Lander, Wyo.— Joshua Leitson, 21, of Oak Park, Ill. recently completed an 80-day wilderness expedition in Patagonia with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).

In January, a group of students from NOLS embarked on a Semester in Patagonia course. Throughout the next 80-days, students traversed the mighty wilderness of Patagonia.

The course started as Leitson and his coursemates began paddling the mystical waters of Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. Students focused on basic kayaking and water travel techniques as they became acquainted with their new mode of transportation. The course traveled over 140 nautical miles as they experienced all types of Patagonia weather including calm sunny days, rainy periods and sudden squalls. Leitson and his coursemates each were able to lead the group on the water as they focused on route finding and course dynamics. The section highlights included ample wildlife sightings, the Bernardo Glacier and the overall sense of remoteness the course experienced in the area.

The course transitioned from the mystical inlets and fjords of the coast to mountain terrain across the San Lorenzo massif. Throughout the mountain travel expedition Leitson and his coursemates experienced bushwhacking, river crossing, 3rd and 4th class terrain, snowfield, icefalls and snow-covered glaciers. The course was immersed in the culture as well. A traditional asado and Truco games completed the cultural experience. The course experienced sunny weather punctuated by high winds, light and strong rain and snow. As the course progressed students we given more chances to lead and make decisions. At the end of the section, the instructors deemed the students competent to travel alone. As a result of their hard work and learning, they took off on a student group expedition without the instructors to practice the skills and leadership they had just developed.

Leitson and his coursemates graduated from their NOLS course as competent and responsible wilderness travelers and leaders.

About NOLS – The National Outdoor Leadership School

Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS is the leader in wilderness education, providing awe-inspiring, transformative experiences to 17,000 students each year. These students, ages 14 to over 80, learn in the wildest and most remote classrooms worldwide—from the Amazon rain forest, to rugged peaks in the Himalaya, to Alaskan glaciers and Arctic tundra. Graduates are active leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills. NOLS also offers customized courses through NOLS Professional Training, and the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute is the leading teacher of wilderness medicine worldwide. For more information, call (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit

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