The David Steele! Mountaineer, Lifesaver, Selfless Partner in Montana’s Great Outdoors! Listen to my interview here!
David Steele exemplifies Making it Work in the Outdoors in Montana! He has climbed some of the most noteworthy peaks, skied many of them, and regularly gives back more than he takes. Denali, Baker, St Nicholas, The Lithoid Cusp… 100’s more! David was a climbing partner to a friend that had a fall of over 500 feet, and he successfully stabilized his friend, hiked to the nearest communication point and directed a helicopter to a location for his friend to be air evacuated towards a hospital for life saving treatment. This is an interesting podcast, to say the least..
After listening to this episode, check out the rescue footage from that amazing story about the Lithoid Cusp! (Video shared from the Two Bear Air website)
Transcribed here: Welcome back to another episode of Making It Work in Montana. My name is David Boye. I’m your host. Since 1996, I’ve lived in
Montana. I currently own and operate Black Diamond Mortgage. And in the years I’ve lived here, I’ve been meeting some amazing
people. And this podcast has a way to highlight people that are excelling in the areas of outdoors, business and community
involvement. And I’m hoping to share all these different people with you so that integrating all these relationships, we can all learn
more about what it’s like to make a great life here in the great state of Montana.
[00:00:42] Our guest today is somebody that I really am excited to talk about. I’ve spent time with him on several occasions. And the first time I
met, I was actually with one of my good climbing partners, Gary Ludwig, who I’ve done most of my climbing with in the last 10
years. And we had just climbed Mount FullAssad in Glacier Park. And we were really proud of ourselves.
[00:01:06] We did the dirt, some bushwhacking, snow walking and rock navigating. And we were just walking off the mountain feeling like we
had done something amazing.
[00:01:17] And then all the sudden, this guy walks up behind us with his buddy and they’ve got skis on their back.
[00:01:22] And this is July 3rd. And where we are, there is no snow.
[00:01:27] Exactly. And he he’s walking past us on the trail, which is also annoying because he’s carrying all that weight on his back. And we’re
supposed to be probably moving faster than him. Well, we come to find out he’s been over skiing on like the Blackfoot Glacier or
something over in Glacier Park, and not that we didn’t do anything great, but what he did sounded even greater. So I was already
amazed and intrigued by this individual. And we exchanged names.
[00:01:54] And then the next day I was having breakfast in Whitefish picked up the local newspaper and there he is on the newspaper having
just climbed Mount Denali and Skied.
[00:02:07] And with that, I would just like to introduce my friend David Steele. Hello. Welcome, Dave. Thank you. David, I have also climbed a
few peaks in Glacier Park, and so he’s a regular out in the back country.
[00:02:26] And so, Dave, some of the things that I know about you is you’re currently working at the Rocky Mountain Outfitter Hospital and
you are repping for DPS skis.
[00:02:39] And so we’ll see you around the state of Montana showing off the skis, a different ski resorts and things like that.
[00:02:46] Somewhat. We don’t do a whole lot of consumer demos at this point, but there is there are some opportunities.
[00:02:51] But you’re the point of contact and right around here for the ski company.
[00:02:54] Yeah, I guess so. OK. And then.
[00:02:58] And then just chatting with you recently, it sounds like you’re going to be doing work, paid work with the flathead avalanche and the
[00:03:07] Yeah. So full fact kind of education for them.
[00:03:10] Some of them know before you go presentations that are going on this winter and then also teaching a couple of the level ones
teaching alongside other people on the loved ones this coming winter.
[00:03:21] So for one to learn how to be safe in avalanche country, you’re going to be one of the guys teaching. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah. So. So
I’ve met you recently and I’ve seen you climbing peaks and skiing and the outdoors and doing amazing things.
[00:03:36] And how old are you right now? I’m thirty three. So just to give people a feel for how you got to your current situation. Just tell us.
Like, where were you born and how did you end up here in Montana doing these amazing things?
