Hazard assessment is an important skill on technical terrain and back in town. Cerro Largo
Photo: Betsy Winston
This is it—the longest course type at NOLS. This extended expedition packs in outdoor skills, wilderness certifications, and international culture to create an unparalleled adventure.
From mountain travel on remote peaks to sea kayaking along Patagonia’s archipelagos and rock climbing at the foot of the Andes, the components of this course form a comprehensive backcountry immersion.
With a strong focus on Spanish language and cultural interaction, the Patagonia Year allows you to spend one section living and working with local poblador families. Along with developing an appreciation of Patagonian culture, you’ll also see more of this region’s remote and breathtaking scenery than most visitors.
Also, the course offers certifications for students interested in outdoor careers around the world, including Leave No Trace Master certification and Wilderness First Responder.
In order to have a successful year, it is essential to build a foundation of both technical and interpersonal skills. This first section of the year gives you a chance to focus on getting the basics down so you can expand to more advanced skills in the following months.
You will participate in a backcountry service project that will positively contribute to the care of the land. This project will focus on land stewardship and will range from two to four days in length.
Wilderness First Responder (WFR)
As part of your comprehensive wilderness education, the Year in Patagonia includes an 80-hour WFR course taught by staff of the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute.
The large glaciers and rarely climbed peaks of the Patagonian Andes will be your classroom for this section. Alpine mountaineering techniques and how to live and camp in a harsh-weather Andean environment are parts of the curriculum.
The fjords of southern Chile offer breathtaking scenery and changing weather. Your expedition into this region will include lessons in navigation, paddling techniques, rescue skills, route planning, and Patagonia’s natural history.
When in Chile....have a traditional feast! Students enjoy an asado with a local rancher. Valley of Rio Canal
Photo: Betsy Winston
During this section you’ll live on mountain campos with poblador families, helping them with the daily chores of subsistence living. This is your chance to further develop your language skills while fully immersed in the extraordinary Patagonian culture.
You will learn rock climbing at the foot of the Andes. Rock climbing begins with a foundation of skills such as climbing techniques, knot craft, belaying, rappelling, and bouldering. As you progress, we will focus on more advanced topics such as anchor construction, belay escapes, and gear selection. If you are ready, and weather permits, there will be opportunities for multi-pitch and lead climbing.
The Patagonia Year typically culminates with the student expedition. Groups of four to six students travel independently for an eight- to ten-day hike through the wilds of Patagonia. Your group will craft a travel plan and work out a proposed route in order to practice what you’ve learned over the past months.
Year in Patagonia
18 and over (Average age: 21)
October 19, 2013-March 19, 2014
(Holiday Break: December 23, 2013-January 8, 2014)
"As the course goes on, students get a bit grimier,
a bit hairier, and they start to get a little more real. I try to
model values of commitment and leadership for the group, and I do
so with actions rather than words. Anyone can become an effective
leader given the opportunity and leadership tools.