We are wilderness specialists who have spent decades honing the many skills needed to explore the glaciers, rivers, mountains, and wilderness of the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
KWG is proud of the fact that most of our guides have been with us for at least 4 years. We are all certified Wilderness First Responders or Wilderness EMT. Our ice climbing guides have been trained, and are proficient in the industry standard Rigging For Rescue and AMGA SPI curriculum. We have based our packrafting program on the ACA level 4 paddle curriculum, and our packrafting guides are Wrangell Mountain packrafters and have been packraft ambassadors in rivers around the world. KWG guides also work with Search and Rescue teams in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve. We have spent thousands of nights out exploring, pioneering new routes, and guiding in the backcountry over the last 20 years, and we still love it.
Aside from our commitment to the guiding profession, we are also committed to Alaska and the Kennicott/ McCarthy area as well. Our Guides are knowledgeable of the natural and cultural history of the area and are involved in the community of McCarthy. We are also artists, educators and musicians, and believe in the value of rounding out the hard technical skills of wilderness travel with a creative perspective.
As far as we can tell, it’s almost impossible to not be smiling when you spend time with Betsy. She is always overflowing with passion and excitement about what she’s doing and the people she’s with, making it hard to not be affected by all that positive energy. Betsy’s thorough attention to every detail of a trip makes for unsurpassed client care. Her extensive knowledge of the Kennicott and the Wrangell St. Elias Wilderness could only come from her 15 years of climbing, hiking, rafting and exploring in the area. It is her love for the valley and its community that convinced Betsy buy property and build her own home in Kennicott overlooking the glaciers which she has been enjoying for so long. In 2011, after guiding for KWG for six years, Betsy became one of the proud owners of KWG and could not be happier with the crew she gets to train and learn with. Whether you go for a glacier hike, ice climb, or backcountry trip with Betsy, you’re sure to laugh, be amazed, learn something new, and have an incredible day! Betsy is Wilderness First Responder, Swiftwater Rescue and Rigging For Rescue Certified.
Jared is a Co-Owner and longtime guide of KWG. He moved to McCarthy/Kennicott and began guiding in the spring of 2006 after spending 5 years climbing, skiing, backpacking and receiving his degree around Western Montana. Since then, he has made the Wrangell Mountains his home built himself a cabin there. Jared lives in Alaska year-round and has hiked, climbed, skied and paddled across thousands of miles of the Wrangell Mountains and beyond.
Jared is a backcountry pioneer who has established and guided new hiking and packrafting traverses within the National Park. He is also a dedicated outdoor educator with a deep appreciation for the natural history in the wild lands he explores.
In addition to guiding, Jared has also been involved with many different television productions as a safety guide, logistics coordinator, and the occasional camera operator. Some of his credits include National Geographic’s Life Below Zero, and Discovery Channel’s Edge of Alaska and Ice Cold Killers. He has also worked with many international television and film productions.
His adventuring has taken him across the globe. He has climbed rock, ice and snow across the American Southwest, in SE Asia, Nepal, South America, Israel and New Zealand. He has also spent time Packrafting in the whitewater of New Zealand.
Jared is well-versed in small or large scale trip logistics, and uses his intimate knowledge of the area and creativity to act as KWG’s primary trip planner and coordinator. He is excited to help plan and stoke the fires of your 2016 trip. Jared is a Wilderness First Responder, Rigging for Rescue certified, and Swiftwater Rescue certified.
Another of KWG’s co-owners, John “Monte” Montepare has been guiding in the Wrangell Saint Elias National Park since 2004. Wasting no time, Monte successfully summited Mt. Blackburn, the Kennicott Valley’s largest peak, and descended by ski in 2008. Rivaling his passion for climbing, Monte’s enthusiasm for backpacking traverses has taken him to the farthest reaches of the park. Pounding out the 175 mile Nabesna to Strelna route, the Twarpies Traverse, and Lakina to Kennicott, Monte has logged innumerable off-trail miles in the backcountry both on his personal time and as a professional guide for KWG. Rounding out Monte’s climbing and backpacking experience is a degree in Outdoor Leadership with a minor in Theater from Western State College of Colorado, and has been known to appear behind the mic stand at local spoken word events.
Monte is known around the valley as a leader in innovative and exploration. He has written a guide book of McCarthy Creek, as well as a local bouldering guide book, he has pioneered packrafting first descents, as well as discovered new rock climbing areas in the park. In addition, Monte works at the Alpacka Raft factory and has been an Alpacka ambassador around the world.
Monte has been KWG’s lead guide for some time with certifications in Avalanche Level II, Swiftwater Rescue, Rigging for Rescue, and Wilderness First Responder.
