Volume , Issue

  • Recap of the Annual Summer Conference
  • WMS Official Statement on Climate Change
  • WEM Special Issue: Tactical Combat Casualty Care
  • WEM Special Issue: Climate Change and Human Health
  • 7th World Congress Recap

Recap of the Wilderness Medicine Conference and 35th Annual Summer Meeting of the WMS in Midway, Utah

By Ryan Ingwersen

In early August, the WMS brought our Annual Summer Conference to Midway, Utah and the gorgeous Zermatt Resort. This conference celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Wilderness Medical Society, headlined by world-renowned climber and mountaineer Conrad Anker.

Conrad Anker giving his keynote address.

Speaking to a crowd of over 200 people, Anker detailed his life and career as a climber and mountaineer, paying tribute to all those who impacted his life and lost along the way. In his talk, Anker included footage from the documentary Meru (2015), a film directed by Anker’s good friend Jimmy Chin, that chronicled their endeavor to summit the peak Meru in the Himalayas, the first ones ever to achieve the feat. The film won the award for best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015.

Anker was a proud advocate for the wilderness and outdoor lifestyles, stressing climate change as the issue he feels is the single greatest threat to outdoor adventuring. “I wholeheartedly agree that being outdoors, being together, is the best way that we can grow our society in this new era,” Anker said. His talk was not without a few laughs. Addressing the way outdoor adventuring has changed in recent years, Anker quipped, “There’s going to be a skinny-jeans attempt of Raineer.” However, he ended the night with a testament to his life’s work and outlook, saying, “My favorite climb is the one I’ll do tomorrow.”

WMS Past Presidents Aaron Billin, Brad Bennett, and William Forgey, with current
WMS President Bob Quinn at the awards banquet.

Anker spoke after the annual awards banquet, which this year proved to be a very emotional event. After nearly 20 years of service, the Society officially said goodbye to long-time CEO Loren Greenway. Tears were shed as Dr. Greenway accepted his fairwell gift (a fly-fishing rod), as an obviously choked-up Greenway said, “Some of the best experiences in my life have happened with people in this room.” He didn’t allow the moment to get too somber before jokingly adding , “Some of the worst, too.” The WMS is immensely thankful to Dr. Greenway for his years of service and his efforts to grow the WMS into what it is today. We are proud to officially welcome Renita Fonseca, CAE, CMP, as our new CEO. Renita comes to us after years of serving as Executive Director of the Texas Club of Internists and the Program Manager of the General Internal Medicine Preceptorship Program at the Texas Academy of Internal Medicine in Austin, TX. She will officially start as WMS CEO in September from her office in Austin.

New WMS CEO Renita Fonseca, CAE, CMP

The conference this year featured a number of the world’s leading wilderness medicine experts covering a variety of topics, including helicopter rescue, dealing with acute stress in the field, and a first-hand account of practicing medicine in Antarctica. Afternoon workshops and small-group sessions included a hands-on fly-fishing workshop, a live helicopter rescue demonstration, a session on wilderness medicine improvisation, and a poisonous plants cocktail hour.

Our fly-fishing workshop was one of many for attendees to enjoy.

Our next conference will be our Annual Winter Conference in Park City, Utah in February 2019. In the meantime, please check out one of our Adventure CME Events on the WMS website Also, save the date for our “Masters” in Wilderness Medicine Conference next fall in Stowe, VT, September 12 – 15, 2019!

WMS Past President Aaron Billin hands over the gavel to incoming WMS President Bob Quinn.

Award Recipients

Graduates of the Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine

On-hand to receive certificate: Melissa Boetig, Benjamin Earl Brackett, Ryan Christensen, Christanne Coffey, Wes Dean, Laura Ann Galdamez, Michael O. Growney, Alana Hawley, Jason R. Muise, Lindsey Reed, Andy Rich, Mark W. Rogers, Winnie Romeril, Susanne J. Spano, Jessica Walrath, John L. Wethoff II, and Benjamin J. Woodard.

