Tracee Metcalfe has been on five different expeditions to Nepal while working as an expedition doctor for a team called Himalayan Experience. The Vail-based doc has aided Sherpa staff, guides and climbers on the trips, and she says working as a hospitalist in an alpine town does help prepare her for the work. But there’s nothing even in the farthest reaches of Vail’s Back Bowls that can compare to crossing ladders in the Khumbu ice field—though training in Colorado’s mountain towns and resorts does help when on expedition.

“I’m not an ER doctor, so I try to spend time shadowing docs here in the ER before an expedition to brush up on those emergency skills.”

Metcalfe has climbed every 14,000-foot peak in Colorado, and she successfully summited Everest in May 2016. She says more mountaineering trips are definitely in her future.

“I think you can be a doctor and climb, but it’s really hard,” she says. “I want my next expedition to be focused on climbing, and then I think I’ll be ready to go back and be a doctor.”

Kim Fuller