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Guide Talk

Advanced Splitboarding Course

Top Ten Wilderness Essentials


Any time that you venture into the wilderness, the goal is to come back safe and have the gear that’s going to keep you fed, hydrated, warm, dry, and comfortable in any situation. Especially in Colorado’s alpine environments, conditions may change by the minute, and anyone who ventures into the mountains should have the tools, know-how, and confidence to stay safe. The ten essentials are the survival tools that give any adventurer, whether hiker or backcountry skier, the means to be prepared for any situation.


  • Navigation
  • Sun Protection
  • Insulation
  • First Aid
  • Illumination
  • Fire
  • Hydration
  • Emergency Shelter
  • Repair Kit
  • Nutrition


We love our electronic devices. They can help you get to the trailhead, check the weather, and call your mom. (No, really. Call her.) But what happens when your phone didn’t charge, or you were bombing with summit selfies and draining your battery? It’s important to have a paper backup of the area that you’re exploring. A map in laminated plastic is invaluable when you don’t want to take your phone out in the rain. Having and understanding a compass will help you triangulate your position and understand how to find a way out. Consider investing in training and orienteering courses with Colorado Adventure Guides if you plan to travel in the backcountry.

Sun Protection

The sun can be unbelievably harsh, especially in the winter. A good pair of sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen will help you avoid painful burns, reduce the risk of health concerns that come with sun exposure, and protect your eyes from blinding light. In the winter, the dangers of sun exposure are increased as the snow becomes more reflective and the intensity increases. The best way to protect yourself is to wear a sturdy hat or hood, wear sunscreen with a high SPF Rating, and wear sunglasses with plastic coverings around the temples. This will keep light from filtering in the side and protect sensitive eyes from burning.



Staying warm and dry can be the difference between a great day in the mountains and short out and back to the car. Insulation and warmth from head to toe will keep you comfortable all-day long. Starting from the basic base layer, meant to be insulated and moisture wicking, the base layer helps to regulate warm and cold body temperature. Next, you’ll have a sun layer which is light enough to prevent sweating but also to protect the body from UV Rays. The outer layer is the insulation, which protects the body when at a standstill, from getting too cold. Finally, the outer waterproof layer protects from rain and wind. Keeps water out and keeps heat in.

Fire Starter

A responsible fire can lift spirits by providing warmth and light, and having a good fire will exponentially increase survival. Waterproof matches can withstand rough conditions and light up in the wettest of places or a trusty lighter, which can also serve as a handy repository for duct tape. For using flints and sparkers look for dry kindling, tree sap and dead wood. Never use accelerant and obey all fire restrictions and open fire bans.

Emergency Shelter

Adventure is never straight-forward and often times it doesn’t go as planned, leaving some stranded in an unexpected overnight. Having an emergency shelter can help keep you warm and safe on the roughest of nights. A simple tarp can act as a protection from rain or the outer shell of a hypothermia wrap. A foam insulating pad protects from heat loss when being on the ground or taking a break, or a bivouac sack is a shelter made of tent material that can quickly be put up in a short amount of time. It’s important to have peripheral items such as para-cord and extra stakes and poles, but the most important part is to be sheltered and protected from the elements.

Knife or Multi-Tool

A knife or multi-tool can do everything from helping to fix a broken bicycle to creating splints and emergency medical equipment. The perfect knife is portable and foldable with a full tang blade that extends into the handle. The blade should be high carbon or surgical steel, with a minimum length of 4-7 inches and a solid synthetic handle. A good multi-tool can come in multiple forms, such as a foldable knife or in a carbon credit card like device that fits in a wallet. The important thing is to have a tool that is tailored with features geared towards your specific activity.

First Aid Kit

The First Aid Kit is probably one of the most essential items that any adventurer needs in their pack. A good kit can be the literal difference between life and death as well as having the medical training and know how on how to use them and how to keep yourself or your partner safe. An effective First Aid Kit includes:

  • CPR Mask
  • Gloves
  • Tourniquet
  • Gauze (4×4, roller gauze, abd pads, non-stick, hemostatic)
  • Elastic bandage, co-band
  • SAM splint
  • Triangle bandages
  • Space Blanket
  • Duct tape, medical tape
  • Knife, trauma shears
  • Pen & Paper – waterproof
  • Bandages, butterflies
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • OTC meds
  • Any Rx medications you might take on a daily basis – Insulin / diabetes, heart/CV, asthma, allergy / anaphylaxis, behavior / mood, contacts / glasses, etc.

