The 12 Days of NOLS
We’ve found the perfect way to get you into the holiday spirit and fight the cold snap with a hearty laugh. Watch NOLS Creative’s newest (and possibly goofiest) release, “The 12 Days of NOLS,” a NOLS variation on the classic tune, to get a taste of the NOLS experience or reminisce about your course! Written with extensive input from the peanut gallery, shot and edited in less than 12 hours, and brought to you with only mild shame, we now ask you to watch the video and sing along.
On the first day of my course Paul Petzoldt gave to me ...
Windpants with a reinforced knee
Two trekking poles
Six dudes belaying
Seven miles a' shwackin’
Eight malt balls missing
Nine quickdraws clipping
Ten backpacks bulging
Eleven toasty hot drinks
Twelve students mapping
Happy Holidays from NOLS
Permalink | Posted by Casey Dean on Dec 10, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Alumni, Amazon, Australia, Books, Curriculum, India, Instructor News, Leadership, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, On The Net, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Yukon
NZSF 3 Graduation
NZSF 3 came back to the NOLS New Zealand base on Monday after the last section of their semester. They hung up their mountaineering boots and packed their tents away for the last time. Some couldn't bear to part with their beloved tents so they purchased them for future adventures. They wrapped up their semester with a kiwi BBQ. Then legendry instructor Jim Chisholm recounted the time he fended off hyenas with a bicycle while on a personal expedition.
Students are now all on their way home or enjoying some rainy New Zealand weather.
Check out the Blog post by Instructor Jared Spaulding for stories specific to the mountaineering section
Another Day, Another Dollar
Congratulations NZSF-3 (The Unicorns)
NOLS' Newest Book is a Perfect Holiday Gift: Canoeing
Effortlessly gliding through the crystal clear, smooth water, the canoes’ bow pierces the flat surface and sends ripples outward toward the shores. A single-bladed paddle silently dips into the water, propelling the watercraft further onward.
The simple, yet magnificent practicality of a canoe has been around for years. From the earliest cedar-ribbed and birch bark skinned hulls to the wood-and-canvas construction, and on to the modern-day myriad of ABS plastics, foam, and vinyl that are pressed together and known as Royalex. The materials, as well as the people using canoes, have changed drastically over time.
Nowadays canoes can be found splitting through Arctic waters bumping edges with mini icebergs, crossing the vast Pacific Ocean with help of sails and are still found on small lakes and ponds throughout the world. They are vessels for recreation, transportation, and scientific studies, among other things.
The new NOLS book, Canoeing, written by Alexander Martin and published by Stackpole Books, goes in-depth to explore and enhance the overall understanding of every aspect of canoeing—from planning an expedition and describing in detail the parts of a canoe to water science and river maneuvers and travel. Martin, a NOLS instructor since 2008, has a great understanding of a variety of canoe expeditions and was able to use past experiences and knowledge to create this all-encompassing canoeing book.
The book is the perfect gift for anyone with a passion for canoeing who would like to learn more regarding expedition canoeing, water travel and techniques, wilderness navigation, as well as advanced skills and other aspects that make up the world of canoeing. This book will serve as a great resource with colorful graphics and pictures to help demonstrate and teach skills and concepts. As everyone settles in for winter in the Northern Hemisphere, Canoeing will be a great companion. While the snow falls and the winds howl, read up on everything canoe related and gain more insight and excitement with each page. Then when winter finally loses its grip on the land and the waterways flow freely, unimpeded by ice, you can set off your own canoe expedition.
For those who wish to gain even more canoe experience and skills, a great avenue is a NOLS course. There are multiple courses with a canoeing component that will allow you to build a foundation and further your canoeing knowledge and experience. NOLS has taught canoe travel for the last four decades. Significant canoe components can be found at multiple NOLS operating locations including the Yukon, the Brazilian Amazon, Australia, American Southwest and Alaska. Any of these courses or locations would be greatly beneficial to anyone wishing to enhance their outdoor skills, leadership development, environmental studies and risk management techniques.
