Guide Roster

I’m thrilled to have assembled this all-star guide team, and to work beside them. Each one is an expert backpacker and guide — they combine extensive first-hand backcountry experience with a passion for teaching, excellent people skills, relate-able family and work lives, engaging story-telling, and necessary medical certifications.

Our team:


Andrew Skurka

  • Boulder, CO
  • 41 years-old
  • Married to Amanda and adoring parent of Esmerelda and Luxor, our feline fur children
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • he/him/his

Since founding this program in 2011, I’ve led 101 trips and have spent 464 days in the field with clients. Even though the program has grown considerably, I still guide a lot — it’s the most fun and most rewarding part.

My goal on each trip is to empower clients with outdoor skills and knowledge so that they can be self-sufficient, lead the group, and confidently undertake future trips of their own. It’s an extra perk if I can learn from my group, have fun, and explore a new setting.

As a twenty-something I was a prolific long-distance thru-hiker. My most notable trips were the:

  • Alaska-Yukon Expedition (6 months, 4,700 miles),
  • Great Western Loop (7 months, 6,875 miles), and the
  • Sea-to-Sea Route (11 months, 7,775 miles).

In my thirties, I focused on high routes and long-distance running. I pioneered and wrote guidebooks for four off-trail backpacking routes in the High Sierra, Wind River Range, and Colorado Rockies. I completed six 100-mile races, and set a fastest known time on the Pfiffner Traverse. In my forties, I’ve not yet slowed down — I ran 2:27:59 (5:38/mile pace) and placed eighty-third at the 2022 Boston Marathon.

My definitive book, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools & Tips to Hit the Trail, was published by National Geographic and has sold over 120,000 copies. 

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “I’m amazed at Andrew’s ability to read his group so well (collectively and individually) and to adapt accordingly.”
  • “I can’t imagine anyone else teaching so much in only five days.”
  • “I appreciated when he tucked us each into bed every night and asked if there was anything bothering us. This helped build trust and I felt comfortable voicing concerns.”
  • “With lots of things going on with the business he kept very focused on the trip, we never felt like his mind was elsewhere.”
  • “I loved when Andrew would pause and explain geologic features, make comments on the flora and fauna etc.”
In Gates of the Arctic National Park

Bec Bastian

  • Bend, OR
  • 33 years-old
  • she/her

I spend much of my free time with the love of my life, Jackson, wandering up ancient alpine volcanoes worldwide and through dry desert climates of the Great Basin. I live in Bend, OR, but I grew up learning about backcountry navigation by hunting elk and birds in the rugged high desert landscapes of Idaho. This will be my third season working with Andrew and the rest of the crew and I am ecstatic to continue on with this incredible team. 

I am a passionate and skilled educator and I have taught at all ages in public and private sectors. Upon moving to the Pacific Northwest, I began volunteering with the state to pack trout fry to hundreds of Washington’s untrailed alpine lakes. I completed the triple crown, but this was only the beginning of my outdoor accomplishments. I traveled a 500 mile exploratory route through the desert of Nevada, California and Southern Oregon. I have completed alpine routes in Yosemite, the Wind River Range, Inyo Mountains, Elkhorns, Steen Mountains, the L2H Route, and several volcanic circumnavigations. I have hiked well over 10,000 miles and spent hundreds of nights in the backcountry. More recently my passion has transitioned into the winter high alpine. I climbed and skied every volcano in the Cascade Arc, and many in the Chilean Ring of Fire. I guide because I am determined to pass my knowledge on to people who love, or will grow to love, the outdoors as much as I do. 

Outside of backpacking I regularly rock climb at Smith Rock, I guide technical mountaineering and ski mountaineering trips on Mount Shasta, Mount Whitney and in the Alaskan Chugach. I spent a lot of time this winter learning about and analyzing snow, terrain, and weather patterns. I have been developing my technical ice climbing skills and finding the practice very rewarding. I practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and dip into my side hustles as an artist, a writer, an outdoor educator, and a substitute teacher in my down time.

My favorite testimonials from 2022

  • “What can I say – I would trust Bec to lead me to the gates of hell and back. An absolute superstar!!!”
  • “I simply could not ask any more of a guide. Bec is warm, gregarious, quick to laugh, and remarkably skilled at getting buy-in from strangers. As the moment demands she is decisive, precise, laser focused, and level-headed. For as unexpectedly difficult as our trip was, I trusted Bec implicitly to keep us safe, right from the start. She is an absolutely tremendous person and guide, and I’m grateful to have met her.”
  • “Bec excels at instruction, coaching, motivation & confidence building. If I knew I would be guaranteed to have her as a guide on another trip, I would sign up today!!!”
  • “Bec embraces inclusion to her core – even when I doubted myself, she never doubted me. I felt so supported and encouraged by her!”
  • “I felt like I was backpacking with a best friend, not just a paid instructor.”
Near Pantamint Springs on the Lowest to Highest route.

Matthew Bright

  • Washington, DC
  • 38 years-old
  • Regrettably single
  • Instagram
  • he/him

I started with Andrew as a client in 2018. Less than a year later, I got my first guiding assignment in West Virginia after convincing Andrew that understanding and appreciating a landscape go hand-in-hand and should be a critical component of any backpacking curriculum. This is especially true in the East where there aren’t a lot of views, but there sure is a lot of plant life.

My guiding goals on every trip are to make the landscape come alive to clients; to impart my knowledge of the geology, flora and social history of West Virginia; and above all, to spark wonder and curiosity.

I’m excited to return to WV for the fifth year in a row. My personal backpacking resume includes thru hikes of the Long Trail, Sierra High Route, West Highland Way, Cotswold Way, and loops of the Wind River High Route and Pfiffner Traverse as well as numerous other trips on both coasts and all points in between. In my full-time job, I am the Director of External Affairs for a climate change startup that is developing machines to remove carbon dioxide directly from the air. 

My favorite testimonials from 2022

  • “Matt did such a great job sharing his knowledge of the local flora on our trip! Matt was an unfailing positive attitude and his high energy kept us moving and engaged throughout the long hikes.”
  • “Along with Matt’s heralded Geology & Flora observations being of great interest and value, I also really enjoyed his other in-field classes and group interaction.”
  • “His occasional interjections describing the types of trees and plants were a welcome break from the daily grind of hiking and his history lessons on the area and formation of the mountain range is unforgettable.”
  • “Great with helping to explain how to use map and compass.”
  • “His campfire jokes were rather entertaining.”
Matt showing off his Packa amidst peak fall foliage in Dolly Sods.

Brandon Chase

  • Lives in Southwest Harbor, ME with wife Veronica and newborn daughter, Lupine.
  • 35 years-old
  • Instagram, Website
  • he/him/his

I have been involved with Andrew’s program since 2020 in multiple capacities including logistical support, program design, instruction for the Plan Like a Pro course, and guiding. In a previous life, I was a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State and had the opportunity to explore more than 60 countries while serving at U.S. Embassies in Egypt, Cyprus, and Pakistan. 