Special note: Kenneth Leon Young also earned his FAWM, but tragically passed this past year. His award was accepted posthumously by Jenny Ebelke.

Graduates not in attendance: Benjamin Norman Abo, Alexander Badulak, Torben K. Becker, Lauren Cardella, Marc Cassone, Tyler Mark Christensen, Adam Colombo, Bruno De Geeter, Danielle F. Deitrick, Perry W. Doan, Jr., Jared Kartchner Heal, Justin Hensley, Michael Hight, Shannon Elizabeth Hunter, Jacob Jensen, Phillip I. Jones, Rhodri Jordan, Alex Keller, Katherine Kenningham, Ricky Kue, Margaret Kathleen Kincaid, Stewart W. Lee, Tyler J. Lemay, Patrick T. Malone, Stephen Manganaro, Ryan A. Manjuck, Davin Patrick McFadden, Alex Merkle, Brian Meyer, Erica Dorothy Monsees, Eric Morgan, Allison Mulcahy, Alan Munhall, Stephen Nacy, Anne Newbold, Liam O'Sullivan, Erika Brinkmann Page, Nishant Raj Pandey, Walker Plash, Landon Pratt, Maurus Euan Rimmer, Seth William Schmoll, Christian H. Simpson, Samantha Tarshis, John Casey Turner, Deen D. Wasserman, Matthew D. Welder, Heather White, Catrin Nia Williams, Kathryn Kurzet Moore Wolpert, and James Yoder.

Graduates of the Diploma in Mountain Medicine

On-hand to receive certificate: Alana Hawley, Daniel Phillips, and Mark Rogers- Pictured with Past President Aaron Billin, President Bob Quinn, and Board Member Scott McIntosh

Note: Lisa Andrus is not pictured but was on-hand to accept her award.

Graduates not in attendance: Trevor Black, Aaron Brillhart, Kimberly Dahm, Colin Davis, Olga Dobranowski, Nathaniel Harlow, Leah Jacoby, Aaron Lewis, Steven Menard, Allison Mulcahy, Christopher Paul, Alicia Peterson, Tyler Semmens, Sarah Spear, Katie Sprinkel, Shannon Trelease, and Clayton Williams.

Denali Award – Fellow Advancement Recognition


Past President Aaron Billin, Steven Roy, and Board Member Scott McIntosh.

On-hand to accept award: Aaron Billin, Scott McIntosh, and Steven Roy.

Awardees not in attendance: Cindy Bitter, Joel Ehler, Owen McGrane, and Will Smith.

Master Fellows

Dr. Suresh Antony pictured here with Board Member Scott McIntosh, Past President Aaron Billin, and President Bob Quinn.

Dr. Suresh Antony earned his MFAWM for his work on Mosquito and Tick-Borne Illnesses in the United States.

Ice Axe Award

Darryl Macias, MD, FACEP, FAWM, pictured with Past President Aaron Billin.

Warren D. Bowman Award
Debbie Simon, RN (Not on-hand to accept award)

Education Award


Frank Hubbell, DO - Pictured with Past President Aaron Billin.

Research Award

Peter Bartsch, MD - Pictured with Past President Aaron Billin.

Service Award

Terri Monturano (not on-hand to accept award).

Founders Award
Andrew Luks, MD (not on-hand to accept award).

Paul S. Auerbach Award


Linda Keyes, MD, FACEP - Pictured with Past President Aaron Billin

WEM Journal Recognition Awards
Robert Norris, MD; Steven Roy, MD, FAWM, DiMM; Bryan Wilson, MD.