[00:03:52] So I grew up in Kalispell, just south of Whitefish here, and I grew up in a family that going outside was just what we did. I don’t think
we were the most outdoorsy, but that was from an early age.
[00:04:04] Just what we were sort of set out to do is kind of this go play in the Rockies, go play in the creek, go for hikes, scrambled peaks when
you’re old enough, go skiing all the time.
[00:04:17] And I think I was really lucky in that my parents were very much tuned in with the things I was interested in and not necessarily their
agenda says or like, oh, he’s interested in going skiing. We’re going to find a way to support that. He’s interested and go into the
mountains. That’s what we want to be a part of.
[00:04:35] And it wasn’t I never a sort of a weird kid in that I did academics really hard.
[00:04:41] So I was involved in advanced classes and that kind of stuff in school. And then I’d be riding my bike and going skiing basically every
other moment that I had. And that was sort of the two sides of my life when I was in high school. I left high school in 2007, went up
to Pacific Lutheran University just south of Tacoma, and got done in three years out there and sort of. Started to expand my
horizons a little bit from a backcountry skiing standpoint, but really that was sort of just the beginning of it for me and it was resort
based. You know, to start out with lots of time in the terrain park and spend much time competing when I was in high school, Moguls
freestyle slopestyle, that kind of thing, and then started skiing more in the backcountry. Took my first avalanche level 1 course in
2008 with my mom while I was at home over Christmas break and. And so that just sort of took off from there. And I spent a couple
of summers working in Glacier Park to it Sperry chalet in 2008, 2009 and the one in 2012. Working at Granite Park worked out in
the Pacific Northwest, some in between as well. So I was doing some stuff in the Terrain Park at Stevens Pass, working as a sea
kayak guide and Orcas Island in the San Juans. And then in 2012, I left midwinter for my job at Stevens Pass and came home. And I
think a lot of kids from the Flathead have to leave and come back. If you don’t if you grow up here, you may be recognized what it is,
but you don’t understand why it’s important or why it’s really valuable to you.
[00:06:14] So you are at Stevens pass. And then what made you come back?
[00:06:18] I think I just missed family. I missed family. I missed the. There’s sort of this independent Montana spirit. And I don’t. And you only
really recognize what it is when you’re in places that are different from that.
[00:06:33] And I love western Washington. I love kind of the east side of the Washington Cascades as well. But they have a different flavor to
them. And I was just sort of missing the the way that I feel that a lot of Montanans get after things. There’s a fairly individualistic
spirit here that there’s sort of a get it done mentality. You know, instead of complaining about things, the idea is just sort of roll up
your sleeves, work with your friends and people, you know, and get stuff done.
[00:07:02] And I like that. So the individualistic thing is people. Is it doing things with less resources or is it just doing things because I want to
get it like describe that independent thing a little more if you can.
[00:07:17] I guess I just felt like a number of the people that I knew and maybe not people that I knew. But just a general feeling in western
Washington is that there’s just so many people. And so you kind of become dissociated from your problems and things feel like
you’re not as involved in your community. And it just was this sort of generalized feeling that I experienced, you know, sort of. Some
people I knew would, you know, would live that out a little bit and I’d rather just know people and I’m way rather dive in and fix
[00:07:50] You know, if there’s something you don’t like about your community or something you’re not excited about in your governance or if
there’s something that you’d rather see done away that you think is better then get in there.
[00:08:01] Okay. So I guess there’s a problem for you. Right. It’s probably your job to get in there and do something about it.
[00:08:07] Right. Exactly. It’s sort of just sitting around and complaining about it.
[00:08:11] And in Montana, there’s less people. So odds are if there’s a problem, there’s less people doing the right things.
[00:08:17] The government is a big monstrosity. It’s just the guys to live down the street from. It might work at the government. Yeah. Exactly.
[00:08:25] In some senses, so.
[00:08:28] And so you came back here because you you like that. And that makes sense because I think we all like that about Montana.