Signaling Devices

While a phone is a great way to get fast and immediate help, in some more remote places, it helps to have a GPS Tracker to transmit your location for tracking purposes or to call in the event of an emergency or evacuation.

Some devices have free text capability to communicate with your rescuers.

Smoke, mirrors, flares, flashlights, and bright colored clothing or equipment can be used to reveal your location and signal rescuers.



Course Information

The final piece of gear is your own knowledge. Understanding CPR and First Aid, WFA or WFR (Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder) Orienteering, Survival Skills, Avalanche Education, Camping and Outdoor Cooking will get you far on your adventures. You can take these through Colorado Adventure Guides, Desert Mountain Medicine, NOLS, Colorado Mountain College, REI, American Hear Association, American Red Cross, AIARE.


Backcountry Ski and Splitboard

Living the Dream – Reflecting on a Guide’s Life

Recently, I was asked to write about what it is that I love about guiding.  Why do I enjoy leading folks, who have little or no experience, into the wilderness.  It seems like such a simple question, but I really had to stop and think about it, in an effort to prevent myself from responding in cliché.  Yes, of course, I love being outdoors, I enjoy physical activity, and exploring in the mountains, and I get to do all of this for work.  “Living the dream,” is a common comment when asked what I do for a job.  But, one must look deeper into the dream to really understand it.

Now, I’m not saying that working as a guide isn’t a “dream” or at least some iteration of it.  I do, however, believe that, like in many things, the reality gets drowned by the glorification of how it appears on the surface.  I get to spend tons of time outdoors doing really fun things.  I ride my bike for money.  I backcountry ski thousands of vertical feet of powder…and they pay me.  But, let’s be honest for a moment, I know and have met hundreds of guides over my 15 or so year career, and not a single one of them is monetarily rich.  And, without going too deep into qualifying the term ‘rich’, let’s just assume I’m referring to the money that is exchanged for services provided, which one would then use to sustain life in a contemporary society.  Obviously, there are other forms of payment in this field, see above.  I’ll start considering them in my definition of ‘rich’ as soon as my landlord and the supermarket begin accepting them as forms of payment.  None of us are getting rich in this field.  In fact, of all of the guides I have met and worked with over the years, every single one of them has at some point, or still does, live in a truck, camper, cabin, or tent in order to survive on a guide’s salary. A large part of this lends itself to the ‘guides lifestyle’ of simplicity, having few needs, and being resourceful.  In summary, we’re not doing it for the money.

Of course, I can only speak for myself and I’ll have to provide some background.   I grew up in the Adirondack State Park in northern New York State.  At 6.5 Million acres, it is the largest State Park in the country.  It was preserved and deemed “Forever Wild” just few years after President Grant created Yellowstone National Park and it helped pave the way for the creation of national and state parks across the country and the world.  The Adirondack Park was home to some of America’s first mountaineers and mountain guides.  These rough and tumble, bearded and stoic, mountain men were the idyllic image of a guide.  They introduced city-folk to the beauty of their home by hiking, rowing, hunting and fishing within the boundaries of the park, even 60 years before the park itself was established.  As a child, I was intrigued by these characters whose old grainy portraits donned the walls of our public library.  I’m not sure I ever said to myself that I want to be a guide, but the combination of the environment in which I was raised and personality sort of landed me in the field, if even unwittingly.

It takes a certain person to be a guide.  I believe it begins with the innate trait of being a leader, a self-starter.  It requires confidence, resourcefulness, resilience, patience, physical and mental strength, interpersonal skills, thick skin, risk management, etc.  That doesn’t even include the technical skills required for each discipline.  There’s only so much one can do to develop the necessary character traits and perfecting the technical skills takes years and requires spending most of your days off in practice.  It’s not a show up, clock in, do the work, clock out, type of job.  You must live it, day in and day out.

