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Patagonia Year transition

Patagonia is known as a wild and remote region, where NOLS has found a great home in Coyhaique amongst the locals and mountains. The only (unpaved) road from here will lead you South to several small towns, National Parks and beautiful wilderness. While traveling you will notice cows, sheep and other cattle wandering around on the lands, giving us small signs of society in an otherwise wild and empty land. Every now and then you will come across a gaucho home tucked away in the hills. These ‘casa’s’ are often very small, simply build and affirm the local lifestyle where one is happy with little.
It is on one of these campo’s that NOLS staff and Patagonia Year students met this week to transition from sea kayaking to the cultural section.

The lakeside campo was distinguished by green grass, tall trees and surrounding mountains. Sheep, horses, dogs and turkeys wandered around. A barn or two, and a tiny but very characteristic casa.
The students set up camp, handed in all of their kayak gear, and prepared themselves for a good dose of Chilean culture.
For the next week they will all find homes with local gaucho’s, or pobladors as they are called in Chile. The students are all doing very well and are excited for their cultural section; looking forward to speak Spanish, spend time with locals and learn all there is to know about life on a Patagonian campo.

05 - DSC_9984
Learning how to ride a horse with full support.

Posted by Inge • NOLS Patagonia intern

Permalink | Posted by Kamil Sade on Nov 15, 2014 in the following categories: Patagonia

Patagonia Spring Semester 1 and 2 rendezvous

Last week our Spring Semester courses had their rendezvous in Lago Tranquilo, a beautiful location a few hours south of Coyhaique. Both courses finished their first section, either Sea Kayaking or Mountaineering. During the rendezvous the students switched gear, welcomed new instructors and prepared themselves for another adventure!

In between all the preparations were a few moments to hear some of the students stories.

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Lela, Sophie and Katie • Mountaineering

“What was your best NOLS experience so far?”
“I was thinking of our independent section, towards the end of the mountaineering section. We had just trashed through swamp, after swamp, after swamp, it was raining, and I face planted... All of us were like ‘We have to get to camp, we have to get there!’! And then our friend Phil crossed a river, and he went under! And he’s all geared up, he’s trudging, he’s got his poles and he’s going! We were all cheering him on and screaming, and he came out of the water with this huge smile on his face! And then he was trying to get warm, he tripped and fell, but he got right back up and kept going! It was just one of the best experiences, it made everything so worth it. To see how far we have come. It has been awesome. And not just that moment, but the whole independent section. Learning how to do things on your own put everything in perspective, everything the instructors have taught us. It was really cool to be on your own, and feel really confident that we could do that.”

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Beatrice, Charlotte, Mckala, Spencer, Aaron sharing their adventures with me • Kayaking

“The best part? I would say the people, honestly. If you had to pick a best thing, I think it is spending time with everybody. Building a community.”
“Can you give an example of a time when you especially felt that connection?”
“There was one day where all of our tents got submerged. The tide came up so high that some of our tents were - there were waves breaking into them! And everyone was under one tarp, just sitting there watching our tents go under water.”
“There was nothing we could do! The beach was really narrow, there was a forrest right behind it. So there was nowhere we could move the tents to. So we had to watch it happen.”
“We had to accept it! Just let it happen. We were all just drinking mate and laughing; ‘I guess we’ll have to bilge pump the tents out!’”
“Yeah! Mark and I took a pot and pan from the kitchen set and bailed out our tent!”
“I’ve never had to sponge out a tent before, it was crazy!”
“It was a beautiful day too, it was stunning! It wasn’t even a stormy day. There was just no more beach, no more else to go.”
“But the fact that we were all together, and everyone was able to laugh about it. I don’t think anybody was upset. Everyone was just sort of like ‘Oh, well.. This is happening!’”
“This is why I love people who do NOLS trips! All of us were laughing, we didn’t care, we were just having a fun time.”
“Everyone’s happy, basically all the time. Which is really cool. And when you’re not, you’re able to admit that you’re struggling in that moment.”
“And then there are people there who are going to take care of you.”

Though there was not enough time to speak with all of the students, it was clear that all of them are doing very well. Their enthusiasm and excitement was almost touchable, their adventures full of Patagonia’s wilderness and newfound friendships.

