Arapaho and Shoshone artisans covered the walls. The hotel was filled with classic western furniture by Thomas Molesworth. NOLS purchased the hotel in 1973 where its use evolved from NOLS’ sole headquarters (and bar!) and student/staff housing to the full student and instructor focus it has today. In 2005, thanks to a $4 million project funded by donors to the International Base Camp Initiative, the

Noble was extensively remodeled and the current international headquarters was built. The Noble’s façade was improved, the library was expanded, and a gallery showcasing the building’s (and NOLS’) place in Lander history was created. Today, the Noble’s lobby and mezzanine look much as they did a century ago. In 2018, a new breed of adventurers gathers at the lobby’s check-in desk, sits in the mezzanine, and swaps tales in the dining room. The Noble has been a home for instructors, a welcoming spot by the fire for semester and other students, a place for weddings and celebrations large and small. It’s also a unique part of the history of the American West, a touchstone with the past that today’s adventurers can take with them as they travel into the mountains and beyond.

The Noble Hotel has been a jumping-off point for travelers for 100 years. NOLS



NOLS GRADUATE BECOMES FULBRIGHT SCHOLAR By Katelyn Hiett Foundations Relations Officer



Hernandez is a senior at Santa Clara University. Courtesy of Areli Hernandez


adapa, India is a long way from Lander, Wyoming. In fact, our only connection to this city deep in the heart of India is an exceptional young graduate. Areli Hernandez grew up in Napa, California. The eldest of four, she was often called upon to take care of her younger siblings while both of her parents worked to support their family. From an early age, responsibility and leadership were a natural part of Areli’s character. “I had to grow up faster,” she said, “I had to know what I was doing even when I didn’t.” Areli came to NOLS through Summer Search, a partner organization in our Gateway Partner Program, which seeks to give talented youth opportunities for challenge and personal growth in the wilderness on NOLS expeditions. Areli’s Summer Search mentors endorsed her confidently, citing her capacity for leadership, selfreflection, and communication evidenced by her dedication to her martial arts practice and academic discipline. Areli started studying martial arts in the fifth grade, achieving a black belt by high school while teaching younger students. For Areli, however, her Wind River Wilderness expedition was a totally new experience. She said that she hadn’t done much hiking of consequence apart from “breaking in my boots.” The dynamic terrain of the Wind River Range was physically demanding for Areli and her coursemates. She remembers day nine of the expedition with particular clarity: the day they were to make a seemingly brief 2.5-mile

hike through Palmer Canyon. Unbeknownst to all but the instructors, the canyon was littered with boulders. What had been an anticipated leisurely half-day hike became a 13-hour ordeal of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion as they traversed one boulder field after another. In these hard times, the group bonded, and Areli’s easygoing character and levelheadedness seemed to provide a baseline of positivity for the team. Areli’s instructors would later observe, “She is the kind of leader people want to follow.” It must be true. Areli has gone on to achieve remarkable things since her time at NOLS. As a senior at Santa Clara University, she is set to graduate in the spring with an impressive triple major in political science, ethnic studies, and Spanish. In the time it takes most college students to satisfy one course of study, Areli will have achieved three, uniting her passions for politics, culture, and fighting for justice for communities who have traditionally been denied it. In the summer of 2017, Areli was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study in London at the School of Oriental and African Studies. There, she attended lectures with leading intellectuals, academics, and leaders from non-governmental organizations from around the world. The experience “SHE IS THE was humbling, she said, KIND OF LEADER even if a bit by accident. PEOPLE WANT TO She only applied for the scholarship because FOLLOW.” she’d been eavesdropping while a coworker of hers was browsing the web at their on-campus office jobs. Regardless, Areli was one of just four Americans selected for the scholarship. At the time of this writing, Areli was in India working in Kadapa at the Aarti Home for Girls, where she worked alongside passionate advocates for greater women’s equality in India. When asked “what’s next?” she replied simply and worrilessly, “I don’t know,” but then added a moment later, “doing something that needs to be done.”

Katelyn Hiett Katelyn is from Tennessee and has lived in South Sudan, South Africa, and Jerusalem. She enjoys philosophy, history, and being outside with her dog, Kiwi.

Left: Students celebrate overcoming a difficult ascent on a Wind River Wilderness course. Suzanna Steele