Poster Presentation Awards

Alana Hawley (Pictured here with Past President Aaron Billin); Patrick Burns; Gordon Paterson
Oral Presentation Award - Ross Hofmeyr

Wilderness Medical Society Statement on Climate Change

Climate change impacts human and environmental health and threatens more serious harm in the near future. Human health concerns include higher rates of respiratory and heat-related illnesses, increased prevalence of vector-borne and waterborne diseases, food and water insecurity, and more severe climate-related weather and fire events. These events particularly affect the most vulnerable populations. The Earth's wilderness areas and wildlife are at risk of decline, destruction, and extinction.

The WMS believes that human health depends on a safe environment and stable climate. The factors that influence climate change should be addressed to lessen or avert undesirable environmental consequences and improve human health.

The WMS encourages environmentally sustainable practices, supports evidence-based science to better elucidate the factors that affect our environment, and encourages educational and research initiatives to address known or potential health risks of climate change.

Posted on October 25, 2017

WILDERNESS & ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE Special Issue on Tactical Combat Casualty Care

We are thrilled to announce the publication of a very special supplemental edition of WEM Journal, Tactical Combat Casualty Care: Transitioning Battlefield Lessons Learned to Other Austere Environments.


This supplement to the June 2017 issue contains 19 articles based on the lecture presentations delivered during last summer's 2-day preconference to the World Congress of Mountain & Wilderness Medicine, Tactical Combat Casualty Care: Transitioning Battlefield Lessons Learned to Other Austere Environments.

We would like to thank the preconference faculty and special edition authors for their valuable contributions to the field of Tactical Combat Casualty Care, and to congratulate Guest Editors Brad L. Bennett, PhD; Frank K. Butler Jr., MD; and Ian S. Wedmore, MD on their tremendous achievement with the publication of this special edition!

It is available here.

Posted on June 28, 2017

WILDERNESS & ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE Special Issue on Climate Change and Human Health

The widespread consequences of climate change, warming temperatures, extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and elevated atmospheric and ocean carbon dioxide levels would almost certainly have substantial impact on human health in both direct and indirect manners.  It is part of the mission of the Wilderness Medical Society to serve as an educational resource for the community and to encourage thoughtful research.

WEM is now seeking manuscripts describing evidence-based scholarship evaluating human health and human health threats related to a changing environment.  Accepted papers will be compiled in a special issue of the journal. If the number accepted is not sufficient to fill a special issue, accepted papers will be included in regular issues.

All manuscripts will undergo our standard review process, with critical evaluation of the work. Please note that we cannot evaluate abstracts or incomplete works.

This call for submissions is open now through June 2017, with the goal of preparing the special issue in late 2017. We are most interested in original research reports, full or brief, but will also consider appropriate review articles. Please see further information on the journal and submission procedures at http://wms.org/research.

Posted on January 6, 2017

Recap of the 7th World Congress of Mountain & Wilderness Medicine in Telluride, Colorado
By Ryan Ingwersen

Posted on September 8, 2016

From July 30 to August 4, the WMS, along with the International Society of Mountain Medicine (ISMM), gathered in the majestic mountain town of Telluride, Colorado for the 7th World Congress of Mountain and Wilderness Medicine. With over 500 people in attendance from 20 different countries including China, Argentina, Japan, Australia, Nepal, Germany, and Switzerland we were proud to host this event featuring the world’s leading experts in mountain and wilderness medicine, and, as WMS co-founder Dr. Paul Auerbach said, “The most outstanding educational day I have ever seen in our sessions.”

The event kicked off with unique and engaging pre-conferences, including an Advanced Wilderness Life Support (AWLS) course and another focusing on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC). Main conference sessions were highlighted by a variety of topics from internationally recognized speakers, including Dr. Auerbach. Addressing his hopes for the future of the WMS, Dr. Auerbach said, “I’d like to see MedWAR (Medical Wilderness Adventure Race) programs in every U.S. medical school. I’d like to see comprehensive wilderness medicine programs for the disadvantaged.  I’d like to see the world have a global disaster response plan and I’d like to see us be a part of that.  I’d like to see the full wilderness medicine, in particularly the WMS, support indigenous peoples. I’d like to see certification standards for wilderness medicine clinicians. I’d like to see wilderness medicine as a true champion of the environment, and I’d like to see wilderness medicine recognized by the American Board of Medicine Specialties as a full specialty.” Another one of the notable lectures came from Dr. Michael Callahan, who addressed the growing influence and concern of the Zika virus. Doctor Callahan’s lecture is available for free here.

