Eli Loomis

Eli Loomis’s Story

I've been outside as much as I can for pretty much my whole life. Right after college, I landed a job as an algae researcher at a small base in Antarctica and that experience really opened my eyes to the power of big wild places. It inspired me to keep seeking them. My biggest experience of the wilderness now is exploring the plateaus and canyon bottoms of Southern Utah with our students at BOSS (the Boulder Outdoor Survival School).

When I'm traveling through gigantic landscapes I feel more human. I feel really, clearly alive out in places like the Grand Staircase-Escalante area in Utah, or the Glacier Peak Wilderness near where I live in Washington. Wilderness is where I'm anchored and where I can feel most peaceful (despite the mosquitoes).

BOSS, the school I work for in Utah, leads ambitious adventures on foot in very remote areas. It's a truly wild place and we can get out pretty far from civilization. I feel an enormous responsibility to our students–we ask them to push themselves hard. I'm very conscious that we need to be there to support them in every way we can. One way is to be ready in case something unexpected happens. Of course, Wilderness First Responder training also gives me more confidence for my own climbing/backpacking/running/biking adventures too.

The safety of our students is of critical importance to me. Although we push people pretty hard, we also keep them safe. Without that layer, we can't fulfill our actual mission. My co-instructors and I need wilderness medical training for us to be able to help people learn traditional wilderness skills and have big, life-changing experiences out there.

I think people need wilderness. I have grown and changed a lot from my experiences in the wild. My time in Montana, South America and Japan, and on and around the big volcanoes in Washington have helped define me and my view of what's important in the world. The hardship and beauty I find out there have helped me grow a lot. I want to help other people find something out there too. So now I try to act as a guide and a witness for people on their own journeys. 

When we help people push way out past what they think are their limits in such a wild place, they have the opportunity for big change. I love that the wilderness does most of the work. We provide instruction on skills and a safety net. It's the challenge and the remote wildness that allows people to see themselves and the world differently. Of course, if and how they do is totally up to them. Wilderness medical training lets us offer that to people. It feels like a big deal.