Kristen Joyce, 21, of Herndon, recently completed a 14-day expedition in the Teton Valley with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).
The Splitboarding course is in the Teton Valley where students learn how to travel and live comfortably in the backcountry.
The first four days of the course were spent at NOLS Teton Valley near Driggs, Idaho, where students had home-cooked meals and a heated space to learn basic skills in everything from lighting stoves and lanterns, to pack packing, dressing for the field and avalanche awareness.
On the first day, students reviewed the equipment they brought and were issued equipment they still needed. Then they bagged food for the course. Students learned to assemble their splitboards, learned about cold injuries and practiced avalanche beacon searches.
The next two days were spent at Grand Targhee Ski Resort on the western side of the Teton Range. Targhee snowboard staff taught clinics tailored to students' ability levels in the mornings. In the afternoons, students practiced riding.
On the fourth day, Joyce and her coursemates took a splitboard tour to warm up for the backcountry. They practiced travel techniques, avalanche terrain observation and were introduced to snow camping techniques.
On the fifth day, the group headed out to the Snake River Range. For the next nine days students camped, traveled and played in the backcountry.
Camp chores took up a large portion of the days: melting snow for water, building kitchens, building shelters, packing up piles of gear and clothes, and staying warm and dry. Students built and lived in snow shelters, which are remarkably warm. Living in the winter was hard work and the days were long, but students learned they could stay comfortable in temperatures well below freezing.
Joyce graduated from her NOLS course prepared to lead an expedition of her own.
The course equipped students with the outdoor skills to safely and responsibly travel in the backcountry, coupled with the leadership skills to do so with others.