NZSF 1 & 2 Semester Graduation
NZSF-1 9/12/13 and NZSF-2 9/12/13 finished their hiking sections and came back to the NOLS NZ base on Tuesday. The semesters ended with a rewarding Independent Student Group Expedition.
The groups finished their semesters feeling very successful in their personal and group accomplishments. When looking back on all three sections they appreciated the different opportunities each skill type offered including leadership roles and personal challenge.
Throughout their hiking sections both groups enjoyed ideal New Zealand summer weather until the last night in the field when it bucketed down rain.
Both groups were dropped off in Nelson Wednesday afternoon happy and healthy.
New Zealand semesters enter final sections
When the students on NZSF-4-9/26/2013 returned to the branch this week for their intown switch (from Sea Kayaking to Canoeing), there was an easy consensus about the highlight of the section: It was the day hundreds of dolphins surrounded the kayaks, leaping and diving and skimming the surface. The dolphins stayed for more than an hour, and if that wasn't exciting enough, the group watched as the dolphins were eventually chased away by a pair of orcas on the hunt. Instructor Yuri, who's been paddling the Marlborough Sounds for four seasons, told me it was the most spectacular display of wildlife she's ever seen out there.
The course traveled in the Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds for 20 days. With mild to moderate weather conditions, the group was able to travel 93 nautical miles. Paddling conditions included winds to 15 knots and seas to two feet. Storms with winds up to 45 knots kept the group ashore some days. They had mainly sunny days with a few days of rain. In addition to the dolphins and orcas, the group saw New Zealand fur seal, little blue penguins, manta rays and a variety of sea birds such as terns, oystercatchers, Australasian gannets, kingfishers, wekas, shearwaters, shags, albatross and more. The curriculum in this second section focused on strong sea kayak skills (strokes, rescues and rolling), leadership skills and natural history.
Thank you to student Marilyn Farrell for providing these photos.
And here they are ready to go Canoeing:
We also had a chance to see NZSF-3 last week during their field switch. Our driver picked up the group from the Lake Tennyson campground in Nelson Lakes. From there it was a short drive to the small town of Hanmer Springs where the group camped for one night, cleaning gear, taking showers and meeting their new instructors. We are sorry that were unable to take any pictures at the switch. We will catch up with this group again in early December when they complete their Mountaineering section and return to the branch for graduation.
Meanwhile, I do have one group shot from the Canoe section that didn't make it up on the blog earlier. Cheers!
The Stormy Southern Alps of New Zealand
Our second New Zealand Semester, NZSF-2-9/12/2013, has just completed their Mountaineering section and has started their Backpacking section. Theirs was a field switch, meaning a couple of us from the branch drove down to meet them for a quick overnight transition at a campground. There was time to take showers, organize the food and fuel resupply and read mail -- and then it was time to head back into the field.
The Mountaineering section had its highlights -- alpine starts, an earthquake (first time for a few students), a fun leadership activity about signature styles -- but it was primarily a lesson in Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty. Learning to endure, even enjoy, hard work and learning to adapt to change are key skills in the NOLS Leadership model, and theses students had plenty of practice. The weather in the Southern Alps was harsh nearly every day of their section, with driving rain and snow pushing up river levels throughout the range. Tents often had to be braced all night long, which made for little sleep. Keeping sleeping bags and base layers dry took persistence and good camp skills. Near whiteout conditions had them wondering if their helicopter resupply would make it in (it did!). Many days the rivers were so high they could not be crossed safely, which left the group stuck waiting and making daily changes to their travel plans.
Jared Spaulding, one of the instructors on the course, wrote a blog post about one particular night of storms. Check it out here.
Jared also provided these photos of the group, all of which were taken during some of the brief weather windows of blue sky.
The group was able to develop basic mountaineering skills and climbed cols in both the Froude Range and Jollie Range. And the sun finally came out for the last few days, which the course spent ascending and descending the Sinclair Valley; these three of days of intense offtrail travel were praised as the most difficult and most satisfying of the section.