So, why do I do it?  I enjoy being an educator.  The side of the job that often gets overlooked is that, as guides, we have the unique opportunity to share knowledge with our clients.  My goal, each day that I am in the field, is for my clients to leave having learned something.  I may be able to share some technical skills, pass on some knowledge about flora and fauna or geology, or chat about conservation philosophy and policy and how that relates to our ability to recreate in the outdoors.  It’s about furthering their appreciation for the beautiful places that they have paid me to show them.  It’s about sharing my deep and genuine appreciation for open spaces, mountains, rivers, wildlife, and so on with an, albeit, small number of people in the grand scheme.  But, if I can reach them in a way that they in turn influence someone who perhaps didn’t possess a true appreciate of the outdoors, I feel I have done a small part in protecting what is so vital to my being and in a much larger sense, the survival of our natural environment.   I get to be an advocate for the wilderness.

Confucius says, “Choose a job you love, and never work a day in your life.” Guiding is hard work. Sure, it can be fun and extremely rewarding.  It can also be challenging to every part of your being.  It requires dedication and focus.  So, in essence, a job is a job.  But, my job is pretty rad and I love it.

Mountaineering Trips - Quandary Peak Colorado

A Quandary Quagmire: Rescue at 14,000 feet

Author’s Note:  In the time between beginning this story and finishing it, 3 people died while attempting to climb a 14er.  

“Remember, the journey is the destination. The goal is to come back alive, and better friends than when you left.”        Bruce Tremper-Utah Avalanche Center

I get this question a lot:  “Why would someone need a guide on Quandary?”  It hear it mostly from my colleagues and other local adventurers.  On the other hand, I also hear THIS from potential guests: “Quandary is the easy 14er, right?”  Both of these questions are valid, yet relatively misinformed.  

You see, as a local resident of the high-country, we sleep and exercise at altitudes between 9,000 and 14,000 feet on a regular basis, better adapting our bodies to the altitude.  For the most part, mountain locals also have experience recreating in mountain environments, reading maps, reading weather, and they don fancy technical clothing which helps prepare them for the mountain climate.  But, when you see the number of rescues each year from local fourteeners, I think that alone should answer the first question.

Easy 14er?  Let’s qualify this.  When I lived near the base of Quandary Peak, I often skied it in the morning before work, or walked my dog up it in the evening.  For many of us, it’s just another mountain.  We have no attachment to reaching the summit.  We’ve likely achieved this many times and are happy to hike only a portion of it on a given day.  So, yes, for some people, it’s an easy fourteener.  But, tell that to the members of our local search and rescue team who risk their lives to rescue the under-prepared and misinformed.  Those who began their hike at 10am, or didn’t wear or carry appropriate clothing, or those who got their information from the internet, or those who let their goal of reaching the summit outweigh the common sense of turning around when the weather rolled in.  To answer the question, no, there is no easy 14er.  When something goes wrong in a mountain environment, the complication is multiplied.  It can take hours for rescuers to arrive and even longer to evacuate you or your friend or family member.

A few weeks ago, we were hired to accompany contest winners from KBCO on a hike of Quandary Peak.  We had four guides on site for the day, three of our regular guides and one guide in training.  Beside having intimate knowledge of the hiking trails of Summit County, all guides are highly experienced in wilderness medicine and take it pretty seriously.  Unlike a majority of Colorado mornings, this morning revealed no blue sky at all.  Full on grey-bird.  In fact, it resembled a typical day in the Pacific Northwest, socked in with fog and mist, complete milk bottle, and it was COLD.  I’d wager to say that the temperature never reached much higher than 40 degrees and a steady breeze out of the northwest felt like the moisture was sucking the heat out of your body as it passed.  It was one of the coldest days I can remember, winter included.  

We set out on the trail and we hadn’t reached treeline before I was putting on every layer I was carrying.  Had I been carrying gloves, I would have put them on as well.  As we marched toward the summit in the cold fog, I noticed many hikers who had come unprepared for the current weather conditions.  I saw folks in t-shirts and short running shorts, waterlogged cotton hoodies, moisture laden wind layers, 8 liter backpacks that could barely fit a Nalgene bottle, exposed skin and soaked tennis shoes.  Each person I passed had their head down wearing miserable and demoralized expressions.  I remember saying to myself, “glad I decided to throw those extra layers in my pack.”  

We continued on and I began to surveil our group more closely and more often.  I spoke to each person to make sure they were still alert and oriented.  I paid close attention to body language.  There was a frantic energy as other hikers looked up final pitch to the summit, shivering.  The top of the mountain wasn’t visible.  It hadn’t been at any point that morning.  I stopped to let the entire group pass, taking a count, and bringing up the tail in order to monitor the slower members of our group.  

