About James

My guiding apprenticeship began in 1979 working for the Yamnuska Mountain School in the Canadian Rockies near Banff.  Early on it became clear to me that a life in high wild places and sharing those adventures with others was a fulfilling avocation. I pursued my guide training and in 1988 I received my UIAGM/IFMGA qualification as a Mountain Guide. Throughout this period I was also very active with my personal climbing - traveling to places like Yosemite, Peru, Pakistan, Nepal and Europe - building my experience base and having many grand adventures. Big wall climbing, waterfall ice, slogging up 8000 meter peaks - I was keen to become a competent generalist in all aspects of climbing! In addition to chasing my climbing dreams, I was also the owner/operator of the Yamnuska Mountain School with a staff of 30 guides working for me. While this gave me lots of management experience, being the "boss" resulted in more time inside than I liked, so in 1989 I sold Yamnuska to follow a career as an independent mountain guide.

My personal adventures have taken me to numerous Himalayan peaks like Mount Everest (twice), Broad Peak, Ganganpurna, Shivling, Bagarathi. I have also spent a lot of time in South America with both guiding and personal trips to Huascaran, Alpamayo, Huandoy and Aconcagua. I have been fortunate to enjoy a varied career path which has also involved helicopter and cat skiing, ski touring and avalanche consulting.

In addition to guiding, the 90's saw me in the role of Technical Director for the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), which is the professional association of mountain guides. Responsibilities in that role included managing the ACMG training and certification program, training new guides and overseeing technical standards. I learned a lot through this experience and I am still active with the ACMG Technical Committee.

In 1997, my wife Lesley, had the second best idea she has ever had and on November 27 our son Simon was born. In addition to all the usual joys of parenting I now have a strapping young climbing partner! We get out as a family as often as we can- skiing, climbing and surfing. Kids are great and it has been a good education to experience the mountains thru the eyes of a youngster.

Now in the middle of my fourth decade of mountain guiding I find myself as keen as ever.  Whether I am climbing Mount Athabasca (I estimate about 160 plus ascents...I lost track),ski touring in Iceland, tying in for a new route in the Waddington Range or waiting out a storm in a tent below Mount Kennedy- it is all good! It is great to be out, get to know new people and reconnect with the guests who have come back all these years. It is a big world and a wonderful journey.

My Approach

My approach is to provide fun mountaineering & skiing trips that maintain a sensible balance between risk and keeping the "adventure" in adventure. I view mountain guiding as a collaborative effort between my guests and me. To be safe on a challenging objective I need to get to know you, what your background is and together we design the experience. My role is largely of an educator and enabler. I help you develop the skills and experience to realize your climbing and skiing dreams maintaining safety as a high priority. Often that means a balance of training and experiential time to learn and apply new skills.

I believe that summits are secondary to the journey and a successful trip leaves everyone enriched. Usually that means a memorable day, some pleasantly sore muscles and a new tale to tell about your recent mountaineering adventure.