Drury to share tales of Denali expedition

SARANAC LAKE – Outdoor educator and adventurer Jack Drury will share his tales about his expedition on the 20,320-foot Mount McKinley in Denali National Park, Alaska in 1971 at 7 p.m. tonight at the Paul Smith’s College VIC.

Drury was 22 years old at the time and was with a group of 30 climbers who were part of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). The group had three objectives on the trip, Drury said.

“One is we wanted to make it a recreational experience, where at the end of the trip we liked each other as much as the beginning of the trip,” said Drury, a Saranac Lake resident. “There was a big focus on group dynamics and expedition behavior. The second objective was to test out synthetic fill. This was in the days where synthetic filled sleeping bags and expedition gear were just beginning to come on the market, so Dupont provided all the synthetic fiberfill insulation. And then the third objective was to try to summit. So I like to say we met two out of the three objectives very well.”

The group wasn’t able to summit, but Drury still gained a lot from the experience.

“It was definitely a life-changing experience for me,” he said. “It kind of set me on my path, my career path.”

Drury was interested in becoming an outdoor educator in the Adirondacks and later did.

He is currently vice-president of Leading E.D.G.E., an education development consulting firm and exclusive provider of SPEC (Student-centered, Problem-based, Experiential, Collaborative) Training. He was the founding director and associate professor of Wilderness Recreation Leadership at North Country Community College, where he worked for many years. He is past president of the Wilderness Education Association. Plus, he is the author of the wilderness leadership text, “The Backcountry Classroom: Lessons, Tools, and Activities for Teaching Outdoor Leaders” and co-author of “The Camper’s Guide to Outdoor Pursuits: Finding Safe, Nature Friendly, Comfortable Passage Through Wild Places.”

Drury has led and participated in adventures throughout North America, Central America, Europe and Siberia.

The Denali expedition was the first ever for NOLS and included a three-day visit from its founder Paul Petzoldt. The legendary Tap Tapply, who was also well known for his work with Outward Bound, was one of the NOLS instructors.

“He’s known as the outdoorsman’s outdoorsman,” Drury said about Tapply. “He’s done it all – from desert, every environment, sailing, mountaineering, horse packing, you name it, he’s probably done it.”

Drury’s presentation consists of images that were originally slides that have been digitized. It is scheduled to last about an hour and 15 minutes. It is part of the Armchair Lecture Traveler Series. Admission is $5 per person.