Search and Rescue: Shaun Roundy’s dedication to people and the outdoors

YOU WILL be inspired by Shaun Roundy who, in this exclusive interview, talks about his early years, life with Search and Rescue and his much acclaimed about book.




SHAUN Roundy did not seem destined for an adventurous life as a child. However, by high school he was skiing off cliffs and riding wheelies on motorcycles. His passion for adventure and the outdoors soon saw no limits and as a young adult he competed for several sports teams, became known as a natural in many extreme sports and climbed literally every day he could. His longing for trying something knew then led him to travel the world living in countries including Spain, Taiwan, China and Honduras.


Shaun has been on the Search and Rescue team in Utah since 1999 and intends to continue with the work for the foreseeable future. His published book, 75 Search and Rescue Stories, is a must read for anyone thinking of joining the organisation or for those who want to be inspired by the dedication of men and women who are committed to helping and saving the lives of other.


In this exclusive interview Shaun talks more about the book, his early life and also his plans for the future.


When growing up one could say you were not a naturally adventurous or sporty person. When did you notice the change in yourself in regard to the outdoors and physical activity?


I was a shy kid, but was lucky to have an outdoorsy dad who was later on Cache County Search and Rescue for several years and who got the family outside and camping as soon as we moved to Utah when I was eight. By age ten I was a pretty good skier and started playing soccer, which I got pretty good at in my third year while playing on the worst team in the league. We lost every game, but I got to play every minute of every game and that made a big difference.


By high school I was skiing off cliffs and riding wheelies on motorcycles, and I discovered climbing while in college. After I moved to Utah County I added mountaineering, sailing, and other sports to the list; so I would say that the change was gradual and steady. I like to think it was always inside me, but I had no idea until the opportunities came to try things out and realise how much I loved them.




In your early adult life you then took up several extreme sports in which you excelled at and gained praise from those who saw what you were doing. Could you give us some information about this time and some more details about what you were getting up to?


My positive experiences playing soccer and skiing gave me a foundation of confidence to try other things – or maybe I was just a normal fearless teenager (in that sense, anyway – I had my share of other fears that would take longer to conquer). My family certified in scuba diving when I was 14, and it was easy to take all these adventures for granted. Living in Utah makes it so easy if you’re just willing to try.


My next big sports were riding motorcycles and then climbing. I went 12 years without missing a month climbing, thanks to living right next to some of the best crags in the world. I travelled a lot, which isn’t a sport but it’s similar – exciting, challenging, memorable, beautiful. I lived in Spain for two years, Taiwan and China for a year and a half, four months in Honduras, plus weeks and months all around the states with a travelling job.

And then there were all the other sports: roller hockey twice a week for several years, sailing (my uncle sold small sailboats, so I knew how, and bought my first one when a friend came to town and wanted to camp somewhere cool – we sailed to Bird Island in the middle of Utah Lake), backpacking, mountaineering, mountain biking, etc. Eventually I simply ran out of time to do them all as much as I would have liked.





When you moved to Utah County you were involved in the High Adventure Coalition which involved organising trips to get crowds of people camping on frozen lakes, climbing cliffs by moonlight, or backpacking red rock canyons. What inspired you to do this and what was the vibe on the outings?


First let me say that I’m quite impressed by how well you’ve researched my past! I organised the High Adventure Coalition with my best friend Ben, and to be honest, we were hoping that it would help us meet outdoorsy girls. He later married a triathlete, so maybe it paid off. In the meantime, we were just excited to get crowds to join us in the outdoors and make great memories.


The vibe was generally casual but enthusiastic on our part, and it’s fun to remember others enjoying the adventures, like when that frozen lake started cracking – the ice was two feet thick, so it wasn’t going anywhere, but the crowd got pretty excited for a moment.


You spent several years in Search and Rescue which would give you inspiration to later write a book on your experiences with the organisation. What inspired you to join and what are your fondest memories of your times working for Search and Rescue?


Good question! I’ve been on the team since 1999 and expect to stay until/unless I move away. I think my dad being on the Cache County team partly gave me the idea, and I immediately found that having a purpose as important as saving lives made being outdoors enormously more rewarding and enjoyable. My favourite memories involve the most challenging rescues, like spending all night lowering an injured climber over half a dozen cliffs and waterfalls to get him into an ambulance. That’s when it’s most clear how much the team matters, when we make such an obvious difference; and when we overcome complex challenges, that’s when we know that not just anybody could have done what we did.


What would be your advice to anyone looking to join Search and Rescue?


Do it!! It’s a wonderfully rewarding hobby and you’ll make great friends on the team. Be prepared for hard work and keep your skills fresh so you’re ready when you need them. You don’t need to have crazy outdoor skills, either – if you have some basics and a good attitude, you’ll probably make a good fit.




Could you give us some more information on 75 Search and Rescue Stories and what can readers expect from the book?


Gladly. It’s a collection of all my best rescue stories from my first 12 years on the team. I tried to relate the stories as vividly as possible, and when I read them to friends to get their reaction as I was putting the book together, their continual reaction as I finished each story was rapt attention. I found that very encouraging and I’ve heard a lot of praise and appreciation since then from people wanting to know more about what it’s like to join SAR, because the news simply can’t deliver that much detail about how rescues actually unfold.


I love it when readers tell me they couldn’t put the book down and that the stories affected them in powerful ways. I love that the public can finally understand the dedication that thousands of SAR volunteers around the country put into their work and rarely brag about all they accomplish. They’re amazing people and fully deserve to be highlighted and honoured.


What other books have you written and what are the constant themes and subjects?


I wrote a book about my spontaneous trip to Taiwan and China, plus a trilogy of Christmas fiction and a YA vampire novel which has received some very positive reviews, and a writing textbook while I taught university writing for 15 years. At the core of these books is a spirit of adventure and a suggestion that you can – and should – be great. Why not?! Opportunities surround you all the time, literally in every minute of the day. I hope to finish up a few more within the next year and a half.


What inspired you to take up writing?


In third grade, my teacher (hats off to you, Mrs Passeneau, you were one of my favourites!) had us each write a story and she published it in a simple book. In junior high I thought writing sounded like an interesting career, but the career centre pointed out how competitive it was and I forgot about it for a while. I kept writing things, though, and toward the end of college when deciding what to get a MA in, I was walking toward the English building one day and thought, “Of course!” The thing was, I didn’t want to just specialise, I wanted to explore EVERYTHING, and writing would let me do that. I began writing An American in China as a paper for a creative writing course.


The first book I finished and published was inspired by a popular Christmas novel. “I can write better than that,” I thought, so I did, and it turned into a trilogy.


I’ve always loved teaching and expression, so I think writing was inevitable. And to anyone reading this who wants to write, do it! It’s so amazingly simple these days to get published online and it’s so rewarding, even if you only get small royalty cheques each month. Some months, cheques from my publisher are bigger than my day job’s. This can happen to you!


How are you currently spending your days and do you have any exciting plans for the future?


I recently quit teaching and am diving into another area that I’ve been passionate about for years – intuitive energy healing. Such a powerful connection exists between people that makes existence even more interesting and exciting than skiing off cliffs. Well… maybe not that exciting, but certainly more important. I’m just finishing up my website at www.rapidenergyhealing.com and I absolutely love working with my clients and making their lives easier and better.
For the future: more of the same! Adventure, inquiry, experience, service. The only satisfying way to justify the passage of time is to pack it with as much satisfaction and meaning as possible.

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