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Out and Back

Out and Back

Author: Gaia GPS

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The Out and Back Podcast presented by Gaia GPS dives deep into conversation with long-distance hikers, record-breaking athletes, international overland travelers, and other inspiring adventurers who have mastered their backcountry craft. In every show, hosts 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.

47 Episodes
Checking the avalanche forecast before you head out into the winter backcountry should be at the top of your safety checklist. It predicts the avalanche risk for your zones and gives you a heads up on worrisome problems within the snowpack. But how much stock can you really put into an avalanche forecast? USFS avalanche expert Simon Trautman says the avy forecast is your building block for planning your day. However, once your feet are on the snow, the forecast should always take a back seat to your observations in the field. Tune in as Trautman teaches us how to get the most out of the avalanche forecast in your area.
In the fall of 2021, ski mountaineers Luke Smithwick and Iain Kuo attempted an unsupported, first ski descent of the world's seventh tallest peak - Mount Dhualagiri in Nepal. They spent weeks advancing to the mountain's 26,705-foot summit, but high winds and increasing avalanche danger held them back from the top. Smithwick and Kuo were forced to retreat, leaving the ski record on the table for another day. The decision to turn around didn't come easy, but sticking with an objective mindset helped them through the decision-making process. They walk us through how they safely navigate all those dangerous human factors that can lead skiers and mountaineers to make poor decisions in big mountains like the Himalaya and in the more accessible ranges close to home.
With avalanche danger rated high in the Wasatch Mountains, two separate backcountry ski parties went searching for safer, lower-angle terrain. They headed for Wilson Glade, a relatively mild slope that beckons skiers when conditions seem too dangerous to head into the steeps. The two groups checked the avalanche and weather forecasts, made a conservative travel plan, and carried all the right gear and backcountry experience for a successful trip. But, all precautions aside, they were swept away in a colossal avalanche. Four of eight people died. Avalanche Forecaster Nikki Champion, of the Utah Avalanche Center, walks us through what we can learn from this tragic accident as we head into a new ski season - one that could be shaping up to be just as dangerous as the last.
Last year, a record number of people died in avalanches across the United States. Ethan Greene, PhD, Director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), looks back at the contributing factors. He says a perfect storm of weak snowpack conditions and stressed decision-making led to last year's high accident rate. Dive into the surprising demographics as to who was most at-risk for getting caught in a slide last year. And learn why this year could be just as dangerous.
Last year was the deadliest avalanche season in modern U.S. history. Why was last season so deadly and what can we do to stay safer this year? We set out to answer those question in a four-episode winter safety series to be released December 15, 2021. Stay tuned as we pick the brains of experienced mountaineers, avalanche forecasters, and experts from across the nation for the best tips on avalanche awareness and safety. From learning about how to avoid "summit fever" to knowing the key details of an avalanche forecast, make sure to catch our winter safety series before heading out into the backcountry this winter.
It's your worst nightmare. You're all alone, miles from the trailhead, when you trip over a rock and break your leg. What do you do? If you have a satellite communication device, you press a button and send a message for help. Yes, rescue in the backcountry has become that easy. In this episode, Morris Shawn, president of ZOLEO inc, breaks down the mysteries of satellite communication devices, including how much you can expect to spend on a ZOLEO sat comm unit and its messaging plans. Plus, hear about the most outlandish rescue calls Morris has seen in recent years, and find out what happens when you press that dreaded SOS button.
Mac of Halfway Anywhere has been conducting surveys on the PCT for eight years, and on the CDT for four. In this episode of Out and Back, Mac (aka Tyler Fox) weaves his eight years of survey data together with his first hand observations to illuminate how the PCT and CDT have evolved over the past decade. Hint: he doesn’t think it’s all been for the better. Plus, get more inside scoops on thru-hiking, including what makes people quit the trail, why Mac dislikes trail magic, and why he swears he’ll never hike the AT.
Making a good cup of coffee in the backcountry is complicated. You can bring a French press but then you are stuck with hauling out messy grounds. On the other hand, instant coffee is convenient but the flavor often falls short. Professional hikers Heather Anderson, Hiking Viking, Adventure Alan, and Liz "Snorkel" Thomas enlighten us with their field-tested tips on brewing the best cup of backcountry coffee. Ultimately, they reveal that their coffee routines are as wild and varied as their personalities.
In this very special episode of Out and Back, ultralight backpacking expert Mike Clelland dives into the mysterious world of owl synchronicities — and their connection to UFO abductions. Yes, you read that correctly. It all started with a highly charged owl encounter on top of a mountain...
Allison Boyle, the face behind the ultra-popular hiking resource She Dreams of Alpine, lays out the big three fears new backpackers often face. She shares her tried and true strategies for overcoming them, as well as why almost everyone wants to back out of their trip right before they start. Plus, learn how she turned her passion for the outdoors into a burgeoning career.
Wildfire Public Information Officer and former wildland firefighter Amanda Monthei breaks down why wildfires remain vital for ecosystem health, and how humans misunderstand this life force. She gets into the history of wildfire management in the US and how we’ve primed conditions for fires of unprecedented scope. Amanda dives into what we can learn from indigenous fire management practices and how we can learn to better coexist with fire in the future. Tune into Episode 37 to hear all this and more about how we can coexist with fire, rather than fight it.
Casey Kaiser, an experienced overlander with a penchant for finding abandoned homesteads in the desert, takes us on a complete misadventure. Thirty miles off the grid, Casey’s fully upgraded Jeep Wrangler Rubicon JKU suddenly caught fire, leaving him stranded in the middle of the night in Oregon’s high desert. Casey made it home safely to tell us what he learned from this unforeseen catastrophe.
In August of 2019, Jenny and Scott shipped their bikes across the world, and with their one and three-year-olds in tow, they embarked on a month long bike-packing tour across the mountains, beaches and farmlands of Hokkaido, Japan. The family covered 600 miles and camped in a new location every night while carrying all of their own gear. Tune in to episode 35 of the Out and Back podcast to get all the details about bike-packing in a foreign country with two toddlers.
34. A Wedding Proposal