The switch was held at the Lake Taylor Campground, a remote and rustic spot managed by New Zealand's Dept of Conservation. Here are a few pictures of the transition:
On the drive from the Mountaineering pickup to Lake Taylor, the group stopped at a market in the town of Amberley. Everyone took advantage of the opportunity to buy treats. This made the highlight of the switch obvious: Bacon-wrapped hot dogs for breakfast.
Double-switch at the New Zealand branch
Kia Ora from New Zealand! Two of our semester groups returned to our new facility in Aniseed Valley this week. NZSF-1 was transitioning from Sea Kayaking to Backpacking, their final section before graduation. NZSF-4 was transitioning from Backpacking to Sea Kayaking. The two groups had fewer than 24 hours at the branch to quickly clean gear, take showers, redistribute rations and meet their new instructor teams.
NZSF-1 traveled in the Pelorus Sound for 20 days, covering a distance of 58 nautical miles. Paddling conditions included winds to 15 knots and seas to two feet, as well as currents up to 4 knots in the Allen Strait. Storms with winds up to 50 knots kept the group ashore some days. The group saw heaps of wildlife, including the New Zealand fur seal, little blue penguin, dolphins and a variety of sea birds such as terns, oystercatchers, Australasian gannets,kingfishers, wekas, shearwaters, shags, albatross and more.
Student Aidan Power provided me with some great photos from the field.
NZSF-1 began their semester in New Zealand with Mountaineering. Since that section was completed, one of their instructors, Jared Spaulding, added a post about the course to his blog. Folks interested in hearing more about the group decision-making process, and the stormy conditions experienced during that section, will enjoy the essay. It's called "Run Like a Chicken" and it's posted on Jared's blog, Living the Dream.
NZSF-1 is now on their final section, backpacking in Kahurangi National Park. Here's a picture of them --with their instructors--just before they left the branch.
NZSF-4 started 3 weeks later than NZSF-1,so they have just completed their first section. The group traveled 31 days in the Nelson Lakes area, hiking 210 km with 6,500 meters of elevation gain. The route included valley trails and three major passes; through beech forest, grassy river flats, steep tussock slopes, scree and majestic snowfields. Every type of weather was encountered, as is typical for the New Zealand Spring; there were warm sunny days as well as lots of rain, hail and snow.
One night, the group woke up around 11 PM to incredible winds whipping through camp. Tents were broadsided as poles bent under the pressure. The noise was tremendous. The instructors' tent was the first to collapse altogether, leaving them to scramble outside in the rain. Soon everyone was up and all agreed to pack up and move camp completely into a more sheltered area. The team estimated winds were up to 80 km/hr. It was 2 AM when the group finally settled back in to sleep at their new camp. Another exciting night at NOLS!
Student Lisa Moen provided me with some great photos from various days along the expedition.
Next up for NZSF-4 is Sea Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds. The group is fully self-sustained, meaning they are carrying all their fuel and rations for the entire expedition. Here they are just about to board the bus:
(p.s. Check back in a few days for a post about NZSF-2's field switch.)
NZSF-3 inaugurates Richmond Forest backpacking route
Our third New Zealand Fall Semester course has just finished their canoe section. The Clarence River was high from the very start of this section and the early-Spring weather was brisk. NZSF-3 students were motivated to develop keen paddling and river-reading techniques so they could avoid any tip-overs into the very, very cold water. This route typically takes the group all the way to the Pacific Ocean, but given the water and weather conditions, the group determined it was safer to stop several kilometers short of the coast. Our bus driver Belinda met them at the revised pickup point and after a quick breakfast they rode back here to the branch in Aniseed Valley.
Their quick stay at the branch included a lot of gear cleaning followed by prep for the Backpacking section.
Students swapped out river shoes for hiking boots, working with instructors to get socks, boots and gaiters fitting appropriately. Canoe instructor Jacqui displays her own pair of river shoes, which she has rightly decided to retire.
The NOLS branch is a former sheep farm and we use the woolshed as a staging area. Students spent time in the shed learning about the new gear they'd be carrying on the backpacking section and sorting what they would choose to leave behind from canoeing. Happily, there was also time for showers and even a couple loads of laundry.
Instructor Scott coached the group on proper pack-fitting and safe ways to pick up a heavy pack without losing one's balance. Often the best approach is to get a friend to help.