[00:08:34] Yeah. And I I’m really lucky in that I don’t have to choose necessarily. A lot of my contemporaries have lived here for some from
someplace else. And so they have to live, choose between the place they want to live and play and build a life and wherever their
family is still. So they have to shuttle between here and the East Coast or here in the West Coast or some other place. And for me,
most of my family’s here. I mean, I live in my sister’s basement currently. I’m almost five blocks in one direction. My grandmother
lives about a half mile in the other. So in that regard, I’m really lucky that I’ve got family super close. And it’s a place I’d want to live
[00:09:09] So you live where you want to live and so you’re back here. And we mentioned some of the things that you’re doing right now. Yeah.
One of the things that I mean, any time I’ve got to go out and do anything with you is you’re developing a good resumé of
accomplishments of things that I enjoy, which is mountaineering and ski mountaineering and then regular mountain climbing, maybe
just for people listening, name off. Not to brag, but just to kind of give a little bit of an illustration like what your favorite or what you
consider your best accomplishment so far are the outdoors that you’ve been able to be a part of.
[00:09:45] So it’s kind of hard trying to do more just the ones that are the most memorable, if not the best, because there’s so many different
ways of looking at it.
[00:09:54] Yeah, I think there’s it’s cool to see development. It’s cool to see different parts of your life come together in different ways. So I
remember, you know, scrambling, climbing peaks with my mom and other family members when I was a teenager. And skiing wasn’t
really a part of that. I was skiing was the separate thing I did on chairlifts Ski Hill. And as time went on, those things kind of moved
together. And so it became this combination of backcountry touring and then also and and mountaineering, some ski
mountaineering. And that bug bit pretty hard for me in 2011. I went with a buddy. We ski Mount Baker. It took us a couple of
weekends of trial and error.
[00:10:35] We had bad weather one weekend. We had just some weird problems and other weekend. And then we finally got it done the
weekend after that. And it was, you know, for me, it was the complete packages, it goes. Awesome. We get to go and use ropes and
crampons and go and do this beautiful thing. And then afterwards we don’t have to walk down. We get to ski.
[00:10:51] So it’s, you know, using all this variety of a skill set is super cool. And I think a lot of the things that I’ve done that I’m really proud of
have involved that from, you know, from skiing, a bunch of cascade volcanoes to that trip you mentioned to Denali with my buddy
Grant Dummer from Seattle. Those things are you know, I’m really proud that a lot of that stuff, you know, we kind of figured it out.
And it wasn’t that, you know, it’s not there’s anything wrong with being guided, but there’s something about doing it yourself that’s
[00:11:22] So when you did Denali, you and your buddy went and did it on your own.
[00:11:26] Yeah. I mean, you’re piggy backing off of a lot of other people’s experience and advice. But ultimately, it’s like the two of you landing
at the airstrip and you’d be like, OK, well, you know, we’ve got a month to figure out how to do this and stay safe.
[00:11:39] And that, you know, there were struggles and there were frustrations in terms of altitude, in terms of moving tons of heavy gear
around, in terms of, you know, just the amount of hard work that is to drag that amount of supplies up something and back down.
But it was a really cool experience to, you know, just kind of get back out there and be like, wow, we pulled this off.
[00:11:59] Yeah. Because a lot of people climbed Denali that even had lots of experience or whatever, and they don’t get it the first time that
they try it.
[00:12:07] So a lot of what all came together for you now, looking back on it, made it work out for you that first dry weather.
[00:12:14] Hundred percent. Weller Yeah, we we managed to nail the best five week weather window that they’ve seen on Denali in decades.
[00:12:21] So you had a little bit of time to figure it out.
[00:12:23] And it wasn’t just sunny, sunny and it was warm. I mean, I think in the clothes, the coldest that we saw was negative 20.
[00:12:31] But most of the time it was pretty balmy. And I’ve left my house wearing more layers than I was on the summit. So it’s definitely it’s
just cool that we were able to hit that. It actually was so hot that in the weeks following, some people were experiencing electrical
storms on the summit, which is pretty scary. When you’ve got a bunch of metal mountaineering gear and skis strapped to you,
everything start rising and you get start getting shocked. So.