KWG is proud to have Jesse back for his 4th year in a row with us. He grew up in a small town in New Hampshire where his passion for climbing, snowboarding and camping developed as he frequented the White Mountains. Originally an east coaster, Jesse quickly fell in the love with Colorado where he studied Environmental Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Jesse seized an opportunity to participate in a summer college program in Alaska’s Wrangell Mountains back in 2012 learning first hand about the local glaciology, geology, ecology and botany.
It was an easy transition for Jesse to join the ranks of KWG. He took the knowledge and experience he gained from that first summer and has expanded on it exponentially and is now one of our lead guides in both the back and front country.
Other than being an avid snowboarder, Jesse has also been rock and ice climbing for the past five years. He is currently working and training with the AMGA to become a big mountain guide. Jesse’s wilderness experience and education instills confidence for those who join his treks. Jesse has a sincere appreciation and respect for Alaska’s landscape and ecology and is passionate about sharing his knowledge of the area and its history with others. Jesse is Wilderness First Responder Certified and will soon be finishing his AMGA single pitch instructor certification.
Ema Mayo has guided with KWG for two years now. In addition to being Wyatt’s younger sister Ema has a load of accomplishments to be proud of. Her sweetness and humility makes you enjoy the fact that she can out hike, climb and paddle you. She is an avid student both at university and in life and she is eager to share. It is not uncommon that after guiding all day Ema will head back out on the ice or to the river for an after work adventure. Growing up in Fairbanks, Alaska Ema spent years helping her family run a summer camp that offers intensive art and nature study paired with educational farming opportunities for children. Ema is Wilderness First Responder Certified.
Spencer brings the enthusiasm to another level. 2016 will be Spencer’s 4th year with KWG. A graduate from Brevard College’s prestigous Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education Program, you can tell that Spencer’s passion is to share his love for the outdoors. Spencer has been an amazing asset to KWG and pivotal in developing KWG’s packrafting program. Spencer’s eyes light up if you ask him about white water kayaking, but he is not to be pigeonholed. His knowledge and excitement extends to exploring the glacier or hiking the back country. When he is not guiding Spencer is running the local Kid’s Camp in McCarthy, drumming in any one of a dozen bands, or watching whitewater videos on youtube. Spencer is Wilderness First Responder Certified and a Level 4 ACA Canoe Instructor.
McKinley grew up in Anchorage and spent most of her childhood playing in the mountains and rivers in the area. When she got older she skied and climbed many mountains in the greater Alaska area. During her first trip to the Wrangells she was carried in a backpack by her mother, a travelling geologist. Now McKinley carries the backpack, leading many of our guided trips in and around the valley. She spends the winters attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks working towards a degree in Biology. Competing in swimming for 15 years has given McKinley a love for the water, which in working for KWG she gets to channel into Packrafting all the amazing rivers that the Wrangells have to offer. McKinley has her Wildness First Responder and CPR certificate.
Wyatt is a lifelong Alaskan, growing up on an organic farm in Fairbanks, and a recent graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He has twice represented Alaska in cross-country skiing at the Junior Olympics and participated several times in the elite Alaskan Wilderness Classic. In his spare time, Wyatt enjoys photography, as well as manufacturing his own ice axes. His first visit to Kennicott came across the historic aerial tram back in 1998 and he has been exploring the glaciers and mountains of the Wrangells ever since. One of his greatest claims to fame is being the older brother of Ema Mayo. Wyatt is Wilderness First Responder and Swiftwater Rescue Certified. This will be Wyatt’s 4th year with KWG.
Taylor grew up in the small town of Brevard located in the Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina, also known as the land of the waterfalls. He spent much of his childhood playing team sports like football, wrestling, mountain biking and baseball. Taylor originally went to college to play football but soon realized that he was craving a much bigger sense of adventure. Brevard College is home to one of the most prestigious Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education (WLEE)
Programs in the country, in this program Taylor really found his calling. His excitement and passion for the outdoors was apparent to KWG Guide Spencer Williamson (a graduate from Brevard) who soon invited Taylor to come check out the Wrangell Mountains as an intern for KWG. Taylor has really honed and increased his guiding skills in his second year with KWG. One reviewer on tripadvisor commented that Taylor, “went above and beyond to make sure our group had the fun and unique experience desired.” Fun and unique couldn’t describe Taylor any better! We can’t wait until he is back again next year!
Taylor is part of the 6x Mountain bike National Championship team, he also serves as a student ambassador and Teaching assistant through the WLEE program. When Taylor is not in school or working as a director for an after school program you can find him and his dog Neeko in Pisgah National Forest rock climbing, backpacking and paddling the local rivers of the southeast. Taylor has his Wilderness First Responder (WFR) CPR and First Aid, Leave No Trace Master Educator, Swiftwater Rescue, Level 4 ACA Canoe Instructor.
