Alex KendrallRock Climbing Guide
Alex grew up in Concord, New Hampshire and it was there in the mountains of New England where his spirit of adventure was sparked. A NOLS course at the age of 15 was the turning point that set him on the path of outdoor education, as well as for developing his skills in rock climbing and backpacking. Alex’s passion for shared wilderness experiences has culminated in a degree in Outdoor Education and certifications from the American Mountain Guiding Association (AMGA). Moving to California was the culmination of a dream come true, where he is able to combine his passion for climbing with a career in guiding. He remains one of our most requested rock guides in addition to leading our longer backpacking departures.
Allissa BrushBackcountry Guide
A native to Northern California, I am fortunate to have lived all my years in or just beneath the Sierra Nevada. My grandparents, professors and weekend warriors, raised my dad with a sense for the outdoors, encouraged my family on yearly camping trips, took me to my first REI, taught me my first two wildflowers (Lupine and Indian Paintbrush, anyone?), and profoundly inspired me with recounts and map viewings of Sierra sojourns. To follow in their steps, I began my studies in English and Environmental Science at Sierra College as a young teen, but took a leap when I accepted my first job in Yosemite for a summer away when I was 18. I never left (at least, not for long). What began as a painful season of slinging burgers at the Village Grill blossomed into a life of nonstop exploration, dedication to the study of my surroundings, winters abroad traipsing new mountain ranges, and a career in guiding. After four fulfilling years on the trail with the Yosemite Mountaineering School, I transitioned to a life in the backcountry, working for NPS Trail Crew, where I gained a fascinating new perspective of the miles of trail beneath my feet and redefined what it personally meant to work hard. The next career move came as I sought to rekindle the experience of teaching and connecting with visitors and accepted a new position running a volunteer program for Yosemite Conservancy, where we maintained and restored trails and meadow habitat throughout the park. As the world shifted during the pandemic, so did mine. I said goodbye to the full-time homes with nylon walls and my truck shell camper, and moved to a real house in Midpines, where my partner, our rescue pup and I look across to the expanse of the Clark Range every day, and I train in the hills for a glorious season in the High Sierra with SYMG.
Andrea CanaparyHiking Guide
Andrea Canapary has found ways to combine her love of the outdoors and education for most of her life. Introducing people of all ages to new ways of looking at nature in order to notice more details of the world around them is a passion. She spent ten summers working at a camp based around connecting young people to nature and wilderness in the Adirondack Mountains of New York - the first years as Wilderness Trip Program Director and Trip Leader and then as a Director of the Junior Camp. She has instructed at Environmental Education Centers in California and Oregon and for 18 years has been teaching classes touching on both the natural and human history of Yosemite to California Conservation Corps Trail Crews. Her introduction to Yosemite happened 20 years ago when she was assigned to lead a CCC Backcountry Trail Crew for five months, most of which was spent in the Yosemite high country near Vogelsang (above Tuolumne Meadows). After two seasons living and working in the backcountry, she settled just outside of the park to raise her family. They have since enjoyed countless adventures in Yosemite’s front and backcountry. She is excited to guide you on a trip that will leave you with some equally incredible memories!
Andrew SkurkaBackcountry Guide
Andrew Skurka, a graduate of Duke University is an accomplished 28-year-old professional backpacker who is most well known for his two monumental long-distance hiking firsts -- the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop and the 7,778-mile Sea-to-Sea Route. He was named the 2007 "Adventurer of the Year" by National Geographic Adventure (which described him as "a Gen Y version of Henry David Thoreau or John Muir") and the 2005 "Person of the Year" by Backpacker. In November 2007 Skurka completed the Great Western Loop, a superb 6,875-mile journey that links together 5 long-distance hiking trails, 12 National Parks, and over 75 wilderness areas, which he blazed in 208 days. And in July 2005 he completed the Sea-to-Sea Route, a transcontinental network of long-distance hiking trails from Quebec to Washington, which took him 11 months and which involved 1,400 miles of snowshoeing. Skurka's shorter hikes include the 1,700-mile California section of the Pacific Crest Trail (in 44 days), the 480-mile Colorado Trail (twice), the 2,170-mile Appalachian Trail (in 95 days), a 385-mile trek through northern Minnesota in January, and many week- and weekend-long trips in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming.
