Alaska Mountaineering School
" The guides MADE the trip. The route was great, but the guides made it spectacular. "
— Steve Gabbert, Denali Upper West Rib
" Fantastic, knowledgeable and fun guides, focused on your safety, and on teaching you to do and learn things you never thought possible. "
— James Chesher, 12 day MTC
" AMS's friendly admin staff, organized and well developed approach to their trips and amazingly knowledgeable, professional and fun guides makes for an experience of a lifetime. "
— Robert Barron, 12 day MTC
" I liked how they treated everyone fairly, as individuals. This fostered team unity throughout the trip. "
— Jim Nelson, Denali Traverse
" My AMS trip was a complete personal success. The guides were top notch professionals, and always emphasized safety and responsibility. "
— David Metzler, Denali West Buttress
" There is no substitute for experience backed up by the ability to deliver it through instruction. All that is left to do is take the knowledge and go rack up your own experience. AMS delivers. "
— Kelly Tjaden, Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue Workshop
" A first class operation — ran locally by people who know the mountain. "
— Si Matthies, Denali Upper West Rib
" If you want to climb, go AMS. If you want to learn, go AMS. If you want to summit, go AMS! "
— Dan Tebay, Denali West Buttress
" The instructors were highly competent and showed an exceptional level of care and concern for each and every student regardless of their skill level and abilities. "
— Sean Lowther, Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue Workshop
Alaska Mountaineering School Alaska Mountaineering School Alaska Mountaineering School Alaska Mountaineering School

The Staff of AMS

You should expect and rely on AMS staff to behave with the highest degree of professionalism and care found in the mountaineering industry. Our instructors and guides, more by the than any other factor, influence the overall quality of the AMS experience. Alaska's wilderness is unique and a mountain guide must graduate to a new level in order to meet the demands: 50 mile glaciers, year-round avalanche hazard, winter camping in summer, remote rock and ice climbing, glacier fed river crossings, and grizzly bears. Every skill area requires a thorough knowledge of the discipline in order to effectively lead and teach others. AMS staff must go through a certification process that has a lengthy progression and takes years to build. AMS guides are gifted climbers and teachers with a wealth of backcountry experience to draw upon.

AMS builds confidence in its staff one trip at a time with an evaluation process that provides a continual checks and balances. Lead guides and instructors have a wealth of experience in the Alaska Range as well as the skill to teach all the curriculum of a mountaineering course. AMS staff are familiar with altitude-related problems, extreme weather, and know how to set the pace for a successful expedition. AMS guides have mountain rescue, avalanche safety, and wilderness medical training. Their knowledge of the natural history of the area and stories from personal trips add immensely. Whether it's a summit day or river crossing, AMS instructors know the desired outcome and the means to attain it.

AMS does not rely on any one certification for hiring. "There is a proliferation of certifications that exists in the US," Jed Williamson editor to Accidents in North American Mountaineering. The AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) and NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) provide certification, but there is no expiration to the certification and neither includes high-altitude mountaineering. AMS staff have proven their strengths at altitude and receive on going positive evaluations from their students, fellow instructors, AMS' staffing manager, and owner Colby Coombs. Anyone who works for AMS has shown competency in all skill areas and the motivation and drive to be an effective teacher. The continuing evaluation process is integral to AMS staffing.

Deb Ajango

Alaska Mountaineering School

Deb is the owner and director of SafetyEd: Safety education for remote work environments. In her work with SafetyEd, Deb has provided consultation as well as conducted safety audits around the United States and overseas. She has spent more than 15 years working in outdoor education and has more than 2,000 days of field experience. Deb guided numerous Denali and other expeditions for Alaska Denali Guiding. She also teaches medical training courses with Wilderness Medical Associates, Deb instructs AMS' Wilderness First Responder and WFR recertification courses. She leads our wilderness hikes in the Talkeetna and Chugach Mountains. Deb is editor and co-author of Lessons Learned, A Guide to Accident Prevention and Crisis Response. She lives in Eagle River, Alaska, with her husband and their dog, Eeyore.

Peter Anderson

Alaska Mountaineering School

The allure of the Alaska Range has kept Peter returning every year from Montana where he resides in Missoula and works as a Flight Nurse on an emergency helicopter. Peter is also the assistant director of Aerie Backcountry Medicine, an educational company certifying students around the world in wilderness first aid and emergency medicine. Peter is Avalanche Level II, RN, Wilderness EMT, and Leave No Trace trainer certified; and is a former member of numerous Search and Rescue teams, a Mountain Rescue team, and a Denali Rescue Patrol. Peter has climbed and guided extensively in Alaska, New Zealand, Central and South America, Africa, and Nepal. When Peter is not spending time in, or above, the mountains of Montana or hanging out at high camp on Denali, he can be found guiding around the world with International Mountain Guides.

Amy Beaudoin

Alaska Mountaineering School

Amy, a lifelong Alaskan, has been climbing since 1991 and teaching/guiding since 2000. Her most memorable climb was Pyramid Peak in Alaska Range with a snowboard descent. Since 2000, Amy has worked at AMS where she spent several years as the office manager. Amy now lives with her two sons near and works at Alyeska Ski Resort in Girdwood, Alaska. Her positive attitude makes her a favorite around here. Amy teaches and guides with AMS during our spring and summer seasons.

Tim Brown

Alaska Mountaineering School

For over ten years, Tim Brown has professionally guided rock, alpine and ski mountaineering trips throughout the mountains of the western US, Alaska, South America, Europe and Africa. He guides over 200 days each year, sharing his passion for safe and exciting backcontry travel on all types of trips from first-timer outings to extended technical expeditions. During the winters, he's mostly home in Colorado, guiding backcountry ski descents and ice climbs, and teaching level 1 and 2 avalanche courses to hundreds of students each year. Tim spends his summers guiding rock and mountaineering routes in Colorado and leading expeditions in Alaska and South America.

