Carmel’s Max Yeary returned recently from leading a 75-day student expedition to Chile and Argentina. Yeary was in the southernmost areas of the hemisphere from Sept. 22 to Dec. 10 with 17 students through a program run by the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Wisely prepared, the trip began with three days of wilderness medicine instruction. After a course described by NOLS as “fast-paced” and “hands-on,” the students were awarded Wilderness First Aid certifications.
The next 30 days were spent in sea kayaks traveling down the coast line. The students had to learn to safely traverse the waves and tough conditions that make ocean kayaking difficult, as well as learning to navigate at sea. The group spent 17 of the 30 days of the kayaking segment paddling, and managed to travel more than 190 miles from Puerto Aguirre to Puerto Cisnes.
The next 32 days were spent in the mountains. The students traveled 65 miles and 20,300 feet in the National Reserve of Cerro Castillo near Coyhaique, Chile. The students split into two groups to reach the summits of both Mount Pinon and Mount Puntudo. These groups had to move through mountainous and glacial terrain safely and “with minimum impact into the wilderness.”
NOLS was founded in 1965 by mountaineer Paul Petzoldt to provide high-quality educational expeditions. The nonprofit offers programs that range in length from 10 days to that of an entire school year, to students from ages 14 to 70. Expeditions take place in the wilderness areas of North America, South America, India, Australia and New Zealand.