In addition to the distinctions from Adventure and Backpacker, Skurka was featured in Outside's 2007 "Outside 100" list and in Men's Journal's "2005 Adventure Hall of Fame." He has appeared in numerous newspapers and television broadcasts, including The Wall Street Journal and the Fox News Channel. Andrew will be designing and leading some special long distance trips for SYMG in 2010.
Becca GeorgeLogistics Coordinator
I grew up in a small beach town in Southern California, although my love for the Sierra is generational. My parents were ski bums and river guides and as kids, they brought me and my siblings on epic adventures all over the Golden state. With endless road trips, camping vacations and backpacking summer camps, my love for the outdoors and nature grew immensely and authentically. As an adult I've continued exploring this marvelous state; spending numerous hours adventuring in the mountains, desert, and ocean to alternatively experiencing the professional city life in San Francisco and LA. I always knew I somehow wanted to combine my profession with mountain living. Stepping away from “city life”, most recently I’ve found myself pretty comfortably nestled into a sleepy mountain town of the western Sierra foothills working as the Logistics Coordinator for SYMG. I enjoy the day to day of communicating with guests and local vendors about travel, permitting, transportation, lodging and everything in between. The mountains are where I feel the most alive and free and on my days off you’ll find me hiking, climbing, or searching for new swimming holes (and in the wintertime, skiing) with my husband and Siberian husky. My favorite quote that I continue to live by is, “Beauty all around me, with it, I wander".
Brendan HayesHiking Guide
There are so many reasons why working as a guide is the obvious choice for me. I love to travel, experience wild places, meet interesting people, and stay physically active. Guiding enables me to keep doing all of that but mostly it just validates the sense I have of myself as a liaison between people and the world outside. When people travel we take time to reflect upon the world and our place in it, which although more important than ever we seldom do anymore. So I believe that encouraging and enabling people to simply be in the world is a worthy contribution and, having spent my entire adult life so far pursuing adventure, it must be what I'm most qualified to do.
Brienne O'DonnellBackcountry Guide
Brienne was born and raised in Michigan. Surrounded by the Great Lakes, the water and outdoors always played a central role in her life. In her freshman year of college, she went on a formative month-long backpacking trip in the North Cascades and realized that an indoor job wouldn't provide her with a certain level of contentment. Her path to the Sierra Nevada and SYMG has been a bit spontaneous, following multiple lengthy adventures in New Zealand, some time working in outdoor retail, and a stressful bike touring trip turned car-bumming adventure across Florida's panhandle and some of the South. However, this place and these people have left an indelible mark on Brienne's life. Brienne enjoys taking people out to experience the Sierras in all their natural beauty, from cherishing the smallest, subtle alpine flower to the more grandiose granite landscapes. Brienne has found that the most realistic way to protect wild places is to get folks to experience the outdoors, authentically. She continues to share this passion with guests on trips, helping people understand our role and immediate connection to the natural world.
Casey AndrewsBackcountry Guide
My love for nature began when I grew up as a surfer on the beaches of southern California. I loved observing the constant change of the ocean and becoming a part of that landscape. When the time for college came, I moved to Monterey to study environmental science. There I realized that my passion for the ocean carried over to wild places of all kinds. I started guiding kayaking, hiking, and rock climbing along the central California coast, and grew an obsession for exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After college, I worked as a wildlife biologist in the Sierra National Forrest studying an animal called the Fisher. Since then, I have returned to these mountains every season to work, guide tours, climb, and enjoy the healthy lifestyle they provide. In the off seasons I have taught outdoor education in the Moab area, guided backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon, and travelled internationally in the constant search for new mountains and waves. However far I go, when summer in North America comes around, there is no other place I’d rather be than the Sierra Nevada. The opportunities these mountains provide have kept me focused, motivated, and happy through out the years. They give me something to look forward to every day, and I can’t wait to share this experience with you!
Chris WinderBackcountry Guide
I grew up in Suburban Southern California; always looking forward to our summer fishing trips to the Eastern Sierra. It was on those trips that I found my passion for mountains. I’ve worked and explored all over the west as a backcountry trail/conservation crew leader, as well as a small-scale farmer and horticulturist. I have an associate’s degree in Outdoor Education from Colorado Mountain College as well as a bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Adventure Leadership from Southern Oregon University. Those two degrees came eight years apart and in that time I found myself always planning my next extended trip into the mountains. After a trip to Nepal In 2016, I decided to re-focus my life on guiding and spending as much of my time as possible in the mountains sharing my passion with anyone in my proximity. I couldn’t be more stoked to share this “Range of light” with all of you.
