Our Symposium Faculty:

Alison Sheets, Emergency Physician (ABEM), MRA President, ICAR MEDCOM Vice President, CAIC Medical Advisor: Dr. Sheets is an emergency physician working in Boulder, Colorado. She is an active volunteer field team member and medical director of Rocky Mountain Rescue since 2006. Currently she is the President of the Mountain Rescue Association and is the MRA delegate to the ICAR MEDCOM. Prior to her medical and SAR career she was a professional mountain guide and ski patroller. Not busy enough with all the volunteer work, she is also a rescue technician flying with the Colorado Army National Guard Hoist Rescue Team.

Scott McIntosh, MD, MPH, FAWM, DiMM: Dr. McIntosh is a tenured faculty member in the Division of Emergency Medicine at the University of Utah. He serves as the Medical Director of Summit County, where he oversees all teaching and clinical aspects of the paramedic and ambulance services.  He also serves as Associate Medical Director of AirMed, the University of Utah’s medical flight service. Dr. McIntosh’s role also includes Director of the Wilderness Medicine Fellowship, which trains graduates in the academic and clinical skills of this speciality. He has authored over 25 scientific papers and book chapters, and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Wilderness & Environmental Medicine Journal. He received his bachelor’s degree from Duke Univeristy, medical degree from the University of Vermont, and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Utah.

Jennifer Dow, MD, MHA, FACEP, FAWM, DiMM: Dr. Dow began her wilderness medicine career as a member of National Ski Patrol at age 15. Growing up in California, summers were spent in the Eastern Sierra – hiking, backpacking, and climbing. She attended the Medical College of Wisconsin and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at York Hospital – York, Pennsylvania. Moving to Alaska in 1997, she has never looked back. Joining the WMS in 1990 – she completed her FAWM in 2007 and DiMM in 2014. She was a founding faculty member for the WMS-DiMM and continues to serve as core faculty. Jenn co-chaired and chaired the 2019 and 2020 summer conferences, respectively, and joined the board of directors in 2018. For her “real job”, Jenn practices Emergency Medicine at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage. She also serves as the Medical Director for the National Park Service – Alaska Region; Guardian Flight Alaska, Alyeska Ski Patrol, and The Alyeska Pipeline. She works closely with multiple guide and rescue services, ensuring their field teams have the knowledge and tools needed to manage remote emergencies. If she’s not out running her dogs, she can usually be found skiing, climbing, or mountain biking – satellite phone in hand.

Aaron Reilly, MD, DO, DiMM: Dr. Aaron Reilly is an Emergency and Wilderness Medicine Physician at the University of New Mexico. After completing five years of active duty as a US Navy Flight Surgeon, he went to UNM to complete a fellowship in Wilderness, Austere, and International Emergency Medicine, and the Diploma in Mountain Medicine. Dr. Reilly now serves as core faculty for the UNM International Mountain Medicine Center, instructing the DiMM, and director of the UNM Wilderness and Austere medicine student and resident elective. He specializes in ultra-endurance medical support, and is the director for the Trans Pecos Ultra, a stage ultramarathon in West Texas.

Tyler George, Director of Silverton Medical Rescue, Conference Planning Committee Member: Tyler worked as an EMT for Silverton EMS for 4 years before taking on the role of Director. Although he didn’t have the EMS experience of Silverton’s previous director, his BA in Business Administration in addition to his practical business management experience, made him the perfect candidate for the position. He was also born and raised in Silverton, giving him unique knowledge of the area. From childhood he spent many years at the St. Paul Ski Lodge learning from some of the best search and rescue personnel and avalanche experts in the nation. Director George is dedicated to continuing the previous director’s work, striving for excellence in austere pre-hospital medicine and rescue, and giving the residents of San Juan County an Ambulance & Rescue Service they are proud of and can rely on.

Travis Laverty, EMT-B: Travis is a ski patroller at Telluride and Wolf Creek. He has been in the medical profession for 18 years. His outdoor experience includes avalanche and technical rope rescue education, SAR activities, ski guiding and working as a park ranger for the federal government.