[00:13:00] So so the or any others that stick out as significant mountaineering accomplishments that come to mind.
[00:13:09] At least for me, Glacier is a place I feel really at home. It’s sort of evolved from this place where you’re just going peek bag and just
trying to tag Summitt’s into this thing where you go up and you get up high in the Alpine and you’re looking around at the
surrounding peaks. There are other ranges, that kind of stuff. And it’s just filled with memories of days out with other people. And
that part’s been really cool over the past few years. I’ve spent time working as a rock climbing guide and tried to push my rock craft
a bit farther because that’s not something I’m not as good at and it’s been need to apply that to mountaineering. It’s been need to
apply that in Glacier at that. So, you know, whether that’s climbing standard lines like Northeast Ridges, St. Nick with you. And Gary,
a few years ago or getting to this last summer, we put up a new line on the west face of the little Matterhorn up above the Snyder
Basin. And that was I went with my buddy Jason Mills. And it was a really cool day. We just started at the bottom with a pile of gear
and we’re like, we think we can make it up this thing and maybe we won’t, you know, maybe we’ll have to just leave stuff and repel
off. And it. It ended up working out really perfectly. We had great conditions. The rock was pretty amazing. We just completely blew
our expectations out of the water. We had this amazing day out. Then a couple weeks later, we tried another line that starting at the
bottom, just going to the top. Over by Mount Overland. And that was a complete different type of. Endeavor. I mean, the rock was
terrible, the protection was terrible. It was far more dangerous, not like hard persay, but just the consequences of messing up were
much worse. And so it’s been cool to see, you know, look at Glacier from these different angles. Right. Whether that’s ski touring in
the winter or spring, ski mountaineering was the snowpack stabilizes some gladder, you know, looking at it from a rock climbing
[00:14:54] But it’s just such a beautiful place to be. And it’s really cool, at least for me, that it’s filled with memories of so many good days with
[00:15:03] Yeah, I like your approach because that’s one of the reasons I the few times I’ve been able to go out with you and enjoy, because you
you seem to have a pretty diverse way of looking at things. And one of the things I wanted to share with anybody listening to the
podcast was this moment that you had a couple of years ago where you were you and a partner were trying to climb the lithoid cusp,
which a lot of people don’t even know what it is.
[00:15:27] But I was learning you could just tell that story like what we guys were setting out to do, how the trip changed and then kind of the
amazing vision that it became.
[00:15:40] To me, it’s an amazing story, but maybe, maybe encapsulated five, 10 minutes.
[00:15:45] I think it really reveals a lot about things that the way you approach mountaineering. Yeah.
[00:15:52] So lithoid cusp is basically just a spire on this long ridge between a portion of Ipasha peak and mt merrit in the park. So it’s one of
the 10000 foot peaks that kind of straddles the belly river is on the east side of it. And then you have the Mokowanis Lake Margaret
going up to the Sioux bench and the continental divide up to the west of it all. It’s a technical rock climb not particularly hard by
modern standards. And I had met Jack Beard recently, sort of before then, and we’d done a little bit of cragging together, but very
little. And Jack was super interested in going in to do this thing. And I was pretty fresh to this alpinism and climbing thing from a
rope standpoint. So he was absolutely the mentor. He was absolutely the guy that I was looking to be like, well, you know, I can do
some of this, but I’m not going to be the guy on this. I’m trying to learn and pick things up from this sixty year old guy that wants to
go do something.
[00:16:48] And then Jack, the 60 year old that he’s done quite a bit. Right. Right.
[00:16:52] So Jack’s climbed all over the place. He’s been sort of a fixture here locally. A lot of people know who Jack is. And he’s just a
wonderful presence in so many different ways. So it’s it’s a delight being out with him no matter what you’re doing. And what we
were and what Jack wanted to do was essentially approach the lithoid cusp from a different direction so you can go in from the west
side. It’s pretty casual. It doesn’t take a whole lot. But there’s this steep wall that sits beneath lithoid cusp on the east side. So you go
over into this base and that’s kind of part of the drainage from the old son Glacier on Mount Merritt.