About 200 feet below the summit, I passed a boy seated with his head down.  His family was around him trying to coordinate their group, some had gone to the top and some were turning back.  The boy was dressed in track pants, a cotton hoody, indoor soccer shoes and was soaked to the bone.  I passed the group and stopped just above them to observe.  My initial observations revealed an insulin pump in the boy’s pocket and he was shivering vigorously as his body was trying to warm itself.  With these two signs of trouble, I decided to ask if I could intervene.  

The situation was hectic.  Almost everyone in their group was underdressed and underprepared  There were young children, other climbers with heads down pushing by, the wind picked up and it began to hail, it was chaos.  His family was feeding him sugar laden Clif Shots, focusing on his type 1 diabetes as the sole factor for his discomfort.  I could see he was in some pain, so I asked if it could be something more than low blood sugar.  So, I began my medical protocol.  I asked all the questions, physical exam, and applied a pulse oximeter.  His skin was cool and clammy, face pale, and his pulse ox was low.  My trainee and I began removing his cold, saturated, cotton layers and transferred warm, technical layers to him.  I had decided to carry our small oxygen tank that day and applied the oxygen mask on a low flow.  It was so chaotic, all I can remember is how cold my fingers were, unzipping and zipping, turning knobs on the regulator, and digging in my pack.  I spend a lot of time in the cold so I’m accustomed to working through it.  I can only imagine how he was feeling.

Once the color started coming back to his face and he felt strong enough to stand up, we hooked our arms under his armpits and started the hike down, whisking him over jagged rocks on the loose descent.  Getting him to move started the warming process and in about 45 minutes, he began to understand what was going on, and the tears began to flow.  We talked to him the entire walk down, reassuring him, trying to give him some confidence.  But, I think he was finally realizing the situation he had been in.  He didn’t even want to be there in the first place.  He was pushed beyond his comfort level on a day when even the most seasoned mountain folk were having trouble finding comfort.  He was eventually able to walk on his own and we got to the parking lot about two hours after we began the descent.  

I thought a lot about this day in the weeks that followed.  A rescue is a peculiar thing.  I’ve gone over it again and again in my head.  There’s questions.  Did I do everything right?  Was his life in danger?  What would have happened if we weren’t there?  It’s sure that rescue couldn’t have flown the heli that day in that weather.  It would have taken two hours for SAR to arrive on foot from the time they would have received the call.  What would his situation have been at that point?  Most importantly, I ask myself, how can we prevent these situations in the future?  How do we address summit fever?

With a little mountain experience, you can learn how to manage objective hazards.  It could get cold…pack more layers.  It might rain…pack the rain gear.  The terrain is steep and loose…wear good boots, walk slow and steady, stay focused.  But, when you give yourself only one day to accomplish your goal of reaching the summit, you automatically create a subjective hazard.  You got up hours before the sun, you drove all the way here, you’re going to summit today, nothing will stop you.  It’s the human psyche that is responsible for most emergencies.  Even a lightning strike on the summit has a “human factor.”  Why were you on the summit when there was a potential for lightning?

I think this story answers both of the questions.  Becoming a mountain adventurer should be a slow process.  Much of the education comes with experience.  Sure, we’ve all made mistakes in the mountains.  Some of them may have been more threatening to our lives than we even knew at the time.  Going out and not making the same mistake again is the important part.  As mountain guides, we plan for the worst and hope for the best.  But, we are prepared for every and any situation.  We didn’t guess, we learned over time.  We sought out information and education, and took our time learning how to explore the backcountry safely.  As guides, we also love to pass on  this information to others.  Each time we accompany someone into the wilderness, we have the opportunity to share our experience and hopefully, the next time they venture out, the are equipped with the knowledge to do it safely.  So, does everyone need a guide?  No.  Is there an easy 14er?  Depends on who you are.  Either way, one takes a big risk in assuming.

