Date of Birth:
March 15, 1980
What is your primary means of adventure, AKA what gets you most psyched?
Pretty much anything that takes me to a ridge or peak. In a perfect world, that is on snow with skis, in an alternatively warm world, it’s on singletrack on a 9’er.
Invent your dream adventure by combining five places, disciplines, pitches, peaks, environments, etc. and stacking them together into a combination. Why did you pick each part?
I’d love to do something similar to what Goran Kropp did where he pedaled from the coast of Thailand and summited Mt. Everest. I’d love to start at a tropical beach, ride through the jungles and forge towards the foothills of some great peaks as long as a bike could handle. When the terrain got too rough and too steep, I’d throw on my stashed running shoes and light pack and begin fast packing my way towards some snowy alpine peaks (I’m thinking Andes style, something that peeks over 20,000’ where I could really get out of my comfort zone). Once I began leaving sub-alpine climes and started find some snow, I’d transition to my stashed skimo kit and skis and begin making my way up a piercing summit that had an incredible glacier to steep firm couloirs to boot up and get technical on. Mix in a little mixed climbing (easy stuff for me, I’m not a full blown alpine climber). Summit, ski down some sick line and out the other side of the mountain to the next stash of gear which is a mountain bike waiting at a trail with over 10000’ of descending with healthy portions of climbing as well. Rip that to the beginnings of civilization again, switch out for a road bike and ride like the wind for the coast (west to east kind of mission). Hit the coast, and soak my weary bones in some saltwater with an ice cold IPA (or two).
Describe 5 climbs, trips, or moments that have defined you as a mountain athlete:
- First peak ever- Mt. Siyeh (10,014’) in Glacier National Park. Recently graduated from high school, a couple buddies and I decided to head to the park and try out our hands at a true summit. With some beta and very little familiarity with peak bagging in the park, we made our way up to the summit and peered over a 4000’ vertical north face that felt as though you were truly flying. The camaraderie, the challenge, and the adventure birthed a hunger for more and more of a similar experience. That coupled with crossing paths with a gigantic mama Grizzly and her two cubs made for an unforgettable day.
- The Grand Teton- Direct Exum route. My first ever foray into true alpine climbing. A friend and I wandered into the Moraine campground with hefty packs and were blown away to see the throngs of climbers milling around camp while also spotting little helmets bobbing along high on the peak. A huge thunderstorm rolled in that afternoon and it was crazy to imagine the tens of climbers stuck with no shelter and strung to the mountain by a rope and some metal. We lucked out the following day and had an incredible climb but not without classic first timer Teton challenges of route finding and surprisingly stiff grades at elevation.
- Granite Peak, MT- 12,799’ Highest Peak in MT- A college buddy and I headed up to the Froze to Death Plateau for a bid at Granite Peak during a fall weekend while attending our first year of college. Half of our group turned around fatigued and altitude affected while Tim and I pushed on and made our way up to the summit as we observed what looked like thunderheads beginning to build. We made it back down to the saddle below the peak and back to our packs we had left at the edge of the plateau when the whiteout hit us. We were completely engulfed by fog and mist and snow at 11,000’ on a gently sloping plateau with no features or trail to help us find our way back to camp. We wandered for hours and into the dark, eating our final calories of a couple Oreos each and bedding down sharing one sleeping bag and one bivy sac each. We awoke just before sunrise and had an incredible window of clarity before the sun hit the clouds in the valleys and lifted them back to shrouding our vision. We managed to find camp and relieved the rest of the group that we hadn’t fallen to our deaths on the peak. Great lesson in navigation, preparedness, and reading the weather.
- Pierra Menta Ski Mountaineering Race in France. Raced with fellow athlete Brandon French in 2010 in Areches France after competing in the Ski Mountaineering World Championships in Andorra. We had the most incredible four days of racing 8-10,000’ a day starting in town each day and exploring new alpine realms on skinny skis and unbelievably firm snow. Blue skies and fighting to stay ahead of the fastest women (we literally were neck and neck with them each day) made for a humbling and rewarding experience. We finished quite well for a North American team (low 20’s I believe) but living the dream of an athlete, eating delicious pastries, drinking local smooth red wine and doing it repeatedly with an awesome friend was incredible. It also opened my eyes to what my body was capable of doing when pushed while also getting to see the extreme eliteness of the highest eschelon of Skimo.
- Winning the Butte 100 mountain bike race. I’ve been racing the Butte 100 (coined the “Hardest 100 mile bike race’ by Tinker Juarez) for almost five years now and have always enjoyed the amount of focus and preparation that goes into readying for the race. I love riding bikes. So why wouldn’t I love riding one for ten hours straight? Sure the cramps, the stomach issues, the heat, the fatigue, the highs and lows you encounter throughout the race take their toll, but crossing the finish line is always incredibly rewarding. I enjoy having the goal to work towards, I enjoy the feeling of really dialing in my fitness and my strengths to have the best race I can have. And it’s fun to chase Tinker, a legend I’ve followed since I first owned a mountain bike back in 1992.