Drawing on a wealth of experience in avalanche forecasting and backcountry ski guiding, Tim is an AIARE Level I & II avalanche course instructor and a backcountry observer for the CAIC. He is an AMGA Certified Rock Guide and has completed the AMGA's Ski Mountaineering and Advaced Alpine Guide Courses in his pursuit of international (IFMGA) certification.

He has a degree in biology and environmental science from the University of Virginia, and an endless curiosity about the natural world. When he's not in the mountains, the best place to look for Tim is on the river or in the ocean.

Joe Butler

Alaska Mountaineering School

Joe began climbing in 1994 in the Southeast. After a long hiatus he fell in love with the mountains all over again. He packed up and left the Southeast looking for bigger mountains to climb. Alaska was a perfect fit. Joe became a guide in 2003 and started guiding Denali in 2004. Since then he has guided successful ascents of Denali, Kahiltna Dome, and Middle Troll. He has lead two overland exits from the Alaska Range and has taught hundreds of people how to ice climb. Teaching and climbing have taken him to Chile, Argentina, Nepal, Thailand, and all over Alaska. When Joe isn't working, he is out in the Chugach Mountains or climbing ice around Southcentral Alaska. Joe is a full time Alaskan and lives in downtown Anchorage with his wife Amara.

Beth Cleary

Alaska Mountaineering School

Growing up in Minnesota, Beth spent much of her time canoeing and hiking. She soon discovered her love for the mountains in Montana and Wyoming. She enrolled in the outdoor studies program at Alaska Pacific University and moved to Anchorage where the mountains are much closer. During the summers she could be found in small town McCarthy, Alaska working and playing out on the Kennicott Glacier. In 2010 Beth was an intern for AMS getting into the field on numerous occasions. She is passionate about skiing and climbing and is making Alaska her home.

Melis Coady

Alaska Mountaineering School

Melis took a 12-day advanced mountaineering course with AMS in 1998 and never really left. From March through September she can be found on Alaska's glaciers in her capacity as a guide, instructor, and trusted climbing partner. She has climbed on six of the seven continents, exploring some of their lesser know regions. Some of her favorite expeditions include climbs in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan, rugged volcanoes of Kamchatka, and limestoney cliffs of Croatia. By far her favorite stomping grounds remains the Alaska Range. Melis is also a wilderness medicine instructor for the Wilderness Medicine Institute and heads up AMS' preseason guide training. Melis lives in Talkeetna with her husband Joseph McBrayer and baby, J.G.

Greg Collins

Alaska Mountaineering School

Greg has been climbing since 1974 and teaching/guiding since 1982. Expeditions in Alaska include Denali-West Rib, a new route on Denali's Washburn Face, Foraker, Hunter, Moose's Tooth, and the east face of Barille. He has made first ascents in the Revelation Mountains and many more peaks, ski traverses, and mountaineering courses in the Alaska Range. His notable expeditions in Asia include: Lukpila Brakk, Latok I, K2-Abruzzi Spur, Gasherbrum I, in the Karakoram, Pakistan and Cholatse, in the Khumbu Nepal. Greg is the author of Lander Rock, a rock climbing guide to Sinks Canyon, Wyoming, where Greg has put up the majority of 5.12 and 5.13 routes. Greg has worked for NOLS for over 15 years and is one of Jackson Hole Mountain Guide's senior guides. He leads AMS' Denali Upper West Rib, Foraker, and Hunter expeditions.

Colby Coombs

Alaska Mountaineering School

Colby's love for climbing and wilderness places led him to instruct mountaineering courses for NOLS Alaska at age nineteen, a year after he first climbed Denali, 1985. He guided his first McKinley climb in 1993 for Alaska-Denali Guiding. Colby considers himself a moderate climber, but he has climbed some harder routes as well like Wowie-Zowie, Denali's Cassin Ridge, and the Kennedy-Lowe on Mt. Hunter. He and his wife Caitlin Palmer started AMS with the help of many friends in 1996. Coombs is a board member of The Ritt Kellogg Fund at Colorado College and a past board member of the AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association). He is author of "Denali: A Climber's Guide" and co-author with Mike Wood of "Alaska: A Climber's Guide," published by the Mountaineers Press. He and Caitlin live in Talkeetna with their daughter.

Dan Corn

Alaska Mountaineering School

Dan Corn has been climbing 1998 and guiding since 2004. He spends springs here in Talkeetna and summers in Grand Teton National Park working for Exum Mountain Guides. In the winter he works for the American Avalanche Institute and spends as much time skiing as possible. Dan is an AMGA certified guide with climbing and skiing experience across the U.S. and Canada.

Nick D'Alessio

Alaska Mountaineering School

Born and raised in New Hampshire, Nick began climbing and skiing mountains as soon as he could walk. Nick now lives in Girdwood, Alaska. He is a graduate of the Outdoor Recreation Leadership program from Colorado Mountain College and Alaska Pacific University's Outdoor Studies program. Since 2008 he has been a year round mountain guide, ski guide and educator. In the winters he teaches with the Alaska Avalanche School and guides helicopter and cat skiing with Chugach Powder Guides. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of safe mountain travel. Along with his extensive experience base he is a certified Wilderness First Responder, Avalanche Level 3, Leave No Trace Master Educator and is an AMGA Certified Ski Guide. Nick looks forward to sharing his passion for the mountains with you.

Nick D'Alessio — quote from a student:
"Nick is an exceptional leader and we feel very fortunate to have had him as an instructor. Outside his extensive climbing experience, he has a quiet confidence that makes students feel safe and reassured that everything is always under control. He also has unfailing patience and is very gentle and kind, which fosters a very positive learning environment."