As a Registered Maine Guide for Whitewater and Recreation, I lead rafting trips, wildlife canoe tours, and guided hikes in the Pine Tree State. I enjoy sharing my passion for the outdoors and helping others surpass perceived limitations to show that valuable, positive, and memorable backcountry experiences are achievable by anyone, anywhere with the proper skills and mindset.

Along with a 98-day thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, I have summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiked the West Highland Way, fastpacked in the Himalayas, and trekked around New Zealand, South Africa, and the U.S. While abroad, I picked up an affection for endurance athletics and regularly compete in ultramarathons at 50k, 50-mile, and 100-mile distances around the globe. I write about hiking, trail running, and fastpacking on publications such as Fit For Miles, TheTrek, and TheStringbean.co.

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Brandon Chase was unfailingly enthusiastic, upbeat, and positive without exception.”
  • “Brandon was just the nicest human. He was so patient, kind, and cheery. He brought such a great lightheartedness to the trip, making sure that everyone was having fun and feeling confident.”
  • “I can’t say enough good things about Brandon! He seemed like a very accomplished athlete yet was very humble and patient with everyone in the group. He was curious about everyone and helped maintain a respectful and positive atmosphere in the group.”
  • “I found Brandon’s teaching style, with his personal interaction with others and me, excellent.”
  • “Brandon is clearly whip-smart and was always on top of things, fluidly responding to changes as needed, be it weather volatility, route corrections, injuries, or any other myriad variables. His skill and general comportment are a model for other leaders.”
Brandon heading down Death Hollow in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, UT.

Scott Christy

  • Lander, WY
  • 46 years-old
  • Instagram
  • he/him/his

This coming season will be my fourth year guiding with Andrew, but for over twenty years I’ve taught backpacking skills for NOLS and helped develop the NOLS lightweight backpacking program. In that capacity, I’ve had the honor of backpacking and training a diverse range of participants including NASA Astronauts, MBA students, US Marines, and Google directors. I’m also a river guide rowing expedition rafting trips in the Grand Canyon. As a guide, I am moved by the fact that our lives are richer for the experiences we share with others, and I believe that expeditions succeed together or largely don’t succeed.

When I’m not guiding I do a fair bit of personal adventuring. In 2021 I completed a continuous almost all off-trail end-to-end hike of the Grand Canyon in 52 days. Additionally I enjoy long packrafting trips in the Arctic and canyoneering explorations of the Colorado Plateau. Also, it turns out that lightweight backpacking systems work exceptionally well for bikepacking and backcountry elk hunting! When possible, in between backcountry trips, I serve on the command team of my local Search and Rescue unit in Wyoming.

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Exceptional communication skills, sense of humor, leadership, and camaraderie. Scott is the quintessential backpacking guide, just about in every way, and a truly excellent human being.”
  • “He is incredibly humble for all that he’s accomplished, hiking right alongside each of us ready to provide conversation, insight, and even book recommendations.”
  • “Scott is approachable, emotionally present, and has a wonderfully contagious positive energy. An absolutely perfect lead guide.”
  • “Always encouraging and made tasks very attainable. FUN, hilarious, great teacher. Very uplifting of everyone.”
  • “Scott’s broad knowledge and extensive experience of the outdoors is equally matched by his natural ability to put clients at ease. His confident support made me grateful he was there.”
Scott relaxing atop a slickrock slab in the Grand Canyon.

Mary Cochenour

  • Helena, MT
  • 51 years-old
  • Married to Matt and mom to Kennedy (13) and Cameron (11) 
  • Instagram
  • she/her

I joined Andrew’s team in 2018 and have guided trips in Colorado, Yosemite, and Alaska. A lifetime ago, I was a Grand Canyon river guide with 42 trips down the canyon. Much of my backcountry philosophy and approach is shaped by experiences I’ve had as a backcountry ranger and a ski patroller.  

For me, guiding is a tremendous gift that allows meaningful connections with other people who also enjoy the outdoors. On each trip, I have three goals: safety, teaching, and fun. My trips are full of backcountry safety tips and discussion on what to do if something goes wrong.

I’ve been backpacking for three decades. My experience includes the John Muir Trail (x3), Circuit in Torres Del Paine, Chile, Wind River High Route, Brooks Range in Alaska, and countless miles in the mountains and desert all over the western U.S. At different times in my life, I have been passionate about sport climbing, windsurfing, trail running, sea and whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, and skiing in all its forms. These random outdoor activities inform my decision-making in the backcountry.

I’ve had many careers – all wildly unique. I spent a decade in outdoors jobs, moved to journalism for a while, and had a 15-year run as a lawyer prosecuting rape and homicide cases for the State of Montana. Currently, I work for Gaia GPS. Fluidity is my jam. I am fueled by change, redefining goals, and exploring new paths in life. Let’s go!   

My favorite testimonials from 2021 clients

  • “Personable, experienced, and a great teacher.” 
  • “My experience was greatly enriched by the stories Mary told us, and learning about her experiences in the backcountry as a guide and an outdoors-loving person with a diverse history of experiences.”
  • “Mary was free with sharing knowledge and ensured trip members were knowledgeable on river crossings, bear safety, and she even instructed us on avalanche safety!”
  • “Mary is an absolute rock star and always had a huge smile which kept group morale high. Mary had amazing stories and tons of informative lessons to pass on.”
  • “Mary is fearless! Because Mary is my height and has significant experience with water, it was always instructive and reassuring when we crossed rivers, which was a LOT. From a group perspective, Mary was great at making conversation with everyone and making sure that everyone was at ease, no matter where in the pack they were (front/back/middle).”
Mary in the Brooks Range, Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska. June 2020.  

David Eitemiller

  • Monument, CO
  • 63 years-old
  • Married to wife Sue, two kids and 4 grandkids
  • Instagram

With over 100 days in the field with the program, I’ve guided for Andrew in Alaska, California, Utah and Colorado.

I love adventure, exploration of new places, and helping people go places they have never been and would never go without some guidance, skills and an invitation to go. My trips focus on the navigation skills that make that possible along with a host of other skills to manage the conditions, yourself and maximize the adventure.

I’ve been backpacking most of my life. My most notable trips include the Wind River High Route (twice), multiple routes through the Brooks Range, the Pfiffner Traverse, and portions of the Sierra High Route, Kings Canyon Basin Route, and Yosemite High Route.

In 2019 I retired from a successful career in Asia as a Senior Executive for major paper, packaging and printing companies, leading many multicultural teams in complex situations.

I’ve completed four 100-mile races and many others in the 50K to 100K range, notably the San Juan Solstice 50 (four times). In 2019 I set the 60+ age group record at Run Rabbit Run 100, and was the only 60+ year-old to secure a Golden Buckle for a sub-30-hour finish.

