The Secrets of Search and Rescue

You’re out in the backcountry, and something goes wrong. Maybe you break a leg. You’re hit by a rock. Now what? If you’re lucky, search and rescue will find you. Whether volunteers, rangers, or helicopter pilots, these are men and women who brave dicey and dangerous conditions to help stranded climbers, hikers, and hunters. We’ve collected their stories about what they know, what you can learn from them—and the burdens they carry long after you are home safe.

Who We Are
When the Rescuer Becomes the Rescued
Nov 5, 2019

When the Rescuer Becomes the Rescued

What happens when you find yourself on El Cap with a badly injured partner? Former Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) worker Josie McKee and climber Quinn Brett found out.
Blood on Our Hands
Mar 6, 2019

Blood on Our Hands

For some climbing rangers in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, every ridgeline holds the memory of a rescue, every peak a body bag. It's more than they can handle alone.
How We Work
Inside the Art of Backcountry Search and Rescue
Mar 4, 2016

Inside the Art of Backcountry Search and Rescue

When a person goes missing outdoors, there’s a specific protocol for finding them within the first 24 hours. After that first day, it becomes much tougher.
How a Crew of Maui Volunteers Found Two Missing Hikers in a Week
May 29, 2019

How a Crew of Maui Volunteers Found Two Missing Hikers in a Week

Five days after an ad hoc army of volunteer searchers rescued hiker Amanda Eller, the yoga teacher missing for 17 days on Maui, the same crew located missing person Noah "Kekai" Mina just 20 miles away. This time, the ending was not so happy.
The Most Important Gear of Yosemite’s Search and Rescue Team
May 16, 2017

The Most Important Gear of Yosemite’s Search and Rescue Team

Aaron Smith has been a member of the storied Yosemite Search and Rescue team for over 15 years. He’s also on the park’s elite helicopter rescue squad. Here’s a list of the gear he relies on most during his missions.
How to Come Home Alive
The ABCs of SOS
Nov 5, 2019

The ABCs of SOS

When—and how—should you call in search and rescue?
Is Search and Rescue a Public Service? Not Exactly.
Jun 4, 2015

Is Search and Rescue a Public Service? Not Exactly.

When you’re stuck in the backcountry and need help, several states could bill you for the trouble of saving your life. It’s worth knowing where you might be held liable.
SOS in the Age of Smartwatches
Nov 22, 2017

SOS in the Age of Smartwatches

Being able to call for help from his watch helped saved John Zilles, but will wearable tech be a help or burden to search and rescue?
Stories We Tell
The Man Who Saw Too Much
Dec 27, 2010

The Man Who Saw Too Much

Aspen’s Michael Ferrara is bringing attention to a little-known problem: post-traumatic stress disorder among the people who save our lives
How 1,600 People Disappeared on Our Public Lands
Mar 13, 2017

How 1,600 People Disappeared on Our Public Lands

When 18-year-old Joe Keller vanished from a dude ranch in Colorado's Rio Grande National Forest, he joined the ranks of those missing on public land. No official tally exists, but their numbers are growing. And when an initial search turns up nothing, who'll keep looking?
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