David Hughes, MD: Dr. Hughes is an emergency physician who came to work at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, CO in 2004 after completing EM residency in Grand Rapids, MI.  Soon after arrival, he began providing medical direction to Upper San Juan ambulance in Pagosa Springs, CO where he found great satisfaction working with medics.  Since then, he has affiliated with several other agencies and is currently the medical director of Silverton ambulance / San Juan County SAR, Durango Fire & Rescue, Flight for Life- Durango base, Purgatory Ski Patrol.  He also acts as EMS liaison for Mercy Regional Medical Center.  The vast amount of high mountain wilderness adjacent to red rock desert is primarily what drew him to Durango and he enjoys any activity that involves exploration of his amazing backyard. 

Ryan Hodnick, DO, FAWM, NRP:  With a passion for Prehospital Medicine Ryan operates in the capacity of Flight Physician/Critical Care Paramedic and Medical Director for TransAero Medevac. He also serves as Medical Director for multiple Fire Departments in Nevada and New Mexico; Medical Director/Prehospital Physician of Med Flight Air Ambulance in Albuquerque; and as an Event Physician/Paramedic at Electric Daisy Carnival (second largest rave in the world), Burning Man, as well as Sturgis, South Dakota Motorcycle Rally.

Russ Costa, Ph.D:  Russ Costa is an Associate Professor of Honors & Neuroscience at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. He is a broadly trained cognitive scientist who studies attention and perception inside the lab, and risk-taking and decision-making outside of it. He holds a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Utah in psychology, specializing and cognition and neural sciences. Russ is also an avid skier and mountaineer, who regularly presents to both community and professional audiences on risk perception, judgment, and decision-making in avalanche terrain.

Darryl Macias MD, FACEP, FAWM, DiMM: Darryl is one of the least known personalities of our time. Yet he has read many books on how to do mountain medicine, and believes he can communicate what he has learned meaningfully.  Although he “practices” medicine in his spare time (he is still trying to get it right), the art of illusion (“education”) is his strength. He has received many teaching awards, including “Best Homeschool Dad of RGES” in Albuquerque. He also shows up occasionally at ACEP, WMS, and AAEM conferences impersonating more important people. Although he pretends to know about many cultures and languages, he just likes to make people think that he can do it. Yet he loves to teach others how to do what he does, dragging his acolytes the world over until they submit to his methodologies.

Charles W Mains, MD, FACS: Attended Duke Medical School and completed surgical residency at the University of Colorado Medical Center. He is board certified in surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Mains is the trauma medical director at St Anthony’s Hospital, an American College of Surgeons verified Level I trauma center, and is the director of trauma for the Centura Health Trauma System which includes 15 Centura trauma centers and 8 other affiliated hospitals throughout Colorado and Kansas. He chairs the Mile High Regional Trauma and Emergency Medicine Advisory Council as well as the trauma center Designation Review Committee for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. He is the author of numerous publications involving both basic science and clinical research, and often serves as an invited speaker on a wide variety of trauma topics. Activities include rock and ice climbing, skiing, fly fishing and biking.

Jay Mathers, DO, FAWM, c-ISTM: John ‘Jay’ Mathers, graduated from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, he earned his BA from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  While at CU-Boulder, Jay taught climbing and mountaineering courses for the University of Colorado Outdoor Program. After graduating from CU-Boulder he went on to work for the Colorado Outward Bound School teaching mountaineering/technical climbing courses and working as a ski patrolman for the Telluride Ski Patrol.  In 1999, he worked his first VIP patrol with the Denali National Park Service at the 14200’ camp doing mountain rescue work for the NPS as a VIP. After this he participated in two more patrols, one in 2000, and then in 2005 as a 4th year medical student.   He trained in Family Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and practices rural emergency medicine and hospitalist medicine. He is board certified in Family Medicine and is a fellow in Wilderness Medicine.  He is currently the emergency department director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Animas Surgical Hospital, founder and CEO of the Colorado Mountain and Travel Medicine Clinic and The Mountain Medicine Institute, LLC in Durango, CO.