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Dave is steeped in knowledge of the backcountry and ensures that you are actually evaluating and thinking through various routes and other decisions. He will work with you until you “get it.” He has a genuine interest in each individual and is determined to make you a better backpacker.”
  • “He was also excellent at treating (his co-guide) Mary as an equal with never a shred of toxic masculinity or doubt.” 
  • “Knowledge, confidence, down to earth, and trustworthy.”
  • “I loved both his deep love and commitment to wild places and his dry sense of humor. He always had time for my questions and gave me a lot of advice and confidence.”
  • “He had a great sense of humor, he was a pleasure to be around, he didn’t take himself too seriously and yet he had impeccable leadership skills and his word was bond.”
Dave guiding another trip in the Brooks Range, AK – 2022

Richard Forbes

  • Missoula, MT
  • 31 years-old
  • Website
  • he/him/his

I grew up in the lowland forests of PA and fell in love with the alpine when my family first began backpacking across the grassy Appalachian balds. Since then, I’ve spent my life trying to be above treeline.

I moved to Colorado for college, where I studied ecology and journalism and began guiding. Since 2011, I’ve guided more than 190 days across a wide range of mountain sports: rock climbing, mountain biking, mountaineering, whitewater, backpacking, backcountry skiing, map and compass, photography, etc.

In my free time, I’m always planning my own adventure routes – in the summer, remote off-trail routes with glaciers and summits; in the winter and spring, backcountry ski traverses and linkups. Over the last few years, I’ve:

  • completed the Ptarmigan, Bailey, Chiwaukum and Enchantments traverses
  • climbed the five volcanoes of WA + Hood (Rainier and Helens twice)
  • completed a 70-mile loop on the Yosemite High Route
  • soloed a 50-mile loop on the Wind River High Route
  • rowed a raft down the Grand Canyon as part of a winter noncommercial trip
  • visited half the wilderness glaciers of Glacier National Park as part of a funded storytelling project

When I’m not guiding, I’m a photographer and writer and have written 60+ trip reports as a contributor-on-assignment for Outdoor Project/onX. I received masters’ degrees in environmental journalism and natural resource conflict resolution in 2022 and spend my time telling stories about the intersection between identity and the environment, often as they relate to mental health.

As a guide and journalist, I’m empathetic, prioritize clear communication, and love collaborating and empowering people with new information and skills. I love sharing experiences with others in the backcountry and I’m stoked to see you out there!

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Richard had a broad knowledge of nature and backcountry skills. He’s so articulate and patient with teaching, as well as truly curious about so many things. He’s also super skillful on rocks, holy crap.”
  • “Great communication and decision-making. Also took excellent pictures!”
  • “He’s very skilled in reading terrain and selecting good routes up and over passes, strong physically, knowledgeable on the scientific side in geology, plants, history, maps, etc. He is also very personable and able to relate to clients’ needs.”
  • “Mary and he did a great job asking what our goals were and making good efforts so that we all had opportunities to work at those goals.”
Richard on the Lynch Glacier on Mount Daniel, deep in the Central Cascades.

Katie Gerber

This is my third year with Andrew’s team as a guide and an instructor for the Plan Like a Pro course. On each guided trip, my goals are safety, physical challenge, camaraderie, lots of laughter, and ensuring each person comes away with the experience and confidence to pursue trips of their own. I guide because I want everyone to know that with the right knowledge and skills, anyone is capable of achieving their adventure goals.

When I’m not guiding or working with backpacking clients, I run my own business as a nutrition coach where I have the immense pleasure of empowering clients to optimize their health and physically prepare for their backcountry adventures. I’m also the creator of the Backpacker Academy family of online courses and the author of Adventure Ready: A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency.

In 2022, I completed an almost all off-trail, end-to-end hike of the Grand Canyon in 35 days. Other notable hikes I’ve completed include the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, Oregon Desert, and Colorado Trails. I’ve also hiked the Wind River High Route and a 900-mile exploratory route in the Great Basin. I love high alpine travel and have summited all 58 of Colorado’s 14ers. I also enjoying skiing and volunteering on trail work crews.

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Katie was a fearless hiker and modeled all sort of cool things from her zen attitude about hard things to a well-packed pack. When things got tough, Katie was gently encouraging and comforting to be around. She was kind and thoughtful. I appreciated her map, compass and Gaia lessons. We also had great conversations about gear, and food and nutrition on trail. She’s a total badass and an endless source of knowledge.”
  • “Katie has an extensive knowledge of all things backpacking and was always happy to share with the group or individuals. She made sure everyone had an opportunity to give input on navigational decisions and to take the lead off-trail if they wanted to. I appreciated that she always gave a thoughtful and helpful answer even to ill-posed questions like “how do I walk on talus.” I could tell she was always conscious of our safety and encouraged us to get out of our comfort zone a bit but also was supportive when we reached our limit (eg, when exposure became too much during peak bagging).”
  • “Katie is very level-headed and knowledgeable. She did a great job listening to the group and our needs. She’s exceptionally empathetic and managed the ups-and-downs of our journey with absolute grace and wisdom. She also knows so many wildflower species. :)”
  • “Patience. Calm demeanor. Politeness. Modesty. Compassion. Flexibility to adapt to the needs/wishes of the group. High levels of endurance.”
  • “Really outstanding in every way. She sets a great example with her own skill set and hiking ability (strong hiker!). She is calm and compassionate, dedicated to fulfilling the curriculum, and comes across as very mature and confident. Katie takes a personal interest in each client that seems very genuine. She does not come across as needing to advertise her own accomplishments, and yet effectively discusses her vast experience when relevant.”
Katie in the Brooks Range of Alaska.

Hunter Hall

I’ve been working as an instructor for Andrew’s guided trips and online class, Plan Like a Pro, since 2019.

I love being an instructor and guiding because it gives me an opportunity to share hard-won knowledge with others and empower people with the skills to do their own exploring. In the field, I’m very level-headed, safety conscious, and believe in fostering a culture of risk awareness, open/transparent decision making, and healthy, fun group dynamics. 

In another life, I’m a hospitality industry executive, HR professional, lobbyist, government contractor, and management consultant. I’ve led over 50 seminars and workshops in this capacity and have directed teams of 100+ since 2007. 

I spend most of my outdoor time in the mountains of California, from the San Gabriels to The Sierra, most of which is off-trail along high routes like the SHR, KCHBR, SoSHR, YHR, etc. I love winter backpacking, snowboarding/skiing, cycling, and packrafting too. Recently, I’ve combined these pursuits with things like Bikerafting, Skirafting, and more traditional Bikepacking. I also have a newfound fascination with geology and natural history. 

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “I felt completely comfortable and safe in his hands.”
  • “Fabulous. He is a great teacher who did a wonderful job of guiding me to the correct answer. He did an amazing job around letting me route find and navigate with a map and compass. He was great with the rest of the group too. He’s also had super interesting life experiences, and he’s incredibly well read.”
  • “Love Hunter’s enthusiasm, response time, and overall helpful attitude.  He is seriously the best!”
  • “Severe empathy and brought a more risk-averse approach that complemented really well with the other guide. Incredibly patient. Encyclopedic gear knowledge.” 
  • “Genuine concern for the wellbeing of the group and more importantly: each individual.  Willingness to step into any situation and create a more safe/comfortable/engaging outcome.”
  • …and my personal favorite (thanks to my beard): “The Most Interesting Guide in The World!”
Hunter on the Bailey Traverse.

