How your brain ticks in outdoor survival situations |

How your brain ticks in outdoor survival situations

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Powder to the People’s next installment in a backcountry awareness series Friday will feature Aspen mountaineer Mike Marolt discussing how the brain functions during the decision-making process in survival situations.

The gathering also will feature Brian McCall, a forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, discussing backcountry snowpack conditions in the Aspen area. Powder to the People presents the winter backcountry series with the information center to promote avalanche awareness and backcountry safety.

The event will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Rio Grande meeting room in Aspen. Donations are requested.

Marolt will discuss what is involved in making the right decisions, such as while backcountry skiing in avalanche-prone conditions. He has been studying a new science of examining how the brain works in a stress-filled survival situation. Marolt has been in a few situations like that. He and his brother Steve have climbed and skied several peaks higher than 8,000 meters, including Mount Everest.

Marolt will use video clips from expeditions on Mount Everest and other peaks as examples of backcountry accidents to highlight and explain what happens in the survival decision-making process. Marolt said he has learned that the “fight or flight” reaction to dangerous situations is not inherently compatible with good decision-making. “It goes into how really intelligent people do stupid things,” he said in a statement about the event.

For more information about the event, call Mike Sladdin at 970-ERA-2SKI or email him at


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