13 COURSES IN 33 MONTHS By Rich Brame Alumni Relations Director




n 2015, Texan Chip Henderson decided to solo hike California’s John Muir Trail, a rugged, often snowy, and beautiful 245-mile trek from Yosemite to 14,496-foot Mount Whitney. He was 62 years old, using a chamber of commerce-style map, and had never slept outdoors. As an outdoor neophyte, Chip’s Muir Trail odyssey taught him many, sometimes painful, lessons. In addition to the challenges of snow, fitness, river crossings, and map reading, Chip found his solo trek surprisingly lonely. Fast forward to today. Since 2016, Chip has participated on an astonishing and possibly record-breaking 13 NOLS educational adventures. His eclectic NOLS involvement reads like an adventure catalog: first-aid training in Colorado, backcountry skiing and rafting in Idaho, hiking in Scotland and Italy, rock climbing in Arizona, technical canyoneering in Utah, climbing Washington’s Mount Rainier, horsepacking in Wyoming, and keelboat sailing in Greece. As an increasingly seasoned outdoorsman, Chip dove right into many diverse NOLS learning environments. On alumni trips, he was among peers. On other courses, he was old enough to be the father or grandfather of his fellow students and instructors. Successfully navigating those social, physical, and life-stage differences is no small feat, but Chip finds the broad age and perspective ranges invigorating and enriching. Course camaraderie underscores that role models come in all ages and that growing up is hard for everyone, regardless of age. Given his NOLS pedigree, two questions jump out: which was his favorite course and what’s next? Chip said, “My backcountry ski trip was a real highlight. It’s a new environment to me and I appreciate its risks and rewards—especially building snow shelters. As a former architect and COURSE CAMARADERIE builder, I appreciate threedimensional construction.” UNDERSCORES THAT For the future, Chip looks forward to tapping ROLE MODELS COME NOLS experiences he can IN ALL AGES AND share with his family. “Tent camping is not a good fit for THAT GROWING UP IS my wife or my grandkids, I’m thinking sailing or HARD FOR EVERYONE, so hut-hiking will be the track REGARDLESS OF AGE. to help my family engage with NOLS,” he said. Chip is proud that his two daughters are already NOLS Yukon and New Zealand semester grads—they introduced him to NOLS in the beginning. This year, after all his NOLS expeditioning, Chip returned to the Muir Trail. He’s a different backcounty traveler now. He’s fit, reads maps, and knows how to cook in the backcountry. Sleeping in a tent for days is second nature. The trail remained difficult and there was plenty of snow—138 percent of normal, in fact—but Chip’s perspective that “challenge is as much mental as physical,” and his focus on

CHIP’S COURSES January 2016 February 2016 September 2016 March 2017

Wilderness First Aid Colorado Winter Backcountry Touring - Prime Idaho Alumni Tuscany Exploration Italy Wilderness First Aid Colorado

May 2017

Alumni Scotland Hike Scotland

July 2017

Alumni Mount Baker Expedition Washington

August 2017

Alumni Wind River Traverse Wyoming

March 2018

Southwest Spring Break Climbing Arizona

April 2018

Alumni Technical Canyoneering Utah

July 2018

Alumni Mount Rainier Expedition Washington

August 2018

Alumni Horsepacking Trip Wyoming Salmon River Rafting - Prime Idaho

September 2018

Alumni Greece Sailing Greece

how an experience is going to be great (rather than hard), made this year’s 20 days of hiking a vast and challenging success. Hats off to Chip Henderson who, after a 40-year professional career, created his own inspiring version of a NOLS gap year.

Rich Brame Director of Alumni Relations and Instructor Rich Brame came to NOLS as a Fall Semester in the Rockies student and worked his first course at Wind Cave National Park in 1984.

Left: Chip Henderson may hold a record for taking the most courses in the shortest time. Courtesy of Chip Henderson






Top: SAR members practice a helicopter rescue. Courtesy of Teton County SAR


f you’re a member of the Teton County, Wyoming Search and Rescue team, you’re on call 24/7, 365 days of the year. The level of dedication and scope of rescues handled by this team are impressive, on par with the sweeping landscape of the Tetons. It’s no small commitment—and with the exception of one paid employee, the team is entirely made up of volunteers. This is a group of people who value community and who show up, no matter what. Unsurprisingly, there are some NOLSies in the crowd. A rigorous application and selection process ensures only the most qualified applicants join the team. But the definition has much more to do with an individual’s ability to work on a team than on training credentials. As firefighter and paramedic Marilynn Davis put it, “We want people who can work together and trust each other.” Jessica King, supervisor of the Teton Valley SAR team, explained that “we can train anyone in the skills you need to be a good rescuer, but we can’t train you to be a good team member.” Jessica is a NOLS semester grad. She recalled that “living with 15 people for three months and working together even when we disagreed made me realize how much I love working on a team.” Her NOLS experience also reinforced her passion for backcountry adventure. As a SAR

