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Q&A with author Hal Clifford

Mountain rescue: life and death on a rescue team

Q&A with author Hal Clifford

Do young rescuers get too enthusastic?
Are team members all volunteers?
How can I get involved?
A team member responds to the book
Aspen's only one of many excellent rescue teams
I want to climb--where can I learn how?
What are the qualifications for volunteering on a rescue team?
Did I really say that?
Is this book just for mountain rescue volunteers?
How dangerous is rescue work? How did you get involved in it?
How can I get rescue training?
What about the fatal Mt. Rainier rescue this summer?
Should people pay for their own rescues?

A team member responds to the book
I am an Aspen resident and have been on the Mountain Rescue-Aspen team for more than 11 years. I think I speak for the whole team when I say we can all stop holding our breaths now that the book is out and none of us expected it to be this good. The general reaction of the team is that we are happy, even though the good along with the bad has been represented very honestly--though maybe not very evenly.

I feel that the book accurately portrays the mood and feelings that I have found so difficult to explain to non-rescuers. My only personal comment would be that I feel the few members who were persecuted in the book may have been selectively persecuted. These people have the best reputations and belong deep in the folds of our brotherhood. They have earned my respect and the respect of the team and community by risking their lives while maintaining an extremely high level of safety towards themselves and others. I just feel that there were more good things to be said about both Tom McCabe and especially Chris Myers. The good deserved to be mentioned equally with the bad. Some of the things that weren't brought out are that even while the volunteer environment demands the type of people who have the time and desire to lose their jobs and money to help others, it also requires that you tolerate the type of people who have trouble in command positions, especially when volunteers are involved. These trouble times almost only occur at extreme stress periods and when team members are the most likely to get rubbed the wrong way.

I would also like to take this space to say that Hal is a wonderful writer and a well-respected member of the team. He should be encouraged to write a second book because there are so many good--or even better--stories of things that have happened, and I am sure will continue happen, to our little stormy but happy family.
Bob Zook, rescue leader, Mountain Rescue-Aspen
Aspen, CO

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