LANDER, Wyo. – Nicole Ritchie of Lewiston recently completed a 30-day wilderness mountaineering course in the North Cascade Range of Washington with the National Outdoor Leadership School.

A group of 10 students and two instructors ascended the jagged mountains, crossed valleys and experienced the North Country while learning Alpine mountaineering. The course began in the high mountain old-growth forests of Washington where the students learned the basics of living and camping in a mountain environment and practicing low-impact camping techniques.

Then the group moved onto rock and glacier to learn the fundamentals of mountaineering, including rope handling, knots, group travel, mountain rescue and safety, as well as rock and ice climbing. For the remaining weeks the students traveled through the Cascades, practicing and honing their skills, giving them the practical experience and decision-making abilities needed to lead their own mountaineering expedients.

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