member, she’s combined her love of teamwork and the outdoors with giving back to her community. Once selected, new volunteers undergo a year of probationary training, which includes everything from earning a Wilderness First Responder certification to swiftwater rescue, helicopter rescue, snowmobile and ATV training, and search management. NOLS instructor and SAR training advisor Anthony Stevens designs and implements the team’s trainings. He incorporates “as much NOLS curriculum into trainings as possible... and most importantly, leadership training: communication and expedition behavior.” The team responds to calls from people who are lost or injured while climbing, hiking, and hunting. They also handle swiftwater rescues on the Snake River, horse accidents, paragliding mishaps, and cave rescues. In the winter, they deal with avalanches and skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobile accidents. The 37-member team handles 70 to 100 rescues annually. Firefighter and paramedic Lizzie Watson said she frequently relies on her NOLS WEMT training: “When we’re in the backcountry, we don’t carry everything that’s in an ambulance or in the ER. We have to be able to improvise.” But, she points out, “It’s important to not assume SAR teams can always get to you quickly. A good number of our calls come in the evening when people realize it’s going to get dark before they’re able to solve their problem.” The team’s Backcountry Zero initiative encourages the public to take basic preventative steps—like sharing plans with someone at home before heading out—to decrease the likelihood of an accident. Of course, for most NOLSies, such preventative measures are standard operating procedure when recreating in the backcountry. The skills you learned on your NOLS course—from teamwork and risk management to wilderness medicine—are valuable preparation for SAR work. Consider joining your local SAR team: you don’t have to live in the shadow of the majestic Tetons to make a difference in your community.

Brooke Ortel Brooke is a runner and writer who enjoys finding adventure in the everyday. True to her Block Island, Rhode Island roots, she loves sunshine and that salty ocean smell.

Left: An ability to work together is a team priority. Courtesy of Teton County SAR






wo years ago, on the heels of celebrating a half century of NOLS education, we began a new fundraising campaign, Step Forward: The Campaign for NOLS. Reflecting on the enormous value of our educational experiences for so many thousands of students over those decades, we also recognize the outdoor community has not reflected the demographics of the country. Looking toward our next fifty years as educational leaders, we do so with an eye to double down on making NOLS education and the outdoors accessible like they haven’t been before. “Philanthropy has allowed us to think big and stretch to achieve goals we couldn’t dream of when I came to NOLS nearly forty years ago,” said President John Gans, “and this campaign will help us stretch further yet.” “In past fundraising efforts our grads and donors helped us build NOLS Alaska, renovate the historic Noble Hotel in Lander, and establish our world headquarters. We built the LEED-certified Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, installed more than 140kW of solar capacity on our buildings, and built a strong endowment to sustain vital programs and provide long-term stability.” Giving also transformed our scholarship program, according to John. “The first scholarships at NOLS were handwritten notes from Paul Petzoldt to prospective students that read simply PBWA, or ‘pay back when able.’ Since those early days, we’ve supported thousands of students with millions of dollars in scholarships. That support has enriched NOLS as much as it has the lives of our students.” So why embark on a new campaign? Why now? Development and Alumni Director Gary Wilmot said, “We must ensure that vital programs—things like scholarships, instructor training, and advocacy for our wild classrooms—aren’t left to chance. We need to sustain what makes NOLS exceptional. While we meet that need, however, our central focus will be opening doors at the school by expanding access to the outdoors and to NOLS at a scale that can catalyze real change.” This campaign is WE BELIEVE NOW MORE about staying relevant by THAN EVER IN THE making NOLS accessible a broader crosssection of NECESSITY OF CONNECT- to our rapidly changing world. We believe now more ING PEOPLE WITH NATURE than ever in the necesSO WILD PLACES ALWAYS sity of connecting people nature so wild places HAVE ADVOCATES WHO with always have advocates UNDERSTAND THEIR who understand their value in our lives and VALUE IN OUR LIVES AND our world. We believe in necessity of teaching OUR WORLD. the communication and teamwork in our increasingly polarized world. And we believe that anyone who seeks to learn about themselves and others in the solace of open spaces should have the opportunity. We want to expose more

Immediate support $10 million

Campaign Goals

$30 MILLION Sustainability for a changing world $3 million Access and affordability $15 million

Campus improvements $2 million

students to the possibilities of a NOLS experience. It was that exposure Isobel Coleman, NOLS Board Member, sought when she embarked on her first course in the Brooks Range of Alaska in 1987. When she arrived, we had just finished the Alaska Capital Campaign to purchase the grounds and facilities that became our campus of today. “I just remember thinking how rustic it all was. But when we loaded up our gear in a little tundra plane and landed on a gravel airstrip on the banks of the Sheenjek River, that’s where the classroom started.”

Campus improvements Before students are exposed to our wilderness classrooms, they’re supported by our location facilities, from rations and gear to briefing and transportation, not to mention administration. We’ve only been able to grow to meet these needs with the generosity of alumni and donors. Since Isobel’s time, we’ve improved NOLS Alaska to support our roughly 700 annual students there and expanded to 16 locations in seven countries in order to broaden our students’ natural and cultural horizons, and our own. In 1990, we opened NOLS Patagonia, a location whose very name evokes the excitement of unknown adventure. Almost thirty years later, the Patagonia campus has come leaps and bounds from its modest beginnings and as we’ve grown, we’ve outgrown the space. We still share one room that alternates between rations room and classroom. Instructors still shout wilderness medicine techniques over rain drumming

Left: A student smiles as she steps forward in a snow storm. Nate Young


EXPOSE on a corrugated tin roof, while another course bags food in the classroom from barrels dragged in from storage. We’re experts at making the best of difficult situations, but this situation has limited our growth. Students from Chile to Colombia are coming to learn wilderness medicine skills in Coyhaique. The addition of a proper rations room and classroom will allow us to add expeditions to our calendar and the wilderness medicine courses we need to train hundreds more first responders working throughout South America. We see a similar barrier to growth at the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus just south of Lander. We hope to build five more cabins there to meet the demand of students seeking life-saving training. NOLS is the global leader in wilderness medicine training, and as demand continues to grow, so too must our facilities.