Matt Huddleston

  • Golden, CO
  • 31 years-old
  • Married to Natalie, my adventure partner of 11 years.
  • he/him/his

This is my third season guiding for the program and also my fourth year as the program’s Operations Manager. I spend a lot of time running, backpacking, mountain biking, and anything else that allows me to get out and explore the world. While adventuring, I encourage an appreciation of the small splendors of the natural world and of the ability our bodies have to carry us to these amazing places. In addition to teaching the field skills and the planning tools necessary to get us into the backcountry, the ability to foster and share these rich experiences amongst a great group of people is what draws me to guiding and instructing.

My lifelong love for adventure has led me on many hiking and running journeys on both coasts of the United States and abroad. I’ve thru hiked the Pacific Crest Trail along with sections of the Wind River High Route, Pfiffner Traverse, and lesser known routes across North America, South America and Europe. As a runner, I’ve covered over 7,000 trail and road miles in the past 5 years including many races, a supported run on the White Rim Trail, a self-supported fast pack of the Wonderland Trail and countless big days in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Between adventures I work as an engineer and climate resiliency consultant.

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Matt had this contagious sense of calmness that was amazing to be around when we were caught in some of the rougher weather conditions. He was awesome to be around and really easy to talk to. In addition to being a great person to be around, he was also super knowledgeable and helpful!”
  • “Provided excellent information and answered all questions prior to our trip. Also very helpful and was a great teacher during our trip.”
  • “Super friendly and approachable, took the initiative to engage with everyone and was knowledgeable about all the topics and skills.”
Matt enjoying golden hour in Northern California

Melodie Kao

  • Santa Cruz, CA
  • 34 years-old
  • Lots of plant children and enthusiastic cat auntie
  • Website
  • she/her

By day, I explore faraway worlds as an astrophysicist. In 2019 I accidentally started guiding by co-creating a semester-long WildAstro class with a 7-day backpacking trip at Arizona State University. After going to the Brooks Range in 2021 with Andrew’s program, he recruited me to guide in the Sierras, and I’m delighted to be back!

I believe backpacking skills help us grapple with challenges that we face in the rest of our lives.
On my trips, I show people how to traverse their internal landscapes while they learn how to
become skilled route-finders. Wild places and their lessons are a shared human inheritance, so I
also work to make access to nature more equitable and co-launched our Scholarship Program in 2022.

Since my first trip in Torres del Paine in 2010, my solo repertoire includes biking up the PCH,
thru-hiking the JMT, and other long distance Sierra loops. After learning how to travel cross-
country in Alaska, I section-hiked the YHR, thru-hiked various versions of the WRHR, spent time
in the Escalante, and solo’d half of the KCHBR. I especially like analog navigating. This year, I
won an American Alpine Club Catalyst Grant to fund a trip to Alaska for my team. In my spare
time, I mentor emerging scientists and backpackers, cross-train, and dance.

My extensive training in education and interiority skills informs my guiding. I teach interiority
workshops around the nation that are inspired by my experiences as a woman of color in
science and backpacking. This year, I am training in the evidenced-based Cultivating Emotional Balance program that has been delivered around the world.

My favorite testimonials from 2022

  • “She had joy in her work and was willing to share of herself in order to help others. She made me feel confident in my own abilities.”
  • “Melodie could sense when I was struggling and nudge me in the right direction. She wouldn’t take over but would provide the confidence that would help me make decisions instead of sitting there second guessing myself.”
  • “Incredible energy, manifested her joy of scrambling in an inspirational way, her competence made me feel safe.”
  • “I also feel that I gained a friend, and in some strong way my life has been changed by my experience on the trail.”
Melodie in the Sierras.

Joe McConaughy (“Stringbean”)

  • Seattle, WA
  • 31 years-old
  • Married to Katie and Australian Shepherd, Crash Bandipooch
  • Instagram
  • Website
  • he/him/his

This is my fifth season guiding with Andrew. I’ve guided in West Virginia, California and Utah. My goals on each trip are to explore interesting places, learn and have fun. I guide because of the wide range of passionate outdoors people I get to meet. I’m particularly grateful to guide for Andrew Skurka Adventures because of the creative routes we draw up in interesting places.

Growing up an Eagle Scout and runner helped cultivate a lifelong interest in the outdoors and my physical limits. I’ve backpacked a handful of long trails in the US, including the PCT, AT, JMT, LT and AZT. I love ultralight backpacking and moving quickly through nature. I’m also a sponsored ultramarathon runner with Brooks and like to combine the disciplines of backpacking and trail running. The mountains and forests are the places I like to visit to be introspective. It’s my place of zen, and I love sharing that with other people.

My favorite testimonials from 2022

  • “Humor, personal attention, direct, clearly and expert in hiking and coaching.”
  • “Joe excels at everything. He is a patient teacher, an incredible presence.”
  • “You couldn’t help but have fun around him no matter the conditions, and you were probably learning through osmosis at the same time.”
  • “He had the respect of everyone on the team.”
Selfie on the PCT

Jose Mendez

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 35 years-old
  • Happily partnered, occasional foster cat dad
  • Instagram
  • Website
  • he/him/his

After spending most of my adult life working adult desk jobs, I leapt into outdoor education and guiding, working as a camp instructor and field guide in California and Colorado. I currently work as an outdoor instructor and guide leading kayaking, climbing, and hiking day trips around the San Francisco Bay Area. I started guiding for Andrew Skurka Adventures in 2022 during the Sierra trips and look forward to my second season with all the amazing clients and fellow guides.

Guiding gives me the opportunity to share my newfound love of the outdoors with those who haven’t had the ability or resources to discover these amazing places and experiences. On each trip I lead, I try to share all the skills I’ve acquired as an outdoor enthusiast and my passion for preserving these beautiful wild places.

I’ve gone on some long walks on the John Muir Trail, Tahoe Rim Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Colorado Trail and routes like the Lowest to Highest, Hayduke Trail, Wind River High Route and Yosemite High Route (with half a guidebook).

My favorite testimonials from 2022

  • “Jose is really knowledgeable and skilled, and he has a generous way of sharing those skills that doesn’t make you feel dumb.”
  • “Extremely knowledgeable dude and fun to talk to.”
  • “Jose has some great teaching techniques, is very encouraging, and is funny and experienced on top of that.”
  • “From helping fill water bottles, instructing us on what best to do in a storm, or breaking out a knife to help adjust trekking poles that weren’t locking properly on the fly, Jose was there. Also, essentially, I think he personally brought hot sauce to share with the group and I really appreciated this.”
Atop Quartzite Peak on the Yosemite High Route

Samuel Novey

  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • 35 years-old
  • Lives with: Partner – Ashley; Boston Terriers – Sigmund, Birch, and Margot; Pit Bull – Rosie; and usually one or two foster dogs
  • Instagram

I love empowering people and helping them build the confidence to have their own adventures outdoors but even more important to me is the existential and communal experience of being in the wilderness together. I see our adventures as an opportunity to explore inwards as much as outwards, discovering the variety of aesthetic experiences that nature can evoke. I value creating a sense of intradependence amongst the group and the landscape, getting really far out there and having immersive and sublime journeys. This will be my second season guiding with Skurka Adventures.