Dr. Andy Elsberg

Alaska Mountaineering School

Based in Anchorage, Alaska, Andy is an important part of the AMS medical consultant group. He has a long history of teaching, guiding and wilderness travel. Andy started teaching mountaineering and skiing courses in Wyoming for NOLS in 1990. He first came to Alaska to climb the north and south summits of Denali in 1993. The following year he instructed 30-day mountaineering courses for NOLS in the Chugach and Alaska Ranges. From 1997 to 2002 Andy taught courses for AMS and guided Denali expeditions for Alaska Denali Guiding and NOLS. He also led river and hiking trips in the Brooks Range for Arctic Wild. He lived in Fairbanks from 1996-2004, where he trained and raced sled dogs in mid and long distance races including the Copper Basin, Percy de Wolfe, and in 2003, the Yukon Quest. Andy is married with two children and all are incredibly avid skiers.

Dustin English

Alaska Mountaineering School

Dustin grew up in Boulder, Colorado and has essentially been raised in the outdoors. His first experiences were through fishing, hunting, camping and hiking throughout Colorado. At the age of three he strapped on his first pair of downhill skis. Since 1999 Dustin has explored Alaska- from rafting and fishing in the Katmai, climbing in the Alaska Range to skiing across the Chugach Range. He has achieved certifications in Wilderness EMT, AIARE Avalanche I and II, Leave No Trace Master Educator, and has taken an AMGA Rock Instructor Course. He graduated from Alaska Pacific University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Outdoor Studies.

Dusty Eroh

Alaska Mountaineering School

Dustin (Dusty) came to AMS in 2009 as an intern from Alaska Pacific University (APU). He arrived with an already high level of commitment to the guiding and teaching profession and an experience base to make him instantly very valuable. Dusty is a very talented and dedicated climber and athlete. While these skills and attributes are necessary to be a good guide, it is Dusty's positive attitude, contagious excitement, patience and over-all desire to be in the mountains, (and to dig and carry snow blocks) that makes him so popular with all of the guides, students and expedition climbers.

Dusty also teaches rock climbing, ice climbing and mountaineering for APU. He has climbed all over the Alaska Range, recently climbing the Harvard Route on Mount Huntington. He continually heads into the “range” whenever he has time off, before and after he teaches a course or guides an expedition. During the shoulder seasons Dusty is either found rock climbing in the warmth of Mexico, sewing for Revelate Designs in Anchorage or designing his own backpacks… which all of the guides end up wanting for themselves.

Here's what past climbers say: "We appreciate everything our guide Dusty did to make our trip memorable and worthwhile... Dusty guaranteed we made the most of our adventure."

Leighan Falley

Alaska Mountaineering School

Leighan is a born and raised Alaskan who has been rambling around the great ranges of her home state since she was little. Mountain guiding is in her blood: both her parents were guides on Mt. Rainer (and have themselves climbed in high Alaska). As a ten-year-old girl she became completely enamored with Denali and has spent every spring in the central Alaska Range since she was 20. She is best known for her traverses; including a ski traverse of Denali, a traverse from the Ruth Gorge to Talkeetna via glacier, land, and river, and a circumnavigation of the Kitchatna Spires. Outside of Alaska, she is elusive, but she occasionally can be found climbing and skiing with gusto in various western states.

Hugh Gaasch

Alaska Mountaineering School

Hugh has been climbing since 1985 and teaching/guiding since 2001. He has been a part of AMS for years, having been a student, guide-trainee, apprentice, and instructor. A free-heel fanatic and semi-reformed backcountry ski bum, he loves sharing his passion for the wilderness and integrating his engineering background into the curriculum. "What's my most memorable moment in Alaska?" He claims, "Every last minute, even the miserable ones" He makes the journey north to AMS every year from Concord, Massachusetts.

Elliot Gaddy

Alaska Mountaineering School

Elliot has been climbing since 2000 and guiding since 2005; he joined the AMS family in 2007. Growing up in the Adirondack Mountains of NY, Elliot was engaged in various outdoor activities, and has since brought his love of climbing throughout North America. Some of his favorite climbing areas include the Alaska Range, the Utah desert, and the local climbing areas in North Conway, NH.

Elliot has a BS in Adventure Recreation from Green Mountain College in VT and is pursuing certification from the American Mountain Guide Association. He also guides for the International Mountain Climbing School in North Conway, NH.

Ben Gilmore

Alaska Mountaineering School

Ben has been a guide since 1996. His expeditions include climbs in Alaska, British Columbia, Garhwal Himalaya, and Patagonia. He has made first ascents in Alaska, New Hampshire, Patagonia, Newfoundland, and Arizona. His notable first ascents are of the Southeast Face of Moose's Tooth, and "Common Knowledge" on Washburn Face of Mt. McKinley, Alaska Range. He was nominated for the 2004 Piolet d' Or Award for ascent of "Arctic Rage" on Moose's Tooth. Ben's significant second ascents are of "Czech Direct" on Mt. McKinley, "Wall of Shadows" on Mt. Hunter, and "Snow Patrol" on Mt. Dickey. Ben is an AMGA certified Rock and Alpine Guide. Despite all of the really, really hard routes Ben climbs and the first ascents he does, he is one of the most humble climbers out there. He is known for his patience, kindness, and ability to teach others.