Sustainability for a Changing World Campus improvements also ensure more efficient operations to help us continue reducing carbon emissions and resource consumption. This efficiency serves another pillar of our campaign: sustainability. The purpose of the NOLS mission is to serve people and the environment. Through sustainability initiatives around the school, we do both—and aspire to do more. As educators, we intend to aim high and model a thoughtful approach to resource use and consumption for all our students. Part of our commitment to their future is our Vision 2020 strategic goal of a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, which we’ll accomplish through upgrades, retrofits, and more efficient business practices made possible through this campaign. NOLS will also create a Green Fund within our endowment to continue our commitment to sustainability in perpetuity. A dedicated sustainability reserve

will allow us to fund efficiency and renewable energy projects every year, to continue our investment in education and a healthy environment. Our sustainability goals in Step Forward also include protecting our classrooms. As expedition grads know firsthand, our classrooms often have the biggest impact on their experience. Isobel recalled, “I didn’t grow up in a backcountry family. NOLS exposed me to some of the greatest treasures the country has—the national parks and wilderness areas—something I value highly.” NOLS has always worked to protect its classrooms when they come under threat, but as the school has grown and environmental pressures increase, it’s become harder to cover the map. Whether we’re working to preserve protections for Bears Ears National Monument or access to coastal beaches in Baja, that work takes commitment and resources. We work to engage our students in these conservation efforts, connecting future leaders, teachers, and parents to our nation’s and the world’s wild landscapes.

Access and Affordability As much as the NOLS experience is about our classrooms, instructors, and the quality of our courses, our students come first. The core of our work is exposing students to new skills, new ways to relate to one another, and a lifelong appreciation and celebration of the outdoors many of us haven’t accessed before. This is why we’re dedicating more than half of this campaign to access and affordability. “NOLS today benefits from the vision of previous boards and donors building the endowment and facilities. This phase of the NOLS trajectory is really about greater access,” said Isobel, who has worked across cultures at the United Nations and the Council on Foreign Relations. Access includes but is not limited to scholarships—NOLS is not an inexpensive endeavor, so through scholarships we have been able to put life-changing experiences within reach for thousands of students over the years. Broadening access means new and stronger marketing partnerships with outdoor groups like Nomadness Travel Tribe, collaborative partnerships with mentoring organizations like C5, and scholarship partnerships

Students at the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus practice what they learn during a scenario. Justin Alexandre


EXPOSE with schools nationwide. Isobel said, “We want to get the idea of NOLS in the minds of educators and people who can have a ripple effect.” Our students become influencers when they return to their communities and share their experience with others. Access also means expanding dedicated personnel to those partnerships, as well as internal education and external awareness to acknowledge and welcome under-represented communities in the outdoors. It means investing further in our fellowship program to give people of color education and employment opportunities with NOLS. And it means continuing to invest philanthropic dollars in the modern NOLS in order to keep tuition paying for direct student costs. One avenue of broadening our reach has been through our Gateway Partners program. All Gateway organizations mentor under-resourced students and their families through high school to college, and we’re proud to play a part in their progression. Since the program began, Gateway Partners have facilitated more than 1,200 students to participate in NOLS expeditions through scholarships. NOLS Alaska graduate Ruby Ávila, who discovered NOLS through a Gateway Partner, said of her experience, “For me, it was taking that step of reclaiming land that is all of ours and establishing my presence in spaces like that to show other people of color that we’re just as capable and all have the right to do so.” Our scholarship budget, though, is dependent on tuition revenue year-to-year, and so is subject to ebbs and flows. We’ve reached the point in our trajectory where we can’t leave flagship programs like the Gateway Partners to an uncertain future. By investing in access and affordability in our endowment, dollars released every year will directly support partnerships and outreach efforts to expose more students to their own self-discovery in the wild.

