Hatcher Passion

I first came to Hatcher Pass near Palmer Alaska on a film project I had set up with my media cooperative company, Vertical Integration, about a decade ago. Jon Gurry, Dave Magoffin and I had organized a trip to film for Telemark Skier Magazine's (TSM) annual movie. We invited two young chargers Spencer Jonas and Andrew Schauer. Cody Smith came as the principle cinematographer for TSM. At that point Vertical Integration had become a driving force in the background behind a lot of the telemark industry's media in film, photography, and writing. After years working in Valdez Alaska utilizing helicopters I decided to embark on a different kind of trip utilizing human power and some snowmobile assisted access with the Vertical Integration crew in the Chugach around Girdwood and the Talkeetna Range near Palmer. Jon Gurry had moved to Palmer, and Dave Magoffin was based in Girdwood. The two locations allowed for flexibility of different weather patterns, access to a resort in Alyeska, and a plethora of human power and snowmobile assisted access. Leaving the helicopters out of the equation opened budget space as well as opportunity to build content regardless of weather. We shot under this program for two projects in subsequent years yielding countless content streams for Telemark Skier Magazine's pages, social media, and annual movie. After these projects I had not returned for years as I retired from athlete work to become a backcountry ski guide. Now in my last stages of the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) ski guide track I needed to chase some bigger lines and some glacier experience. I thought there would be no better way to do so than to go back to the backyard of my long time touring partner, Jon Gurry, in the Talkeetna Range. 

From Jon's home in Palmer Alaska the grandeur of the surrounding

Spring Training

Spring for me in the mountains these days is all about training in the ski mountaineering skill set. I have been a backcountry ski guide for a decade now, but this year the American Mountain Guide Association(AMGA) is making a move that essential turns them into the union for mountain guides in the United States. This summer they will be enlisting what they call "Scope of Practice" which essentially says if you want to be, or work for, an AMGA accredited outfitter, then you have to go through their programs and guides must have certain levels of AMGA training to guide certain terrain under certain roles. Part of this includes a basic skill set in ski mountaineering. I missed being grandfathered in as a "tenured guide" by two years as I started guiding in 2010 and the cut-off was 2008. As such, I have to train up and go through all the AMGA courses to comply. Despite the fact that I have no desire to guide mountaineering objectives I have to gain a basic skill set in the mountaineering craft. Luckily for me, I do value the skill set and am excited to learn it as the crossover to the kind of guiding I do every day is indeed applicable. I don't want to guide Everest or Denali, but the skills to do so are cool and I am enjoying learning them. I am not a climber. A long time ago I chose to buy a mountain bike over a rock climbing rack and the rest is history. I became a ski guide and a mountain bike guide and my little bit of rock climbing skills completely atrophied. Therefore, the training I have to do to get proficient in these early stages of the AMGA path are my most difficult skills to attain. So as I always have in my past, I train. The last two years I have gone all-in on training in these skills each spring during mountaineering season. The absolute best way I have done this is through mentorship with guides I know and trust. This weekend that meant joining up with my colleagues at Inspired Summit Adventures to enroll in their ski mountaineering camp. The four-day basecamp has been essential to my training as I will go sit for my AMGA Alpine Skills Course this summer. 

^We load up snowmobiles pulling toboggans with all

A #GuideLife Program

I always tell young aspiring backcountry ski guides that the key to being a ski guide is a diversified income stream. Honestly, the truth could be said for any profession that is intricately tied to the weather and the seasons. The statement is kind of a two-fold thing. One, is that as a young ski guide the consistency of work is difficult to manage in a life that typically has consistent fixed expenses. Second, is the diversity of skill sets within the #GuideLife that is helpful to craft a more and more consistent workflow. I have been a guide for nearly a decade now and have developed a program that works for me. It is not all glorious bluebird meadow skipping like the picture below or that my Instagram feed would lead folks to believe. 
photo: Chris Morgan
^These days I have so much guiding work that I have to

Trim to Win


Fall colors were on point for my trip to the U.P. of Michigan's Porcupine Mountains State Park where my dad and I drove up for a trim party in the woods with the a few of the tribe from Midwest Telefest, which is hosted at the Park's ski area each winter in early February. The objective was thinning out some glades for tree skiing at the ski area, as well as see some of our friends that we celebrate Midwest Telefest with. The experience was a bit different amidst a global pandemic, but all-in-all still a really enjoyable and productive trim session. 

^The drive up was really colorful. My dad and I packed our