Rob Gowler

Alaska Mountaineering School

Rob Gowler is one of AMS' core lead guides who gets our toughest assignments. He has made the pilgrimage to Alaska every Spring for over a decade. He is a resident of Jackson, Wyoming where he is also a senior guide for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. There he teaches rock and ice climbing, avalanche courses and is a backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering guide. If Rob is not climbing and skiing during the winter, he can be found surfing and kite surfing in Mexico and Hawaii. He has been a full-time climber and backcountry skier since 1989, and a professional mountain guide since 1995. Rob has led successful expeditions, both skiing and climbing, to Alaska, Ecuador, Peru, and Patagonia where he climbed Fitzroy in 2001, etc. He has done the snow safety/avalanche forecasting and high angle rescue for the World Free Skiing Championships in Valdez, Alaska. Rob has led 15+ expeditions to Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America. He has also led countless expeditions up Denali's West Buttress route. Rob has a B. A. in "Wilderness Leadership with an emphasis on Mountaineering" from Prescott College. He writes, "I love AMS and feel extremely privileged to work for the best."

Dr. Peter Hackett

Alaska Mountaineering School

Dr. Peter Hackett is AMS' Medical Director and co-author of our Backcountry Medical Protocols. He is a world authority on high-altitude medicine and physiology and has contributed much of his life to understanding altitude-related illnesses. In 1982, he established the medical camp at 14,200 feet on Denali to study and assist climbers suffering from cold and altitude-related illnesses. At his home in Colorado, he is an ER Doctor and is a ski patroller. Peter visits AMS annually and teaches our guides the most current strategies of high altitude medicine; he keeps our protocols up-to-date and is our primary medical consultant.

Michael Hamill

Alaska Mountaineering School

Mike has been a year round professional mountain guide since 1999 and has been climbing since high school. He cut his teeth on the steep rock and ice of New England and New York before moving west. When not working in Alaska for AMS, Mike guides for International Mountain Guides in South America, the lower 48, the Himalayas, and Europe where he has been a member or leader of over 50 expeditions. Originally from New Hampshire, he obtained a B. S. in biology and environmental studies from St. Lawrence University where he was a Division I ski racer. Mike is a Wilderness First Responder and is Avalanche III certified. When not guiding, Mike can often be found backcountry skiing, climbing, fly fishing or cycling in some exotic locale. Currently, he resides in Seattle and uses the North Cascades as his playground.

Tim Hewette

Alaska Mountaineering School

Tim Hewette first came to AMS through the internship program with Alaska Pacific University, where he obtained a Bachelors Degree in Outdoor Studies. He is a veteran guide of multiple Denali expeditions and even guided the oldest man to reach the summit of McKinley in 2004 (along with fellow AMS guide Zach Schlosar). When he's not guiding mountains in the Alaska Range or on Aconcagua, he can be found teaching mountaineering courses, guiding hunting, providing bear protection for field consultants, or working as a guide/instructor in Antarctica, where he spends the off-season. Tim enjoys the ever-humbling experiences provided by the beautiful but challenging obstacles found in the mountains of Alaska and can't seem to stay away for too long. Tim has WFR Medical Certification, Avalanche I Certification, and speaks ghetto Spanish.

Seth Hobby

Alaska Mountaineering School

Seth Hobby is a full time mountain guide and a persistent alpinist. After growing up climbing in the North Cascades of Washington, Seth chose guiding as a career at the age of 21. Seth has guided technical ascents throughout Alaska, Canada, Cascades, Sierra, Nepal and Norway. Seth now spends his winters climbing and skiing in Norway . He is an AMGA Certified Alpine Guide and is working towards IFMGA certification. In addition he holds an Avalanche Level II, a Wilderness First Responder, and is a Master Educator in Leave No Trace. Seth came to AMS in 2008 after an already impressive Alaskan climbing and guiding resume. Seth is on tap for many of our more technically oriented courses and expeditions. Click here if you want to know more about Seth: www.alpineguides.no »

Josh Hoeschen

Alaska Mountaineering School

Josh began climbing in 1999 and moved to Alaska in 2003. He chose Alaska because of the endless climbing potential it offers and the motivated outdoor community. Josh began teaching/guiding for Alaska Pacific University in 2005 and began at AMS in 2006. After graduating from Alaska Pacific University in 2007 Josh was hired on as adjunct faculty and has been teaching there ever since. At AMS Josh has helped guide numerous successful Denali ascents — including some custom speed ascents, and has taught many students the skills necessary to advance in outdoor pursuits. We are psyched to have Josh on the AMS team; he is strong, humble, professional and plays a mean guitar. Josh has a passion for vertical rock and the science behind the art of climbing.

Ryan Hokanson

Alaska Mountaineering School

Ryan first worked for AMS in the spring of 1998 on a 12-day course. In 1999, Ryan started working for ADG (Alaska Denali Guiding) as a Denali guide. Ryan spent about seven years guiding for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides as well, starting in the mid '90's. In 2000, Ryan changed directions and went to nursing school and three years later graduated at the top of his class. Since he graduated, Ryan has been working as an ER and ICU nurse. He has decided to cut back on his hours working as a nurse so we expect to see more of Ryan around here. Ryan is a very good rock climber, ice climber and ski mountaineer. He is also 6'4" and strong as an ox. He is the textbook "gentle giant" and is an excellent teacher.

Larry Holmgren

Alaska Mountaineering School

Originally from New York City, Larry moved to Alaska to complete his degree in Outdoor Studies from Alaska Pacific University. He first came to AMS as an intern, and now is year-round professional guide, spending an average of 150 days in the field. When not working for AMS, Larry leads expeditions on Aconcagua in Argentina and guides fly fishing trips in remote Western Alaska. To thaw out from his time in the mountains, Larry can be found exploring tropical locales. His passion for adventure and the great Alaska outdoors keeps him coming back for more.