Immediate Support NOLS is world-class, and we want it to stay that way. Our graduates have saved lives around the world, defended freedom under fire, flown on the International Space Station, led small community organizations and billion-dollar corpoTHE OUTDOORS REMAIN rations, conquered some of the most audacious LESS ACCESSIBLE TO mountains in the world, raised children to SOME THAN OTHERS, AND and be thoughtful and caring WE HAVE AN OPPORTU- adults—maybe the greatest accomplishment. NITY AND OBLIGATION TO Our role in the outdoors dictates that as we DRASTICALLY BROADEN educate leaders, we must THAT COMMUNITY. be the leaders. The outdoors remain less accessible to some than others, and we have an opportunity and obligation to drastically broaden that community. It’s time to take wilderness experiences to individuals who don’t

Students implement rowing techniques. Kirk Rasmussen

even know they’re possible. It’s time to take wilderness medicine skills to more individuals and communities that need them. Broadening access to the outdoors, while growing the school to meet current and future needs, will require the support of everyone in the NOLS family. Step Forward: The Campaign for NOLS is our commitment to you and future students to expand access at NOLS to people from all backgrounds. We’ll do this through new partnerships, outreach, and scholarships, while continuing to invest in all that makes NOLS exceptional. Through our first 50 years NOLS grew and evolved to become excellent. It’s time to lead the industry into the next half century. Join us as we step forward.

Dan Kenah Dan is a Baffin Island 2006 grad. He’s most comfortable on skis, wearing a pack, or in front of a piano.



CURRICULUM | THE MOMENT I KNEW WE WOULD BE A GREAT TEAM By John Gookin Former NOLS Curriculum & Research Manager


pace Shuttle Commander Jeff Ashby chose to use a wilderness expedition to bring his diverse flight crew of international scientists, medical doctors, and test pilots together as a team. He chose the complex and dynamic system of a wilderness expedition because he knew that the tangible goals of such an expedition could develop great teamwork. As the expedition began, most deci-

Wilderness expeditions can develop teamwork. Brian Hensien


sions generated interesting discussions because of the many diverse viewpoints. Diversity usually leads to higher quality group decisions, but can extract a cost in both efficiency and potential team support (“buy in”) of the choice selected. On day two of the 11-day expedition, Jeff’s group encountered their first big obstacle. In his words, “We faced our first major decision as the slot canyon we were ascending terminated in a 30-foot-high dry waterfall protected by a deep pool of cold, muddy water. The group was strung out in the slot and mostly out of sight from one another so we shouted and relayed communications as we discussed the options: climb the waterfall or backtrack and look for a dry way around. There were great reasons to go either way, but it quickly became apparent that Piers was the lone, and very passionate, advocate for the dry route.” Astronaut Dr. Piers Sellers has a doctorate in biometeorology from Leeds University in his native England. He has received numerous prestigious scientific achievement awards for his work measuring the interactions between Earth’s biosphere and atmosphere. When NASA needed someone to send to Moscow to help develop computer assets for the International Space Station, they sent Piers. When they needed a rookie astronaut to perform three complicated spacewalks, they chose Piers. Jeff later reflected on the event. “As we debated in the canyon, I gradually realized that this decision represented a crucial moment for our team. How would our daily leaders resolve Piers’ dissenting opinion, and how would he react to a deci-

sion to press ahead? I later learned that other members of our newly formed team were wondering this as well.” Actions often speak louder than words. Upon hearing the group leaders announce their decision to take the direct route, Piers paused for a brief moment, then suddenly began to rally the team for the upcoming challenge. He walked boldly into the cold water to make himself the foundation of a human ladder, supporting the group decision both figuratively and quite literally. Piers stood in the water with Russian Cosmonaut Dr. Fyodor Yurchikhin on his shoulders, and U.S. Air Force Colonel Pam Melroy up above. “I am amazed at the power of one individual to positively influence the development of a team,” said Jeff. “The moment Piers walked into that water, I knew we would be a great team.” Piers sent a clear message that he would enthusiastically support his team and would respect their group decisions, even when he disagreed. His actions set the tone for the following nine days in the wilderness and a subsequent 11-day mission to the International Space Station. Note: Dr. Piers Sellers passed away in December 2016.

John Gookin John is NOLS’ former curriculum and research manager, a current expedition instructor, and he is the search and rescue commander in the town of Lander, Wyoming.




oes a student’s socioeconomic status affect learning outcomes and application in an outdoor adventure education (OAE) experience? That’s the question Lisa Meerts-Brandsma, a graduate student at the University of Utah, set out to investigate using NOLS as a model of OAE. In 2016 and 2017, Lisa interviewed 22 alumni who’d graduated from NOLS between 2010 and 2012. Revisiting their NOLS experience more than four years after the fact, students articulated what they learned on their course and how they use that learning today. As expected, most interviewees shared that they learned outdoor skills. For most alumni, however, the interand intra-personal skills they gained on their courses maintained the most saliency in their lives after NOLS. From leadership skills to the ability to build close friendships and relate to people despite different beliefs, students on NOLS expeditions developed skills important to navigating frontcountry social dynamics. Yet, upon their return from NOLS, students were confronted with very different environments in which to execute these new skills: different geographic locations, different age groups, different employment situations, and, key to Lisa’s study, different socioeconomic status. Half of the participants in this study received scholarships to attend NOLS while the other half did not. While socioeconomic status was the main difference between these two groups, racial demographics also differed. Scholarship recipients were more likely to be people of color, whereas scholarship non-recipients were more likely to be

