The SnowBrains Podcast | Episode #12 | Randall Osterhuber – Winter Survival Instructor, Search & Rescue Badass, Snow Scientist, Avalanche Forecaster, Mountain Guide

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Episode #12 – Randall Osterhuber

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This week, we bring you Randall Osterhuber. Randall is ridiculously well certified and qualified to do just about anything in the mountains and his accolades are too extensive to list them all here so I’m just gonna go with the highlights. Randall has been a search & rescue leader for Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue for 39 years. He has a degree in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a Masters in Hydrology & Fluvial Geomorphology from UC Berkeley. He’s been an avalanche forecaster for Washoe County, Nevada for the past 22 years. He was the lead scientist at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab for 24 years. He’s been the owner and lead guide of Donner Summit Avalanche Seminars for the past 24 years. He’s a Snow Safety Consultant to CalTrans, Liberty Utilities, Vail Resorts, & the North Tahoe Fire Protection District for the past 16 years. He’s been a Technical Advisor to Sierra Avalanche Center for the past 15 years. He’s been ski mountaineering all over the world for the past 40 years. He’s even a winter survival instructor. Randall is the author of more than 50 technical papers on snow, snow hydrology, snow-zone climatology, and snow avalanche dynamics. Basically, no one has seen more in the mountains than Randall and his stories from search and rescue in the depths of winter are simply astonishing.

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In this episode, Randall & Miles discuss the best stories from Randall’s illustrious search & rescue career, avalanche airbag backpacks, the best ways to stay out of avalanches, what’s actually happening with climate change, what he’s seen as a snow scientists the past 25-years, how we could improve avalanche beacons, and much much more.

“He was almost naked…He had very little clothes on… Frozen to the snow surface… Right when we skied up I thought for sure this guy was dead, but he had a pulse, he had slight respiration… So we assemble the sled, this is all up in this raging wind and snowstorm. Got a couple of sleeping bags inside each other inside a bevy sack, and we grabbed this guy, peeled him off the snow.. and went high speed back towards I-80 where a Truckee fire ambulance was waiting… The ER physician invited us into the trauma room to help with the rewarming. He had a core temperature of 79 Fahrenheit when he was admitted to the hospital, and he was slowly warmed up, he went kinda backward through the whole hypothermia thing. His temperature hit the low 90s he started shivering…spent one night in the hospital, was discharged the next day, no frostbite, no organ damage. He walked away! Amazing.”

– Randall Osterhuber

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Episode #12:

Randall Osterhuber – Winter Survival Instructor, Search & Rescue Badass, Snow Scientist, Avalanche Forecaster, Mountain Guide

Brought to you by Alta Ski Area – home of the deepest average annual snowfall in the Rocky Mountains.

“He was almost naked…He had very little clothes on… Frozen to the snow surface… Right when we skied up I thought for sure this guy was dead, but he had a pulse, he had slight respiration… So we assemble the sled, this is all up in this raging wind and snowstorm. Got a couple of sleeping bags inside each other inside a bevy sack, and we grabbed this guy, peeled him off the snow.. and went high speed back towards I-80 where a Truckee fire ambulance was waiting… The ER physician invited us into the trauma room to help with the rewarming. He had a core temperature of 79 Fahrenheit when he was admitted to the hospital, and he was slowly warmed up, he went kinda backward through the whole hypothermia thing. His temperature hit the low 90s he started shivering…spent one night in the hospital, was discharged the next day, no frostbite, no organ damage. He walked away! Amazing.”

– Randall Osterhuber

In this episode, Randall & Miles discuss the best stories from Randall’s illustrious search & rescue career, avalanche airbag backpacks, the best ways to stay out of avalanches, what’s actually happening with climate change, what he’s seen as a snow scientists the past 25-years, how we could improve avalanche beacons, and much much more.

Randall Osterhuber answers these nerdy questions:

  • Can you share a story from your experience as a search and rescue leader? A story that stands out from the rest?
  • What was your most challenging rescue?
  • Is it OK to backcountry ski solo?
  • What’s the best way to stay out of avalanches?
  • What’s the #1 tool available to backcountry skiers & riders in avalanche terrain?
  • What’s your opinion on the effectiveness of avalanche airbag backpacks? Should we all be wearing one?
  • Is Donner Summit, CA one of the snowiest places on Earth that we know of?
  • What did you learn working at the Snow Lab on Donner Summit for 24 years?
  • What evidence of climate change have you seen in your lifetime? Personally and on a data level?
  • What climate trends are you seeing?
  • What’s your prediction for the future of our climate?
  • What do you think has to happen to see real progress in the fight against climate change?
  • If you could work on any scientific study about snow, what would you work on? What would be your fantasy study?
  • Could ground-penetrating radar could both find a buried human and potentially be used to analyze the snowpack using spatial variability?

Please enjoy!

***

This episode is brought to you by Alta Ski Area – home of the deepest average annual snowfall in the Rocky Mountains.

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The SnowBrains Podcast Episode #12 – Randall Osterhuber – Winter Survival Instructor, Search & Rescue Badass, Snow Scientist, Avalanche Forecaster, Mountain Guide

Recorded on December 10, 2020, in Jackson Hole, WY (Miles Clark) and Truckee, CA (Randall Osterhuber).

This episode was edited by Robert Wilkinson.

Music by Chad Crouch.

Host, producer, and creator = Miles Clark.

The SnowBrains Podcast. Skier: Miles Clark. Location: Jackson Hole, WY. Photo: Sasha Motivala.  Date:  March 2020

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