For more reading on this topic, check out this Denver Post Article:

Colorado’s five busiest search and rescue teams seeing increasing calls for help

Desert Mountain Medicine

A Guide Weighs in on Backcountry Medical Preparedness

You might never need the knowledge and skills required to respond appropriately to a backcountry medical emergency… until you desperately do. This week on the blog, we share thoughts on backcountry first aid from CAG guide Emily, a Wilderness First Responder who also works elsewhere as an Emergency Medical Technician. We realize that the idea of responding to a true emergency in the backcountry intimidates many people. Our hope is to spark thoughts and actions among our fellow wilderness travelers about what to bring and what to know in order to respond to an emergency.

It’s critical to know how to respond to life-threatening emergencies, but of course it would be easier to prevent emergencies from happening at all. Many backcountry emergencies result from a series of seemingly small bad decisions, which means that making a series of small good decisions goes a long way in staying safe. For example, drink to thirst to prevent dehydration-related illness. Manage your body temperature by wearing non-cotton layers in cold weather or by cooling yourself evaporatively when it’s hot. Snack frequently. Break in your hiking shoes before a big expedition. Treat hotspots before they become blisters. Accurately represent your abilities and experience to your adventure partners or guide prior to an outing. Each of these simple steps can prevent major emergencies in the backcountry.

When your preventative measures fail, what you know and what you bring are the only tools available in the backcountry. Many pre-packed first aid kits are commercially available, and these kits tend to prepare the rescuer well for most emergencies, given the rescuer is properly trained. Additionally, Emily shared a few essential items that she never leaves home without, with the caveat that ultimately what she brings depends on the type, location, and duration of the activity and number of people participating. Because Emily works and plays in a place where nights are cold year-round, she always packs an emergency blanket or bivvy sack and a way to start a fire. When “playing with sharp things,” i.e., skiing or ice climbing, she always packs a commercial tourniquet. She also brings along a selection of over-the-counter medications including aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, seasonal allergy medications, Benadryl, and Imodium (to allow for evacuation of a critical patient). Additionally, her kit includes a SAM splint, a commercially available lightweight, flexible, yet rigid item. Emily’s insight on commercially available vs. improvised first aid tools (splints, tourniquets): anything you buy will better support the patient than something you improvise.

Emily also noted a couple of items that we can all leave at home. Firstly, safety pins: they come in most commercial pre-packaged first aid kits, but Emily has never used them (tie knots instead). Also, she strongly recommends against the Sawyer Extractor Pump Kit, a product that ostensibly “extracts venom and poisons from the bites and stings of snakes, bees, and more” (per Sawyer’s website). The only effective treatment for a venomous snake bite is antivenom, which is only available at a medical facility. As Emily explains, the time spent using the Sawyer pump would be far better spent getting help, and carrying or using the pump can provide a false sense of security because every snakebite victim needs to see a doctor.

If you take the time to carefully consider what first aid supplies to bring along, consider equally carefully how you pack your kit. Keep your first aid supplies in one clearly labeled bag. In an emergency, doing so makes accessing your supplies as efficient as possible, especially if you’re not the person looking for them. Emily maintains a comprehensive first aid kit that goes with her on all guided outings and all long personal adventures. She also takes mini first aid kits with her on short day hikes and mountain bike rides. This smaller kit contains band aids, OTC medications, and any life-saving medication (inhalers, nitroglycerin, EpiPen) prescribed to her or her companions.

In addition to things you bring, being able to respond well to an emergency depends on what you know. Emily (and everyone at Colorado Adventure Guides) unequivocally recommends taking at least a Wilderness First Aid course from a reputable provider (like Desert Mountain Medicine, the Wilderness Medicine Institute, or Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities). Keep in mind that some first aid tools are useless without knowledge of how to use them. For example, Emily recommends training yourself on using a commercial tourniquet if you carry one, which is simple to do on BleedingControl.org. She also identifies the number one piece of knowledge we all need when adventuring as the ability to identify immediate threats to life. She explains, “It doesn’t matter how much gauze you have if you can’t identify that someone is about to die from a bee sting.”

Some of the knowledge needed to respond to emergencies is only available by asking. Emily recommends starting an adventure with an honest conversation with your travel partners to discuss health risks and how to respond. Ask each other about life-saving medications, past emergencies, and ongoing medical conditions.

Finally, Emily reiterates that there is no substitute for knowledge. Get the training necessary for responding appropriately to backcountry emergencies—it could save a life.