Robert Weisbaum, FP-C, NRP, MPO, BSRobert has served in the emergency services profession for 23 years. He has worked private EMS, air medical, and fire service. Robert currently serves as the EMS & Fire Chief for the Crested Butte Fire Protection District. Robert has a BS in Fire Administration and maintains his FP-C. Robert has dedicated himself to the service of others and when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2022, he found a new purpose in life. Robert has put all his energy effort into improving his health and wellness in an effort to minimize the impact MS has on his life. Robert is a MS warrior. Robert will continue to support MS research, and stand with anyone who needs love, encouragement, and hope.

Jim Donovan, Emergency Manager,  EMT-B, Conference Planning Committee Member:  Jim is an avid mountain rescue specialist.  He serves as the Emergency Manager for San Juan County and is a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician based out of Silverton Colorado. He serves as the Captain for the San Juan County Search and Rescue Team and works on the local ambulance service. Jim is trained in high angle rescue and works on rock and ice mediums. He has extensive wilderness rescue experience, ranging from jungles to mountains. In the winter months he directs the Silverton Avalanche School, the historic and premier avalanche training program based in the heart of San Juan Mountains. He is an avid backcountry skier and enjoys climbing the mountains throughout the year.  Jim has professional certifications in avalanche and rope access work. He represents SAS at ICAR.

Kelly Weakley, EMT-P: Kelly has a passion for the outdoors and adventure. When she’s not responding to emergency calls, she can often be found climbing mountains or shredding the slopes on her snowboard. Kelly is also a devoted dog owner, with two furry companions named Oakley and T’challa who love to join her on her outdoor excursions. Her love for the outdoors led her to pursue a degree in outdoor recreation from Ohio University, where she honed her skills and gained valuable experience in the field, and which is helpful for the interesting calls and adventures that take place in Silverton.

Tim Durkin, DO, FAAEM, CAQSMDr. Durkin’s SAR career began in 1993 as an explorer in Maryland, where he responded to search missions all over the mid-Atlantic region. During college, he became certified as an EMT and volunteered with the county rescue squad. After college, he continued SAR work with the Appalachian Search & Rescue Conference, and as an active EMS volunteer with Montgomery County Maryland Fire Rescue, later completing paramedic school. After gaining experience as a full time paramedic, he attended medical school at the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine, completed emergency medicine residency at Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia’s busiest trauma hospital, and later attended a sports medicine fellowship at the University of Florida. After residency he moved to New Mexico where he joined Albuquerque Mountain Rescue, responding on numerous SAR missions around the central New Mexico. Since 2015, Dr. Durkin has lived in Colorado, where he served with both La Plata and San Juan County SAR. Throughout his time with various EMS/SAR organizations, Dr. Durkin has been a committed and passionate responder, holding officer positions including communications chair, supply officer, vice president, board member, medical director as well as frequently being among the most active mission responders on the team. Dr. Durkin is an Eagle Scout, and is board certified in both emergency and sports medicine. He currently serves as Medical Director for the San Juan National Forest, Lead SAR specialist for Colorado Highland Helicopters and Chief Medical Officer with Base Medical, LLC.  In his role with Base Medical, he has created online SAR and EMS CE courses taken by over 4500 responders. 

Ian Ellis, EMT-P, Mountain Rescue Coordinator: Ian began his career in Silverton, Colorado as a volunteer EMT in 2014 and has since pursued extensive training in technical rope rescue, avalanche rescue, and wilderness patient care. Ian is currently a full-time EMT with Silverton Ambulance/Mountain Rescue, and works at a community hospital emergency department in Grand Junction, Colorado. Over the course of the past 6 years, Ian has been involved with hundreds of rescues and has a passion for teaching the next generation of mountain rescue specialists the knowledge and foundation of what he has learned.

