TCSAR recognized as elite international team with induction into International Commission for Alpine Rescue


Teton County Search and Rescue is recognized as elite international SAR team with induction into the International Commission for Alpine Rescue.

On October 22, 2016 Teton County Search and Rescue (TCSAR) was inducted as a new member into the prestigious International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR). 

TCSAR team members Tim Ciocarlan and Cody Lockhart attended the Annual Assembly of Delegates in Bulgaria in October to participate in the annual 3 day conference and to represent the TCSAR team in attempt to become an official ICAR member during the assembly. 

 

 

Get to Know SAR Volunteer Anthony Stevens

Anthony Stevens at the SAR Hangar.

Anthony Stevens at the SAR Hangar.

TCSAR: Where did you grow up?
Anthony: I was born and raised here (in Jackson). We had a ranch in Dubois so I spent my summers over in Dubois and went to school here. I did go to boarding school back east for high school and I went to college in Arizona. I’m definitely a life-long Wyoming boy though. I used to joke with my wife when we were dating in high school that I was Wyoming born and Wyoming bred and when I die I’ll be Wyoming dead. So I don’t see myself going anywhere. I love Jackson. 

TCSAR: Can you tell us a little about your family?
Anthony: I have a sister that’s 5 years older than me and she lives in Elkhart, Colorado. I have a niece and nephew that I spend a lot of time with. My nephew’s been up here quite a lot. He sort of to my son what I was to him. I would travel down to Colorado a lot after he was born and spend a lot of time with him. He was the kid that was glued to my leg and now that he’s gotten older he comes up here two to three times a year and Sawyer (Anthony’s son) just loves him. It’s fun to see it come full circle.

Anthony, Erika and Sawyer.

Anthony, Erika and Sawyer.

TCSAR: What do you do for a living?
Anthony: I’ve been a field instructor for NOLS since 2010. It’s kind of a circuitous route how I got there. I spent most of my life in the outdoors. We ran pack trips when I was a kid and I grew up hunting and fishing. Backpacking has always been a pretty important part of my life. I took a NOLS course in 1996 in Alaska and fell in love with it. I always wanted to be a field instructor or in some sort of job that kept me in the outdoors. And then, it’s kind of interesting, but to make a long story short I gained a lot of weight and was 290 pounds and I developed Type II diabetes. I totally pushed myself into this life altering disease and when I found out about it it was a light switch. All of a sudden I changed my eating habits, I started paying attention to what I was doing in my life. I changed my habits, lost a ton of weight and got to a point where my wife, for her 30th birthday, decided she wanted to take a NOLS course (she was tired of being the only person in our group of friends that hadn’t taken one).  A friend of mine is the head of the alumni department over there and after her course talked us into taking this alumni course over in Italy and I was like ‘that’s not a NOLS course’ but we did it and had a great time. He convinced me after that to take an instructor course. After a long application process I got accepted and took it and have worked for NOLS ever since. I work in a couple of different disciplines for them - I’m a winter instructor, backpacking instructor, canyoneering instructor and a light and fast/light and far instructor.

Anthony and 2-day old Emily.

Anthony and 2-day old Emily.

TCSAR: Tell us a little about your family now? You’re expecting twin girls any day now?
Anthony: Yeah, so my wife Erika and I have a little boy, Sawyer. He’s warming up to the idea of sisters. Some days he’s excited about it and others he’s really not psyched about it. It’s big changes for him, right? Two new siblings, he starts kindergarten in 4 days.
(UPDATE... Since we interviewed Anthony for this blog post his wife delivered two beautiful and healthy twin girls - Emily and Annalise.)
 

TCSAR: What other hobbies do you have?
Anthony: I'm an avid runner. I love to run and bike. Skiing is definitely one of my passions. If I’m not running I really want to be skiing. My wife and I like to travel - we went to New Zealand, Australia, climbed Kilimanjaro, Mexico… I like plants quite a lot. I have a small orchid collection - I really love orchids. I think if I had taken a different route in life I might have tried to go the ethnobotany route because I have an interest in primitive cultures and how plants go along with people's lives and how they either use them for food or religious rites. Ive always had a fascination with that and primitive cultures. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy being a NOLS instructor so much. I get to spend a month at a time living out of a backpack and sort of being at the will of the environment and what comes your way and the challenges that brings. I read a book when I was younger, The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis, and he’s a premier ethnobotanist and have always found it fascinating that he’s a guy that will go to some of the more dangerous places in search of plants and how they influence the primitive cultures there plus the medicines they've found… obviously I have a huge interest in medicine now and plants are how it all starts.

Anthony in his happy place...

Anthony in his happy place...