Colby BrokvistBackcountry Guide
Colby began his career at SYMG as a backpacking and mountaineering guide and continues to lead select trips each season. He found his niche specializing as expedition leader for our longer backpacking departures such the John Muir Trail, Yosemite High Passes Loop, Yosemite Grand Traverse and Trans-Sierra Trail. After several years he assumed the role of senior backcountry guide where he aided in the development of new itineraries and course development, including SYMG's guide training course, a program which he continues to lead. The ability to strike a balance between the adventurous and relaxing aspects of mountain travel continues to earn Colby praise as both a trip leader and planner. He is equally at home on technical peak ascents as he is lazing in wildflower-strewn mountain meadows. In addition to his many mountaineering accreditations, Colby is a dedicated naturalist and finds his passion for guiding in providing interpretive and educational experiences for all of his clients. He holds a degree in Environmental Sciences and has been known to burst into explanations of alpine plant physiology in the middle of 14,000' peak ascents! Describing his love of the guiding lifestyle, Colby once wrote "It is both the serenity and excitement of the wilderness that compels me to it and I only hope to enjoy it with good friends."
Connor BassBackcountry Guide
Growing up in urban Minneapolis, MN my love for the outdoors wasn’t on my radar for some time. It wasn’t until halfway through high school when an opportunity came to go backpacking near Whitefish, MT that I discovered how great being outside could be. My love for the outdoors grew even more when I moved to SoCal for college at San Diego State to study Environmental Science. It was there that I discovered rock climbing and the endless opportunities that the mountains could give me. I started working for the Outdoor Education program which enabled me to share the outdoors with my peers through guiding various activities on weekends to nearby state and national parks. After working for outdoor education for some time, I decided to gain more knowledge from a NOLS mountaineering course that took place in Washington state. Two days after my college graduation, I moved to Alaska to guide on a glacier, but California was calling me back. As my first summer in the Sierra, I’m excited to explore with you!
Dahlia BlauBackcountry Guide
Dahlia Blau grew up along the California coast but now resides where she can be close to the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Some of her favorite activities growing up involved swimming, kayaking, river rafting, and desert camping. Now, her soul resides in the mountains where she can trek, climb, hike, ski, trail run, and swim in the alpine lakes. When Dahlia isn’t in the mountains she can be found exploring the canyons of Utah. Dahlia graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2015 with a degree in Environmental/Biology. It was at UC Santa Cruz that she discovered her passion for opting outdoors and being a naturalist. By observing nature and doing some of her favorite activities such as birding and botanizing, she can share the importance of our natural resources with others. One of her greatest accomplishments so far has been completing the Khumbu Three Pass trek in Nepal during the summer of 2015. Along the trek she had the opportunity to visit Everest Base Camp and to sit at 18,500ft looking up at the top of Everest Mountain itself. Her philosophy: Feed your soul through curiosity.
Daniel JohnsonRock Climbing Guide
Daniel was born in Virginia but calls North Carolina’s Piedmont home. As a child growing up in the country, he had a very “free-range” existence. Often, he’d spend the weekends stomping through the humid forests or biking along the quiet roads. Being outdoors was instrumental in his childhood. After high school, he attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating with a B. S. in Aerospace Engineering and minor in Mandarin Chinese. Funny enough, he knows very little Chinese. Commissioning into the Navy as a pilot, he moved to Florida for flight school and then to Whidbey Island, Washington where the beauty of the Pacific Northwest encapsulated him. His passion for the outdoors and sharing the experiences that it invokes grew and grew, leading him into a career in the outdoor industry. His passions are, in no particular order, his dog named Nico, rock climbing, and photography. He’s really psyched on the Range of Light and thinks it’s one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the world — from the pristine, white granite to the serene meadows surrounding the alpine lakes.
Emma NortonBackcountry Guide
I grew up along the New Hampshire seacoast, where I was able to explore the sandy beaches and unassumingly rugged mountains of the Northeast. In my late high school years I found a love for climbing, hiking and cycling, but it wasn’t until I was a student at Middlebury College in Vermont that I discovered a real love for time spent in the backcountry. While earning a degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, I made time to guide backpacking trips in the White Mountains, Green Mountains, North Cascades, and Olympics, as well as sea kayaking trips in the San Juan Islands. I was also lucky enough to spend a year working at a ski shop in Summit County Colorado, where I fell in even deeper love with the alpine. Aside from spending time outside, I enjoy teaching yoga and indoor cycling classes, collecting fun hats, and reading anything I can get my hands on. I am beyond stoked to join the SYMG team and spend my summers in the Sierra!
