By: Easton Smith

Prime Ankle Rolling Territory

In our group of friends we like to make fun of our favorite safety-punk and river-runner, Lauren Wood, for the time they warned us on a hike that we were wandering into some “prime ankle rolling territory.” While Lauren’s comment may have felt overly cautious to us at the time, it was actually informed by years of experiences in a back country wilderness setting, where a small injury can lead to a crisis in just seconds.

WMA Course

It’s a common story: intrepid, even cocky, adventurers go into the wild without proper training or preparation, and things quickly head south. Christopher McCandless’ ill-fated venture to Alaska, which was famously chronicled in Into the Wild, ended in a lonely death. Aron Ralston had a bit more luck, but as viewers of 127 Hours know, he lost an arm to his own pocket knife. Into the Void shows how Joe Simpson barely made it back to base camp after being left behind on an Andean mountain by his climbing partner Simon Yates.

Obviously, these are some worst case scenarios. They are good reminders that, no matter how high our stoke may be, we are not invincible the face of Mother Nature’s many tempests, boulders, poisons, spikes, and other dangerous attributes.

We don’t ever want to discourage people from adventuring, even when there is some risk involved. But we do think that all risky adventures should be well calculated. Part of that calculation is making sure that if you do get into a medical emergency, you know how to keep a cool head, do some basic treatment, and evacuate to civilization safely. These are all skills you can learn in a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course.


Wilderness First Responder Certification at Holiday

WFR-Recert-Triangles-Katie-WoodsBecause we like the public, and our guides, to be prepared for emergencies, we will be hosting a WFR certification (and recertification) courses between April 22-May 8, 2022 at the Holiday Field Office in Green River Utah.

Holiday has been sponsoring these trainings for nearly 30 years. They are open to the public, and are recommended for anyone who spends time in the backcountry. We will be hosting a full course for people who have never had a WFR training, and a shorter, cheaper recertification course for those who just need to brush up on their skills.

The training will include classroom sessions, hands on skill practice, and videotaped emergency scenarios. So, if you want to spend some more time with Holiday’s famously fun staff while also learning how to treat a broken femur when you are one hundred miles from a hospital, then sign up! You can learn more about the specific dates, costs, and logistics of these WFR trainings bellow:


Taught by Wilderness Medical Associates

Holiday River Expeditions is sponsoring intensive backcountry medical courses this spring, taught by Katie Woods with Wilderness Medical Associates. These courses are designed to teach you how to deal with medical emergencies when help is many hours or miles away. The courses are recommended for anyone who spends time in remote areas.

Classroom sessions, hands on skill practice, and videotaped emergency scenarios will provide you with valuable training for whatever situation may be encountered in the backcountry. We will hold classes at our headquarters in Green River, Utah. Fees do not include food/lodging. There are inexpensive motels and camping options nearby. 

Schedule Below

Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA): This 4-day (36 hours) course is a good choice for guides who will be assisting a Wilderness First Responder. The course includes CPR certification and meets Utah State requirements for a Guide License with WRG endorsement. Course offered April 26 – 29, cost is $495/person.

WAFA to WFR Bridge: This course is for people who are certified as a WMA WAFA. The Bridge course is four days (36 hours) long and will upgrade your WMA WAFA to a WFR. You need to take this course within three years of WAFA certification. Course offered May 1-4, cost is $495/person.

Wilderness First Responder (WFR):  We are combining the WAFA and Bridge courses to create a full WFR course.  It will allow graduates to be fully certified WFR’s.  The class will be 9 days (with 1 day off – April 30th).  Course offered April 26 – May 4, Cost is $775/person.

Wilderness First Responder Recertification: We are holding 2 recert courses. These are two days (16 hours). Prerequisites: You must have completed a WMA WFR, WEMT, WAFA or recert course within three years of the month of the recert course. We’re holding the recert courses April 22-23rd and May 7-8. Cost is $350/person.

There is a discount rate available to UGO and GCRG members: $445/person for WAFA and WAFA to WFR bridge course, $310/person for the review course and $700 for the full WFR course.  

Class size is limited in each course, so get your course payment in early.  Course cost is non-refundable. We will send participants a gear list when we receive your course payment. For additional information, or registration, please contact us at the address or phone number below. You can also visit Wilderness Medical Associates website to get more information:  WAFA , Bridge , WFR or their Home Page


Contact our office via email at OR our office number (801) 266-2087 to book the course or learn more. 


No matter where your next adventure takes you, we hope you remember to take that “prime ankle rolling territory” seriously, because it could turn your fun vacation into a harrowing ordeal.



Writer Easton SmithEaston Smith is a Local Wasatch Front resident and writer.   He spends his time community organizing, rock-climbing and playin’ some mean banjo.  For more writing from Easton, check out his organizing collective’s blog “Brine Waves” here or stay tuned for future loggings in River Currents.