[00:17:26] And the day we hiked in, it was super hot. And so we did the better part of 15, 17 miles with ropes and a full alpine rack and
overnight gear and food and fuel and the whole bit. And so we move and we move pretty fast getting in. And it was also just really
hot. And I don’t think it got below 70 degrees. Sixty five degrees at night, which is really hot for a night in Glacier. So we didn’t know
we were cooled off kind of, but not a whole lot. And so the next morning, you know, we got moving early and we’re moving up onto
this wall and we sort of identified and, you know, head up to the right to scrambling on ledges, make this big traverse across the
middle then climb this section up to big snow couloir. about eight hundred feet long leads to the top and on the way up there, Jack.
Now, moving together, everything was good. And then he kind of slowed down behind me. And then I lost him for a little bit and he
came up to me as I go, I’m not feeling as good. I threw up back there and it like he was dehydrated from the day before. But so, you
know, we talked about it, guy, and I was like, you know, we don’t need to be here, man. Like, we can bail on this. We can walk off. I’m
not invested. And I think, you know, there was very little Jack didn’t have any pressure that we just kind of talked it out as a
partnership. And like, I you know, I think we can make this work. So I took a little more of the weight out of his pack. You know, he
started rehydrating, trying to work on that, which traverse in on the face, scramble up this stuff and kind of fine pick our way
through. We never had to get the rope out through any of it. And now we find ourselves in the snow couloir. And as a skier, you
know, the steep rock at that point was not my comfort zone.
[00:19:02] I could do it, but it wasn’t where I was happiest. And so put my spikes on, got my axe out and I’m like, sweet steeps. Now I can
handle this. And I think, you know, maybe we were just sort of getting letting our guard down a little bit, something like that. But
anyways, we got up about 300 feet from the ridge line and we weren’t ropped together because we didn’t have safe ways to anchor
ourselves to the rock. The rock was too crumbly on the sides of the couloir. We didn’t have enough snow protection just because of
what we were trying to do, which this mixed climb, where we’re trying to focus our efforts on the rock portion of it that we were
going to get to. So anyways, I traverse over to the side of the couloir and just kind of got around this little bend in it about 300 feet
beneath the top. And Jack is traversing over to me. And it’s funny, I have a photo from right before it happened. But as he was
traversing over to me, one of his feet slipped because it was had been so hot the snow wasn’t consolidated. So he slips, tries to self
arrest with his axe and his axe. Is this short shafted ice tool that’s much better for pounding pitons or climbing waterfall ice then for
self arresting and slush. And basically he can’t get the pic of his axe in and just slides out of view, so he slides around this corner
about 30 feet beneath me.I dont hear anything. I’m yelling his name and then I just hear a bunch of rock fall and nothing. It is sort of
a wild moment. You know, you’re just like, wow, that just happened. We were just cruise and we’re right there. And for me, I was
like, well, you know, Jack’s dead, that was a pretty.
[00:20:34] He basically slid down the mountain out of you. Yeah. Probably the worst happened at that moment in your mind.
[00:20:39] Yeah. I guess I should back up just a little bit. The bottom of this snow couloir, who are as a series of waterfalls, rock ledges. And
then at the end all of that, it rolls over and do a basically a two thousand foot drop down to the base of this base. And where we at
camp that night before. And, you know, I was just like, there’s no way that there’s if he slid the whole length of this thing and picked
up speed for 500 feet all the way down, there’s no way he’s alive. But I think it was funny because it was you know, you don’t really
think necessarily in some of these moments, things just sort of happened in your brain. And I thought immediately about touching
the void. It’s a classic of mountaineering literature. And essentially, there’s a guy that believes his partner is dead and doesn’t go back
to check, doesn’t know for certain what happened.
[00:21:24] So our guys spent several days crawling out of the Glacier. Exactly. Yeah.