I was born and raised in the bay area and grew up hiking and climbing in the Sierra Nevada. I’ve been serious about climbing mountains for over fifteen years. I’ve climbed difficult routes on the high peaks of multiple continents, guided on Denali, and hiked, run, climbed, or skied over one hundred peaks in the Wasatch alone. My experience in alpine climbing distills a lightweight and highly physical approach to backpacking.

I’ve also worked as an Emergency Room/Triage nurse and a Wilderness First Responder instructor in Utah for the past nine years. On the side I work as a coach and personal trainer for mountain athletes. I love training and watching my athletes grow and achieve their goals. I volunteer as the Salt Lake Chapter Chair of the American Alpine Club.

Some of my personal experiences include:

  • Climbing Highlights: Multiple climbs in the Khumbu region of the Himalayas; the Cassin Ridge on Denali; Mt. Rainier’s Liberty Ridge in 24 hours; The North Face of Quitaraju in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru; and the three tallest peaks of the Rwenzori Range, Uganda
  • Off trail scrambles, high routes, rock climbs, ice climbs, and peak bagging adventures in the North Cascades, Cascade Volcanoes, Sierras, Wind River, Teton, San Juans, Front, Lost River, Wasatch, and Uinta mountain ranges
  • Backcountry hiking trips and rock climbs all over the desert southwest, including: Grand Staircase Escalante, Canyonlands, Greater Moab area, Bears’ Ears, Buckskin Gulch/Paria River, and the Grand Canyon

My favorite testimonials from 2022

  • “Sam was committed to creating exceptional group cohesion, came prepared with knowledge about the flora and fauna, and approached the environment with a sense of joy.”
  • “Sam was very fun and friendly and also inspired lots of confidence. He demonstrated significant expertise, particularly with navigation, and had lots of interesting knowledge that he shared with the group. I appreciated his willingness to push the group beyond our comfort zones in order to really attain the “adventure” part of the trip.”
  • “Sam is a bonafide legend. I’d do another trip just to hang and learn more from Sam”
  • “Sam was super knowledgeable and complemented Scott well in terms of areas of expertise. Both Scott & Sam were among the best guides I’ve ever had on trips.”
Sam in in Little Box Death Hollow, Escalante, UT

Ella Nuttelman

  • Boulder, CO
  • 36 years old
  • Married to Charlie and mother to Logan (1-year-old)
  • Instagram
  • she/her

I began working with Andrew in the summer of 2022 as the Operations Assistant.  My guiding history began in my early 20’s at a YMCA camp, where I took youth into the Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington.  From 2012-2021 I led backpacking, canoeing, and rock climbing trips for Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center throughout western Colorado and southern Utah.  

I believe outdoor recreation is an essential human need and is intrinsically therapeutic.  Being active in the outdoors through human-powered travel is something that makes me tick, and I want to share that with others.  I strive to teach outdoor skills and instill confidence in backcountry travel and hope that the lessons and experiences gained through backpacking can be taken back to benefit one’s everyday life.

I grew up backpacking with my family in the Wind Rivers. With family as my #1 priority, you’ll often find me with Logan on my back exploring the trails these days. Finding time to escape to the trails has always been a priority, with adventure and fitness motivating my actions.  Recent highlights include:

  • Trail ran the Rockwall Traverse and the Lake O’Hara Circuit in the Canadian Rockies
  • Climbed the East Ridge of Edith Cavell
  • Traversed from Glacier Bay to Yakutat, AK
  • Section hiked the Grand Canyon, AZ
  • Cathedral Traverse, WY
  • Trail ran the Gore Range Trail and climbed Mount Whitney, training for the Squamish 50
  • Fastpacked the Wonderland Trail, WA
  • Gannett Peak Project, WY
  • Climbed the Kautz Route (2x) on Mount Rainier

New for the 2023 season

Ella hiking in the Grand Canyon.

Mikaela Osler

  • Albuquerque, NM
  • 28 years-old
  • Live with my partner and too many houseplants
  • Instagram
  • she/her or they/them

This is my second season guiding with Andrew, but I’ve been leading outdoor trips for a decade, including working for Stanford Outdoors and guiding youth in New Mexico. My favorite thing about guiding is helping others gain the skills and comfort they need so they can challenge themselves, grow, and have a blast outdoors

These days I work in marketing for a publisher, but I spent three years teaching English to college freshmen. Whether I’m teaching how to structure a paragraph or how to read a map, I love finding creative ways to help people connect with new skills or ideas. I especially love talking about the night sky, the history of public lands conservation, and ultralight gear. 

I hiked the PCT in 2016. Since then, I’ve completed the triple crown and have set FKTs on the Colorado Trail and Long Trail. When I’m not on trail, I dabble in ultra running and I’m working on a memoir about thru-hiking. My words about thru-hiking and multi-day endurance athletics can be found in places like Trail Runner and Long Trail News.

My favorite client testimonials from 2022

  • “She is an AMAZING educator, the style (positivity) in which she teaches concepts and helps resolve issues that pop up is unrivaled.”
  • “Mikaela radiates kindness, joy and positivity.”
  • “She has a deep knowledge of backpacking and is always willing to share her experience and insights, which directly improved my backpacking. She demonstrates a deep level of care and concern for everyone on the trek and their mental and physical wellness, and delivers on that concern with excellent skills in wilderness first aid.”
  • “She is a problem solver and a teacher in every moment.”
  • “Her teaching style is top-notch. I noticed that Mikaela often mixed up and changed her teaching to fit the group and the lesson.”
  • “She did an amazing job of sharing her experiences and being our biggest supporter/cheerleader which made the whole group feel so comfortable and like we could do anything.”
Mikaela in Pecos Wilderness

Hazel Platt

  • Sacramento, CA
  • 28 years-old
  • Instagram
  • they/them or he/him

I began guiding hiking and backpacking trips in college with the Penn State Outing Club shortly after discovering my love for the outdoors at age 23, eventually serving as president of the organization, defending the century-old club from dissolution by University administration, helping to train and manage volunteer trip leaders, leading dozens of students on their first backpacking trips, and working as a field instructor for Penn State’s Wilderness Literature course. This is my second season curing “tree blindness” with Andrew’s program – I aspire to leave every client with a deeper appreciation for the incredible biodiversity of the Eastern Forest and the species that call it home. As an out and proud member of the trans community, I also aim to help make the outdoors more welcoming for queer and trans people, and people of all backgrounds. 