Russell Hunter

Alaska Mountaineering School

Russell was first introduced to the mountains as a Boy Scout, where he climbed Monte Perdido in the Pyrenees Mountains. During his high school and college years he played football and didn't return to the mountains until after a very brief stint as an accountant. Russell started his career in outdoor education at the National Outdoor Leadership School where he spent nine years as an instructor. The last three years he has spent working as a guide for the Colorado Mountain School in Boulder Colorado where he calls home. To support his lifestyle as a mountain guide he works as a substitute teacher teaching anything and everything. He loves is the big mountains of Alaska and feels very fortunate to be able to share his passion with others.

Mike Janes

Alaska Mountaineering School

Mike was born and raised in Alaska. While spending much of his time climbing and skiing in Southeast Alaska, he has been making more and more trips up to the Alaska Range over the years. Mike also works as a boat captain and owner of Tongass Pottery Works. Mike is a graduate of the full gamut of AMS courses. He is now one of our most sought after guides because of his well-rounded knowledge of mountain skills, people skills, and ability to have a great time. When asked why he keeps coming back to AMS, he attributes it to the great people and atmosphere. At AMS, he guides on Denali and instructs mountaineering courses. He lives in Juneau with his partner, Abbey and their young son.

Sam Johnson

Alaska Mountaineering School

Samuel Johnson, a lifelong Alaska resident, has been climbing since 1996, and began mountain guiding/instructing with AMS in 2004. He has climbed in Alaska, the United States, Canadian Rockies, New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and Asia, completing the first ascent of Severance Ridge on Trango II in Pakistan's Karakoram in 2005 and attempting the first complete ascent of Latok II's Northwest Ridge twice in 2007. Sam's climbing in Alaska includes multiple Denali expeditions, many climbs in the Pika Glacier area, first ascents of new mixed routes on Thunder Mountain and Mt. Providence, the second ascent of Mt. Hunter's infamous Diamond Arete, and two large rock routes in the Arrigetch Peaks, including the first ascent of the Pillar Arete. The latter climbs were completed with fellow AMS guides. Sam loves working for AMS because they know how to have a good time. They are the only local company, have a genuine passion for the mountains, and are the best guides and instructors in Alaska.

Roberta Kaylor

Alaska Mountaineering School

Bobbi moved from western Pennsylvania to Trapper Creek, Alaska in 2010 with her husband, Paul. She worked as a Senior Registered Client Associate before retiring from Merrill Lynch after 23 years. Not the type who likes to sit at home, it was only a few months in Alaska when she was hired by AMS to be part of the office team. She loves her job and is learning a great deal about the mountains and the guiding life.

Kirsten Kremer

Alaska Mountaineering School

Kirsten has been climbing since 1991 years and began teaching/guiding in 1993. She has skied every season in the Chugach since she discovered it in 1993. She has been a heli-ski guide since 1996. Kirsten's enthusiasm and adventures are legendary; she has paraglided off of the Augille de Midi in Chamonix, she regularly climbs 5.12 rock routes, has put up first ascents in Yosemite Valley and in Alaska, has skied from 18,000 feet on Denali, and has been an extreme skiing champion. Kirsten feels right at home skiing down or climbing up. She has put in her time as a guide and it shows; she is a professional and is as famous for her exploits around the world as for her indomitable spirit, her laugh, and big smile. Kirsten began guiding and instructing for AMS in 2000. She calls Chickaloon, Alaska her home, where she is slowly buying up the whole neighborhood.

Kevin Mahoney

Alaska Mountaineering School

Kevin is a long-time climber with many impressive ascents under his belt; his climbing resume is extensive and includes first ascents of routes on mountains such as Moose's Tooth and Denali. As a father of two little girls, Kevin can be found on the bunny slopes as much as his local Canon Cliff crag. Kevin is a senior guide for IMCS and NOLS and runs his own guiding company, Mahoney Alpine Adventures, www.mahoneyalpineadventures.com. Anyone found on an expedition with him will benefit greatly from his vast knowledge of mountain climbing and backcountry travel.

Joseph McBrayer

Alaska Mountaineering School

In 2008 Joey made the big jump from being a Yosemite big wall climber to a high altitude mountaineer. His travels climbing in the Sierras and Cascades eventually led him north to Alaska where he now finds challenges among the Alaska Range's most rugged peaks. He has climbed on Huntington, established new routes off the Yetna Glacier, climbed in Little Switzerland, and can often be found hitchhiking on ski planes at the Talkeetna state airport. Joey travels to Antarctica in the winter to guide and ranger on Mt. Vinson. He also enjoys skiing and doing finish work on his house in Talkeetna with his wife Melis and daughter, J.G.

Joey's climbers enjoy his knowledge and breadth of mountain experience, as well as his charismatic and very professional demeanor. He one of AMS' go-to guides who can easily lead any program from big mountain expeditions to remote filming projects and everything in between. We know that with Joey the job will be done right and people will be stoked on a climb well done. Quote from a student: "Joey is a great climber and can teach skills very well; not only is he technically proficient, he's very friendly and I really enjoyed spending time with him. He always explained how and what he was doing so I could become a better climber. He is a great team leader."

Brian McCullough

Alaska Mountaineering School

The McCullough Clan settled in Alaska in the 1930's, homesteading in Talkeetna fifty years ago. With the family Placer mine located just outside of Denali Park, Brian's introduction to the glaciers of Alaska began as a teenager. At 18, he experienced his first big expedition in an attempt to climb the north face of Mt. St. Elias 18,008'. Expeditions and photography to big, remote mountains has always been his passion and living in central Alaska has provided many opportunities for these pursuits. Brian's intimate knowledge of Denali Park has led to his participation in many search and rescues with the Air National Guard and the National Park Service. He was part of a rescue team called the"Mountain Maniacs" that was recognized by President Ronald Reagan in 1982. And in 2003, he was acknowledged by Gail Norton (Secretary of the Interior) as a member of the Elite Denali Rescue Rangers. Brian's 60+ expeditions with the Alaska Mountaineering School has enabled him to teach safe climbing techniques to hundreds of students on the glaciers of Alaska. He has assisted a 14 year old girl to Denali's summit and helped make a documentary on the Denali Rescue Rangers for National Geographic. Every spring he takes a dozen Japanese children to the Denali's Ruth Glacier for a week to laugh, live, learn and climb. He also spent three months trying to climb Mt. Everest with Ed Homer (a double amputee) in 2001. During the winter of 2007, Brian was asked to lead an expedition to Antarctica to study Polar Magnetics for Scripps Oceanic Institute. Brian continues to live in Talkeetna and has cut and milled his own lumber to carve out a hilltop home overlooking the mountains of the Alaska Range.

