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NZS-2 Passing Through!

NOLS NZ Spring Semester NZS-2 1/22/15 were back to the Aniseed Valley base briefly last week as they switched from Sea Kayaking to their Backpacking section. While the fickle winds had limited the number of actual travel days, the group was in fine spirits and they felt like they had learned a lot about leadership, group dynamics, the NZ coastal environment and the skills necessary to be excellent campers. They have now set out into Kahurangi National Park for a month of hiking, where they will explore some of NZ's most pristine river valleys and will attempt to traverse some of the alpine tops in the region. They will return to the NOLS NZ branch on 27 March in preparation for their third and final section: Sailing in the Marlborough Sounds.

Life's a beach! - NZS2 haul ashore on their SK section
Loading the kayaks ready for the next move
NZS2 all smiles after their Sea Kayak section

Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Mar 2, 2015 in the following categories: New Zealand

'Do What You like. Like What You do.'

“We don’t take a trip. A trip takes us,” said John Steinbeck.

 NOLS gave me the opportunity to experience a trip that would take me. It all started in 2012. I couldn’t find a study abroad program that fit my needs. I could have traveled abroad with my university, but I still would have been sitting inside classrooms imagining what the great outdoors had in store.

 When I headed home for Christmas break I heard about NOLS for the first time. My Dad heard about NOLS from my cousin, a NOLS alumnus, and suggested it for me. After some research, I secured the last spot on a semester abroad that was right for me: a Semester in Australia.

 An outdoor education, especially one that involved being on water, was a dream come true. From early childhood, I remember being fascinated by any water source. Marine life always caught my attention, and Australia gave me the tools to encounter and understand a variety of species.

 My course was split into three sections: canoeing (39 days), backpacking (23 days), and cultural (7 days). I had little to no experience with any of these technical skills, but with three brilliant instructors and an outstanding group of coursemates, we were able to grow in all of the aspects of this trip. The Kimberly in Western Australia is so remote and accompanied with a wide range of species that I had never heard of. It was something I loved waking up to and studying everyday. How far out of the “real world” we were really hit me when we arrived at a waterfall and one of my instructors told me I could count on one hand the number of people who had seen it.


Photo Credit: Jackson Sinclair 

Right then, I knew I would forever use my NOLS experiences for future endeavors. After an amazing cultural section of fishing, storytelling, and group classes, our course came to an end and I didn’t know when I would be affiliated with NOLS again.

 I returned to my last year of school still trying to figure out what I would do once the year was over. Stumbling around the web one day looking for jobs, I found myself back on the NOLS website looking through courses. That’s when I came upon the PR & Marketing Internship.

Continue reading "'Do What You like. Like What You do.'"

Permalink | Posted by Michael Betz on Feb 26, 2015 in the following categories: Alumni

A Colorful Partnership: NOLS Grad Teams up with Harry's

Fred R. Barncard once said, “A picture is worth ten thousand words.”

 For Jimmy Chin, a former NOLS instructor, this quote became a reality. Today, Chin is known worldwide as one of the most recognized adventurers and outdoor photographers. He works with National Geographic to capture moments of pure bliss and eye-opening expeditions. Chin also started his filmmaking career in 2003 and since then he was built a production company with two partners.

 One of Chin’s greatest accomplishments came in October 2006 where he successfully climbed and completed a ski descent of Mount Everest. He became the first American to ski the South Pillar Route. Other expedition highlights include climbing Mt. Kinabalu and Meru-Sharks Fin, becoming the first person to accomplish an ascent and ski descent of Tai Yang Peak, and many more.

 The setting for one of Chin’s recent adventures was Grand Teton National Park, one of his favorite destinations. Even though Chin plays here often, as he lives nearby, this trip would be different. He partnered with the co-founder of Harry’s Razors to create limited line of razors based on his accomplishments. On this expedition, Chin and his expedition mates would find themselves not only taking pictures of the outdoors, but also photographing Chin’s new line of razors, a fun project.


Photo Credit: Brad Christensen 

Besides teaming up with Harry’s, Chin has been featured through numerous companies.

 Chin lives for adventure and has been featured in Outside Magazine, Men’s Journal, National Geographic Magazine, and People Magazine. He currently resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he continues to focus on his upcoming expeditions and keeping a close shave.




Permalink | Posted by Michael Betz on Feb 23, 2015 in the following categories: Alumni

CNG Truck at NOLS

Transportation is a necessity at NOLS. How else would students and instructors arrive at some of the most isolated and spectacular places on our planet? Although transportation is key to NOLS operations worldwide, it also accounts for 40 percent of the school’s carbon emissions, making it a significant sustainability concern.  

