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Alpine Endurance Medicine was founded in 2021 by Luke Nelson, after bearing witness to several serious accidents and incidents within the trail running community. Here, Nelson identified a clear need for additional wilderness medical attention for trail runners.
At the time, Nelson had been assistant coach for a local mountain biking team in Pocatello, Idaho, when he was asked to teach a first aid training requirement from the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), to prepare bike coaches to respond to potential accidents.
Luke said yes to the invitation, and thus began Alpine Endurance Medicine.
Nelson has spent his entire life wandering through the mountains.
Growing up in Nevada, Utah, and Idaho – where he lives today – he was introduced to rock climbing at a very early age, as well as backpacking and snowboarding. As a teenager, he started kayaking and river rafting, which he pursued for over a decade.
He has since worked as a climbing instructor, kayak instructor, and river guide. Nelson started ski patrolling in 2008 and has become a Senior Alpine Patroller, as well as an instructor for Avalanche (Levels 1 and 2), Ski and Mountain Travel (Levels 1 and 2), and Outdoor Emergency Care.
Nelson also competed in ski mountaineering racing for several years, representing the US at two World Championships, and he won the US Skimo National Championships in 2012. In his mid-20s, he found trail running and has been a Patagonia-sponsored mountain athlete for over 15 years.
Running has taken Nelson deep into landscapes all over the world, from 50Ks to over 230 miles in a single effort, all while running in some of the wildest places on Earth. To this day, Nelson continues to be passionate and curious about endurance in the mountains. He loves to explore long distances under his own human power and combine different sports – climbing, biking, packrafting – with running to fully experience these wild places.
Nelson first discovered Wilderness First Aid as a teenager through his participation with the Boy Scouts. He would later cement his interest in wilderness medicine during a Wilderness First Responder course, while he pursued an undergraduate degree in Outdoor Education at Idaho State University.
Years later, while guiding on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Luke decided to pursue further medical education and returned to Idaho State University, to become a Physician Assistant. He graduated with a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies in 2010, and has since spent most of his medical career working in Sports Medicine, Orthopedics, and Spine. Nelson has continued his education with an emphasis on wilderness medicine and now holds a diploma in Mountain Medicine, while also a Fellow at the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.
In 2022, he founded the Backcountry Response Group, a backcountry rescue group collaboration between Bannock County Search and Rescue and Pebble Creek Ski Patrol. He is faculty at Idaho State University for the Physician Assistant Program and the Fellowship in Wilderness Medicine.
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