Kimmet Holland, NRP, AIARE II, Conference Planning Committee Member:  Kimmet has an extensive 35 year EMS/Rescue/fire background. He started his EMS, Fire and SAR careers in the Albuquerque area in 1982. His experience includes volunteering with Bernalillo County Fire Dept. and Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council. He worked at Albuquerque Ambulance paramedic, field supervisor and left in 1998 as an operations supervisor. During this time he also worked part-time as a flight paramedic and for the Town of Bernalillo EMS. Kimmet started his fire career in 1998 with Santa Fe County Fire Department as he worked his way up the ranks from paramedic/FF, Lieutenant, and retired in 2012 after 8 years as Assistant Chief of Operations and Training. During this time he was the Chair of Santa Fe Community College EMS program’s advisory committee and the director of Santa Fe County Fire Department’s Academy.  Kimmet also worked part-time as a ski patroller for Santa Fe Ski Area. Currently he is the Director of Silverton’s EMS, Member of San Juan County Mountain Rescue and is on the Board of Directors for Silverton Avalanche School. Some of his certified skills include: high/low angle rescue, swift water rescue, confined space and trench rescue and avalanche rescue. Hobbies include skiing, climbing, mountain/road biking, backpacking and rafting….to name a few.

Pemba Sherpa, CLP:  Pemba first started flying with his commercial pilot’s license back in 1997 in Texas.  He then moved back home to Nepal to work for a private helicopter company, flying tours and high-altitude mountain rescues across the Himalayas of Bhutan and Nepal.  Pemba later returned to the USA in 2014 with his two beautiful daughters and wife to seek a better education for his family.  He has continued flying as a helicopter air ambulance pilot in the western rocky mountains in the time since.  It was only after coming to western Colorado that Pemba discovered a love for hiking, camping, skiing, and ice-climbing.  He is now in his 26th year of flying and enjoys do it here in the rockies so much that he has no plans to stop anytime soon.

Nicholas Weiss, DO: Nick is currently emergency medicine faculty at the University of New Mexico. Last July he completed the Wilderness and Austere Medicine fellowship at UNM. Prior to fellowship he served active duty as an emergency physician in the Army. During that time he was afforded the opportunity to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel on a Forward Resuscitative Surgical Team in 2020 and to Rwanda for partner nation medical readiness training in 2019. He also has extensive experience treating exertional heat stroke while serving as medical director of the emergency department at Fort Campbell, KY. When not on shift in the ED or trying to optimize his circadian rhythm post night shift, he enjoys attempting to keep up with his kids on anything with wheels, being humbled by the skill requisite to scaling vertical things, and cooking over a fire.

Michael John Burton, PhD, EMT-B:  Dr. Burton is an academic researcher with professional experience in low frequency, high consequence decision-making.  He has been an associate professor of Political Science at Ohio University and has taught public administration at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa.  His involvement in national politics spans three decades, including service in the office of Vice President Al Gore as well as six presidential campaigns.  Dr. Burton now volunteers as an EMT with Silverton Medical Rescue in San Juan County, Colorado.  Although he has a scholarly interest in rational decision-making, personal distractions include high-altitude mountaineering and long-distance trail running.

Shane Baird, NREMT-P, MPO:  Shane has been involved in EMS since he started volunteering for La Plata County SAR in 1994. Shane has participated in virtually all types of pre-hospital care, serving in fire/EMS, air medicine, tactical medicine, SAR, and USAR roles. He is the Lead Instructor for Signet North America, and has provided training for fire departments, hospitals, OEMs, the National Park Service, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and numerous private companies across the country. He has been a frequent speaker at state and national-level conferences, presenting topics in EMS, technical rescue, leadership, and hazardous materials. Shane currently serves as EMS Coordinator for Telluride Fire Protection District and participates in numerous local and state level organizations.

Nate McGrath, NRP: Medicine and providing care is in my blood.  My father was a pediatrician for over 40 years and always encouraged us to have a well-rounded medical knowledge focused around backcountry medicine. I was hooked on medicine after attending my first Wilderness Medicine Society conference in Big Sky Montana wen I was 16. Obtaining my EMT Basic with IV when I was 18 allowed me to begin volunteering for a small volunteer fire department in Indian Hills outside of Denver. Once I moved back to Durango, I began volunteering for Durango Fire Protection District (DPFD) and worked as a professional ski patroller at Wolf Creek Ski Area seasonally for 5 years. After finishing my undergrad with a BA in Psychology at Forest Lewis College, I began working seasonally for DFPD wild-land fire module in the summers and continued ski patrolling in the winter. Realizing prehospital medicine was my calling, I became a year-round part time employee for DFPD operating on an ambulance. Working on the Idaho City Hotshot crew allowed me to realize that paramedicine is my passion and I returned to DFPD full-time and attended the Healthone Paramedic program. I am currently a full-time Paramedic/Firefighter. With the strong interest in backcountry medicine, I am a technician on the DFPD Technical Rescue Team which participates in technical rescues of various magnitudes and severity.

