Bounded by both mountains and ocean, NOLS Pacific Northwest is your gateway to backcountry adventures in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia, Canada. In wilderness classrooms ranging from ocean to alpine and rainforest to high desert, we offer courses in five outdoor skills: backpacking, mountaineering, rock climbing, sea kayaking, and keelboat sailing. No matter which skill type you tackle and which classroom you explore, you’ll find memorable challenges in the Pacific Northwest. Whether it’s completing a peak ascent at sunrise or waking early to check weather conditions before planning the day’s paddling route, you’ll return home with experiences to remember. And, the best kept secret of the Pacific Northwest? It’s not as rainy as you might think!
Forest and ocean. Glacier and river. Heather and pine. This is the Pacific Northwest, with its temperate rain forests, stunning ice-covered volcanoes, hidden bays and coves, and lush old-growth forests.
Get outside the classroom and find new adventures in the striking landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. Grow your leadership skills as you explore quiet coves, dense forests, and rugged mountains, all while learning about local ecology and earn an industry-respected Wilderness First Aid.
Your course will start out working on paddle and rescue techniques along protected stretches of coastline, then move to more exposed and challenging waters. As you master the basics of paddling, you’ll learn about reading tides and currents as well as minimizing risk on the ocean. You’ll develop essential backcountry living skills, like cooking and Leave No Trace.
Depending on when your course begins, you will either spend a month exploring the dry, vast Pasayten Wilderness or the lush temperate rainforest of Olympic National Park. You will learn the basics of wilderness living, including cooking, campsite selection, and Leave No Trace practices. You will cover more advanced topics, including map reading, first aid, leadership, ecosystems, and environmental issues.
If you want to learn what it takes to be a mountaineer and a leader, then this is the course for you. Practice leadership and learn to live well with a group in a demanding environment. On this course, you'll head to the glaciers and forests of the North Cascades. In a place that's the training ground for some of the world's best mountaineers, you'll learn about leading a team, living on a glacier, and wake up each morning to stunning views and new challenges.
Your development as a mountaineer will begin with the basics. Learning to care for yourself, your expedition members, your equipment, and the environment in a variety of conditions are the foundation for mountaineering and the focus of our core curriculum. As you bushwhack through thick forest and undergrowth on your way to the glaciers, you'll master camping, cooking and basic travel skills.