34. A Wedding Proposal


Maps are like love letters. They enable boldness, and they break down barriers to the impossible. This episode of the Out and Back Podcast is a love letter written directly onto a map. In fact, a map played an integral role in putting a ring on a couple's relationship.
After 69 days of walking through sub-zero temps and knee-deep snow, Emily Ford became just the second person, and the first woman, to complete a winter thru-hike of Wisconsin’s 1,200-mile Ice Age Trail. She also found a new best canine friend in the process. Find out how (and why) she took on this midwestern beast during the toughest time of year.
In 2013, a life-threatening crash in a cycling race sent Alan Adams into a spiral of bad decisions. He quit bike racing and faded into the worst shape of his life. After seven years, Alan finally felt stable in his relationship and job as a Patagonia sales rep. He was ready to reclaim his fitness and ambition by taking on an audacious goal. So for his New Year's resolution in 2020, the year he would turn 40, Alan aimed to climb two million vertical feet under his own power. Alan not only met his goal. He smashed it. The Bozeman, Montana, resident climbed over 2.5 million feet of vert by ski touring and cycling — breaking the record for the most human-powered vert climbed in a single year. Tune in to hear his story of how constantly moving in the mountains taught him to appreciate time and living an uncomplicated life.
Adventurer Luc Mehl has spent decades exploring Alaska in the most creative ways. He’s skied from Haines to Juneau, ice-skated a 100+ mile route on frozen lakes and seashores above the Arctic Circle, and bikepacked portions of the Iditarod Trail. In 2006, he discovered a much more efficient way to cover miles in the mountains: packrafting. He’s taken floating down Alaskan rivers to a new level ever since. Don’t miss episode 31 of the Out and Back Podcast as Luc takes us on his incredible Alaskan journey, from growing up in a tiny Alaskan village to becoming an expert in packrafting. Luc discusses the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic and the tragic event that caused him to take a step back in the backcountry and relearn packrafting all over again from the very beginning. In the process of doing so, Luc wrote "The Packraft Handbook", the definitive source for learning how to read water, identify river hazards, and choose the right gear and safety equipment for your next river adventure. Luc talks about how his new book is his way of helping people learn from his mistakes and be safer on the river.
Since 2006, thousands of Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers have started their 2,660-mile journey from Barney and Sandy Mann’s suburban San Diego home. The ultimate trail angles, the Manns offer to pick up arriving PCT hikers from San Diego’s airport, bring them to their five-bedroom house, feed them dinner, entertain them with music, and teach them the ways of the trail. The next morning, the Manns shuttle the hopeful thru-hikers some 60 miles to the Mexico border. With a hug and a smile, they send their new hiking friends off to Canada, rested and well prepared for the miles ahead. A triple crown hiker himself, Scout describes how running their famous hiker hostel kept them connected to the PCT even after their own thru-hike in 2007. Scout reflects on how the pandemic forced them to close up shop in 2020 and why they decided not to host PCT hikers in 2021. Listen through to the very end to hear why Scout and Frodo will consider hosting in 2022!
29. Vasu Sojitra

29. Vasu Sojitra


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.
28. Backcountry Fitness

28. Backcountry Fitness


The days are getting longer and warmer — hiking season is well on its way! But for many of us, nearby trails are still covered in ice and snow. And for many more, we are cooped up in the city or live in geographical regions as flat as a pancake. How can we gear up for summer adventures? Well...personal trainer Billy Gawron of Backcountry Fitness is here with answers. This week on Out and Back, Shanty and Abby chat with Billy about training for hiking, backpacking, and thru-hiking season. The trio talk about key fitness issues, including... -the number one thing we should all start working on right now -the key to balancing strength work with endurance training -pervasive myths about training -how to train your feet and ankles to withstand long days with a heavy pack -how to prevent pesky and debilitating knee pain -how to prepare for altitude while at sea level If you’re dreaming up some big plans for the summer, you won’t want to miss this show!
Comments (2)

Robert Detzel

I'm a 69 yr old retired Marine recovering from a stroke. I'm also planning a section hike of the AT to regain part of my independence. Thanks for this episode. Awesome to hear the Real Hiking Viking talk about his life. Thanks Semper Fi Detz

Oct 29th



May 6th