Out and Back

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Summary

Vasu Sojitra is one of the most accomplished adaptive athletes on Earth. He’s notched first independent adaptive ascents and descents on everything from the Grand Teton in Grand Teton National Park to Tuckerman's Ravine on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. This past winter, he summited Wyoming's formidable Mount Moran and skied its infamous Skillet Glacier.

He’s done all of this with one leg.

Reducing Vasu to his leg difference, though, doesn’t do him justice. Rather, Vasu has leveraged his disability to cultivate courage, resiliency, and compassion. In this episode of Out and Back, Vasu recounts going from feeling like an outsider as a kid growing up in Glastonbury, CT and Gujarat, India, to finding belonging on the ski slopes. Vasu’s accomplishments on the trails are extraordinary, but his story is really one of finding strength within yourself. He’s on a mission to make the outdoors accessible to all, so everyone can experience the liberation of moving their bodies through the landscape.

Show Notes

As a community organizer and diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist, Vasu is also not afraid to correct and dismantle our preconceptions and biases. But he’s just as willing to learn along with his audience — follow him on Instagram. Read first-hand accounts of Vasu’s adventures on his website, and watch his film Out on the Limb.

Finally, make sure to check out the Out and Back Instagram Page.

Remember, podcast listeners get a Discount on a Gaia GPS Membership.

Episode Highlights:
3:25: What is ninja sticking?
5:10: Vasu gets diagnosed with a life-threatening blood infection. His parents are faced with the decision to amputate his right leg or let him die.
10:30: Vasu finds belonging on the ski slope.
14:30: Vasu learns how to use outriggers the hard way.
17:30: Vasu tries out for his high school ski team.
18:15: Vasu goes backcountry skiing for the first time, in the Chic-Chocs Mountains of Québec.
20:00: Vasu uses his engineering degree to develop a backcountry outrigger setup.
22:40: Vasu volunteers with Vermont Adaptive, which changes the trajectory of his life.
26:47: Vasu skis “The Ruler” in Montana's Northern Bridger Range.
28:50: How being a person with a disability and being a person of Indian descent interact and compound in unique ways.
30:40: Vasu lands a 720 degree spin on one ski.
32:00: Vasu gets into ultra running. 
34:20: Vasu climbs Montana’s Granite Peak in less than 24 hours.

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.