Jack started as an intern with Kennicott Wilderness Guides and finished strong as a full time ice climbing and glacier guide. He grew up in North Carolina and spent as much time as possible hiking, climbing, paddling and biking in the Appalachian Mountains on the western side of the state. At age 13 he was the youngest person that year to climb Mount Rainier, the highest mountain in Washington State. In 2008 with a thirst for bigger mountains and more technical terrain Jack relocated to Boulder Colorado where he attended CU Boulder and got his degree in Cultural Anthropology. He has spent the three years since he graduated snowboarding, mountaineering, paddling and climbing in and around Vail Colorado. Ask Jack about his day on the glacier and guaranteed you will get a huge smile and excited response, ask Jack about climbing or about his summers in Wrangell St. Elias National Park and he will leave you inspired.
Jack is a Wilderness First Responder and has his Level 1 certification from the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education.
After growing up in Colorado, Robin found her way up to Alaska to continue exploring, and we all think she’s definitely meant to be here! Robin has been guiding for KWG since 2011 and we love having her around. Robin has an insatiable passion for nature and the wilderness, which she shares every minute you’re with her. A natural teacher, Robin greatly enjoys passing on her wealth of knowledge to the people she works with. Whether she’s talking about mountains, plants, music or the glacier, you’re sure to be held spellbound by her generous smile and enthusiasm! Robin is an art teacher in a remote Alaskan village in the winter spending much of her recreation time skiing and exploring with her dog. Robin is Wilderness First Responder Certified.
David Conner came to Wrangell St. Elias National Park in 2008 to attended an outdoor college program at the Wrangell Mountain Center. We are lucky that David fell in love with the area and agreed to work with us. David’s enthusiasm for the wilderness earned him the nickname “Captain Adventure” and with it he quickly gained ranks in the KWG crew becoming the go-to guide for anything from ice climbing, backcountry traverses or glacier exploration. David has recently finished his AMGA Single Pitch Instructor certification and is looking forward to using his years of rock climbing experience to lead his clients into both frontcountry and backcountry rock climbing trips. His dry sense of humor doesn’t hide how much he enjoys sharing his knowledge and understanding of the surrounding peaks and glaciers. David is Wilderness First Responder Certified.
Chris Brothers was born and bred in Spartanburg South Carolina. He is the third guide to have found KWG by way of Brevard College and we are lucky he did. Chris’s intense and obvious care for his fellow man has put him on the fast track for becoming an incredible guide, his kindness and humor puts him over the top! Chris has a long history of facilitating the love of the outdoors, he spent five years helping to run summer camps that involved climbing, ropes courses, and high adventure. Chris is also a mechanical genius, whether its helping to keep our vans running or impromptu lessons on how take apart and fix camp stoves in the field. He may not like to admit it, but he also plays a mean banjo. Chris is ACA level 3 canoe instructor, ACA Swift Water Rescue and Wilderness First Responder Certified.
While living in Alaska, Greg came to climb Mt.Blackburn in ’95 and has been coming to the Wrangell-St.Elias ever since. In recent years he built a log cabin here and makes McCarthy his home. Greg spent 12 winters in Alaska, skiing and ice climbing in the Chugach Mountains. Spring usually finds him climbing and guiding the big mountains of Alaska. Trips down south for rock climbing and guiding in Argentina fill some of the other months for him. You can see more about Greg’s guiding and personal trips at his website by clicking here.
Born and raised in Girdwood Alaska, Meghan made a fairly swift transition from womb to skis. She first moved to Kennicott and began working for KWG in 2003, and it has been her home ever since, where she enjoys a homestead lifestyle with her husband Matty Smith. She has focused her life thus far on hiking, climbing, skiing and mountaineering in the various mountain ranges of Alaska and around the world.
She has worked a few seasons as a mountaineer for the US Antarctic Program, teaching and guiding scientists in remote locations of that frozen continent. She has also worked on the safety/high angle rescue team for the World Freeskiing Championship in Valdez. Meghan has spent a few seasons as a backcountry ranger for the park service here in the Wrangells, through which she saw a lot of the park by foot or ski.
Recently, she has also become a yoga teacher and loves to incorporate this with backpacking trips for those who are interested. She believes it’s all for fun and has been known to do things such as carry a hula hoop up Denali. (Her three piece travel hoop is available for trips with her…)
Harlan Loso is our newest intern, and he has already firmly established his place in the hierarchy of Kennicott Valley toddlers. Born at -20 in Anchorage, Alaska, Harlan soiled his first diapers on the rabbit-infested margins of the Root Glacier. Already an experienced world traveler, Harlan has taken his unique “mud-monster” style of mountain travel to Australia, South America, and of course the coldest, remotest, rock-throwingest parts of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Clients have used phrases like “childish”, “incorrigible”, and “cute except for that haircut” to describe Harlan, who himself describes his love for the Wrangells this way: “If my little sister wasn’t so darn cute and fun to play with, I’d just go live on the Kennicott Glacier permanently. But I’d bring my Lightning McQueen pillow.”