Since my first backpacking trip on Pennsylvania’s Black Forest Trail in May of 2017, I have backpacked more than 4,000 miles through diverse landscapes, including a 2019 thruhike of the Appalachian Trail and long-distance adventures throughout the Pacific Northwest in 2021, and dabbled in mountaineering, rock climbing, and off-trail adventuring. I also spent some of that time in an indoor classroom, earning a bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management from Penn State University in 2019 after deciding to leave a nascent tech industry career behind.

I currently work with the Pacific Crest Trail Association managing outreach and communications for our extensive volunteer program, which organizes thousands of volunteers to provide tens of thousands of hours of labor to manage, maintain and promote the 2,650-mile-long trail stretching from Mexico to Canada. Previously I’ve worked in the Allegheny Highlands of West Virginia as a Wilderness Specialist alongside the US Forest Service and as a Via Ferrata guide, and spent a thrilling summer as a field instructor at an adventure-based camp for teens with ADHD and learning disabilities in the wilds of northwest Wyoming. As a bonafide nature nerd, I bring a wealth of knowledge about regional & public lands history, dendrology (tree identification), management of protected areas, queer ecologies and the philosophical and cultural histories and quandaries of the Wilderness Idea.

My favorite testimonials from 2021 clients

  • “Hazel’s detailed local knowledge brought the landscape of Dolly Sods to life. I did not think I was interested in trees. I was wrong. Talking to him helped me understand human impact and why it’s so important to follow Leave No Trace principles. I’m very thankful to have had Hazel on this trip.”
  • “Hazel was very knowledgeable about the area, especially the local plants and trees. Learning more about the plant life in Dolly Sods was a fun aspect of our trip which I wasn’t expecting! He was also committed to getting to know everyone on the trip and really helpful if we had questions.”
Hazel on the Pacific Northwest Trail

Dahn Pratt

  • Ojai, CA
  • 32 years-old
  • One girlfriend and one pup
  • Instagram
  • he/him/his

I worked on a helicopter-assisted sled dog camp in the Panhandle of Alaska on the Denver Icefield. I have also worked with various non-profits focused on interpersonal and leadership skills in an outdoor setting logging over 300 nights in outdoor classrooms. I have also guided 5 trips with Skurka in 2020 and plan on guiding many more!

I’ve hiked and guided extensively on six continents and each time I meet new people or witness new places I look forward to learning more and sharing the knowledge I’ve gained from a life lived exploring. There hasn’t been a day spent outdoors where I haven’t learned something new and I intend to keep that streak going in 2022 🙂

A lifetime ago I was a Bronze Medalist at the Canadian Track & Field National Championships in Triple Jump. After graduating I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail and have been longing for outdoor exploration ever since. Between late 2017 and early 2020 I hiked over 10,000 miles in perpetual summer along national scenic trails in various countries, even pioneering a 1,250 mile loop in the Middle East called the Peace Trail, a combination of the Israel National Trail and the Jordan Trail.

After University I was a teaching assistant for a travel abroad program and also taught Human Kinetics, Geography, and Orienteering at an International School in Tokyo.

Special areas of interest for me in the backcountry are wild edibles, hydrology, and geology.

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Dahn had an ever positive attitude, fun loving personality that was great to be around when things were good. He had quite an accomplished backpacking career as well, which he lent a lot of during conversations. It was awesome to hear about different birds, trees, plants, mushrooms, wildfire, geology, etc. Such a nice bonus to get all these tidbits of knowledge and learn about the world around us, rather than just how to navigate through it. Makes it more about living with it and less about getting past it.”
  • “Dahn’s enthusiasm and energy was infectious. He always had a cool or funny story to share; talking with and getting to know him was great. He approached leading the team more in the role of a coach, never really giving instructions but instead pointing out information, giving feedback, and talking through options.”
  • “Early in the trip Dahn shared that he feels like he is his best self when on the trail, and I think his example helped set the extremely positive, constructive, and helpful tone for the expedition. Dahn has an impressive amount of hiking and general life experience that he was able to draw on to illustrate the teaching he did during the trip, in a characteristically humble and understated way. I learned a lot about navigating (including specific skills like triangulating my location, and being systematic about trying to disprove my navigator story), and about picking good lines, and about safe backcountry travel. Dahn can also do a pretty good Australian accent.”
Dahn on Forester Pass, the highest point along the Pacific Crest Trail

Brian Robinson (“Flyin’ Brian“)

  • Monterey, CA
  • 61 years-old
  • Instagram
  • he/him/his

Since 2011 I’ve guided 44 trips over 242 days with Andrew, starting with his very first High Sierra trip. I love to teach all the skills necessary to travel off-trail.

I’ve been backpacking since the 1970’s and helped to popularize ultralight gear and techniques. In 2001 I became the first person to complete the Calendar Triple Crown, which entails thru-hiking the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails (7,400 miles total), all in the same year. This feat earned me the trail name “Flyin’ Brian” and induction into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame. It also caught the attention of Andrew, at the time still a college student, who would take my far, fast, and light style to the next level.

I’m also an accomplished ultra runner. I was the seventh finisher (out of 15 total now) and former course record-holder of the infamous Barkley Marathons, and I completed the 224-mile John Muir Trail in 4 days 7 hours. Before they were really a thing, I established FKT’s on the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, and High Sierra Trails.

I prepare tax returns seasonally, and volunteer as a trail maintenance crew leader in the Ventana Wilderness of Big Sur.

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Brian is a consummate professional. He is very enthusiastic, loves the outdoors, is a great teacher, is a true stud and has achieved impossible physical goals and challenges, yet remains incredibly humble and down to earth. He listened to all my questions and answered them with no reservations or hesitation. He appeared to have no judgment about my or any of my group’s abilities or lack thereof. He was patient with all of us, in spite of being with a group of mostly backpacking neophytes. He was great at imparting a love of the outdoors.”
  • “I could seriously sit and listen to Brian’s stories all day. The man is a legend and so down to earth. His advice was exceptionally practical and accessible. So grateful to have experienced these wild spaces with someone so passionate and full of love for the backcountry.”
  • “Great route finding, always helpful, great attitude, awesome stories.”
  • “Super approachable, super knowledgeable, and a great teacher!”
  • “At the end of the trip I felt that I had a friend, not a guide.”
Brian above Roosevelt Lake in Yosemite

Christy Rosander

  • Tehachapi, CA
  • Married to husband Dan with three adult children and 2 grandchildren
  • Instagram
  • Website

This coming season will be my 4th year as a Skurka guide with over 100 days in the field throughout California, Utah, Colorado, and Washington. Guiding gives me the opportunity to share the outdoors and empower others with the skills and confidence to plan and execute future personal trips. In addition, I love to encourage, support, and have fun with new friends.

As an elementary school teacher for 20 years, I took advantage of my breaks to hike solo or with family and friends. I love hiking in remote and wild places and documenting trips through photos and video.

