The World's Wildest Jobs: 17 Guys Who Dodged Cubicle Life

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The Special Forces Trainer: Jake Hutchinson
Courtesy Jake Hutchinson13/17

The Special Forces Trainer: Jake Hutchinson

What I Do:

Jake Hutchinson teaches avalanche safety courses to search-and-rescue teams, ski patrollers, and law enforcement officers. But his favorite clients are Special Forces operators. Working out of a Salt Lake City training facility called Gym Jones, where the actors for the movie 300 got ripped, Hutchinson teaches Green Berets, Rangers, and SEALs how to maintain extreme levels of fitness during deployments where they don’t have access to weights. He also takes them outdoors for mountain survival training. “We teach guys how to ski and move in the snow, plus how to dig snow caves for survival and do basic rope work, so they’ll have the tools they need for whatever mountain environment they end up in,” says Hutchinson, who joined the Marine Corps during the 1991 Gulf War and served with the First Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion until his discharge in 1997. “My favorite days on the job now are when I’m up in the mountains leading a group and the weather’s bad,” Hutchinson says. “These guys are always excited to get out and have a challenging day, but I love taking someone who’s maybe a star swimmer with the Air Force P.J.s” — the special forces rescue operators who drop into the ocean for water recoveries — “but who’s never seen snow before. I’ll put him on skis for the first time in his life, and within two or three days, I’ll take him up into big mountains and technical avalanche terrain. They’re all so strong and athletic, they progress a lot quicker than the average guy.”

Experience Required:

“I skied a lot in high school and my dad was [part of the] volunteer ski patrol in Park City,” says Hutchinson. “So when I got out of active duty and was in the military reserves, I got a job on ski patrol. Then I just worked my way up to the avalanche safety teams. That’s pretty much how that works.” Hutchinson fell into his work with Special Forces by accident, first by working out at Gym Jones and then by taking over their instructor development course. Soon enough, it was obvious that — with his military service and years on avalanche duty — he was the perfect guy to lead their courses for Special Forces. “You can’t bullshit these guys,” he says. “They’ll see right through you if you’re a faker.”

The Beauty of Throwing Bombs:

“When it’s snowing and they need guys to release potential avalanches, you get assigned a slope or route and then you go out with these two-kilogram hand-charges in your pack,” says Hutchinson. “You try to work a slope from the top down. You put an igniter on a hand-charge and then light it with a pole wire, basically a giant phosphorous match. Then you throw the thing and the fuse burns for 90 seconds before it detonates. It’s a bigger charge than a military hand grenade but there’s no shrapnel. The biggest one I ever released was part of a rescue. A skier got buried by an avalanche, and we had to release an adjacent slope to make it safe for rescuers to get in there. We threw the explosives from a helicopter onto a slope that had hundreds of ski and snowboard tracks on it, and a slab eight to 12 feet deep released. I got to watch that thing go.” –Daniel Duane

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