Sam Newbury

Alaska Mountaineering School

Sam Newbury, born and raised in Alaska, has explored the many remote corners of the state while growing up here and also as a guide. Over the last 5 years he has been working for outdoor education and wilderness therapy programs somewhere between Alaska, Montana and India. A graduate of Colorado College in 2002, he continues to seek the education, quietness and inspiration found outside and found in facilitating the challenges experienced in the mountains.

Brian Okonek

Alaska Mountaineering School

Brian co-founded Alaska Denali Guiding, Inc (ADG) in 1983 and directed the company until 2001, overseeing sixty expeditions to Denali. During the past thirty-two years, he climbed throughout the world and Alaska. His favorite stomping grounds are near his home in Talkeetna where he has traveled many miles by foot, skis, and dog sled exploring Alaska's backyard. Brian's name is referenced in every Alaskan climbing guidebook worth reading with numerous first ascents to his credit. "Brian has as much or more history in the Alaska Range and Alaskan mountains than anyone," said Dr. Bradford Washburn. He is known for his annual dog sled explorations all over Alaska and his amazing photographs which can be seen at The Mountain Shop Gallery.

Diane Calamar Okonek

Alaska Mountaineering School

Diane co-founded Alaska Denali Guiding, Inc (ADG) in 1983 and directed the company until 2001, overseeing sixty expeditions to Denali. Her responsibilities ranged from running the office to guiding Denali expeditions and backpacking trips in the remote Brooks Range. She is known for her annual dog sled explorations all over Alaska. Diane's love of Alaska's wilderness and wildlife combined with her background in natural history makes her an asset on any backcountry expedition. The past few years Diane has been spending the summers conducting scientific research on Walruses on Round Island located in northern Bristol Bay. She lives in Talkeetna.

Nathan Opp

Alaska Mountaineering School

Nate made his first trip to the Alaska Range in 1999 and has been returning ever since. His most memorable climbs have been the French Ridge of Huntington, Alaska Range, Winterdance in Hyalite, the needles of South Dakota, and El Capitan in Yosemite. Nate loves the mountains and can't get enough of watching giant seracs come crashing down from a distance. He is a strong, steady climber who is an asset to any expedition. Nate began guiding in 2005, and we are happy to have him with AMS. He's a great guy and an awesome climber who, with his big smile, is always up for an adventure. His students know him for his endless patience and strength. Nate lives in Bozeman, Montana.

Patrick Ormond

Alaska Mountaineering School

Pat is originally from Seattle, WA, and went to school at the University of Washington, where he was a national champion rower and obtained of B.F.A. in Graphic Design. Pat began climbing at the age of three, and grew up climbing, skiing, and hiking in the Cascades. He started mountain guiding in 2000 and became a full time guide in 2004. Besides working for AMS in Alaska, Pat guides in the Tetons and Utah for Exum. He also teaches avalanche courses through AIARE. Pat is a Wilderness First Responder and has a Level 3 avalanche certification. Besides guiding climbing and skiing, Pat spends his time climbing and skiing, with some guitar thrown in to mix it up. He calls Park City, Utah home.

Caitlin Palmer

Alaska Mountaineering School

Caitlin is the one of the founders and directors of AMS. She has been guiding and teaching in the mountains since 1991. She has been on 17 high altitude expeditions in Alaska, Argentina, Peru, and Tanzania. Her first Denali climb was in 1994 with a small team of women climbers who raised money for Breast Cancer survivors in Alaska. She has been seen climbing on television a few times, teaches, guides and answers the phone at AMS. She loves the sense of peace and adventure that Alaska's rugged mountains and vast landscapes contain. She has lectured, written, and illustrated on the subject of climbing in Alaska. Caitlin also spends time enjoying motherhood, skiing, trail running, horseback riding, gardening, and painting. She lives in Talkeetna with her husband, Colby Coombs and their daughter.

Todd Passey

Alaska Mountaineering School

A native of Utah, Todd grew up skiing and playing in the mountains. After graduating from the Parks and Recreation department from the University of Utah he took his passion and developed it into a profession. Todd has been a professional mountain guide since 2000, and has guided all over the world including Antarctica, Tibet, South America and across the Western United States.

Alaska is Todd's home away from home, and he has traveled across the state backpacking, climbing and skiing. In the Alaska range he has made numerous guided and personal Ascents including; Denali's Cassin Ridge, a dozen expeditions on Denali's West Buttress, Mt. Hunter, Peak 11,300, The Mooses Tooth, Mt. Dicky and Mt. Barill. Todd is a solid all arounder, with highly technical routes like the Walker Spur on the Grand Jorasses and the Gervasutti Pilar on Mont Blanc du Tacul, as examples of his wide range of ability.

