Meet the Team: Susie Nothnagel

This week, get to know CAG guide Susie, a global adventurer, ski patrol veteran, and expert guide for your next mountain biking or hiking adventure!

Susie loves to travel and has visited over 40 countries. Her most memorable adventures happen when she’s exploring a beautiful place with an unfamiliar culture. Her favorite destinations so far are Nepal and Tibet. Susie says, “The Himalayan mountains are the most spectacular mountains I have seen, and the people who live there are peaceful and wise.”

Susie enjoying a recent adventure in Iceland

Much like fellow guide Jesse, a life-altering event motivates Susie toward the adventures so integral to her life. In her words:

When I was a senior in college, I shared a house with four friends. On Thanksgiving Day, the house burned down, and one of my roommates was killed in the fire. That was a pivotal moment in my life. It was the first time I recognized just how fleeting life is, and I immediately changed my life plans. Instead of applying to grad school, I started traveling the world, even though I had no money and no plan.

Susie incorporates adventure into her professional life through her work for the past 21 years on Breckenridge Ski Patrol. Through her work on patrol, she’s gained a healthy level of respect for the power of nature. She shares, “Ski patrollers get to start a lot of avalanches intentionally. Sometimes we start them unintentionally, and that is always a wake-up call. You have to question yourself constantly and never become complacent, thinking you know what is going to happen.” 

While at work on the hill in winter, Susie gets to work with her dog, Loki, an avalanche rescue dog. Loki is even certified to be deployed into the backcountry via helicopter. Susie consistently marvels at Loki’s sense of smell and ability to locate buried victims in situations in which humans have no efficient way to do so. “It’s incredible to watch every single time, even after watching dogs work hundreds of times.” 

Susie’s duties as a ski patroller sometimes include lifeguarding; here she assists a competitor at Breck’s annual spring pond skim.

Despite Susie’s extensive travels so far, she keeps a long list of more places she aims to experience: “There are so many adventures that I still want to have, but the common theme is that I love to be in a wild place where no one cares that my hair is uncombed, my clothes are filthy, and I have dirt under my fingernails. I am lucky to have a husband with similar values, or I would be doomed!”

Should you find yourself on a guided adventure with Susie, you’ll be in the company of an excellent listener and skilled teacher. She also knows she’ll learn something from you: “I learn something from every single person I guide. I find people fascinating: the choices we each make as individuals, the ways we seek joy, and the ways we cope with the challenges of the human condition. The best part about guiding is that we get to share time with each other and get to know each other while doing something fun.

Any day hiking, mountain biking, or chatting over coffee with Susie makes for a great day. Thanks for your excellent work, Susie!

assisting with a sea turtle release in Punto Banco, Costa Rica