The mountains have long been my home – I started climbing in 1986, when I was 12 years old. And, the mountains have been incredibly good to me, providing endless challenge, insight, and inspiration. They’ve also been the foundation of my life in nearly all ways.
Climbing & Guiding
I climbed Mount Rainier in Washington when I was 12, and was immediately hooked. That first climb led me down the mountain path that I’ve been on ever since. I began guiding professionally when I was 18, taking hundreds of clients up Mt. Rainier, Mt. McKinley, and other peaks around the world. Eventually I began guiding and climbing internationally, leading clients up peaks in the Peruvian Andes, Kilimanjaro in Africa, and Himalayan giants like Cho Oyu, the world’s 6th highest peak, and Gurla Mandhata, a 25,500 foot, relatively unknown peak in remote western Tibet.
When I was 25, I was invited on my first Everest expedition as a climber, photographer, and researcher. Our goal was not the summit, but rather history – we were trying to find answers to the 1924 disappearance of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine high on the mountain. With great luck and a bit of hard work, we managed to locate the remains of George Mallory at 27,000 feet on May 1, 1999. I’ve returned to Everest six more times since then, most recently in Spring, 2012, when I led an attempt on the historic and rarely climbed West Ridge, pioneered by Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld on May 22, 1963.
To this day, I continue to climb professionally, and guide clients on select, custom expeditions worldwide.
Photography & Videography
A camera in the mountains has always been part of my standard kit, as essential as boots and a backpack. The camera for me is my tool for translating the mountain realm and those visceral, uncommon experiences which are deep and profound and at times surpass the bounds of language.
I began my professional photography career in 1999, propelled forward by my fortunate and well-publicized image of Conrad Anker standing over George Mallory’s remains as he discovered them on May 1, 1999. Since then, I’ve worked professionally on all 7 continents, capturing images for clients worldwide. My work has appeared in countless books, has been featured by Nikon and Photo District News, and has run in publications like Oprah, Vanity Fair, National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Men’s Journal, and many more.
More recently, I’ve taken to capturing my travels and climbing expeditions in both still and video imagery. Video, while a far different medium, is nonetheless a natural extension of the visual storytelling I’ve been doing for years with photography. In 2003, I shot my first professional video footage, covering a reality TV series to the summit of Everest via the Northeast Ridge. Recently, my video work has formed the basis of ad and marketing campaigns for Eddie Bauer. In 2012, I helped shoot and create a short film with the amazing photographer, Pete McBride, on our Challenge21 Expedition to Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest summit. The film, The Water Tower, has been well received at several film festivals, including Waimea, Wild & Scenic, and the Boulder International Film Festival. And, currently I’m working with David Morton on a major film celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition.
Since 1999, I’ve been fortunate to share my stories from Everest with tens of thousands of people around the world. I’ve worked with senior executives at Fortune 500 companies and 35 rambunctious kindergartners in a cramped classroom. My clients include giants like Shell, Ford, Microsoft, and CitiGroup as well as associations, non-profits, schools and universities, and government agencies. I’ve also done extensive leadership and team building training courses for groups across the country.
Please see the Speaking section of this website for much more information on my presentations and trainings.
While I’ve been lucky to climb around the world, and stand on the highest point a few times, none of my mountain experiences have come close to the passion, joy, and good fortune I feel for my family. My wife, Wende Valentine, and I have two children, Lila and Ryrie. They are a source of constant inspiration to me, and fill my life with joy when I’m home and while I’m away. Please see the short film, Wild Love, done by filmmakers Andy Maser, Emily Nuchols, and Jenny Nichols on our family in 2011.