Father of the FKT – Buzz Burrell

The poster boy for Fastest Known Times is Kílian Jornet Burgada.

As I post, Kilian holds the fastest known time for the ascent and descent of MatterhornMont BlancDenali and perhaps Everest.

But it’s  Buzz Burrell who really popularized the concept, co-founding fastestknowntime.com with Peter Bakwin and Jeff Schuler.

Buzz Burrell

Those three run the site on a voluntary basis.  And it’s a ton of work.

Buzz himself had been racing routes for decades. He set the FKT on the Colorado Trail in 1999.  The FKT on John Muir in 2000. 

This interview with Buzz will fill you with respect.  Buzz co-hosts his own audio show called the FKT Podcast

46. How to Read the Avalanche Forecast with Snow Science Expert Simon Trautman Out and Back

Avalanches killed 37 people in the U.S. last winter, making it the most deadly season in modern history. Why was 2020-2021 so dangerous, and how can we avoid avalanches this winter? Get the answers to these burning questions in our new winter safety series, dropping on the Out and Back podcast today.In this four-part series, avalanche forecasters expose the factors that played into last season’s tragic fatalities. Tune in to hear the details of one of the most chilling avalanche accidents in Utah’s history. Learn how seasoned ski mountaineers make the tough decision to turn around in the mountains. And let a national avalanche expert walk you through the best way to read an avalanche forecast so you can be as prepared as possible on your next adventure.Listen to all four binge-worthy episodes at once, or pick them up in a random order. However you listen — don’t delay. Each episode gives you real, actionable insights that you can put to use in your next winter adventure.Episode 43: How Last Winter Became the Deadliest Avalanche Season of All TimeLast winter was nothing short of a perfect storm. A dangerously weak snowpack plagued the entire nation. At the same time, people were hungrier than ever for fresh air and fun. This deadly combination clouded people’s judgment and put them at greater risk, says Ethan Greene, Director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. “Part of what we saw last year, I think, was that we were all living in a difficult environment,” Greene says. “And that made it hard going to the grocery store. It made it hard going to school. It made work hard. And when we had time away from those stresses and got to go into the mountains, it made making decisions in avalanche terrain difficult.” The unusual circumstances also brought with it surprising demographics. Greene distills the statistics to tell us what age group, gender, and experience level was most at-risk for getting caught in an avalanche. The answers may surprise you. Plus, Greene takes a look at the way conditions are stacking up for this season. Don’t get your hopes up. This season could be shaping up to be just as dangerous as the last.Episode 44: Lessons from Utah’s Wilson Glade AvalancheLast February, two separate backcountry ski parties headed out for what they thought was lower-angle, safer terrain in the Wilson Glade area of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. The avalanche risk was high that day but they were prepared. Both groups studied the avalanche forecast, made conservative travel plans, and carried all the right safety gear into the mountains. But, precautions aside, the two parties were swept away in a colossal slide. Four of eight people died. What went wrong?Avalanche Forecaster Nikki Champion of the Utah Avalanche Center, investigated the accident. She gives her best insights on the lessons that can be gleaned from this tragic incident.“I think this accident really hit home with a lot of backcountry users,” Champion says. “Because it was a lot of decisions that most of us could see ourselves making: being in lower-angle terrain, traveling one at a time, skiing the slope multiple times and not seeing any obvious red flags in that area.”Champion walks us through what we can learn from this tragic accident. Learn about how to spot and avoid connected terrain. Become more aware of uphill travel. Hear how one survivor’s quick thinking and rescue skills saved the lives of others.Episode 45: How to Avoid Summit Fever with Ski Mountaineers Luke Smithwick and Iain KuoIn 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 26,795-foot summit, but high winds and increasing avalanche danger held them back from the top. After months of planning and training, 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 for Smithwick and Kuo. But sticking with an objective mindset helped them come to the right conclusion. Their number one tip? Erase any assumption of how things will play out. “I have zero expectations going into the mountains,” Smithwick says. “I'm like, wow, the car started, we're leaving town. Great. Let's celebrate that. Okay guys, everyone