Describe your most memorable night in the mountains:
There is a campground up and over Boulder Pass in Glacier National Park that is called “Hole in the Wall”. It’s called that for a reason. A small trail forks off the main trail and takes you to an amazing little campground on a small rock outcrop that sits at the base of a large mountain and overlooks a beautiful valley that is nestled in the heart of Glacier. It’s a haul to get to Hole in the Wall, usually two days of hiking or one really long day so It’s got the off the beaten path going for it, and there also is only a small number of other campers there to share the experience with. I had been told it was amazing, but when my then girlfriend and now wife Jen and I arrived and started setting up camp, we both had to just drop everything and sit on a rock and soak it all it. We didn’t want to leave, I’d still be living there if there was a way to get fresh bananas and peanut butter dropped by daily. That day was also marked by an encounter with a white tipped Grizzly, a wolverine, and Jen spraying herself unintentionally with bear spray on the leg. That made for a long night for her. Oh, and the bathroom up there is amazing!
What has scared or intimidated you as a mountain athlete?
I’ve certainly had a fair share of gambling with weather, route finding, nightfall, and gear but nothing has been more humbling than getting caught in an avalanche. On a day that started with bluebird skies and powder skiing I headed out for a speed tour to climb a peak in the heart of the Flathead Range. Halfway up the wind started to blow something fierce and I was able to stick with the main objective and safely approach and climb the peak, and even had some descent protected skiing off the north face. However on the second descent of the day back down into the main drainage, my friend and I were cutting across the slope hoping to find a somewhat protected line to ski back down to the valley bottom. The wind had blown so hard that we were barely penetrating more than an 1/8” with our ski edges, so I assumed things were relatively stable as most of the new snow had been transported away leaving the old hard windbuff surface exposed. I contoured up and over a little rib and popped loose a small wind slab that still was able to grab me and take me for a few hundred foot ride down a tight gully where I was fully buried at one point. Survival instinct set in and I started swimming with all my might to get my feet down hill and my face free of snow to try and breath and see what was coming up. Fortunately I was able to rise back to the surface and actually stand up and ski out of the slide after narrowly averting a tree that would have snapped my legs. My friend and I scurried out with our tails between our legs and my broken skis and shaken ego. It was too close for comfort and a big eye opener to continually assess your conditions, safety, and risk tolerance.
What would your adventure partners be most surprised to learn about you from before the time when they met you?
That I played piano for 12 years, acted in over a dozen plays in high school, and was varsity golf. Ha!
What are your top 5 all-time favorite pieces of CAMP equipment?
- ED Protection Jacket– such a versatile, comfortable, packable, and warm jacket. Wear it daily!
- Contour Skins– amazing grip, reliable glue, and great glide in all conditions
- Speed Skimo Helmet– so light and comfortable I hardly notice it.
- Skinsuit- Most comfortable with all the right pockets and functional systems for racing or fast days in the b.c.
- Flash Anorak– such a simple design, hardly notice it’s on you, and instant protection once you hit the ridges.
Why are you a CAMP athlete?
I am fortunate enough to be a CAMP athlete thanks to my dedication of nearly a decade to ski mountaineering, ski racing, adventuring, and my involvement as a coach to help develop future athletes that will do bigger and better things than even the great Killian! ;)
It meant a lot to me when I climbed:
- St. Nick- Glacier National Park’s technical peak. I climbed it as an 19 year old and realized I was capable of climbing challenging alpine climbs, taking me away from sport climbing.
- Mt. Jackson and Walton Mountain in a day (Glacier National Park)- mixing long distance, lots of vert, glacier travel, and a technical peak into a single hard push.
- Trapper & Vulture Peak Glacier National Park- In a 24 hour period, a friend and I slogged deep into the heart of Glacier in the spring, threw a quick bivy for a few hours sleep, and then skied a peak that has seldom if ever been skied in winter conditions. We were out within 24 hours from our start equating to 6 hours of sleep, 18 hours of movement.
- Rainbow Peak in the winter (Glacier)- with a far from alpine start a friend and I skinned, skated across Bowman Lake, skinned, and boot packed 5000′ to ski an incredible alpine face in the middle of winter in a single push. Big Peak, big ski line, big approach, midwinter.
- Mt. Rainier- because it was my first volcano, and I was comfortable in route finding, glacier travel, and moved at a much swifter pace than guides generally suggest.
The adventure, route or race I had to train the hardest for was:
I pretty much always have something on the horizon be it bike racing, skimo racing, or just a general need for endorphins via suffering. However I’d say I’m most focused when training for 100 mile mountain bike races as the details make or break the race.
The adventure, route or race that wrecked me the most was:
Probably Trapper/Vulture Peak- my feet had been at the end of a long season in ski boots and desperately wanted to be out of the cage. Within the first 10 minutes I was pulling over and trying every adjustment to ease the pain over the top of my foot. I realized it was either soldier on and ignore the pain for the next 24 hours and commit to the peak, or turn around with my tail between my legs. I chose the former
I most want an all-expenses-paid trip to:
Himalaya- not to ski the highest peaks, but to ski some high ones and check out the culture.
My short list of climbing or adventure goals this year:
- Put together a solid skimo race season with hopes of a top 10 at national championships.
- Climb and ski a few noteworthy peaks in Glacier NP this spring- Cleveland, Heavens, Stimpson
- Ski the Grand, a couple of times.