white. Most scholarship recipients and non-scholarship recipients differed in the pathway that brought them to NOLS, with scholarship students typically hearing of NOLS through a partner organization, and non-scholarship students typically coming to NOLS through word-of-mouth and family connections. Despite these major differences, students had similar learning experiences and post-course pathways. Essentially, the shared NOLS experience created a greater sense of equity. Furthermore, interviewees unanimously expressed appreciation for having NOLS expedition groups comprised of diverse perspectives. Going into the study, Lisa and her advisor Dr. Jim Sibthorp hypothesized different demographic backgrounds would lead to different learning outcomes, a trend that occurs in traditional school settings. But NOLS is not a traditional school with traditional classrooms. Learning outcomes and application across all NOLS students taking part in the study were similar. While this finding in no way suggests that there are not real differences between scholarship recipients and non-recipients, it does suggest NOLS expeditions create an environment where students from different backgrounds can attain equal outcomes, a special phenomenon most students do not and will not experience in other educational settings in their life. While this study is significant, it has limitations. The sample size of 22 is quite small and the study relies on participants recalling an experience that happened more than four years previously, making it subject to recall bias. The study, does, however, serve as an important preliminary investigation

into OAE’s potential to overcome demographic barriers that exist in the frontcountry. As NOLS continues to diversify, recognizing the power and potential of expeditions to create a greater sense of equality than is found in the frontcountry could be an important factor in increasing participation by students of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds, and celebrating the uniqueness of a NOLS education.

Students from different backgrounds attained similar learning outcomes on NOLS expeditions. Charlie Randall

Anneka Williams Anneka grew up in Vermont’s Mad River Valley where she is an avid runner, skier, writer, reader, and endurance activity lover who enjoys finding new challenges.



HOW TO | LAYER CLOTHING FOR AN OVERNIGHT WINTER ADVENTURE By Anne McGowan Development Communications Coordinator


inter presents a wide spectrum of weather conditions, and being prepared for all of them is important. Of course, it’s impractical to bring a closet full of clothes on your overnight adventure, so NOLS recommends a combination of layers that serve multiple purposes and are as appropriate in sunny and warm weather as in windy, wet, and snowy conditions.

Top Layers • Base layer: Start with a light to midweight polypropylene or wool longsleeved shirt. A zip collar is useful for venting.

other layers. Note: A soft-shell jacket is a nice additional option because it’s breathable. Bottom Layers • Base layer: Start with light to midweight tights made of wool or synthetic. • Mid layer: Expedition-weight pants. • Outer layer: Puffy pants, large enough to fit over other layers. Packing breathable soft-shell pants or a wind shell will be handy when you’re active.

gloves or mittens. If you are only bringing gloves and no mittens, you can bring glove shells. Head Bring a lightweight hat to wear while active. May be made of anything except cotton. Add a heavier hat as needed. A heavy fleece or wool balaclava-style head covering that includes a neck gaiter is a bonus in very cold conditions.

Hands • Base layer: Always wear liner gloves to protect your hands.

Pros and Cons of Natural and Synthetic Fabrics • Wool: Warm but heavy, doesn’t get as smelly as synthetic fabric, can be more expensive.

• Mid layer: Add an expedition weight fleece or wool shirt (a lightweight, breathable nylon wind shell is great for times when you’re very active).

• Mid layer: Add fleece or wool gloves for warmth. Big insulating mittens are good for around camp and on extremely cold days.

• Cotton: Best avoided in top and bottom layer because when cotton gets wet (from weather or sweat), it pulls heat away from the body.

• Outer layer: A synthetic or down parka with a hood is ideal for camp. Make sure it’s big enough to fit over all

• Outer layer: Water-repellent nylon mitten shells should fit over a pair of liner gloves and a pair of fleece/wool

• Down: Great insulator except when it gets wet. • Polypropylene: Lighter weight, a great insulator, sometimes less expensive than natural fibers, but can be smelly. For more information about how to layer clothing for winter adventures, see www. youtube.com/watch?v=Y-5xJh8jSg4

Anne McGowan Anne grew up camping and hiking with her family. A Wind River Wilderness - Prime grad, she left newspaper publishing to write about all things NOLS.

Layers serve you well in changeable conditions. Esa Mayo




from past birthdays, holidays, and more, because who wouldn’t love to hear about the time your mom made you dress like a yellow ducky for Halloween? 8 | Light Sparklers The kid in all of us loves a good sparkler. Perfect for the Fourth of July in place of fireworks—just be sure there isn’t any fire danger in the place you’ve set up camp. 9 | Stargaze

Enjoying the people you're with is a key to celebrating in the backcountry. Katherine Collins


One thing that stays the same regardless of the holiday is how gorgeous those night skies are in the wilderness. Admire the stars and make up your own constellations with campmates to fit in with the reason for your celebration.

ust because you’re camping doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate any occasion with a little creativity and a healthy dollop of fun! As we head into the holiday season, here are a few ideas for ways to make any celebration perfect in the backcountry.

to have for breakfast the next day.