A natural leader, Todd loves his profession and continues to seek out knowledge and improve his skills. He is an AMGA Certified Rock Guide and Certified Ski Mountaineering Guide. He is also an IFMGA aspirant, lacking only his Alpine Exam which he plans to complete in the Fall of 2010. He has also completed his Avalanche Level III training and is a Wilderness First Responder. Find out more about Todd here: www.inthecompanyofguides.com »

Winslow Passey

Alaska Mountaineering School

Winslow began guiding for us in 2011 and is an incredible asset to the AMS team. She is a true leader whose personality sparkles and brings out the best in people. Her skills as a mountain guide are outstanding. She has over ten years of guiding experience worldwide in Antarctica, South America, Nepal, Mongolia and all over North America. Some of Winslow's notable climbs include the southwest ridge of Ama Dablam, Mt. Hunter's west ridge and the Walker Spur on the Grand Jorasses.

Winslow is an AMGA certified in ski mountaineering, rock climbing and alpine guiding. She has completed her level III avalanche training as well as Wilderness First Responder and has a BS in Biology from the University of Georgia. Additionally she is a certified yoga instructor trained in Nepal…her caring and focus on helping people achieve their goals is evident. She lives with her husband and fellow AMS guide, Todd Passey, in Utah.

Mark Postle

Alaska Mountaineering School

Mark, a climber since the late '80's, has been instructing and guiding trips since 1994. Based in Bend, Oregon, he spends his winters ski patrolling and guides and climbs the remainder of the year. Mark holds a B.S. degree, graduating with honors in Organic Chemistry. He enjoys pursuing all aspects of the sport from bouldering to scaling the glaciated peaks of the Pacific Northwest in a day. An avid technical climber, Mark has climbed over fifty 5.13's, including the Smith Rock test piece, White Wedding (5.14a). Mark is a regular here at the AMS compound. Showing people from all walks of life the skills they need to succeed in the mountains is what he loves the most about guiding in the Alaska Range. Mark also guides trips in the Tetons and in Argentina on Aconcagua.

Noah Ronczkowski

Alaska Mountaineering School

Noah has been climbing since 2001 and began guiding with AMS in 2011. He brings solid technical skills, a great sense of humor and a clear teaching style to all of his expeditions and courses. He is an avid skier, climber and backpacker. Noah's first Denali expedition was in 2010 when he also made a ski descent, a feat rarely achieved. His notable climbs include Moratorium, WI 6 route in Cody, WY., Angels Landing NE Buttress, 5.11a in Zion, UT and Aquarian Wall on El Cap, A3 in Yosemite, CA. His western climbs and ski descents are numerous, most notably: Grand Teton, Gannett Peak and Denali. In the field, Noah immediately demonstrates his effective teaching and team building skills, and we are lucky to have him as part of the AMS family. Originally from Chicago, Noah holds a BA in Biology and spends his winters in Bozeman, Montana where he works as a ski patroller for Big Sky Ski Resort. His certifications include an EMT-B, AMGA and Avalanche level 1. If you are lucky enough to climb with Noah, we know you will enjoy his sense of humor and prodigious memory for one-liners from movies. He is a strong, smart and positive person who is a treat to be around.

Greg Runyan

Alaska Mountaineering School

Greg lives and guides in the Wrangell-St.Elias National Park of Alaska an in the Alaska Range. His life in Alaska has been made special because of his remote wilderness cabin, great friends, and Alaska's vast beauty. Guiding and climbing in North and South America has been a dream come true for Greg. Greg has been guiding trips on Denali with us since 2005. Greg is an excellent complement to our program with his patience, sound judgment, and his easy-going demeanor. We are happy to call him part of the AMS family.

Kirby Senden

Alaska Mountaineering School

Kirby is a born and raised Alaskan who learned to climb in the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains. He started climbing when he was eight; he first climbed and traversed Denali when he was 15. In 1995 after playing two college sports, he hung up the hockey skates for climbing boots and started working in the Alaska Range. He is a sought-after guide by both co-workers and students. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, AMS is lucky to have him as part of our team. Kirby is a full time teacher and athletic director in Eagle River. He is married and two young sons.

Brian Skean

Alaska Mountaineering School

Coming from Pennsylvania originally, Brian started seriously climbing upon his move to Alaska in 2005. He is a senior in the Outdoor Studies department at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage. When not studying hard, Brian enjoys both rock and ice climbing as well as taking the descent in style on a pair of skis. He was introduced into the AMS family in 2008 when he spent the summer in Talkeetna, working as an AMS intern. Besides helping around town with various tasks, he was able to make it into the field on 4 trips during the season.

Blaine Smith

Alaska Mountaineering School

Blaine was born in 1961 has been guiding and teaching in the Alaska Range since 1989 and working with AMS since its start in 1996. He was born and raised in Alaska and enjoys sharing this beautiful country with others. The depth of his climbing and guiding experience combined with his easygoing personality give Blaine the unique qualities it takes to be a life-long mountain guide. Besides climbing Denali twelve times, he has climbed hundreds of peaks in other mountains in Alaska and Canada, including Mt. Blackburn, Marcus Baker, Mt. Logan, King Peak, and Mt. Sanford. His travels have taken him climbing in the northwest, Yosemite, Ecuador, Mexico and Argentina. While not guiding, Blaine is busy as a carpenter, a poet, and the Director of Alaska Mountain Safety Center. Blaine also teaches and speaks at the AMS in-house staff training on such topics as guide professionalism and the latest information on rope and other climbing hardware specifications. Blaine is our resident engineer, scientist (mad), and mathematician to name just a few things.

Alex Stroud

Alaska Mountaineering School

On his first birthday he climbed up the slide in the back yard and has been climbing ever since. Those long childhood summers from the tumbled rocks of Devil's Lake Wisconsin to vacations in the Big Horns of Wyoming to mountain biking in Moab and hiking in Arches, every kind of terrain was a challenge. Once Alex moved to Missoula for college, every place was measured in "miles from Missoula" and he added ice climbing to his repertoire that was steadily growing. He loves to know how things work, mechanical or otherwise, and he thinks through the route before he sets out, always ready to adapt to new situations with his calm assertive presence.