Posted by Inge • NOLS Patagonia intern


Permalink | Posted by Kamil Sade on Nov 13, 2014 in the following categories: Patagonia

Chilean Earthquake


Chilean earrthquake map
Click for full size map.

An 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile, on the evening of Tuesday, April 1. The epicenter was nearly 2,000 miles north of NOLS headquarters in Coyhaique and NOLS operating areas in southern Chile. 

A tsunami alert was issued for all of the Chilean coast. No NOLS courses were on or near the water. On Wednesday morning, April 2 the tsunami warning was lifted.

NOLS Chile is in communication with Headquarters in Lander. NOLS staff in Coyhaique did not feel the earthquake and there have been no reports of damage in the area.

NOLS continues to monitor the situation. The NOLS admission office is open Monday through Thursday from 7:00 AM (9 ET; 8 CT; 6 PT) until 6PM Mountain Time. On Friday the office is open from 7 AM until 5 PM.

4/2/14 7:20 AM-- This post has been updated to indicate that the tsunami warning has been lifted and that the epicenter was off the coast.

4/2/14 11:00 PM-- Another earthquake, reported as 7.8 magnitude, has been reported in the same location as last night's event. Officials have issued another tsunami warning. As was the case yesterday, NOLS courses are not on or near the water. One group is in Coyhaique completing their semester. The other group is in Cochrane, further south, preparing for their student expeditions. We spoke with the group today and all is well.


Permalink | Posted by NOLS on Apr 1, 2014 in the following categories: Patagonia

Imagine your 2014 summer

Summer is here!

Well, at least the 2014 summer NOLS course catalog is here, and that's even better, because you still have time to plan the perfect summer with NOLS.


We have boxes and boxes and boxes of the summer catalog here at NOLS Headquarters, so request one here. If you'd prefer a paperless version, we've got you covered, too. Download the iPad version of the 2014 summer catalog here.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Jan 16, 2014 in the following categories: Alaska, Alumni, Amazon, Australia, Curriculum, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, 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, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, Yukon

Saludos desde Patagonia

In the southern hemisphere we are getting ready to receive the summer, bees are flying around the campo flores, the Lengas, native beech of Chile, are finally full of leaves and the Semester courses Patitas y Navegantes (SSPM 9/25 1 y 2) are on their small group travels, the last section of the 80 days expedition. 
Both semester did a Kayaking Section and Mountain Section, traveling in places like Cerro Colmillo, Archipielago los Chonos, Canal Moraleda and Volcan Melimoyu 

Chunchos y Concones (Patagonia Year 1 y 2) just finished the mega section of Hiking and Mountaineering, 45 days traveling by foot, now at the Noels Patagonia ranch they are doing a Wilderness First Responder course (WFR). Chulengos (Patagonia Year 3) are having a different program, they already did a WFR, now they are hiking and in a few days they will start the Cultural section of their course. Places were they hiked are Cordon Chacabuco, Glaciar Cañal and Cerro Blanco, all this near the town of Cochrane.

All this is happening while the Nols Patagonia In town staff gets ready for the last transition of the Arqueros y Lanceros (SSPM 10/2 1y2), planed to be done at a campground area near Cochrane. This semester course will soon start the Small Group Travel, meaning that their will hike in different groups for 8 days, throw different places of Patagonia. Places where they hiked and Paddled are Cerro Castillo range, Fiordo Aysen, Monte San Lorenzo and Bahia Exploradores.

Also a LNT Trainer course for Inacap (local outdoor School) just finished after 3 days in the Reserva Nacional Rio Simpson, Cerro Huemules area.

Anyway, the summer its here and we are all working hard to make sure that our Students, Instructor and in-town staff are having a great time in Patagonia.


We are looking forward have all our students back in the Nols Patagonia ranch and hear all the great histories and experiences that they have to share.


The Mountains of El Colmillo range               Martin Arteaga M.



Paddling in the Patagonian Fiords                            Edmilson M. Fonseca


The Mountains, an awesome enviroment, a great classroom      Martin Arteaga M.


Beachs breaks, a good place to rest, have some water and take some group pics!     Edmilson M. Fonseca.