Ethan AtkinsBackcountry Guide
My main goal as a guide is to be a storyteller and spread the love of being outside. When we step into a space, we are becoming part of its story whether it lives on in our heart or in family values. Creating a narrative of connection and letting you into this community of the natural world is my passion as a guide. I spent most of my youth around the Monterey Bay in California. I credit my parents as the catalysts for getting me into being outside with long road trips around the United States with a "free to roam" policy. I was able to explore places with a feeling of adventure, which has stuck with me ever since. The road to guiding started off with taking my sisters on backyard adventures and then quickly evolved into explorations of the backcountry of Big Sur with friends. I later found myself studying in the adventure education department at Prescott College and through their studies in the southwest classrooms earned a degree in experiential education. I currently split my time living in the mountains of Big Sur teaching outdoor education and traveling to work as a guide on Mount Shasta. Through winter in Baja, summer in the High Sierra, a southwest rock saga, I’m a happy camper. Stoked to get out there with y’all!
Fred AckermanBackcountry Guide
It's been a strange road to this job for me. A Bay Area native, I studied linguistics at UCSD and worked for years as a paralegal in San Diego. On my first backpacking trip in college, I walked 20+ miles in inappropriate footwear and spent a few cold nights in front of the fire without a sleeping bag, and I absolutely loved it. Soon, I was spending most of my free time and some not so free time plotting and executing adventures to the endless wild places of California. Instead of law school, I took a sabbatical from the office to go live on a fishing boat in Alaska. I had a total blast working outdoors, 12 to 17 hours a day?or more often, night?during one of the harshest winters in Alaskan history. My reasons for pursuing a law degree were lost at sea. I finally quit the legal business, and I'm now an EMT with a certification in wilderness medicine. To date, I've walked and climbed thousands of miles in, on and around the Sierra including a solo 200+ mile hike of the Sierra High Route. In the winter, I work (using the term loosely) as a ski patroller. I'm not a morning person and don't tell my bosses, but getting up at 5 a.m. to throw explosives and ski fresh powder is something I'd without a doubt do for free. The rewards of working as a guide at SYMG are likewise numerous. To name just a few, you meet people of all ages and backgrounds from around the world and can often play a part in bringing those people to the realization that they are capable of great things in the outdoors. Your office is the big outside, and reading up on geology or mountaineering techniques or culinary arts is no longer procrastination; it's study time. Last and perhaps least, the water from glacial tarns does absolute wonders for beard growth. In short, I've found my dream job.
Greg AielloBackcountry Guide
"Greg Aiello is one fantastic guide" said one our clients this summer and that about says it all! Greg is a Yosemite area native and local and the love for his backyard, the Sierra, shows in every moment spent with him in the mountains. Greg works as an adventure videographer in the industry between guiding and is often on location all over the world. If you think Greg looks familiar, that's because you may have seen him on TV as the star host for the ABC's National LiveWell Network Adventure show "Motion"
Ian ElmanPresident & Co-Founder
Simply put, I still love to guide! Spending over 25 years as a guide has been the best way to spend my life. I love the beautiful places we go, sure, but it’s the great people we share those with that make the lifestyle so rewarding. I have walked the entire John Muir Trail with you, climbed in the Peruvian Andes with you, scaled the Mexican Volcanoes with you, mountaineering in Argentina, rafting and kayaking Costa Rica, Fly fishing in Montana and Utah, and of course thousands of hiking days in our backyard of Yosemite and California’s High Sierra! I enjoy giving back to the community by offering trips and programs for charities and school groups. I enjoy the challenge of the logistics of having dozens of trips out in the backcountry (sometimes hundreds of people across the Sierra) all at the same time. I find great pleasure continuing to fulfill SYMG’s mission statement on a daily basis including providing fulfilling employment and lifestyle for all of the guides and aspiring guides in our organization. Someone recently asked me, “still doing that camping thing?” I smiled and proudly said “ Yep, still doing the camping thing…”
Jackson HaldermanBackcountry Guide
I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, and was lucky enough to have spent most summers of my childhood in the Trinity Alps of Northern California. That was where my love for rugged wilderness and the bonds it can help create between groups of people was born. Once I became old enough, I started leading backpacking trips there and discovered I had a passion for guiding. I love seeing the growth that can happen both in individuals and in groups from time spent in the backcountry, and find a great sense of fulfillment in being able to facilitate that experience. I worked in the Trinity Alps for several summers while pursuing a bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. Living in BC gave me the opportunity to experience a completely different type of wilderness, and I spent all of my free time backpacking, skiing and climbing in the rugged alpine and temperate rainforests. After finishing my degree, I decided to further pursue guiding in wild and remote places, and am thrilled to be able to explore the Sierra with you!