Karl Swanson

Alaska Mountaineering School

Karl grew up in Anchorage and has spent the better part of his life climbing, skiing, hiking, and rafting in Alaska. His first expedition was to Nepal in 1980. He started guiding in 1986 as an Outward Bound instructor in Zambia. His resume is vast and varied and includes leading nine Denali expeditions and being a ski instructor for the disabled. He is a highly experienced mountain guide as well as the AMS accountant, who is all too willing to drop his calculator and take an adventurous group into the "way back" of the "way back" Alaska Bush. Those who get out with Karl are impressed by his strength, knowledge and sense of fun. Plus, he always has good stories to tell. He is married with one child.

Lance Taysom

Alaska Mountaineering School

Wilderness Medicine Instructor for WMI of NOLS & AMS Wilderness First aid and First Responder Courses. Volunteer High Altitude Ranger NPS Denali 2000 season. Emergency/Flight Nurse. Wilderness medicine training Idaho State University Outdoor Program. Lives with wife Cami and sons Jesse and Ely in Southern Idaho. Priorities: Any outdoor activity with family and friends. Especially loves Blue Sky, Clear water, Deep snow. Backcountry skiing, Climbing, Mountain biking. Favorite time of year: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.

Tom Torkelson

Alaska Mountaineering School

Year-round and around the world, Tom is busy organizing and leading mountaineering expeditions and wilderness treks. Tom has been a Professional Mountain Guide since 1998 and currently guides more than 200 days per year. His guiding work and adventuring have taken him to Alaska, the Himalayas, Antarctica, New Zealand, the Alps, Mexico, and South America. His area of specialty is the Andes, from Ecuador to Patagonia, where he's led over 55 expeditions to 6000 Meter peaks. Tom is also a professional videographer and adventure photographer. He has photographed and documented successful expeditions to the summits of Cho Oyu in 2004 and Mt. Everest in 2005. Alaska and working for AMS has become a regular stint on Tom's world guiding circuit. He excels here as he does on all the other mountains of the world. He is a professional who has a great time working hard in the mountains. More about Tom and the expeditions he leads can be found at www.visionquestjourneys.com.

Todd Tumolo

Alaska Mountaineering School

Todd moved to Alaska in 2006 to pursue his dreams of climbing and becoming an outdoor instructor. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Outdoor Studies and Environmental Science at Alaska Pacific University where he currently works part time as an adjunct instructor. He has been guiding and instructing at AMS since 2007. Todd spends his free time pushing his limits in both rock and ice climbing and mountaineering. He continues to look for and find opportunities to spread his enthusiasm and passion for climbing and instructing.

Lisa Van Sciver

Alaska Mountaineering School

In New England's White and Green Mountains Lisa Van Sciver began skiing in 1985 and climbing in 1995 following her passion to be in the hills. She then traveled to the Rockies where she completed a bachelor's degree from Colorado College, which may as well have been in rock climbing. In 2003 she migrated north with the cold and began mountaineering in Wyoming's Tetons. In 2007 she and another female completed the first all female ski descent of the Grand Teton . Every spring she retreats to remote corners of Alaska to spend at least a month climbing peaks and kite skiing ice fields. Last year Lisa along with two friends traversed from the Wrangle Saint Elias's Bagley Ice Field a hundred miles to Cordova. She resides in Jackson Wyoming where she works as a Jackson Hole Ski Patroller, avalanche teacher, and a Jackson Hole Mountain Guide in the Tetons, Wind Rivers, and Beartooths.

Forest Wagner

Alaska Mountaineering School

Forest is a lifelong Alaskan who grew up enchanted with the Denali skyline. He has expeditioned in most of the mountain ranges of Alaska and paddled many Alaskan rivers. Forest has been guiding and teaching since 2003 and climbing recreationally since 1999. In the winters, Forest runs the Outdoor Studies program at the University of Alaska Juneau and when not guiding or teaching spends his free time climbing frozen waterfalls or skiing the backcountry.

Fred Wilkinson

Alaska Mountaineering School

"Also known as "Crazy Freddie," this guy has a tendency to mistake himself for a "velociraptor" while ice climbing. His special talent for shoptalk can mean it takes him 45 minutes to buy a block of chalk. Freddie maintains a constant psyche-level somewhere between "freakin' out" and "hysterical overdrive" but spends most of his time redlining at "raging bonkers," as described by Emilie Lee in "Rock and Ice" Sept 2006.

Here at AMS we actually call him "Cool Freddie". When it comes to climbing there are very few people as energetic and as psyched about it as Freddie is, and when it comes to sending someone out in the field to guide the hard routes, Freddie is the man. Freddie is always the first of the seasonal guides to show up here and usually the last to leave. He comes up every season for his own personal climbing, then he stays for the whole season, at which time he heads back to guide for the summer season for IMCS in North Conway, New Hampshire. In the autumn, he often returns to Alaska for an autumn Alaska Range trip in search of new "mixed" routes. Along with successfully guiding Denali routinely, he has also climbed peaks like Cerro Torre in Patagonia and done second ascents of 45° pitch mixed routes on some of the world's biggest granite faces.

Laura Wright

Alaska Mountaineering School

Laura has lived in Talkeetna since 1996. She spent many years working as a Park Ranger in Denali National Park. In 2010 she gave up the green and gray for civilian life at AMS and is loving it. She attempts to keep up with all the paperwork for courses, expeditions and workshops as well as answer lots of questions and send lots of emails. She enjoys skiing and exploring Alaska by ski joring (skiing with dogs pulling.) She also continually works her cabin and enjoys life in a small northern Alaskan town.