[00:21:28] So the upshot is his partner is not dead. I’m like, why can’t you know? I can’t leave him. I got to know. And so I get set to down climb
this thing, and so I start down climbing it. And of course, what we had come up was the very bottom of it. There is a little runnel in
the snow where it melts out. And that’s what we climbed up as Jack slid down and knocked on the footprints out of it. So I had to re
kick all the steps. I’m descending this thing with my pack. I had, you know, mentally thinking about what I’m going to say to his wife
or his kids or how I’m going to report a fatality to a ranger. And that’s it. It’s a weird it’s a strange headspace. You know, when you’ve
already just totally accepted that, like this person is gone and you just watched what just happened. But anyways, I got to the
bottom of the couloir. Couldn’t see anything traversed out on some ledges and descended a little bit. And then I saw Jack is sitting
here about 200 feet beneath the bottom of the snow couloir on a ledge, just kind of head in his hands, didn’t have a pack on his
[00:22:28] And all of his gear was sort of just sprayed down the ledges and waterfalls above him. So I got down to him, kind of helped stabilize.
I’m a little bit I built an anchor in the rock and kind of stuck him in it and dug out a platform so he can be comfortable, you know, and
you don’t. You know, I suspected that things were bad. I could tell that his arm was broken, but nothing else was really. You know, he
had some lacerations and stuff. But it was pretty miraculous how intact he was, honestly. But he had a concussion and it turned out
he had broken seven ribs, three cervical and one lumbar vertebrae, his right radius and then major concussion. That was like the sum
total of it all. But given that he fell, you know. Five hundred feet of snow and 20 feet of ledges and waterfalls and then basically
stopped on the last decent sized patch of it. And we’re talking an area that’s now as big as some living rooms. a miraculous stop.
[00:23:29] Really, when you look back, you know, it makes sense to me. There was enough grade that you could slow down, but it was literally
the last place where you could stop before you. it was there or Nothing. Right. Anyway, so I tacked up our tent nearby and tried to
flag down some of the helicopters. We didn’t have a cell phone with us. Jack said he was going to bring his then He forgot it.
[00:23:49] We were a half mile in before we realized like whatever the hell, these are just helicopters doing whatever. Yeah, I’d seen really
[00:23:56] So I’m over there waving orange things, trying to fly them down. Nobody comes by about an hour and a half goes by and I’m just like,
OK, if I’m going to get out of here and raise any kind of alarm, I’ve got to get moving.
[00:24:10] And so what I did is I left most of the overnight gear, I left overnight gear with Jack. I left him the food stove, water purifier, all that
kind of stuff kind of will do my pack down to the bare bones. And then I took off, you know, just sort of tucked him in on my. Good
luck, buddy. We’re gonna we’re gonna get you out of here.
[00:24:29] And so I went reclimbed, you know, kind of got back up to the base and snow couloir. And Jack’s axe was had melted out of a pile of
slush at the bottom, which is nice because that meant I had to to ascend. So I zipped up. The snow descended about twenty five
hundred feet off the other side and it just walking straight into Lake Margaret and then dropped down the mokowanis. And I was
looking for somebody that had some kind of satellite communication, which would be amazing because not everybody does that.
[00:24:58] Right. Right. And I mean, it seems in red, you know, in retrospect, if he had been worse, you know, if he had been had serious
internal bleeding, if he had a whole host of things, it would have been really terrible, you know?
[00:25:09] I mean, like the lack of that kind of satellite communication would have likely meant that he died right there.
[00:25:15] But in your mind, you had more time. But it was great that there was satellite communication or I guess it jumped to your mind as it
did find this right.
