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Tara Butson

Date of Surgery: 4/18/2013 and 8/15/2013
Update (12/2014): Tara has returned to guiding full-time.

Photo_BUTSONAbout Tara

I’ve been guiding and instructing outdoor activities since I was 19.  I always had a love for the outdoors growing up in the Adirondack of NY.  One of my great passions has always been skiing from nordic, telemark and of course alpine.  My father taught me to alpine ski when I was 2 years old and it was always a part of my life growing up.  Of course, I decided to attend college near one of my favorite ski resorts.  I received an associate degree in Outdoor Recreation from Paul Smiths Collage in NY and bachelors degree in Ski Resort Management from Lyndon State in Vermont. During a winter mountaineering course, I met my husband and a great recreation partnership began.  We have always climbed, skied, and explored together.  In 2003, I was offered a position in Montrose, Colorado as a WEMT for a wilderness therapy program.  It was near amazing skiing and climbing so we packed what little we had and moved from North Conway, NH where we were both guiding and I was ski patrolling. Not long after moving, Josh accepted a position as a guide and avalanche instructor for the San Juan Outdoor School and Telluride Avalanche School.  About two and half years later, the owner asked if we would like to take the business on and we did.  Between owning our business and being located in amazing Telluride we are living our dream.

Career Background

My husband Josh and I own a small guide service called the San Juan Outdoor School in Telluride, Colorado.  We are the lead guides and primary office staff.  Josh and I rotate back and forth between running the office, caring for our 2 year old son and guiding.  We also run the non-profit, Telluride Avalanche School.  Our goal is to offer avalanche programs to the community and school system.  In addition, provide free avalanche education forums and affordable AIARE level one and two classes.

Treatment Procedure and Recovery Plan

In March 2013, I fell while assisting a sit skier when I was volunteering for the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program.  After undergoing an exam at the Steadman Clinic, it was determined that my knee required an MCL and ACL reconstruction.  However, I had an ACL repair several years ago (from a backcountry ski accident) and my surgeon needed to remove the hardware from that surgery and perform a bone graft prior to fixing my present injury.  On April 18, 2013, I had the first of my two surgeries and jumped right into physical therapy directly after that procedure.  Nearly 17 weeks later of physical therapy, I was ready for the reconstruction of my ACL and MCL on August 15, 2013.  After 6 weeks of non-weight bearing, I started walking with crutches and at 8 weeks I required no crutch assistance.  From that point on, it was difficult and painful to ride a bike and participate in classic cross country skiing until the 6 month mark.  After that point, I started to run on a treadmill and perform more aerobic exercises.  On April 23, 2014, I took and passed my return to sports test.  The return to sport test was one of the most difficult things I had ever trained for.  I continued to train and go to physical therapy until the end of May 2014.  Currently, I am training to get back to where I was before my accident.


"The Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation is amazing and I do not have words for the generosity that was shown to me in such a difficult time. I needed two surgeries to repair my knee, and the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation provided access to the very best surgeons and physical therapists available to permit a limitless career return. I am able to guide again after enduring an injury I was sure would end my career and life as I knew it. I even considered selling our guide service to pay for the surgeries. I am able to resume guiding thanks to the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation."

- Tara Butson