Last September, NOLS purchased a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicle with funding support from Encana Oil and Gas. CNG is a well established alternative to gasoline, boasting low cost, widespread distribution, and most importantly, clean-burning qualities. Due to the proximity of CNG providers in the area, the Ford truck will spend most of its days at the NOLS location in Vernal, Utah. After a short debut, it has proved to be a valuable asset to the NOLS fleet of vehicles.

There is a possibility for more CNG use at NOLS, as a CNG vehicle is being considered for the Three Peaks Ranch due to the infrastructure in Pinedale, Wyoming. We are excited to explore the use of CNG as well as more opportunities for environmentally friendly transportation.

IMG_0524The CNG truck is ready for action

Permalink | Posted by Becca Sage on Feb 20, 2015 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

NZ Backpacking Courses Underway

NOLS NZ's two Backpacking courses commenced this week, with NZB1 heading to Kahurangi National Park and NZB2 exploring the Southern Alps between Lewis Pass and Arthurs Pass. Both groups were at the branch for a day and a half to issue their gear and pack rations for a month of hiking. They should enjoy the more stable weather that the late summer brings in NZ, but will learn skills to deal with the varied conditions and terrain types that mountain travel involves. They will receive 3 re-rations via vehicle and helicopter over the course of their journeys.

NZB1 striking a pose at the NOLS NZ branch
NZB2 savoring the fresh produce of the NOLS NZ garden before their adventure

Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Feb 18, 2015 in the following categories: New Zealand

Educator Expedition: South Avellano Tower

By Jared Spaulding, NOLS Instructor

The Numbers:

People on the expedition: 4

Expedition members who are former or current NOLS instructors:  4
Nights in the mountains: 20 (+ the Bahia Murta bivy)
Kilometers spent crammed in pickup trucks: about 400
Hours spent crammed in pickup trucks: about 8
Days spent hiking: 12–14
Days spent shuttling gear i.e. moving half our load: 9
Mileage walked: 57–78
Camps used: 4 (+ the Bahia Murta bivy)
Other people seen: 1
Climbing days: 4
Pitches climbed: 22
Pitches climbed on South Avellano Tower: 8
Routes established: 1
Pitches rappelled: 21
Stoppers or hexes left behind: 10
Number of #5 Camalots brought to trailhead: 3
Number of #5 Camalot placements: 2
Average packages of cookies eaten per day: 4
Kilos of manjar (dulce de leche) consumed: 3
Days it precipitated on us: 14
Number of North American weather correspondents: 2
Video clips taken: 500 (20 hours)
Stories that started "One time I was working this NOLS course...":  518, approximately
Photos taken: 850 (Dave: 700, me: 150)
Grants received: 4
Times we cursed Donnini’s name: countless
Books read: 8

The Story Behind the Numbers:

Continue reading "Educator Expedition: South Avellano Tower"

Permalink | Posted by NOLS on Feb 18, 2015 in the following categories: Instructor News

Free Tickets to the Show!

Visit the NOLS booth at the Travel and Adventure show in Washington, D.C., March 7–8, and enter for a chance to win a free NOLS course.

For over 11 years and 54 shows, travel enthusiasts from around the country have been dreaming, planning and finding their next vacation at Travel & Adventure Shows. NOLS will be present at the upcoming show in D.C., and we can offer free tickets (use the code EXHNOLS).

From African safaris to Caribbean getaways, rainforest adventures, and domestic experiences, you’ll meet hundreds of the top travel brands from around the globe, including NOLS. If you’re interested in talking to NOLS about an adventure of a lifetime for yourself or for a young family member, stop by in the Washington Convention Center. Meet NOLS representatives, watch fun demos, and enter to win that free NOLS course*!


While at the Travel & Adventure Show, explore the cultural stages: the Global Beats Stage invites you to get on your feet and dance to the music of far away lands while the Taste of Travel Theater will fill your nose with the aroma of some of the world’s most unique cuisines.

Or head to a session at the Destination Stage where the top travel destinations show you how to experience the best that they have to offer. At the Travel Channel Theater, find inspiration and how to travel like a local from  celebrity speakers including Samantha Brown, Rick Steves, Pauline and Arthur Frommer, Patricia Schultz, Roger Staubach, Travel Channel personalities and more.

