NOLS Semester in the Pacific Northwest

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The wilderness of the Northwest—your home for two and a half months—is like no other region in the country.

In close proximity to the NOLS Pacific Northwest facility are steep, heavily glaciated mountains, impressive forests of towering evergreens, outstanding rock climbing areas, and miles of wilderness coastline.

You'll explore all these environments, from jamming your hands into granite cracks on a climb to taking the helm of a 36-foot sailboat in British Columbia waters. Throughout, you'll be experiencing things few other semesters at NOLS offer, including keelboat sailing in Canada and a coastal hiking section where you'll study marine life.

Questions & Answers

Thank you for your interest in the NOLS Semester in the Pacific Northwest and for your question about accidents while glacier mountaineering in British Columbia. This particular course does not do any mountaineering in British Columbia. The semester with the mountaineering option is conducted in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington. NOLS does offer mountaineering courses on Mt. Waddington in...


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Yes, I recommend this program

A life changing experience

I completed this semester program while taking time off from college. There are few memories I have from my college years that compare with hiking the Olympic coast under moonlight to work with the tides, or arriving at the summit of Mt. Baker after convincing myself there was no way I would make it, or the feeling of pride and accomplishment after I completed my first lead climb. This semester deepened my connection with nature, and forged my lifelong committment to helping others develop that connection, it gave me the confidence to later apply for (and complete) a NOLS instructor course. Personally, I don't think I could have gained the confidence that comes with serious intentional introspection, feedback, and leadership curriculum that is unique to a NOLS course. The diversity of skills offered on this particular semester (climbing, sailing, mountaineering, backpacking...) is what drew me to this course, and I will forever have a very special place in my heart for the Pacific Northwest because of it

What would you improve about this program?
In my particular semester group, there were only two students (myself included) who were over 21. The group dynamic might have been a bit better if it had been less heavily weighted with younger students. That being said, working through challenging group dynamics are one of the most important parts of getting to know yourself as a group member and leader and I learned a huge amount from the process.