Get to Know SAR Volunteer Keegan Pfeil

Keegan joined the the TCSAR team in 2015. Read on to learn more about him!

TCSAR: Where did you grow up?
Keegan: I grew up in Washington state out on the Olympic Peninsula. I spent most of my time there through high school and then downtown Seattle after that. I moved to Bozeman to go to school and then moved to Jackson in 2002, originally just for one winter, and never left.

TCSAR: You work as a nurse at St. John’s. Have you always been in the medical field?
Keegan: No. When I first moved here I had the typical ski bum life. I waited tables, bartended, worked in the service industry. And then I decided I wanted to make this my home. I thought about medical school when I was younger but put it by the wayside. When I decided I wanted to make life here work, I found out there was a nursing program in Jackson and I started looking into that. I slowly started picking my way through that process.

I’ve been at the hospital for 8 years. I currently work in the emergency room and I’ve been doing that for about 2 years. I love it. There’s always something new and you never know what’s going to walk through the door. You see a wide variety of ailments - both medically and trauma related. I like the excitement that the ER provides at times.

TCSAR: How did you get involved with Search and Rescue?
Keegan: I originally applied for SAR 4 or 5 years ago but they didn’t do a hire until a year and a half ago. I’ve always found their work fascinating. I love the medical field and helping people out, plus I love being outdoors. I thought it would be exciting to combine the two of those passions into one. I thought it would be fun and that I would be a good asset to the team. I was fortunate to be selected. 

Keegan training with the TCSAR team on the Hoback Shield.

Keegan training with the TCSAR team on the Hoback Shield.

TCSAR: Have you enjoyed being on the SAR team so far?
Keegan: It’s been awesome. It’s a great group of people and it’s great to help out the community that I love. I have learned a ton. There is a lot I can provide to the team but also a lot I don’t know or am not experienced with. Learning those new skills has been really fun. 

TCSAR: There are a few jokers on the team. Any funny training stories?
Keegan: I’m not super comfortable with heights and not a very experienced climber.  We were do doing a rigging for rescue 5 day training course and it’s all new, and sometimes a little frightening, for me. I had one of our new teammates, Ryan, in a basket on the side of this several hundred foot tall wall and we were practicing a transition to the upper part of the basket. To make the transition you have to unclip one part of your equipment. Right as I start to unclip it, Ryan looks at me and says “Are you sure you want to unclip that”. I swear my heart stopped. 

TCSAR: Did you grow up playing in the mountains?
Keegan: I’ve always loved the outdoors and have spent most of my time outside doing lots of different activities. I moved here to snowboard and I’ve been doing that since I was young. Since I moved here, I’ve gotten a lot more into mountain biking, dirt biking and snowmobiling. As long as I’m outside on some sort of adventure I’m happy.

TCSAR: Can you tell us a little about your family?
Keegan: I’m very fortunate to have family live nearby. My parents moved to Victor about 5 years ago. My younger sister moved here about 7 years ago and lives here in town. She’s actually in nursing school now too. So it’s nice to have them around. I also have an older sister that lives in Portland. She works with Doctors Without Borders and travels quite a bit. 

Keegan showing off his fishing skills.

Keegan showing off his fishing skills.

TCSAR: Any other hobbies?
Keegan: I love to travel but don’t do it enough. I love to go someplace tropical once a year or so and that usually involves fishing, I just got back from Mexico a few weeks ago, or surfing, although I’m a terrible surfer. I also really like spending time with my friends and family. 

TCSAR: It’s rumored you have a weakness for Persephone cookies…
Keegan: I love Persephone chocolate chip cookies. And pretty much all food. I love Indian food and sushi. I also hunt a ton so I cook a lot too. 

TCSAR: What’s your favorite piece of backcountry gear? 
Keegan: I always carry is an ultralight 800 fill down puffy coat. I tend to get cold easily. It’s super light and easy to put in any pack so I always have one with me. In the summer I always have a rain jacket of sorts too.

Keegan and his best pal, Zeus.

Keegan and his best pal, Zeus.

TCSAR: What’s your perfect day in the mountains?
Keegan: In the winter it would be snowmobiling 15 to 20 miles into the Snake River Range or Grey’s and snowboarding some big peaks that don’t often get skied and there’s no-one else around but me and my group. I like being out there away from everybody and the adventure of finding new terrain. 
In the summer a perfect day… that’s tough. There are so many great things to do in summer. But probably either spending time on my mountain bike or backpacking. I love backpacking and scouting deer or elk with my dog, Zeus. He’s always with me. I love spending time outside just the two of us seeing new country and remote places.