The head of Aspen Alpine Guides puts in overtime to ensure that people stay safe in the mountains.

For Stephen Szoradi, keeping people safe in the mountains isn’t just a job, it’s a civic duty. He earns his keep as a mountain guide, and for nearly a decade he’s been a member of Mountain Rescue Aspen (MRA), a volunteer organization that’s on call 24/7 to assist people who get into trouble in the backcountry. This is woven into his company’s culture, and 10 of his guides are on the rescue team’s roster. It’s no small commitment. Mountain Rescue Aspen estimates that members average 200+ volunteer hours annually.

“Nothing makes me more proud than knowing we have these guys available,” says Szoradi.  “It’s part of our responsibility of working in the mountains, morally and ethically.”

A scourge of accidents and a record number of fatalities in Aspen’s Elk Mountains last year prompted Szoradi to step up again. Together with the White River National Forest, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Mountain Rescue Aspen, and Aspen Expeditions Worldwide, he helped develop an Elk Range Mountain Safety education curriculum, which he’s helping present across Colorado this summer. See story on page 14. aspenalpine.com   

–Avery Stonich