Jason AngressInternational Guide
Some of my earliest memories are of camping in Yosemite and its surroundings. In fact, my first word was ‘‘Elmer’’; a result of having heard the name countless times in the California camping tradition of calling through the forest at sundown in search of a missing boy. As a kid, I cherished the opportunities to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and breathe in the mountain air of the Sierra Nevada. As an adult, the call of the wild has steered my decisions and has led me to expand my radius in search of new frontiers. In 2006 I moved to the South Pacific nation of Tonga where I lived for 5 years running adventure and cultural tours. When a Google search turned up stunning images of Chile’s Cochamó Valley, the Yosemite of South America, I felt the travel itch once again and set off to explore Patagonia. I have been installed in the Chilean town of Puerto Varas since 2011 leading hiking and mountain bike trips through one of the last unspoiled stretches of temperate rainforest on earth. I am devoted to creating unique and memorable experiences in this wilderness playground for nature lovers of all kinds. The emphasis for me is not just on arriving from point A to point B, but on really appreciating the in-between. I simply love what I do and have been told that my passion shines through in my guiding.
Jenny KaneBackcountry Guide
I find space to be myself in the outdoors, and this place is my inspiration. As a child, my dad used to pack up the family for a week and head to Yosemite every summer. We drove our minivan from Los Angeles into the lower pines campground and parked. This was the great outdoors to me. Later, after high school I started working in the Park during my summer breaks - first with the concession service, then with the National Park Service. I interned with the wilderness department for two summers (once as an SCA volunteer) and during that time hiked about half of Yosemite's backcountry trails, about 400 miles. It was during this time that I discovered a deeper appreciation and love for wild lands and found my artistic inspiration. I am a teacher by training and have worked as a guide for the Boojum Institute and Naturlalists At Large. But, I'm a learner at heart, thus my interests and talents are diverse. I love languages, culture, art and poetry as much as the mountains and can find inspiration in all of them, especially in combination. I enjoy the stillness in the mountains and look forward to sharing my love for Yosemite and the world with each of you this summer.
Katie BurnsBackcountry Guide
Like every good Southern Californian, I grew up beach camping and cherish many memories with family and friends from those trips. As a college freshman I was introduced to the Sierra on a winter backpacking trip. Even though it was incredibly cold to this So Cal girl, it is fair to say that I fell in love with the mountains on that trip. I have been enchanted by the Sierra ever since. I find it hard to say no to outdoor adventures; running, hiking, backpacking, skiing and climbing, I love it all! When I'm not guiding for SYMG I work for a university based here in the Southern Yosemite area; where I use the outdoors to teach leadership. For the last 7 years, I have been so fortunate to get to guide year around. A few years ago, I was packing up for a trip while at my parent's house. My mom walked in, gave me a slightly confused look and asked; "Why do you love it so much?" My answer was simple; I get to meet and keep company with some really amazing people and I get to share with them some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Sharing beautiful places, with friends (new or old) is why I find myself increasingly more excited to guide with each passing year.
Laurel TaschettaBackcountry Guide & Rock Guide
Growing up in Northern California, I took for granted my childhood spent mostly outdoors. As I began to develop my own relationship to the natural world and my personal environmental ethic, I realized how fortunate I was to have the exposure and access to the outdoors that I had in my youth. Concurrently, I discovered a love of teaching and was profoundly influenced by many mentorship relationships I was involved in within rock climbing and outdoor recreation communities. In the outdoors, I find that I am always teaching and learning. Whether it is learning a new technical system in rock climbing, or noticing a pattern in nature, sharing experiences in the outdoors, through my work, and through personal adventures, has been so fulfilling and joyful. Working as an outdoor educator at various sites across California, I have been reconnected with many places I visited years ago and inspired by opportunities to learn more about the lands I travel. While I love all the unique and wild landscapes of California, the mountains thrill me most. After spending three summers working for an outdoor education nonprofit in the Lake Tahoe area, I am eager to spend extended time in the Sierra Nevada backcountry and share in all the magic that it has to offer!