TCSAR: What inspired you to join Search and Rescue?
Anthony: I’ve wanted to be on Search and Rescue as long as I can remember. Like I said we had a ranch in Dubois and it was fairly remote. It wasn’t uncommon to have outfitters in the area and guests would get hurt so we would ride out on horses and help…. I have this early memory of the Marlboro man who came to shoot an ad at the ranch and one of their guys got trampled by some bulls and one of the helicopters came and landed at the ranch. I remember being fascinated by that. And I grew up watching shows like High Mountain Ranger, you know a typical redneck rescue crew, and Airwolf. I’ve always liked being in the backcountry and helping people. I also think it’s really important to be a productive member of your community. If you choose to live in a place you've got to find some way to be involved and this is a great organization. 

Anthony in the backcountry.

Anthony in the backcountry.

TCSAR: What have you enjoyed most about being on the team?
Anthony: I would have to say it’s the team. You know I think it was the first time I felt a part of something here that really resonated with me. I’ve served on boards, I was on the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance board for many years, but you never felt like you were part of a family. NOLS feels like a family, but there are so many of us and it can be a little transient with people all over the place - and I've been lucky enough to work world-wide for NOLS and that’s amazing - but nothing has felt like that team unit and family element that SAR brings. 

TCSAR: What element of training or rescues do you like the most?
Anthony: I really enjoy any rescue that involves medical. I find it the most interesting. I just got my EMT and I find on rescues it’s really less about the science of medicine and more about the art of medicine and I really like that. It’s figuring out how do we treat, stabilize and evacuate someone that is a long way from help and utilizing the resources that you have available. 

TCSAR: Is there anything the rest of the SAR team doesn’t know about you?
Anthony: I’m not very good, but I’m getting better… I play the didgeridoo and have quite a didgeridoo collection. I love the didgeridoo. When we went to Australia I sought out a really nice one and I have a couple of other ones. I've actually mastered circular breathing. But I’m not very good at it - there’s not a lot of instructors here! 

TCSAR: What’s always in your pack?
Anthony: I always have my Patagonia Houdini. I never go anywhere without it - winter, summer, best layer ever. I always have a Kind Bar too. And I always have a ball cap on - people always ask me if I’m bald. I’m not - I just always wear a ball cap. I have a ridiculous collection - probably close to 400. It drives my wife crazy. It’s kind of a ridiculous obsession. That and puffy coats. 

On the trail with Sawyer (who LOVES to hike and climb mountains with his dad). 

On the trail with Sawyer (who LOVES to hike and climb mountains with his dad). 

Get to know SAR Volunteer Lizzie Watson

Lizzie at the SAR Hangar.

Lizzie at the SAR Hangar.

TCSAR: Can you tell us a little about where you grew up?
Lizzie: I grew up in Durham, NC. It’s in the middle of the state, so 2.5 hours to the beach and 2.5 hours to the mountains. A different kind of place. Packed with people and suburbia. 

TCSAR: Did you play a lot of sports as a kid?
Lizzie: I played field hockey for most of my life. I played in middle and high school and then Division 1 in college at Appalachian State in Boone, North Carolina. It was my life in college - pretty much a full time job. Boone is a lot like Jackson I think. Jackson is a grown up version of Boone… no university and everything is just bigger. Bigger mountains for sure. 

At the top of Buck Mountain.

At the top of Buck Mountain.

TCSAR: Is that where you got into more traditional mountain activities and sports?
Lizzie: You know I was really married to field hockey when I was there. I snowboarded while I was there. There are actually 5 resorts right around the university - well, ice hills really. I didn’t get into climbing or rafting while I was there because our coaches didn’t want us getting into too many things and getting injured. Plus we had workouts 5 days a week. It was my life, but I loved it.

TCSAR: How did you end up in Jackson?
Lizzie: I graduated from Appalachian State and I was working at my dad’s law firm and he took me out to dinner and said “Your 23 and you can go anywhere - get the hell out of here”. And I thought, OK, where do I go? I was looking into all sorts of ideas like the Peace Corps and then a friend came home for a wedding and she said she needed a roommate in Jackson Hole. I said I’d be there in 2 months. So random really. I studied history and was planning to go to law school in Boston. I was going to come here for a winter and snowboard and then go to law school. That was 2005 and I never left. 

Lizzie guiding on the Snake River. 

Lizzie guiding on the Snake River. 