My most notable trips include:

  • Long-distance trails like the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, Great Divide, John Muir (6x), Theodore Solomons, Arizona and Tahoe Rim Trails
  • Off-trail adventures like the Kings Canyon High Basin Route, Yosemite High Route (2x), Sierra High Route (2x), Lowest to Highest, Scotland’s Great Outdoor Challenge, Wind River High Route, and Southern Sierra High Route, plus many DIY itineraries in the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Sierras, southern Utah and Death Valley;
  • Big peaks like Rainier, Shasta, Whitney (via the Mountaineers Route, 5x), Russell, Williamson, Sahale, Banner and Ritter.

In addition to backpacking for over 30 years, I backcountry and alpine ski, road and mountain bike, paddleboard, and rock climb. I’m committed to staying healthy, fit and having fun. A positive attitude, good planning, a bit of spunk, and lightweight gear are a few of the keys to longevity in this sport.

Read my full bio.

My favorite testimonials from 2022:

  • “A legend in my book. She kicks ass and her positivity, warm, caring, and upbeat attitude really helped the group connect and come together like family.”
  • “Christy’s supportive approach during this trip was as inspiring as her outdoor resume. She was as tireless in her effort as she was in her spirited attitude making it easy for the group to approach her all while having a good laugh!”
  • “What a joy! What a gift! She has a very authentic way about her, and she sought to get to know each of us. Her effervescent personality was infectious and made the journey very fun. We laughed, we shared, and she genuinely listened to people. She encouraged us in tough spots and made us feel comfortable and safe. Her boundless energy and navigational skills are beyond! What a force of nature, yet humble every step.”
  • “I truly appreciated her calm teaching voice! She helped us find safe routes and was very encouraging at all times.”
  • “Christy is inspiring to be around and clearly knowledgeable and passionate about the outdoors.”
Christy atop Cloud’s Rest – Yosemite National Park

Sarah Stratton

  • Virgin, UT
  • 39 years-old
  • she/her

I am excited to join the guide team in 2023 after hearing much about the amazing clients and trips from other guides. I spent my college summers and three years after in Estes Park, CO, leading and teaching hiking and backpacking to teenage girls in the high peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park. I got swept into the climbing scene there in the mid-2000s and gained a ton of rope and technical knowledge, eventually working for the wonderful Kent Mountain Adventure Center in Estes Park.

After my first trip to Red Rock Canyon, outside of Las Vegas, I knew the desert was home. The following season, I started working in the Zion area as one of the first lead female canyoneering guides. Since 2008, I have called Zion Canyon and the Arizona Strip home and have led and taught hundreds of hikers, bikers and canyoneers through the landscapes of Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Escalante, Glen Canyon and the Grand Canyon.

I am a true multisport lover! I love backpacking, trail running, hiking, climbing, biking and ski touring. I’ve been especially lucky to be invited on and organized some exciting trips into the deep canyons and backcountry of Southern Utah and the greater Grand Canyon.

Lightweight packing and off trail travel play a huge role in all of my trips and I am excited to share the freedom and ease in the outdoors that it can bring. My experience includes long stretches on the AZT, extensive hiking/canyoneering/packrafting in the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon/Escalante, high routes in the Wind River range, and wandering 10 day trips in the Death Valley wilderness.

A huge supporter of our National Parks and public lands, I spend time on the Zion National Park Search and Rescue Team and as a backcountry volunteer in remote sections of the Grand Canyon. A dedicated yogi, I received my teaching certificate in 2013. I teach yoga classes locally for community yoga, studios, glamping locations and my favorite: first responders and fellow SAR members.

New for the 2023 season

Sarah taking in a view of the Grand Canyon.

Nicco Tyson

  • Oakland, CA
  • 36 years-old
  • Partner: Shelli, Daughter: Ayelet
  • Facebook
  • he/him

I’m very excited to be working for a second year with the amazing team at Andrew Skurka Adventures. Over the past 16 years, I have guided over 140 trips with the Pacific Outdoor Connection, Unalayee Backpacking Camp, ASA, and on my own.  A major professional accomplishment of mine was leading a group of 13 -16 year-olds on a 30-day backpacking trip that included a circumnavigation of the Trinity Alps High Route on a record snow year.

On an expedition, I aim for everyone to be challenged by the adventure and also be able to enjoy the wonder and beauty of the wilderness.  An important part of the process is connecting and supporting each other as a group of people choosing to step out of the comforts of our day-to-day lives.  I seek to empower participants to make sound decisions in the backcountry, navigate without trails, and have so much fun on their adventures.

When I’m not wandering in the mountains, I’m a performing musician, and harmonica, guitar and ukulele teacher in the Bay Area. I love teaching as it gives me a wonderful opportunity to share my experience and help others develop even more joy in playing music.  For performing, I have crafted my own unique sound after spending decades studying West African, Brazilian, and Cuban music as well as blues and American folk.  

My other big passions are contact dance and storytelling. On many trips, I have performed entire movies and novels under the starry night sky or while cruising through long dusty trail miles.  As a dancer, I have extensively studied Axis Syllabus Movement and Fighting Monkey Training.  I enjoy helping others move their bodies with more playfulness, power and long term sustainability.

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Nicco is a beautiful soul and a wonderful guide. He is a thoughtful, curious, considerate person with an inspiring reverence for the outdoors. He was a steady hand every time the group needed physical/psychological/cognitive support through an obstacle. There is no way we would have made it through the trip without his guidance and support, and I am so grateful to have met him.”
  • “His music playing and stories were good for the soul. I will always cherish waking up to his harmonica. His knowledge of the habitat and his overall attitude were amazing.”
  • “Nicco was incredibly fun, light hearted, the life of the group. He’s always positive, knows just the right thing to lift the mood during tough moments.”
  • “His adventurous spirit was contagious!”
  • “Super helpful, positive, total billy goat just dancing up and down the cliffs strumming his guitar and laughing. He was like a real life Tom Bombadil.”
Being playful in the High Sierra

Kat Weyland

  • Circleville, WV
  • 40 years-old
  • Live with my partner David and my Beagle mix, Murphy
  • Instagram
  • she/her

I started my outdoor journey in 2004 at Experience Learning, an outdoor education center in wild and wonderful West Virginia, and I have spent the better part of my adult life working there as an instructor/guide/manager. Through Experience Learning I have learned how to build a community within each group I take out in the woods, helping them excel in the outdoors often with only the resources on their backs. One of my main goals is that the learning does not stop when a participant leaves a trip. By blending the outdoor experience with educational lessons such as geology, forest ecology, forest history, and many others, participants can take home the skills and knowledge that will continue to positively influence their lives. These are the skills and goals that I take on each and every trip as I guide both adults and students in the outdoors.

Working as an outdoor educator has allowed me to hone both my teaching and guiding skills, leading 15 trips a year for over 17 years in both the US and Europe. Whether I am taking people on hut-to-hut hikes in the Alps or canoeing down the Delaware river in New Jersey, connecting people to the outdoors and giving them an opportunity to push past their comfort zones to find out what they’re capable of is a lifelong pursuit of mine.  

