I grew up in McGrath, Alaska, a small community on the Kuskokwim River in interior Alaska.
As a kid, being outside meant work. I didn't discover mountain recreation for play until I attended high school in Anchorage.
I managed to make the outdoors into work again by studying geology in college and two graduate programs (Carleton, UCSB, MIT). My field studies took me to Alaska, Norway, Nepal, Italy, and Greenland—I learned a lot about remote travel and logistics.
After returning to Alaska, I taught university physics and math and then spent ten years doing GIS work (geographic information systems). Each time I was due for a raise, I negotiated for more time off.
The combination of time off and exposure to GIS tools enabled me to plan progressively more ambitious and creative outings, like The Big Three—traverses of Denali, Logan, and Orizaba by human-power.
Outdoor education caught my attention after losing a friend in a packrafting incident in 2014. Forced to recognize gaps in my own knowledge, I recognized that I could help other people. I started transitioning to full-time outdoor education work in 2020 and was encouraged by the excellent reception of The Packraft Handbook—two national book awards.
I'm a certified Swiftwater Rescue Instructor (Swiftwater Safety Institute) and Ice Rescue Instructor (Lifesaving Resources). I'll also be teaching for the Alaska Avalanche School in 2024. My courses combine formal rescue training with hard-earned experience while traveling over 10,000 miles throughout Alaska.
All of my work falls under the wilderness risk management umbrella— my favorite brain landscape to explore! If you like learning about how we make decisions—good and bad—what goes right, and how to prepare for the stuff that goes wrong, you are in the right place.
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