Caroline Streich, Platteville, recently completed an 88-day semester in the Rockies, traveling from the high peaks of Wyoming to the red canyons of Utah with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS.)
From Sept. 5 to Dec. 2, 2011, Streich's group of 15 students were introduced to a variety of adventure-based skills such as rock climbing, backpacking, canoeing, and canyon travel.
The course began with a two-day Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course, which taught the students how to respond to medical emergencies in remote areas. Following their WFA the students strapped on their backpacks and headed into the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming-a glacier-carved range punctuated with stunning granite peaks. The backpacking section gave students the opportunity to master the fundamentals of backcountry camping and put their leadership skills to the test with daily route planning and decision-making. As the second section of their fall semester began the students traded in backpacks and hiking boots for ropes and rock shoes, to embark in the vertical world of rock climbing. The students then spent 28 days in the canyons of Utah traveling 100 miles through thick brush, mud, and water, while climbing through layers of geologic and human history. The final weeks of the course were spent traveling on telemark skis in the Absaroka Mountains. The highlights of their winter section included building snow shelters, skiing in deep powder, learning about avalanches, and celebrating Thanksgiving together. By the end of the course, students had mastered the skills necessary to not only venture safely and with minimum impact into the wilderness on their own, but also to lead others on adventures in the backcountry and front country, alike.
Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS is the leader in wilderness education and sets the industry standard for responsible, high-quality educational expeditions. NOLS provides an awe-inspiring, transformative experience that develops active, positive leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills to more than 10,000 students each year. A private nonprofit school, NOLS runs 10-day to school-year-length courses on four continents. NOLS students, ages 14 to over 70, explore the most remote wilderness in the Rocky Mountains, Idaho, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Alaska, Western Canada, Mexico, Patagonia (Chile), India, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Baffin Island have to offer. College credit and scholarships are available.