Located in seven markets across the United States, the Travel & Adventure Show is like walking through a guidebook contained under one roof. Join us March 7–8 in the Washington Convention Center to dream it, plan it, and maybe even win a NOLS course.

For more information on attending the Travel & Adventure Show, please visit their new website at!

* Win a Free NOLS Course! Entry at the NOLS booth is required for eligibility. One winner will be selected from total entries at all 2015 Travel and Adventure Shows. The winner will be notified by April 17, 2015.

Permalink | Posted by NOLS on Feb 17, 2015

DEQ Aims to Downgrade Essential Streams in Wyoming

It’s a hot summer day in Wyoming and you are hiking along a cherished trail surrounded by pines, peaks and sunny skies. Care to take off your boots and soak your feet in a cool stream, or perhaps go for a swim? Water quality may not cross your mind when you’re sweating and distracted by the beauty of the landscape, but you might have to think again.

With countless streams, creeks and rivers flowing through Wyoming wilderness areas, we have reason to acknowledge their relevance to the environment and our lives. In August of 2014, the Water Quality Division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) made a decision to downgrade certain surface waters from primary, to secondary contact recreation. By downgrading streams in this manner, the standards set for water quality in more than 87,000 miles of streams will be lowered significantly.

The process used by the DEQ involved analyzing stream size, proximity to population centers, and recreation access. These three steps were designed to determine the potential use of the stream for swimming, bathing, or other activities that could result in full body immersion or accidental ingestion of water. Although the analysis aimed to consider the public in the decision-making process, the outcome has proven to be a misrepresentation of which streams are likely to be used by the recreating public. As we know at NOLS, just because a stream is located further than a half a mile from a trailhead, does not mean it is inaccessible.

As a primary user of streams in Wyoming’s backcountry, NOLS is taking a stand against the proposal to downgrade these essential waters. In addition to being a part of our classroom and where we recreate, water is one of the most amazing and imperative resources on our planet. To downplay the significance of so many Wyoming streams is a step in the wrong direction.

NOLS students executing a river crossing

Permalink | Posted by Becca Sage on Feb 13, 2015 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

NZS-3 heads for the hills

New Zealand Semester Three students all arrived safely at NOLS NZ. The first day of their semester coincided with the first day of rain for the year at NOLS NZ. The group bagged 77 days worth of food and organized equipment that will be bought to them through out the semester. 

The group is now hiking in the Nelson Lakes National Park. 

P1310127First day of rain for 2015 

P2010141NZS-3 Student Group 

NZS-3 – 02/01/15 Schedule

Cultural:  2-3 Feb
1 – Backpacking:  4 Feb to 4 Mar
Branch Switch:  5-6 Mar
2 – Sea Kayaking: 7 Mar to 6 Apr
Field Switch: 7 Apr
3 – Sailing: 8 Apr to 16 Apr
Branch De-issue: 17 Apr
Graduation: 18 Apr

Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Feb 7, 2015 in the following categories: New Zealand

Wyoming Legislature Angles to Annex Federal Lands

It’s the beginning of a new year, and the 2015 Wyoming State Legislative Session is in full swing. There are many reasons to pay attention to the bills passing through legislature, but why is it important to NOLS?

There are several bills being proposed in this year’s legislative session that are worthy of attention. One profoundly influential bill concerning NOLS operations is House Bill 209, the Transfer of Federal Lands. House Bill 209 mimics bills of the past, proposing that control over public lands in Wyoming ought to be transferred from the federal government into the hands of the state.

Why is this a concern? One of the greatest assets to NOLS as an outfitter is the integrity of its federal land permits. Without the permits that NOLS has acquired within Wyoming’s wilderness, NOLS operations in the state would not be possible. Transferring control of public lands to the state threatens the status of existing permits in the federal permits system, jeopardizing accessibility to NOLS classrooms.

In addition to placing NOLS classrooms in jeopardy, House Bill 209 could potentially have detrimental effects on Wyoming’s travel and tourism economy. Lending control of public land to the state encourages exploitation of the land’s resources for the greatest economic means, which does not always represent or promote the true beauty and value of the land. Furthermore, state lands are not available for camping. This fact, as we are all well aware, has the ability to negatively impact NOLS, as well as the everyday Wyoming recreationist.

As the 2015 legislative session presses on, NOLS will be keeping an eye on House Bill 209, among several other bills that may affect the school. If you would like to view the content and status of this bill or any other bills being proposed, visit the Wyoming Legislature website.

Permalink | Posted by Becca Sage on Feb 6, 2015 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, In The News

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