TCSAR: What is your job now?
Lizzie: I’m a full time firefighter and paramedic and it’s taken a long time to get there. I worked at the Four Seasons when I first moved here. I started out bussing tables since I wasn’t good enough to wait tables. I moved into waiting tables and it was great money and benefits and I could play all day and work at night. I went though guide school with Mad River and started guiding on the river in 2007. I was still waiting tables too but I got sick of the Four Seasons and started bartending at the Moose. And then I took a WFR (Wilderness First Responder) and I got curious about medical and wanted to learn more. I did a WFR because I didn’t want to be a liability in the backcountry anymore - I wanted to be an asset. Then I took a WEMT (Wilderness EMT) with NOLS. I wanted to keep it current so I wouldn’t lose it so I started volunteering with the fire department and then I was like wait - you’ll pay me to do this? And that’s how I got there. I love the work. It’s different every day. I’m really ADD so it’s great. I never know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing.

Lizzie skiing in the backcountry. 

Lizzie skiing in the backcountry. 

TCSAR: What inspired you to apply for the SAR team?
Lizzie: I’ve been curious about it forever because with all of the backcountry activities I do, I would be nervous if I got hurt out there. Being on the team pushes me to be better at all of those activities and I really love the challenge. 

TCSAR: What have you liked best about being on the team so far?
Lizzie: The people - a whole new group of friends. There are a lot of different personalities and I’m constantly being challenged. I love pushing the limits on my comfort zone. 

TCSAR: Are there any trainings or potential rescue scenarios that scare you?
Lizzie: The biggest thing is caves. I have a little claustrophobia and we have to do some entrapment drills for the fire department as well that have really pushed my comfort level. But I just have to stop, take a deep breath, tell myself I’m fine and keep moving.

Relaxing in Costa Rica.

Relaxing in Costa Rica.

TCSAR: Other hobbies? 
Lizzie: I love to travel. I just went to Bali and stayed at a surf resort. I’m a beginner but it was great. I was able to start surfing some bigger waves. I always seem to go to a coastal place since I live in the mountains - Costa Rica, Nicaragua, the Maldives.

TCSAR: Is there anything about you the rest of the team doesn’t know?
Lizzie: I was on a jumprope team. It was called the Bouncing Bulldogs (laughs). It was in elementary and middle school - probably for about 5 years. We would compete and we traveled around the country and even went to the Final Four. We did double-dutch, speed competitions, and routines with 4 or 5 people. It was pretty serious (laughs again). 

Get to Know SAR Volunteer Don Watkins

Don at the TCSAR Hangar

Don at the TCSAR Hangar

TCSAR: Where did you grow up?
Don: I grew up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania called Johnstown. The town’s biggest claim to fame is probably the Johnstown Chiefs Hockey Team, or more recently being named the first Hockeyville USA. So I of course played hockey, and loved it, but was more drawn to the mountains and water. My family shared a lake cabin with my grandparents and aunts and uncles in Somerset, Pennsylvania. Indian Lake quickly became the place I would spend most of my free time.  If I wasn’t in school back in Johnstown or working for my father’s construction company I was usually waterskiing or wakeboarding at the lake. My parent’s liked to ski and snowboard in the winter too, so we frequented a few small ski resorts in the Laurel Highlands area. Hidden Valley Resort, a monstrous 470 vertical feet (laughs) became our go-to. We had a blast. My dad, sister and I even taught at the local ski school. Probably the best job a high schooler could ever have.

TCSAR: Tell us a little more about your family? Were the outdoors always a big part of your life?
Don: My sister and I are three years apart, but we hung out together growing up, and even went to the same college – the University of Vermont. Western Pennsylvania is a great place for all kinds of outdoor adventure, and our parents made sure we took advantage of it. Some of the most memorable times were of the fun we had at the small lake cabin at Indian Lake. My parents actually met at Indian Lake when they were younger. My mom and dad used to be regulars in local waterski shows put on for fun by the lakes waterski club. I think what influenced me most throughout my life is that my mom and dad were just great at making the most of each season. There was always something to do outside. I never was much for video games, I mean who doesn’t enjoy some Duck Hunt or Super Mario Brothers now and then, but more often than not we all found ourselves outside. 

Don in his happy place on his swallowtail somewhere on Teton Pass. Photo: Patrick Nelson

Don in his happy place on his swallowtail somewhere on Teton Pass. Photo: Patrick Nelson

TCSAR: How did you end up in Jackson?
Don: I like to jokingly blame this one on my parents for making me love the mountains so much. In addition to growing up skiing and snowboarding, every holiday season we’d watch a classic movie called White Christmas. In that movie they talk about how gorgeous Vermont is in the winter. Fast forward to college, where I attended the University of Vermont (UVM), I then met a bunch of hooligans (some of my best friends to this day). At UVM we were involved in the ski and snowboard club and made a trip to Jackson Hole every year over our winter break. One thing led to another, and we packed up our cars after graduation and made our way to Jackson for what was supposed to be one winter. It’s your token transplant story, one year leads to another, and another, and so on. But here I am ten years later, and thanks to my mom and dad and college friends who gave me the extra courage to move, I now have experienced more than I could have ever imagined. Best of all I met my beautiful wife, Shea D’Anna Watkins, here and we’ll be celebrating our one year anniversary soon. 