In addition to 17 years of outdoor education experience, I’ve thru-hiked the Appalachian and the Continental Divide Trails. I have also backpacked through the Swiss Alps, the West Highland Way in Scotland, and the Routeburn Track in New Zealand. For now, Seneca Creek Backcountry in West Virginia is my home, where I like to roam through the forests on a daily basis. 

Kat on Grays Peak in Colorado

Emily Wheelis

  • Albuquerque, NM
  • 38 years-old
  • she/her

I am new to commercial guiding but have spent much of my adult life introducing friends to the backcountry and planning and organizing trips around the US and into Canada. I love helping people learn to navigate and enjoy the raw beauty of the outdoors. As an ER doctor, safely navigating remote areas includes being prepared for what can go wrong, and so I am looking forward to helping clients add to their backcountry skill sets with some basic first aid preparedness.

I have been backpacking for as long as I can remember, first with my Dad and later solo or with friends. The wilderness has always been where I go to recharge. However, I have also been fortunate to combine my personal love of the outdoors with my work and completed a Wilderness Medicine Fellowship after my residency and continue to train in Search and Rescue techniques as well as teaching health care providers about outdoor related injuries and illness.

New for the 2023 season

Emily enjoying a backcountry trip near Banff.

Jessica Winters

  • Seattle, WA
  • 45 years-old
  • Live with my significant other and our 3 dogs, Noodle the Berner, Crash the Great Pyrenees and Holden, my senior citizen, black lab. 
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Website
  • she/her

This is my 6th season guiding for Andrew and I truly enjoy spending time with our amazing clients! I love making connections and learning about each individual I get to work with in my groups. My goals are to support clients, share my expertise, and just have a really good time in the backcountry. 

I’m a full-time yoga teacher and lead outdoor yoga and rafting expeditions in places like the Grand Canyon, Alaska, and Idaho. I’m an educator at heart and I love planting seeds of empowerment and knowledge for whatever goals you have next. 

I completed the Triple Crown in 2007 by thru-hiking the Pacific Crest, Appalachian, and Continental Divide Trails. I thru-hiked across Iceland, the Arizona Trail, and have logged thousands of miles in the Cascades and Olympics. I’ve climbed two of the seven summits; Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro, and love peak bagging and climbing in the Cascade mountains.

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Jessica shared with us that this was a brand new route and that she’d only received the beta the night before. She allowed us to be a part of the navigation and decision making process to start letting us all lead. Jessica was super chill and easy to chat with.  Of course she has soooo much experience and we could all sense that.”
  • ” Pushed me to do things I’ve never done with SUCH grace, humor, kindness that I did not even know she was “pushing.””
  • “Jessica excelled in sharing her experiences with an incredibly light touch and in a cheerful way. Jessica was completely respectful and supportive of me as well as the whole group. Her attention to detail, especially teaching self care kept everyone healthy, happy, and moving.”
  • “Set a steady pace, lead the group, checked in on people individually, shared food, shared knowledge, and was a great overall guide. We had a challenging river crossing experience but Jessica navigated that like a true professional which was really impressive to see. I totally trust her navigation and outdoor skills 100% and aspire to be like her!”
Jessica on the top of Mount Olympus!

Witt Wisebram

  • Atlanta, GA
  • 38 years-old
  • Cat Dad to Rutherford (Trail Name: Catmandu)
  • Instagram
  • he/him/his

This is my second season guiding with Andrew. I am excited to continue learning from such an experienced team, and I am also looking forward to bringing my skill-set, experience, and perspective to our clients this season. I grew up backpacking in the Southeast, and I spend most of my time in the woods along the Appalachian Trail in Northern Virginia. I have worked as an Appalachian Trail Ridgerunner, patrolling 55 miles of trail between Harpers Ferry, WV, and Shenandoah National Park over the last four years. In the past I have guided for REI and privately guided in Chilean Patagonia.

Some of the most profound and enriching outdoor experiences I have had in recent years have been helping others to achieve their goals. It feels like a natural extension, after achieving many of my own goals and dreams, to help others find their way to their own goals in the outdoors. From helping Stringbean achieve his amazing Arizona Trail FKT to helping friends finish their first 100 mile races to encouraging hikers as they begin the 2nd half of the Appalachian Trail, these experiences have helped broaden and expand my own relationship to the outdoors. I hope to help clients not only learn and grow, but to do so in a way that fosters respect, connection, and a deeper relationship with the natural world.

I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2003, at the age of 19. Since then I have completed the Triple Crown of long distance hiking, and I have been able to find strength and push my limits in the outdoors in ways that I never thought possible. I have held FKT’s for the 100-mile-wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail, the Arizona Trail self-supported, the four-state-challenge of the Appalachian Trail, and the Appalachian Trail through all of Shenandoah National Park unsupported. I have been competitive in a broad range of ultra marathons, including top 5 performances at the Moab 240 and the Cocodona 250. Most recently I took 2nd place at the Across the Years 10-day-race by running 630 miles in the 10 days. I am a Wilderness EMT as well as a Leave No Trace educator.

My favorite testimonials from 2022 clients

  • “Witt was awesome. He was very knowledgeable and fun to hike with. He’s just a chill dude who knows his shit. He’s got a friend in me.”
  • “Witt was very kind, patient and so damn funny.”
  • “He is an excellent listener, always checking on my drinking water status, showtime singing voice.”
  • “Excellent wilderness first aid presentation; great stories; good advice on backpacking-related issues.”
  • “Super mellow, kind, and knowledgeable.”
Cold, hungry, and wet in the Wind River Range. One of the best days I’ve ever had.

Jeff Wohl

  • Lander, WY
  • Born in 1978 
  • Live with partner, Nikki Mann (fellow Skurka Guide), 2 dogs, sometimes ravens, magpies, or other rescue creatures
  • Social Media is no fun in rural Wyoming! You should see how long a text takes. 
  • he/him/his

This is my third season guiding with Andrew. I really enjoy connecting people to nature as well as teaching skills and decision making that empower people to embark on their own adventures. 

I grew up in Wyoming and climbed my first 13’er when I was six, yet I still get excited about outdoor adventures! I’ve been an outdoor educator for over twenty years and spent 200 weeks in the field instructing: backpacking, climbing, horse-packing, caving and winter programs for NOLS. I also took time off from teaching to thru-hike the Continental Divide Trail. 

I have worked for the Nature Conservancy as a guide/naturalist alongside experts such as ornithologists David Allen Sibley, bear biologist Chuck Jonkel, and Smithsonian paleo-botanists Scott Wing. My book, Alaska: Illustrated Guide for the Curious, is a guide to common land and marine creatures and their habitats. 

I am a Wilderness First Aid Instructor. 

My favorite testimonials from 2022

  • Jeff is a walking encyclopedia of the outdoors- backpacking, biology, animal identification, history and geology. 
  • Jeff is truly brilliant about finding routes and navigating terrain. 
  • I learned more from Jeff in five days than other person or content channel in all of my backpacking experience. 
  • The way in which Jeff excelled for me personally was being a safe place I could depend on. 
  • His experience is off the chart.