Linnea PiersonHiking Guide
Linnea grew up playing outdoors in northern California, hiking in the coastal redwoods, and jumping in waves at the beach. Coming to Yosemite became a summer tradition by her high school years, starting with hiking Half Dome and then doing backpacking trips soon after. She has backpacked, biked, and skied throughout Yosemite (and nearby areas) including hiking the John Muir Trail and biking all roads within the park. She has taught outdoor education in Colorado, Washington, Minnesota, and now Yosemite. Since moving to Yosemite, she has worked as an Environmental Science Educator and Evening Manager for NatureBridge (an outdoor education non-profit), an NPS Campgrounds/Entrance Station Ranger, a Naturalist for Yosemite Conservancy, and is happy to be part of the SYMG team. One of Linnea’s favorite things about working with people in the outdoors is how it can spark a sense of peace, adventure, joy, accomplishment, and so much more. She is excited to share the wonder of Yosemite with you!
Matt CairnsOperations Director & Backcountry Guide
Inspired by Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones and Jack Kerouac's "On The Road", I chased an adventurous life of world travel since I was 18. I hitchhiked across seven different countries, sailed across two seas, and motorcycled across South America. I've climbed two of the world's tallest mountains, and pioneered a 1,000 mile route across the Canadian boreal forest, tundra and sub arctic for 64 days with a canoe by map and compass. Today, I'm inspired by my guests. Adventure and a connection to nature run deep in the blood of every human, and I love that I get the chance to aid others on their own "Frodo's Adventure". I've been guiding since 2015, and have spent over 500 working field days/nights with over 2,000 guests in dozens of parks including Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Superstition Mountains, Havasupai, Canyon De Chelly, and Southern Utah. Yosemite is, of course, my favorite.
Matteo FioriGeneral Manager
I have probably spent more of my life outdoors than indoors. Growing up in the Bay Area, I had ample opportunity to explore the coastal mountain ranges. My love of the wilderness began as an undergraduate at CSU Monterey Bay, where I volunteered with the Ventana Wilderness Alliance, clearing brush and doing trail maintenance during in the backcountry of Big Sur. Eventually, I made my way to the Sierra Nevada, leading trips with Outward Bound, Yosemite Institute, and other organizations, earning a Master's in Environmental Studies at Prescott College along the way. After a five year stint in Chile climbing/backpacking extensively in the Andes, I finally followed my heart back home, and am excited to be leading a team of wilderness professionals in the Yosemite region. In my free time I enjoy music, chess, gardening, reading, writing, and continuing to explore the granite wonderland that is the Sierra Nevada.
Michelle BeebeBackcountry Guide
My sense of wonder, adventure, curiosity, and exploration first began to develop in my backyard in Upstate NY where I grew up making forts and trails in the woods, spending time at our family camp on Lake Moraine, and camping and hiking in the beautiful Adirondack mountains. Since then, my thirst for adventure and trail blazing has brought me around the world teaching, guiding, and recreating in places like Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, Baja California, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and the great state of Maine (to name a few). I have a B.A. in Psychology and Fine Arts from the University of California in San Diego and a M.S. in Outdoor Leadership and Environmental Education from the State University of New York in Cortland. My passion is to share my appreciation for wild spaces by guiding others into some of the most beautiful places on Earth allowing for a deeper connection with nature, themselves, and their community. Laughter, fun, and having an open mind and heart are key. When not blazing the trails you can find me usually by water, cooling off in a lake or stream or down by the sea, playing with creatures in tidepools and surfing.
Nate ValentineRock Climbing Guide
There is always something more to learn. That’s why outdoor guiding chose me. I celebrate any opportunity to learn, and to teach. In this career I get to do both on the daily. I feel wildly fortunate to be working with such a high quality group of guides at SYMG. I started climbing and backpacking in the far away land of Pennsylvania. I grew up in the Appalachian Trail town of Waynesboro, and while my inclination towards hiking was largely inspired by previous generations of Valentines, my introduction to the world of rock climbing came by way of my lifelong pal and fellow SYMG guide Benton Mitchell. He and I met in the 4th grade and grew up skiing the Pennsylvania hills together. After Benton invited me out for a day on some rock walls in 2013, the chain of events was set off and it led to me climbing all over the US on a variety of styles and rock types in about 15 states from California to Kentucky. I received my Wilderness First Responder certification from SOLO Wilderness Medicine and my Single Pitch Instructor Certification from the American Mountain Guides Association. When not climbing I can be found writing and performing music, mountain biking, golfing, gardening, cooking and attempting to be funny. I was a Civil War reenactor for most of my childhood and adolescence, history and esoterica are some of my favorite things. One of my favorite things about guiding is getting to know a variety of people!