Evening sessions at the congress offered a variety of education and entertainment. On Monday August 1, attendees had the pleasure to listen to Thomas Hornbein, the first man along with Willi Unsoeld to summit Mount Everest via the West Ridge. Hornbein recapped the experience and his life as whole, remarking, “Uncertainty is such an essential part of the seasoning of life.”

Tom Hornbein's presentation had numerous memorable quotes, including, "Risk is a two-sided climb; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."

On Tuesday August 1, the evening kicked off with our annual awards banquet (see below for all award recipients).  We were especially proud to award two of our co-founders, Doctors Paul Auerbach and Edward Geehr, with Honorary Master Fellow recognitions.  Though Dr. Geehr could not be present to accept the award in person, he said in a statement, “I very much regret not being able to attend the 7th World Congress and deeply appreciate the award of WMS Honorary Master Fellow in Wilderness Medicine.  But I offer a good excuse.  The WMS invitation conflicted with a long-scheduled wilderness trek that is just winding up.  I always preferred doing to talking, so please excuse my absence.  Besides, Dr. Auerbach will talk enough for both of us.”  The tone shifted as Dr. Aaron Bernstein addressed the increasingly important topic of biodiversity and human health.  After addressing humanity’s impact on the environment, Dr. Bernstein ended his lecture by quoting the late astronomer Carl Sagan, “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.  Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.  In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there’s no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us.  There is nowhere else, at least not in the near future, to which our species could migrate.  Visit, yes.  Settle, not yet.  Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.”  Doctor Bernstein’s presentation is available for viewing for free here.

The evening of Wednesday August 3 featured a screening of the 2015 blockbuster film “Everest,” including an appearance by one of its stars, Ang Phula Sherpa, a Sherpa with Peak Promotions.  Founder of Everest ER and WMS Past President Luanne Freer was on-hand to introduce Ang Phula Sherpa and the film.  The event also included a raffle drawing for a variety of prizes.  All proceeds from the raffle which amounted to around $6,000 went toward the Wongchu Sherpa Memorial Hospital project in Nepal.  For more information on the project and to donate to the cause, click here.

WMS Past President hands over the gavel to incoming WMS President Dr. Aaron Billin.

The conference allowed attendees to explore the breathtaking scenery of the Telluride area.  Some took advantage of the local hikes, including the beautiful trail up to Bridal Veil Falls, while others took the opportunity to summit one of several 14,000-foot peaks in the region. The mountain village and downtown area of Telluride offered a bevy of local flavor and entertainment.

Handies Peak, one of several 14,000-foot mountains around the Telluride area.

With our thanks to all who attended, we now shift our focus to the variety of upcoming events and conferences the WMS has to offer, including our annual Winter Conference in Park City, Utah.  See you there!

Award Recipients

Graduates of the Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine

On-hand to receive certificate: Suresh Jude Antony, Andrew Badulak, Nicole Battaglioli, Omer Lee Burnett III, Michael Galic, Marianne Geiger, Mika Hemphill, Adam D. Hill, Dylan Sean Kellogg, Sonia Elise Mariano, Kazue Oshiro, Kevin A. Palmer, Andrew Park, Walter A. Schrading, Timothy S. Talbot, Coben Thorn, Brandon Trigger, Brian Philip Weber, Beth Weitensteiner, and James Winegarner.