Colorado Adventure Guides Logo

Meet the Team: Jesse Filippelli

The Colorado Adventure Guides Meet the Team series is back! Keep an eye on the blog during the upcoming months to get to know the fantastic guides who make great days in the backcountry possible.

This week, we introduce you to the enthusiastic adventurer Jesse Filippelli! You can find Jesse guiding any hike we send his way, from half-day alpine lake excursions to dawn-to-dusk 14er ascents. Jesse routinely donates his free time to scout conditions for his upcoming guided hikes. After an adventure, on the clock or off, he’s refueling with his favorite source of post-adventure food: Chipotle.

Jesse recently shared a very personal source of inspiration for his adventures: “I lost my birth mother when I was 7 to a brain hemorrhage. She was 36 years old at the time, and I’m 28 now. At some point I realized I wasn’t living life how I wanted to when I was back in Florida.” Jesse left everything behind and came to Colorado to look for adventure and to see what he was made of. He wanted to push himself to the edge of his abilities. Jesse says, “It’s knowing that it can all be gone tomorrow that gets me up at 3am for an adventure.”

Jesse’s not kidding when he says he’s looking to push himself to his limits. One of his bucket list adventures is summitting Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park via The Diamond, a classic technical test piece. Another item on his list: splitboarding off the summit of Denali in Alaska.

Jesse is a humble adventurer who readily admits that he’s learned some important lessons in the backcountry. He shares this example: “While rafting the Grand Canyon, I underestimated the river’s capability for two seconds and nearly drowned. I ended up swimming a class 7 rapid, and I would be very content never experiencing anything like that again. For me, it was the scariest moment in nature that I have ever experienced.”

Jesse’s humility, eagerness to learn and teach, and enthusiasm for the next adventure make him a superb guide. He offers guests customized hiking experiences and is the perfect guy to help you reach your goals. Thanks for being part of the team, Jesse!

Susie CAG Profile

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.”

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.”


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!

Nate Penney CAG Profile

Meet the Team: Nate Penney

This week, we caught up with CAG’s lead climbing guide, Nate! Nate has spent many a day this summer providing fantastic rock climbing experiences for our guests. He loves to teach and help climbers surprise themselves with their own abilities. After an adventure, find him refueling with tacos, reading his favorite author, Jon Krakauer, or listening to the music of Frank Zappa. Read on for more about Nate in his own words.

CAG: What’s the adventure currently at the top of your bucket list?

Nate: The Southeast Face (5.10c) of Lotus Flower Tower in the Cirque of the Unclimbables in the Northwest Territories—18 pitches of pristine granite in one of the most remote places on Earth. Sign me up!

CAG: Tell us about your proudest adventure accomplishment.

Nate: Backpacking and canoe packing Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior. I’ve dreamt about it since I was a kid. My partner Sarah and I finally got around to it for our honeymoon, and we saw the most incredible double rainbow of our lives out there!

CAG: Tell us about a time you learned an important lesson in the backcountry.

Nate: After hiking ten miles on the first day of a weeklong backpacking trip, I found that a can of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale had pierced and soaked much of my gear. I learned that if I’m going to bring beer for the first night of a backpacking trip, I need to pack it mindfully, or better yet, put it in my buddy’s pack!

CAG: Do you have any pets?

Nate: I have one cat named Cat Stevens, but I just call him Steve.

CAG: Do you speak any other languages? Have any unusual hobbies?

Nate: I took Spanish, German, and Mandarin in school but don’t speak any of them fluently. Music is a hobby… I mainly play drums/ percussion, but I dabble in keys, guitar, and ukulele. I home brew my own beer. I brew commercially too, but that is more of a job than a hobby.

CAG: Do you prepare a certain meal or dessert particularly well?

Nate: That’s a tough one because I cook a lot! I am most proud of my pies, but I usually only make them for special occasions.

CAG: What’s the coolest moment you’ve had while guiding for CAG?

Nate: The coolest moments are whenever I can help someone to overcome a perceived barrier by confronting new challenges. I love seeing the transformation in people when they do something they didn’t know they could do.

CAG: What’s one thing you’ve learned from a guest you’ve guided?

Nate: that it’s never too late to learn new skills

CAG: What’s one source of inspiration for you on your adventures or on the adventure of life?

Nate: I’m inspired by personal growth and development of relationships through shared experiences. I love how an adventure can change our perspective and leave us with more questions than when we started.

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