LNT Trainers!!                        Martin Arteaga M.

Permalink | Posted by Kamil Sade on Dec 10, 2013 in the following categories: Patagonia

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

Three Peaks Ranch


Five pounds of cheese

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 Adams 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

Patagonia welcomes Season 2013-2014 Adventurers!

THE SEASON IS ON AT PATAGONIA!! We’ve been operating in different areas of this region with tons of good experiences for our students. Semester courses are still in the field after some transitions and the same for Patagonia Year courses. NAWE 1-2 (11/20) finished their hiking course in Cerro Castillo area and El Cordillerano. They spent 10 days hiking, learning leadership skills, and how to live comfortably in the outdoors. 

Spring semesters SSPM 1-2 (9/25) after their first section in the mountains around El Engaño and navigating through the fiords around Raúl Marín Balmaceda have transitioned and switched to their next section. Mountaineers now are around Mt. Melimoyu and the Kayakers started paddling towards Isla Magdalena National Park (,_Ays%C3%A9n_Region)

SSPM 1-2 (10/2) Mountaineers after spending a month in the mountains of Cerro Castillo (, learning technical skills among other leadership and basic skills were able to climb some peaks, go through some high passes and camp in some beautiful locations for a month. Kayakers went to navigate through Archipiélago de los Chonos, were able to cross Darwin Channel and saw Blue Whales, as well as other beautiful species like penguins and dolphins completing an ambitious route of 225 miles long. Right now both courses transitioned and are in the Mountains around Mt. San Lorenzo and paddling across Fiordo Aysén.


Season FY14 Felipe Cancino
by Felipe Cancino

Patagonia year courses are also learning a bunch and enjoying their time in the region. PY1-2 (10/19) after finishing their first section doing hiking are in the Mountains around Hidden Valley and the Barrancoso while PY3 (10/14) are learning first aid skills doing their Wilderness First Responder course after successfully completing a month of sea kayaking around the beautiful town Caleta Tortel.

Season FY14 Jay Slobodian
by Jay Slobodian
Season FY14 Jay Slobodian2
by Jay Slobodian

Congratulations to all our students completing their courses and their sections in the field. Keep working hard and enjoying Patagonia!

Permalink | Posted by Kamil Sade on Nov 27, 2013 in the following categories: Patagonia

Drumroll, please ...

It has arrived. Thirty thousand copies of the shiny new course catalog have been unloaded and piled up at NOLS Headquarters, and another 30,000 will be shipped to potential students soon.

We thought we’d introduce you.

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 2.09.47 PM

Like last year, the NOLS course catalog has a clean, square shape and inspiring personal accounts to make the NOLS experience relatable.

With this catalog, though, we have dedicated more pages to courses and NOLS locations, specifically for the upcoming season. In fact, it’s dedicated almost entirely to the winter and spring course offerings at NOLS because we are going to publish three seasonal catalogs a year from now on. This will allow us to tailor the information in each catalog to each season to give you more helpful information about our course offerings.

You can look forward to a summer course catalog in January and a fall course catalog in April. All three catalogs will be available iPad apps shortly after their publication.

If you haven’t already requested a catalog, do so here or keep an eye out for the app, to be released soon! 

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Aug 28, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Australia, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Felicitaciones PY graduates!

A huge felicitaciones is in order to our recent graduates of one of the longest programs offered at NOLS, the Year in Patagonia. These students have been in the field since October 16, and have covered all sorts of territory in Region Aysen, Chile using a myriad of outdoor technical skills. These bold participants underwent a hiking section, mountaineering, sea kayaking, rock climbing, lived with a Patagonian family on a cultural section, and even had the opportunity to become a Leave No Trace Master Educators as well as a Wilderness First Responders through WMI.

PY 2, Sonido Acido, finally got their chance to kayak in the south out of Rio Exploradores towards Puerto Chacabuco covering a total of 190 nautical miles. They were granted many days of good weather with frequent sun and little rain. The group focused on Chilean natural history, sea kayaking skills, and wrapping up their Leave No Trace training curriculum. Everyone seemed to enjoy the incredible sunsets followed by bright starry nights, and visits from local dolphins, sea lions and other wildlife.