Graduates not in attendance: Nicole Isabella Anderson, Eric Bachrach, Taylor Andrew Baldwin, Jason Barraclough, Stephen Armstrong Beasley, J. Robert Bixler, Justin M. Bowles, Anne Brants, Paul D. Bromley, Brad Broyles, Thomas Bruff, Michelle T. Buckius, Riley J. Burke, Jonathan P. Clemens, Virginia Cross, Nicholas J. Daniel, Jason Earl Day, Barrent R. Dickinson, Joshua Eaton, William Forgey, John Fors, Robert Grumbo, Mary Josephine Hessert, Tate Higgins, Lisa Hile, Sarah Hockaday, Christopher P. Holstege, Grant Jasiunas, Noah Jordahl, Steven M. Joyce, Nicholas C. Kanaan, Jeffrey P. Keck Jr., Kevin Scott Koehler, Erik L. Kulick, Esther Olita Layton, Craig Llewelyn, Peter M. Listerman, Robert Trevor Marshall, Andrew T. Martin, Pablo Medina, Babak Mokari, Melissa Ann Moore, Andrew R. Morgan, Cyrus Mozayeni, Thomas J. Murphy II, Jacqueline O’Kane, Martin Peters, Lara Philips, Steven Michael Piper, Scott Poland, Adam Polozola, Robert Thomas Puccinelli, Joanne Rolls, Christopher James Rynn, Samuel Schimelpfenig, Volker Schoffl, Bridget Sharpe, Usaima Siddiqi, Daniel Solchanyk, Darshan S. Thota, David F. Toro, Jodie Totten, John Trentini, John S. Wells, Jedediah Wheeler, Brian Matthew Wilson, John Andrew Youmans, and Justin Young.

Graduates of the Diploma in Mountain Medicine

On-hand to receive certificate: Mika Hemphill - Pictured with Dr. Scott McIntosh.

Graduates not in attendance: Barbara Blok, Lindsey Caley, Joanna Coolidge, Tatiana Havryliuk, Cheryl Lowry, Justine Macneil, Jason Montoya, Terry O’Connor, Brian Pinkston, Don Slack, Eric Stendell, and Mitchell Volin.

Matterhorn Award – Fellow Advancement Recognition

On-hand to accept award: Lawrence LeBlond, Hill McBrayer, and Steven Roy.

Not in attendance: Christopher Van Tilburg

Denali Award – Fellow Advancement Recognition

Jennifer Dow

Honorary Master Fellows

On-hand to accept award: Paul Auerbach (Wilderness Medicine)

Not in attendance: Edward Geehr (Wilderness Medicine)

Ice Axe Award

Geoffrey C. Tabin, MD (Not on-hand to accept award).

Warren D. Bowman Award

Gates Richards, WEMT-1, FAWM - Pictured with WMS Past President Brad Bennett.

Education Award

Erin Marie Mayer, DO, FAWM - Pictured with WMS Past President Brad Bennett.

Research Award

Michael Yaron, MD - Pictured with WMS Past President Brad Bennett

Service Award

Alicia Byrne - Pictured with WMS Past President Brad Bennett.

Founders Award

Linda Keyes, MD, FACEP - Pictured with WMS Past President Brad Bennett (left) and WMS Past President Jay Lemery (right).

Blair Erb World Congress International Award

Peter Bartsch, MD - Pictured with Dr. Peter Hackett (left) and WMS Past President Brad Bennett (right).

Paul S. Auerbach Award

Hermann Brugger, MD, Prof. - Pictured with Dr. Paul Auerbach (left) and WMS Past Presidet Brad Bennett (right).

WEM Journal Recognition Awards

Cedric Yoshimoto, MD, MPH, DTM&H; Lori Weichenthal, MD; John Anderson, MD

Best Abstract Presentation Award

Justin Lawley, PhD, from the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, was selected for the 7th World Congress of Mountain & Wilderness Medicine Best Abstract Presentation Award for his work titled: Direct measurement of intracranial pressure in hypobaric hypoxia: implications for acute mountain sickness.

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