Out and Back

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We kick off the first episode of our backcountry ski series as Shanty and Mary sit down with Colorado’s Summit County Search and Rescue mission coordinator, Charles Pitman. Tune in as Pitman enlightens us on what backcountry enthusiasts can do to stay safer this winter, including how to recognize and avoid avalanche danger in backcountry travel, what to do if you need help, and what you should put in your backpack to be prepared in case something goes wrong.

Backcountry skiers, winter hikers, climbers, and snowmobilers will not want to miss this behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming snow season and what rescue professionals are doing to prepare for the busy season ahead. Plus, hear a few of Pitman’s most harrowing rescue stories!

Show Notes

Learn more about avalanche safety at avalanche.org. Find an avalanche education class with the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education. Learn more about Summit Country Search and Rescue and donate to your local search and rescue organization.

Remember, podcast listeners can get UP TO 50% OFF ON A GAIA GPS MEMBERSHIP!

Episode Highlights
4:30: The pandemic made the backcountry around Denver busy this year and many skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers were ill-equipped for safety.
8:15: This year has been a record setting rescue season in Summit County, Colorado.
12:00: Search and Rescue is preparing for a busy winter season.
13:15: Here’s how COVID-19 has changed search-and-rescue missions in Summit County.
17:00: Practice your avalanche transceiver skills at a beacon park.
18:15: More people are taking avalanche classes, but these classes are limited and filling up quickly this year.
19:00: Get search-and-rescue’s tips to avoid avalanches: get the avalanche forecast, check the weather, and stick to low-angle slopes if you aren’t sure about the danger.
25:25: Avalanche forecasting is not an exact science and sometimes you can do all the right things and still get into trouble.
26:15: A case study about five people who died in an avalanche: what went wrong?
27:00: Is technology giving people a false sense of security and too much confidence?
32:00: Colorado typically has a weaker snow pack and experiences more avalanches than other areas of the country.
36:00: A GPS mapping app on your phone, like Gaia GPS, would reduce the number of rescue calls because people could see exactly where they are on the map and easily find the trail if they get lost.
39:00: Two-way satellite communication devices helps search-and-rescue crews to understand the help you need, plus Pitman tells us what happens when you press the SOS button.
42:00: Pitman says call for help sooner rather than later; it could save a life.
48:40: Make a plan for your backcountry adventure, but don’t succumb to summit fever; be flexible and willing to adjust plans when you get out on the mountain because conditions may change rapidly.
53:00: Most search-and-rescue crews are volunteer and they do it for the heart warming stories with happy endings.

What is Out and Back?

In the Out and Back Podcast presented by Gaia GPS, thru-hiker Andrew “Shanty” Baldwin, professional guide/outdoorswoman Mary "Hiker Midnight" Cochenour, and professional athlete Abby Levene dive deep into conversation with long-distance hikers, record-breaking athletes, offroad travelers who sold everything to live full-time on the dusty backroads, and other awesome guests who have mastered their backcountry craft.

In every show, Shanty, Mary, and Abby tap into each backcountry expert’s superpower so you can take their experience and knowledge with you on your next adventure.