What’s in a Pitchfest Entrepreneur? Meet the Finalists
— Backcountry Pulse —
Rachel Sapp, founder of Backcountry Pulse, tells us about her global wilderness medicine and rescue education company that offers partnership-based courses and scholarships which emphasize rescue on a technical and emotional skill level and promote diversity in the guiding industry.
What was the inspiration for starting your company, and how has it evolved?
My professional experiences in emergency medicine, mountain rescue and outdoor guiding have shown me that the wilderness medicine certification process sometimes falls short. They have traditionally been instructed from a perspective that is primarily skill-based, which does not necessarily result in a trained individual who walks away feeling prepared both mentally and physically. The nature of rescue is unpredictable and even as an experienced provider, I have come across events that affected me in ways I didn’t anticipate. We can do a better job incorporating experience gained from hands-on patient care into the certification process. Our unique curriculum not only provides technical skills, but also focuses on the human approach to rescue by integrating easy to use tools for emotional agility long before and after a rescue.
What is the mission and vision of your company? What does the future trajectory look like?
Backcountry Pulse is addressing three issues within wilderness medicine education: the need for tailored education, rescuer mental health, and diversity of representation within outdoor guiding.
1. We offer wilderness medicine certification courses that align with the unique needs of different environments and companies around the globe.
2. We incorporate a curriculum that not only focuses on technical skills but also provides the necessary tools for dealing with stressful situations over time.
3. A barrier to entry within outdoor leadership and guiding is the cost of wilderness medicine and outdoor leadership training. We partner with brands to increase the diversity of representation by offering accessible pathways to guiding careers through funding for wilderness first responder courses and outdoor leadership training.
Why did you apply for Pitchfest, and what are you hoping to get out of your experience?
Pitchfest opens doors to new growth opportunities and is a platform for learning and improving. I am grateful for new friendships, support, and mentoring from outdoor industry professionals who help in seeing things from different angles.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned, thus far, in founding your company?
Starting my business has taught me to revel in the process and embrace the vulnerability of it all. Raising twin daughters, recovering from recent bilateral hip surgery, managing a business and bringing on a team certainly has hair yanking moments and swings of fear and joy. I’ve found that balance, attitude and perseverance are integral to bringing clarity to the process.
What did you not see coming, and how did you respond?
When the idea for Backcountry Pulse came to fruition last May, I anticipated needing months of work getting our name recognized before securing any programming partnerships. Less than two weeks after incorporation we secured our first international and domestic program partners and were planning courses in the United States, Tanzania, Chile, Ecuador, and Nepal. The need was immediate and the snap into action was mind-whizzing. It showed me how much this tailored approach to wilderness medicine is needed *right now* and filling this gap speaks to professional outfitters around the globe.
What’s your superpower? empathy
Outdoor adventure of choice for daily release? Alpine climbing & long distance mountain running
What book would you recommend? Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
Your number one outdoor hack? Reading clouds and weather patterns!
One word that you think of when we say outdoors? Connection
Pitchfest 2019 will commence on June 17 in Denver, CO. Register here.
Being adopted from Chile, the mountains have always been weaved into the fabric of her DNA. Rachel’s serotonin levels spike from the clanking of trad gear, torquing of stein pulls, pretty anchors, and killer views. Oh, and don’t get her started on clouds.
Rachel is a certified AMGA SPI and was recently awarded the Rock Guide Scholarship from First Ascent and the American Mountain Guides Association. She is a National Registry Advanced Life Support Provider and is on the final stretch for receiving both the Diploma in Mountain Medicine and the Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine which is regarded as the “highest level of widely-recognized achievement in the field of wilderness medicine.”
Rachel’s unconventional trajectory to the outdoor industry started ten years ago while pursuing a degree in Music Therapy & Music Composition. She took an EMT course to deepen her knowledge of the health care system and gain direct patient care experience. Unexpectedly, this process re-routed her career path. Rachel started volunteering with Fire & Rescue, Search & Rescue agencies and working in the Emergency Department of a Level 1 Trauma Center. Following an inspiring Wilderness EMT Upgrade and Technical Rope Rescue Course, her affinity of alpine, mixed and ice climbing was born. A dear friend kindly informed her that if she wanted to make climbing a year-round thing, she better start throwing some chalk on her hands. So, she begrudgingly swapped out screws for cams and learned to equally love climbing without crampons.
Rachel spent the next several years blending professional roles in emergency medicine, education, outdoor leadership, and program development. She values being an experiential educator who cultivates the space to propel others forward, finds the importance in acknowledging vulnerability, and is constantly inspired by the resiliency of others.
Rachel enjoys mountain life at 8,500′ in Nederland, CO with her wonderfully wild six-year-old twin daughters. You can find her singing soulful melodies and crafting bluesy tunes on the mountain dulcimer at venues around Colorado’s Front Range. She is perpetually searching for that next alpine start or finding a way to squeeze in as many mountain running miles as her lungs, legs, and daylight will allow.