Fabio shows students how to find the high tide line.
Photo by Jon Kempsey
Moving boats is a group effort!
Photo by Jon Kempsey
Photo by Jon Kempsey

PY 1, Los Brillos, wrapped up their year with a climbing camp in three distinct locations, on very different rock. They learned the basics in the new development area of Bahía Murta, climbing on granite. They then moved to Cerro Aguila, volcanic conglomerate outside of Puerto Ibañez. They were also able to take day trips to the limestone of Maitenal just down the road for some sport climbing practice. The group also entertained a group of in-town staff for their respective Staff Climbing Day. The students received the staff in a friendly and helpful manner, and continued by escorting them to the crag for a lesson on knots, commands, and climbing techniques. The students showed skill competence by being able to manage a crew of “clients” as well as the added risk factor of high winds that joined them that day.

Wilson bouldering benath Cerro Aguila, his spotters watching attentively
Photo by Taylor Feldman
Branch director Rachael Price sending the newest route of Cerro Aguila during Staff Climbing Day
Photo by Taylor Feldman

One student, Jack, expressed to me that he plans on taking many of the skills he has learned to teach others, especially at a summer camp where he is employed. He says he will continually reflect on how this whole Patagonia experience will translate into “real life,” though with confidence he told me that the leadership and personal expedition behavior learned through NOLS will help him to become a better communicator in the future. As the group was departing, Jack confided that “NOLS is such a great community, I feel like I can do so many things on my own now. I feel independent and empowered to continue experiential learning. And the more I think of it, the more I realize how much I am taking away.”

Thanks for a great year PY!

Permalink | Posted by Taylor Feldman on Mar 28, 2013 in the following categories: Patagonia

Montañismo en Español y Primeros Auxilios al Aire Libre

Hace solo un par de semanas regresaron los alumnos del curso de Montañismo en Español (CMT) quienes estuvieron por 2 semanas aprendiendo habilidades de liderazgo, técnicas de montañismo y mínimo impacto (No Deje Rastro); en el área del Cordón de Melikina.

Fue un gusto contar con representantes de la ciudad de Punta Arenas, Coyhaique y Santiago entre otras. Y como es característico en estas latitudes en nuestros cursos hubo representantes de 3 países diferentes.

Todos se fueron muy contentos pero deseaban que el curso durará más días, y ademas que se realizara en otras zonas el pais.

Por otro lado, finalizaron 2 cursos dirigidos a la Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF) en el área de primeros auxilios con WMI. Las personas que participaron se capacitaron fuertemente. 30 fueron los profesionales del área forestal que se capacitaron y aprobaron el Wilderness Advance First Aid (WAFA). A ellos se sumaron 5 particulares provenientes de otras regiones y organizaciones.

Gracias a todos quiénes hicieron de estos cursos una realidad. Esperamos seguir aportando como NOLS Patagonia en la región.

Especial gracias a los alumnos e Instructores por las buenas vibras y estar atento a los detalles.

Búscanos en Facebook!


Foto: Patricia Soto
Foto: Patricia Soto
Foto: Patricia Soto
Foto: Patricia Soto

Recently, students from the Chilean Mountaineering Course (CMT) returned from the field after two weeks learning skills of leadership, mountain techniques, and minimum impact through Leave No Trace; in the area of Cordón Melikina.

It was a pleasure to have representatives from the Chilean cities of Punta Arenas, Coyhaique, and Santiago among others. We also had representation from three different countries!

All left the course very content but wishing the course was longer and could visit other regions of the country, the sign of a good course!

In other news, we have competed two WMI courses for the Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF) in the subject of First Aid. The people who participated in the program trained hard to achieve their Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) certification. 30 professional forest rangers from CONAF passed the course, along with five others from different regions and organizations.

Thank you to everyone who made these courses a reality. We hope to continue contributing to the Aysen region with NOLS Patagonia.

A special thanks to the students and instructors for their attention to details and their good energy throughout the programs.

Like us on Facebook!

Spanish and English translation contribution from Patricia Soto, Mercedes Lagos, and Taylor Feldman

Permalink | Posted by Taylor Feldman on Mar 14, 2013 in the following categories: Patagonia, Wilderness Medicine Institute

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