Finally the group was ready to hike! Here they are pictured with their instructors (both far left), Scott and Dougall. Scott is a long-time NOLS instructor with experience all over North America, New Zealand and Australia -- where he now makes his home. Dougall is local Kiwi instructor who lives here in the Nelson region. Dougall has spent years hiking in this area on both personal trips and with other outdoor education programs.
NZSF-3 is the first course to hike a brand new route we've designed just since moving the branch to the Aniseed Valley. The group will be hiking in the Richmond Forest Park, which is the range immediately adjacent to the branch property. Many of us jog and mountain bike in these mountains because of their beauty and proximity. These students started their section by walking straight out our driveway toward the Hacket Trailhead. The sun was shining as our in-town staff members stood on the porch to wave goodbye and take a few last photos.
Alpine starts in New Zealand
The season is well underway in New Zealand with our first two New Zealand Fall Semester groups finishing their first sections and transitioning to their second sections. Both groups returned to the NOLS branch in Aniseed Valley to take showers, do laundry, read mail, swap gear and meet their new instructor teams.
NZSF-1-9/12/2013 started their semester with Mountaineering in the Southern Alps. The Arrowsmiths region of the Alps is an excellent wilderness classroom due in part to its broad range of terrain including tracks, thick bush, scree, boulders, snow fields, glaciers and tussocks. A thorough living and traveling curriculum was covered along with a basic introduction to mountaineering skills. Technical skills included ice axe use, avalanche safety, crevasse rescue and building snow anchors. The group climbed several peaks, which means they had several alpine starts -- getting up at 4 AM or earlier to be able to travel while the snow conditions were best. One of their highlights was swimming in a glacially-fed lake at the end of a long travel day.
NZSF-2-9/12/2013 began with Sea Kayaking in Marlborough Sounds. In addition to learning basic camping and outdoor living skills, they learned basic paddle strokes, kayak care and repair and methods for reading weather and sea conditions. The group saw heaps of wildlife including a good number of penguins and entire pods of dolphins leaping all around the kayaks. Weather was mixed with some sunny days plus a few days that were to windy for safe travel. On those days the group stayed on the beach and relaxed or worked on non-technical curriculum such as environmental studies and first aid. They also some very early mornings, getting up in the dark in order to paddle when the sea state was best.
Back the branch, the two groups traded stories and swapped gear. NZSF-1 is now off to Sea Kayking and NZSF-2 is off to Mountaineering. For us at the branch, it was fun to watch the students coach each other on how best to pack and prepare for their respective sections.
We'll update the blog again when these students transition to their next sections. Cheers!
Tramping the Nelson Lakes with our fourth New Zealand semester
Students on New Zealand Fall Semester, Section 4 - 09/27/2012, the final New Zealand semester of the Austral Spring season, arrived to the branch in Aiseed Valley on Thursday 26 September. After two days of prep at the branch, the group departed for the town of Kaikoura to learn more about the local culture. Next, they're off to the Nelson Lakes region for Hiking (called "tramping" down under).
A good part of the prep days involve measuring, weighing and bagging hundreds of kilos of food. These students packed enough food for 9 ration periods, with each ration period separated and moved into storage as the course gets underway. The students left the branch carrying Ration #1 -- enough pasta, spices, hot cocoa, ramen noodles, scroggin for 8 days. Their next ration period will be delivered to them out in the bush via 4WD vehicle.
Our branch is located on an old sheep farm. We use the woodshed, or former sheep shearing shed, as a staging area where students can unpack and organize their equipment. Here's the New Zealand Fall Semester, Section 4 group posing with an assortment of gear:
New Zealand Fall Semester, Section 4 - Course Calendar
Cultural: 26-27 Sept
1 – Backpacking: 27 Sept to 30 Oct
Branch switch: 30-31 Oct
2 – Sea Kayak: 31 Oct to 20 Nov
Branch Switch: 20-21 Oct
3 – Canoeing: 21 Nov to 9 Dec
Branch De-issue: 10 Dec
Course ends: 11 Dec