10 | Enjoy the people you’re with

4 | Play Games

1 | Decorate

5 | Make a Special Dinner

Most importantly, enjoy the people you get to celebrate with! It’s a pretty special occasion when you get to spend time with great people in the backcountry. Document your celebration with lots of photos, memories, and enjoying your time together.

What’s a party without decorations? Set the celebration mood with do-ityourself decor from things you can gather around camp.

Let the guest of honor choose their favorite backcountry dinner or set up a make-your-own pizza station for a party to remember. Instant potatoes and turkey gravy taste just as good in the backcountry for Thanksgiving, after all.

2 | Send Invitations

You’re never too old for fun and games! Create a scavenger hunt or customize the details of your favorite camping games to match the holiday, birthday, or event you’re celebrating.

Put those extra pages in your expedition journal to good use and pass downtime by making personalized invitations for your campmates! Make them feel special and give them something fun to take home from their course to remember the party by—it’s a win-win.

Is a celebration really a celebration without cake? Pick your favorite NOLS dessert recipe and frost it to match the theme of your party. (Don’t forget to pack candles if it’s someone’s birthday!)

3 | Wear Costumes

7 | Tell Campfire Stories

Get in gear (literally) with costumes! Make it interesting with a costume contest. The winner gets to choose what

When it’s time to set up the campfire for the night, sit around with your fellow NOLSies and share your favorite stories

Want the chance to celebrate in the backcountry? Visit www.nols.edu to check out our selection of courses to see which adventure might be best for you!

6 | Bake a Cake

Sarah Buer Sarah is a NOLS Wilderness Medicine graduate and former NOLS marketing coordinator. A Wyoming native, she loves chasing powder on her snowboard.





By Caleb Walker Social Media Coordinator

By Tess Donovan Marketing Representative

NOLS instructor Nancy Pfeiffer’s Riding into the Heart of Patagonia exudes love for the people and customs of rural Patagonia. Documenting her long love affair with the increasingly endangered way of life there, the book follows Nancy’s audacious plan to ride the length of Patagonia, going south from Coyhaique. Hers is a story of increasing ability, understanding, and admiration for the country, its people, and its wildlife. Nancy’s attention to detail transports the reader. As she writes about the people, flora, fauna, and her own trials and successes, you can imagine the beauty of the landscape and an understanding of the hardships she faced. Her description of the character of the horses she traveled with will strike a chord for anyone who loves an animal. Each becomes a full-fledged character; some provide a few more laughs than others. While the journey is the thread that connects the book, it’s peppered with unique characters and stories told by numerous locals and friends Nancy encounters. Nancy is all too aware of the change coming for Patagonia. Later chapters see some of these reaching fruition, while others are challenged and overcome. She regularly compares and contrasts Patagonia and her home in Alaska, the two places she loves most in the world. In doing so, she sheds light on the negative impacts of industrialization she’s seen in Alaska while drawing parallels to what’s on the horizon for many regions of Patagonia.


Easy to use and full of useful information, this is my go-to when exploring new hiking trails. Search by trail name or location, or click the map feature and it shows all the trails near you. It lists trails in terms of easy, medium, and hard as well as distance, elevation gain, pictures, a short description, and reviews. Though there’s a charge to download maps for offline use, it’s only $2.99 a month. Downsides: The easy, medium, and hard categorization didn’t make much sense. Some hikes that were 13 miles long and had 2,000 feet of elevation gain were listed as easy, and others that were only 3 miles with 1,500 elevation gain were called moderate. The recording feature drained my battery life much more quickly than other apps.


Simply hit “record” and it tracks your speed, elevation gain, and route on a topographic map. When hiking in Grand Teton, I was able to compare speeds on the hike up and back out. Also, though I ran the app for a full day of hiking, I only lost 40 percent of my battery life. Downsides: When searching for trails, it won’t give you a route, just the trailhead location.


As Outside Magazine put it, “Fatmap is like Google Maps on steroids,” but catered to hikers. The visuals are stunning, and it provides all the navigation elements you’ll need. You can use it for free, but offline access requires a $7.99 monthly subscription or a yearly discounted option for $40. Worth checking out for the visuals alone. Downsides: Very expensive compared to similar apps.

Who Is This? Do you recognize this person? The first ten people to contact us with the correct answer will receive a prize in the mail. The answer to the Summer 2018 issue’s “Who is This?” is NOLS Southwest Director Lindsay Nohl. Lindsay took her first course in 2002, an Instructor Course in 2004 and has been the Southwest program director since 2010. When not at work, Lindsay spends most of her time riding mountain bikes and looking for birds while exploring the desert.