Pete DevineHiking Guide
Pete grew up playing outdoors in New England and he connected with the West on family camping trips. He finished his biology degree in Colorado and went to work as an interpretive naturalist, national park ranger, river guide on the Colorado River, a teacher on Cape Cod, an outdoor educator in the mountains of Chile and an archeologist in New Zealand. He has biked around Iceland, backpacked the Alps, birded Costa Rica, and led trips to China’s national parks. Pete has been working in Yosemite for 25 years, where he has directed the education programs for the nonprofits Yosemite Institute (now NatureBridge) and Yosemite Conservancy. He has hiked, skied and cycled throughout the park in every season. He’s become a celebrated expert on Yosemite’s history and natural history, with specialties in studying the park’s glaciers, John Muir and Steller’s Jays. One of Pete’s favorite things about Yosemite is the people who are called to come experience this natural wonder for themselves. He enjoys sharing the awe to be discovered whether by first-time or veteran visitors.
Riley SumpBackcountry Guide
I began my life in the outdoors on camping trips in the Northwest with family the scout troop, around Mt Hood, Bend, and the Oregon coast. I went to a university in southern California for philosophy and economics, spending formative summers guiding on the coast of south-central Alaska in the Kenai Fjords National Park. My experience there, with deep, committing wilderness and incredible beauty, taught me the real value of spending time in the outdoors and sharing that with those around me. I dug into life in the mountains, exploring the ways to climb, ski, hike, and paddle the wilderness, deepening my experience as a guide as I went. I love the chance to share this Yosemite area. The best trips, in my opinion, are evenly balanced experiences that dig into both the stillness and beauty of the wilderness and the rewards of personal challenge. The Sierra Nevada makes an incredible backdrop for such experiences!
Rowen SchooleyBackcountry Guide
Wandering the woods and beaches of Michigan my whole life, I’ve always loved being outside. But after following my brother into the Wind River Range at 16, I’ve been chasing the alpine ever since. As I spent more time in the backcountry I wanted to stay longer and it became harder and harder to leave. With the great privilege of taking mountaineering and sea kayaking courses in the Aysén Region it was clear I wanted to devote my life to the outdoors. Doing so with the utmost respect being my highest priority, not solely for the environment, but for the Indigenous Peoples these lands belong to. I’m always trying to learn more and much of my time is spent working to save for my next class or outing.
Thomas BradfordBackcountry Guide
I was born in Pacifica on the peninsula of the San Francisco Bay. Much of my youth was spent exploring the coastline and hills surrounding his childhood home which led to a deep love for the natural world and exploring. Going to college in San Diego only solidified that love by allowing me the opportunity to work alongside wonderful people in the outdoor program as well as introducing me to rock climbing and geology as well as rad people to do both with. I’m incredibly excited to be able to get out with y’all in one of the most spectacular places imaginable!
Wilson KoontzBackcountry Guide
It's hard to say when I first fell in love with the outdoors. It's certainly been as long as I can remember. Growing up in the foothills of North Carolina, the Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway were my playgrounds. Shortly after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I spent what was intended to be only a summer in the Sierras. But, by the end of the trip I knew I had found a new home. Within two weeks of returning east, I had packed my car and started the coast-to-coast drive. I am now fortunate enough to spend my winters as a ski instructor in Lake Tahoe and my summer guiding in this spectacular mountain range.
Wyatt BarrettSupport Guide
Growing up in the countryside near San Luis Obispo, most of my time as a kid was spent outdoors wandering the local hillsides. I have spent my subsequent years seeking out and studying wild spaces as much as I can. While earning my Environmental Studies degree among the Redwoods at UCSC, I furthered my passion for being outdoors and was drawn to the Sierra where I fell in love with the high peaks and alpine meadows. My free time is usually spent climbing, birding, surfing, playing guitar, or some combination of those activities. I am beyond stoked to have the opportunity to be working in the Sierra and am looking forward to learning what it has to teach me.