Had a nice drive up from Carbondale to Lander, Wyoming today, dropping our son Louie off for his NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) course. I was tempted to grill the instructors in true protective parental style, but held off. Who needs their dorky parents embarrassing them when they’re dumped in with a bunch of strangers? Did find out the course would be getting up on Grasshopper Glacier, Ganet Peak area, so it sounds like they’ll be having the ultimate adventure.
I took my first NOLS course when I was 16, showed up here in 1968 when the school was located in Sinks Canyon above Lander. The experience was powerful, indeed life changing. Founder Paul Petzoldt was one of my instructors, and I’ll always remember him teaching me how to fly cast, early in the morning on a cold Wind River lake. Thus it was an emotional experience dropping my own son off for some of the same, nearly forty years later. How powerful the experience will be is of course an open question, but we know it’ll be good — perhaps incredible. For a kid like Louie with good mountain skills, it’s more about the expedition process and making a course happen with a group of strangers. That alone can be an amazing experience when you’re young and used to a fairly sheltered life.
A month from now we’ll know how it went, the kid is in good hands. Thanks Paul!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.