celebrate.”Smithwick and Kuo review the decision to call it quits just shy of Dhualagiri’s unusually harsh and exposed summit. They check their decision-making process and their egos against the popular FACETS acronym that is widely taught in Avalanche 1 courses. Tune in to this conversation to learn where Smithwick and Kuo nailed the human factors, along with a few vulnerabilities that they work to keep in check. Episode 46: How to Read the Avalanche ForecastChecking the avalanche forecast should be at the top of your safety checklist. It predicts the avalanche danger for your favorite zones and gives you a heads up on worrisome problems within the snowpack. But how much stock can you really put into the daily avy forecast report? US Forest Service avalanche expert Simon Trautman says avalanche forecasts should be the building block for planning a safe day in the backcountry. However, once your feet are on the snow the forecast always takes a back seat to your observations in the field, Trautman says. “The whole point behind the avalanche forecast is that they’re a starting point for your daily planning,” Trautman says. “But people need to understand that what they're doing is providing an expert's idea of a pattern that exists across the landscape. They're great resources but it's kind of like a weather forecast. If you get out there and it said 'no rain' and it starts raining on you, you need to reassess and you need to figure out what that means for your plan that day. Do you just continue to have your picnic or do you change plans?” Tune in as Trautman dissects the avalanche forecast into manageable sections. He teaches us the first things to look at and how to get the most out of the avalanche forecast when planning your next tour.Episode 20: Avalanche Safety Tips with Bruce TremperIf you need more ammo in your avalanche safety arsenal, go back and listen to Out and Back’s episode 20 with renowned avalanche expert Bruce Tremper. Author of Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain and Avalanche Essentials, Tremper draws on his 30-plus year career in snow science to give us his masterful tips for avoiding avalanches. His advice is pretty simple: stick to low-angle terrain.“Whenever there is uncertainty in the snowpack, the terrain is always the answer,” Tremper says. “You can cut your risk in half from going from 39 degrees down to 34 degrees. And you can cut your risk in half once again by going from 34 degrees down to 30 degrees. The handiest tool that you can use in all the world of avalanches is slope steepness.”Learn Tremper’s low risk safety ritual and get some advice on what to do if the unthinkable happens and you get caught in an avalanche.Episode 21: Buried Alive — Bruce Tremper Tells His StoryIt’s almost impossible to grasp the power and force of avalanches, unless of course you’ve actually been caught in one. Avalanche expert Bruce Tremper brings us a little closer to that experience with his story about how he triggered — and was buried in — an avalanche in Montana. He describes the feeling of having the “rug pulled out” from under his skis, being swept down the steep mountain, and what it felt like when the avalanche finally roared to a stop. Go back to episode 21 of the Out and Back podcast to get the blow-by-blow from Tremper on how he survived the avalanche that should have killed him. Tap into these Avalanche Safety ResourcesVisit avalanche.org for safety resources and avalanche forecasts in your area. Sign up for avalanche awareness and rescue courses with American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education. Watch the Know Before You Go video to get pumped about avalanche safety. Also, don't forget to snag that sweet 40-percent off on a Gaia GPS Premium Membership through the end of 2021. With Gaia GPS Premium, you can download maps for offline navigation and access our entire map collection, including a trove of layers that are useful for winter backcountry travel. Check out the 3D satellite imagery, our flagship Gaia Winter, avalanche forecast maps, slope angle shading, daily 24-hour snow totals and density readings, and current, 24-hour, and 48-hour snow accumulation forecasts maps for a complete picture of weather conditions on the ground.   Finally, we thank all the hard working folks at the avalanche centers across the U.S. and Canada. We ask that you consider donating to your local forecast centers so they can keep those essential avalanche forecasts coming your way. 
  1. 46. How to Read the Avalanche Forecast with Snow Science Expert Simon Trautman
  2. 45. Avoiding Summit Fever with Ski Mountaineers Luke Smithwick and Iain Kuo
  3. 44. Lessons from a Deadly Avalanche Accident with Forecaster Nikki Champion
  4. 43. The Most Deadly Avalanche Season with CAIC Director Ethan Greene
  5. Trailer – Winter Safety Series

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