TCSAR: What’s your current job? Have you always worked in that field?
Don: I’m the Director of Marketing for Convergence Investments, a real estate and private equity investment firm with offices in Jackson and Chicago, Illinois. I’ve most always been in the marketing field, but the industries have varied. I grew a lot professionally while working for a boutique public relations firm here in Jackson early on in my career. That coupled with my finance background made for a great fit at Convergence, where I’ve worked for the last five years with a great group of extremely talented and motivated individuals, who now are more friends than coworkers. 

Don, Cody and Alex at basecamp in the Wind River Range in 2008.

Don, Cody and Alex at basecamp in the Wind River Range in 2008.

TCSAR: How did you get involved with Search and Rescue? What inspired you to join the team?
Don: Early on when I moved to Jackson I met two current SAR members [Alex Norton and Cody Lockhart] through a close friend, Jim Bob Schell. We went on a spring skiing and camping trip deep in the Wind River Range. On trips like that where you spend endless hours with each other you learn a lot about one another. They talked about SAR a bit on the trip and I was intrigued- I respected them for it. Over the coming years that respect grew dramatically as I saw their efforts making a difference throughout the community. In a small town like Jackson, anytime you hear of an incident skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, on the river or in the mountains, even when you don’t know the person directly, it hits home. Often times you likely know someone who is affected by the incident, or it’s something you simply do so often that you would only hope someone from SAR (or ski patrol, the park, Fire / EMS, and all the other awesome agencies that keep us safe here in our home) would be there when you need them. With all the outdoor adventure and opportunity this town gave me, I thought the least I could do was volunteer my time to help others when they need it, like so many others had. 

Don high angle training with SAR at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Don high angle training with SAR at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

TCSAR: Have you enjoyed being on the team so far?
Don: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, and am honored to be on the team. The talent and expertise in this volunteer organization is incredible. There are doctors; EMS and Fire professionals; nurses; mountain guides; river guides; high angle rescue experts; skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers capable of getting most anywhere; mountain bikers, hunters and more. If it can be done in Wyoming, it’s likely someone is doing it on the team. It’s honestly intimidating, but at the same time exciting and one heck of a motivator to learn and do as much as you can.  

TCSAR: You’re one of the few snowboarders on the team. Does that create any additional challenges (or harassment from other team members!)? 
Don: Ha! Where do I begin? In all honesty, I love and invite the heckling. It’s all in good fun and only motivates me even more. Truth be told, I think the hecklers are just jealous of our comfortable footwear- you know who you are! While all the skiers are inside warming up their cold, cramped feet, we few splitboarders will still be out gettin’r done (and as one of the new guys I probably just brought on more jabs with that comment). And our pilot Nicole definitely isn’t jealous; she just thinks all of my snowboarding gear is heavy.
In all seriousness though, it definitely can make some situations interesting. That said, what it boils down to is me knowing my equipment and figuring out how to get it done. Sometimes the up and down in the mountains where multiple transitions are necessary can be tricky, but skiing on my split isn’t as bad as you’d expect. I was fortunate to grow up with a skiing background, which is great for those “skiing on the split” moments, and throughout college I had a lot of practice chasing and keeping up with my skier friends.

TCSAR: Hobbies?
Don: When I’m not outdoors I enjoy building things. More often than not I have some sort of project going on in our garage. I think my wife would really enjoy being able to park her car in there someday, but it might be a while with the lineup on my to-do list (Sorry Shea).  

Watch a video of Don and Mikey of Franco Snowshapes making Don’s coveted swallowtail board. 

TCSAR: Favorite piece of winter gear?
Don: Back to building things... When it comes to gear, my most coveted piece of equipment is my swallowtail snowboard. A local snowboard shaper and good friend of mine Mikey Franco of Franco Snowshapes, helped me build the board a few years back. I’ve always thought that your skis/snowboard are a huge part of your experience in the mountains. Being able to build a board to my style of riding from start to finish made that feeling even more real. It makes every turn that much more special, but more importantly, incredibly fun. 

TCSAR: What’s your perfect day in the mountains?
Don: That’s a great question. I think it just depends. When it comes to winter, there’s nothing like a bluebird powder day with friends riding some of your favorite terrain in safe conditions. Then there’s the relaxed skin out for a mellow ski with your dog. Or, sometimes the most fun is the random sleeper day at the resort when you only planned on coming out for a few runs but you find no lift lines and way more snow than what was forecasted on the report. 

Don with his wife Shea post wedding reception on August 1, 2015. 

Don with his wife Shea post wedding reception on August 1, 2015.