CALL OR EMAIL | 1.800.332.4280 | ALUMNI@NOLS.EDU


GEAR REVIEW | PRO-TECT COPPER SOCKS By Travis Welch Alumni Programs Coordinator

1 | Smell Every day we smell-tested our socks. For several days there was minimal difference between the brands. A few days in, though, after a long hike through lots of water where the socks were constantly wet and flushed, every one of the testers agreed that the Pro-Tect socks had less odor than the competing brands; in fact, they were almost odorless. +1 Pro-Tect 2 | Comfort There is a stretchy band across the top of the foot in ProTect socks which snugs it to your foot. All testers liked this feature and agreed it increased comfort. Additionally, over time, the Pro-Tect socks did not get as stiff as our other socks. +1 Pro-Tect 3 | Durability The oldest surviving pair of socks dates back to 300-500 AD. At NOLS, we are pretty happy if our socks last us six months of hard walking. After a week, the Pro-Tect socks didn’t show any signs of wear. Still, no bonus points here— one week isn’t enough to judge!

CONCLUSION Testers put socks through a week of backcountry challenges. Nicholas Valentine


ro-Tect Copper Defense sock company got in touch with NOLS to find out what we thought of their socks. Socks are near and dear to our feet (and sometimes hands), so we are always game to see the latest and greatest. Pro-Tect’s primary differentiation on this second-century Roman invention is copper. I like to imagine them melting down 1857 pennies and then using a combination of osmosis and magic to get the copper to adhere to the wool sock membrane. (I am told this is probably not what happens.) Why copper? Well, Pro-Tect claims advantages such as wicking, softness, bacteria reduction, and skin wellness. These are great claims, but what I really care about in a sock are three simple things: smell, comfort, and durability.

We like ‘em. While we can’t make any scientific assessment on the benefits of copper, the socks were nice. None of our testers ran out to replace their quiver of wool socks, but everyone agreed that they would consider buying them next time they needed socks.

Travis Welch Travis, NOLS’ alumni programs coordinator, hails from Austin, Texas. His spirit animal is a sea otter, which makes sense considering the weeks he has accrued on the water for NOLS.

THE TEST I spent a week in the jungles of northern Thailand on a NOLS Alumni trip, hiking up and down hills and through rivers in hot temps. Three volunteers and I swapped out one of our socks for a Pro-Tect hiker crew sock, leaving us two different socks.




Ingredients • • • • • • • • • • • •

1 cup dried fruit, chopped ½ cup raisins 1 tsp. cinnamon or nutmeg 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups water 2 cups baking mix (see below) ½ cup powdered milk (regular, soy, coconut, or Nido) ¼ cup apple cider mix or 4 Tbs. brown sugar or honey 2 Tbs. powdered egg Pinch salt 1 tsp. vanilla 2 to 3 Tbs. melted butter Chopped nuts, more dried fruit, or chocolate chips for topping


ven campers who eschew fruitcake in the frontcountry will gobble up this tasty treat, submitted to the NOLS Cookery by veteran NOLS instructor Lucy Smith. It’s a great breakfast, snack, or dessert!

Recipe Put fruit, raisins, and cinnamon or nutmeg in a pan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, simmer 10 minutes, cool. Meanwhile, mix all other dry ingredients in a bowl. Drain water off fruit and reserve the water. Add the reserved water, vanilla, and butter to dry ingredients. Stir well. Mix in the dried fruit you hydrated. Pour into greased and floured 12-inch fry pan. Cover and bake, using a twiggy fire, about 25 minutes or until done. If using a topping, sprinkle it on halfway through baking time.

Baking Mix This recipe makes about twice as much as needed for fruitcake. • 4 cups flour (white or whole wheat) • 2 ½ Tbs. baking powder • ¼ cup powdered milk • 2 tsp. salt Mix all ingredients. Store in a plastic bag until needed.

A twiggy fire cooks fruitcake in 25 minutes. Emmi Laakso

Wilderness Quiz ANSWER | Alaska, California, Idaho, Arizona, Washington (Wyoming is #9!). The acreages of each are detailed on the right.


Alaska: California: Idaho: Arizona: Washington:

57,432,650 14,967,957 4,796,558 4,512,056 4,484,603

Kirk Rasmussen

Give a gift from NOLS this year!

YOUR FAVORITE NOLSIE WILL LOVE YOU EVEN MORE! T-Shirts · Hoodies ·Nalgenes · Buffs · NOLS Cookery · Expedition Planning · and More






Nate Eldridge


Longer nights, chilly days, and puffy jackets remind us it’s the holiday season. It’s also the season to say thanks. Your support today expands our scholarship programs tomorrow. GIVE TODAY 32 | THE LEADER


Profile for NOLS

NOLS Alumni Magazine - The Leader Fall 2018  

The Leader is the alumni magazine for NOLS, a nonprofit global school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics.

NOLS Alumni Magazine - The Leader Fall 2018  

The Leader is the alumni magazine for NOLS, a nonprofit global school focusing on wilderness skills, leadership, and environmental ethics.

Profile for nols.edu