Travis McGrath, BSN, CFRN: Travis is a flight nurse and Durango outreach coordinator for Flight For Life Colorado at Mercy Regional Medical Center.  He has been in the medical profession for 20 years ranging from a ski patrol position to his currently held profession.  His outdoor experience is fairly broad to include outdoor education, guiding and most recently adventuring with his 2 young children.

Robbie Klimek, FP-C, CEO: Robbie is a certified Flight Paramedic and has been working with CareFlight of the Rockies for nearly 20 years. He has been and continues to be a ski guide and medical educator for Silverton Mountain, Aspen Mountain, and Telluride Helitrax. He is also an inventor/ founder/ owner of a bootstrap medical device company called Klim-Loc Medical, LLC.  As an adventurer, Robbie has been fortunate enough to have traveled the world seeking wisdom and inner growth from both high and wild places. 

Angela Martz, PA-C, MS: Angela grew up in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, learning to ski in jeans in the 70’s on a rope tow. She has chased powder ever since, working her way up the Ski Guide program as an aspirant guide with the American Mountain Guide Association. She earned her Instructor Training Certificate with AIARE, working as a tail guide with San Juan Expeditions in Silverton, CO and with the Heli Ski company Alaska Powder Descents in Juneau, Alaska. She currently works as a Physician Assistant with the University of New Mexico, specializing in Trauma Surgery, Emergency Medicine, and Orthopedics. She has been Faculty with the Diploma in Mountain Medicine with UNM since 2017. She enjoys playing in the mountains skiing, climbing, hiking or mountain biking with her husband Bill and her dogs Boss and Sue. She has been a technician in Winter, Rock and Ice and operational member with Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council for 11 years.

Scott Sholes, BA, EMT-P: Scott began his EMS career as an EMT with the pre-hospital program at Mercy Medical Center in Durango, Colorado in 1979, then graduated from the Swedish Paramedic Program in 1982.  He has been active in both ground and aeromedical service as a paramedic.  In 1984 he co-founded the Mountain Response Team in La Plata County, merging ALS medical and technical rescue in the backcountry setting.  In 2001, Scott collaborated with multiple agencies to develop what is now the EMS system in Durango, and is currently the EMS Chief for the Durango Fire Protection District, coordinating and advancing the EMS program. He is actively involved at the regional, state and national levels in EMS, and is particularly passionate about promoting a safety culture. He served for 5 years on the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians EMS Safety Course Committee, developing the first two versions of the course.  Scott is also a founding board member and President of Heart Safe La Plata, an internationally recognized public access AED program with over 350 AEDs in La Plata and San Juan Counties.  Scott is currently in his third term as President of the Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado, is Chair of the Southwest Regional Emergency and Trauma Advisory Council, and Chairs the La Plata County EMS Council.

Jens-Peter Witt, M.D.: I am a board-certified Neurosurgeon at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and currently Director of the Neuro Spine service as part of the Department of Neurosurgery. I finished my Medical School in Hannover Germany in 1992, trained first as Orthopedic surgeon in Germany and then finished Neurosurgery residency in Denver, Colorado in 2000. I became the Chief of Neurosurgery at the Level I Trauma Denver Health Medical Center. In 2003 I focused my practice primarily on spinal disorders and trauma. I am the Director of two complex spinal surgery fellowship positions in the Department of Neurosurgery. I am currently the President of the Colorado Neurosurgical Society and have served on the Governor’s committee on prescription drug abuse.

Stay tuned for more faculty announcements

Faculty Financial Disclosure Statement

It is the policy of the Wilderness Medical Society to ensure balance, independence, objectivity and scientific rigor.  All symposium planning committee members and faculty members participating in the International Mountain Medicine Symposium are required to disclose any real or apparent conflict of interest related to the content of their presentation.  All faculty reported no relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Sponsors of Silverton Mountain Medicine Symposium