[00:25:23] Yeah. So essentially, I moved down and you kind of make decision point. And I was you know, at this point I’ve been on the move
and I was just like, okay, I gotta look, I gotta figure this out. And I was trying to decide whether just to go for the Belly River Ranger
Station to the east or to go to backtrack the half mile to mokowanis Junction just to see if somebody was camping there and had
[00:25:43] I backtracked, found someone, and it was a gal and her mom that were hiking west on the Pacific Northwest Trail. They had just
started. So they have this you know, I spent the better part of an hour and a half, almost two hours trying to text things back and
forth. After raising the alarm, I had taken a G.P.S. reading on my watch before I left Jack. But it was completely wrong. It was five or
six miles away because the terrain was so vertical. It was just difficult to pinpoint. Right.
[00:26:11] So anyways, this is we’re trying to sound the alarm and eventually they’re just like we’re sending a range of your direction, move
towards them. So I leave them, start hiking out, meet the ranger about halfway between mokowanis Junction and there they raise
the alarm on the radio.
[00:26:27] And two Bear flew in and lowered somebody with the winch that they have essentially packaged. Jack got them both connected, pull
them up with the winch and flew out of there.
[00:26:39] And if I remember correctly, that was about the last hour or the day they’re able to do that.
[00:26:44] Yeah, it’s like right around 9:00 when we’re talking. This was June. So June or July. So pretty much, you know, the last of win. Yeah,
it would it would have been dark after that. And I don’t think I would have survived the night given his injuries. But we were really
lucky that that was the extent. So. So I and I ended up the next day, ironically, I was in. So I stayed the night at the Bell River Ranger
Station because I was solo at that point. It was dark and they were just like, no, you should take care of yourself. And then I.
Ironically, Gary and Biddy were there visiting the same folks that had helped start to get the rescue going. And so I I hiked out with
them in the morning. And you know that the upshot of it all is that Jack made a full recovery and we went climbing again. Not that
fall. But the next was I think was the next year. We did some stuff at Red Rocks and then some climbing together since. So and kind
of a nice little bow tie on all of this, is that right? I was talking about on the little Matterhorn. Jack was here, the inspiration for that.
He had gone up there and looked around. So we named the rack up there right after him. It’s called Where’s Jack?
[00:27:52] So that’s the backstory? Well, you know, you make it sound like no big deal. It’s his. But it’s a there’s a lot of amazing survival skills
[00:28:03] You guys did instinctively, you know, that worked out.
[00:28:07] And that’s one of the reasons I like when I’ve been out with you is I know that while you’re out there, it seems like you’re always
cognizant of Worst-Case scenario, things that can happen. And so when they happen, it seems like you have a pretty good ability to
kind of stay focused and just work on things because, you know, I mean, there’s a lot of you’re so far in Glacier Park where you and
Jack had that problem, that you could logistically just spend a long time trying to get a rescue going on. And so the way that you did
that, just as impressive thanks
[00:28:44] Yeah, I think to a certain extent, I don’t think what I did was that special. I just think it’s what anybody would do if, you know, if you
were in that situation. But it to me, it highlighted some of my own weaknesses. And I think since then, I’ve taken some, you know, a
wolfer wilderness first responder course. That was part of what I needed for the guiding I’ve done. But I think if you’re you know, if
you’re out there a lot having some basic medical training just so that you can prevent the simplest, easiest life threats, that can make
a huge difference for someone. And people struggle with you. And whether it’s avalanche education or whether it’s, you know, first
aid training, that kind of stuff. But you’re investing in your own abilities as a partner. You’re investing in your own worth to
somebody. And you don’t really know exactly. You know, a lot of times we don’t know what we’re getting into. We’re just going out
there and we have some ideas. But then things happen. And if you have the better prepared you are to deal with those situations,
the better. You’re gonna have a happier outcome.
[00:29:47] And so one thing I’ve noticed about you is you’re very integrated. Like you’re you’re kind of working with some of these
organizations that trained these skills. You’re learning them and you’re kind of doing it all at the same time. And so, like you’re
actively working with the avalanche groups, you’re learning avalanches yourself. Here you go on this experience with Jack Beretti,
start taking Wilderness survival skills.
[00:30:10] And so it looks like just a trajectory of wilderness mastery. And so it’s enjoyable to watch because, I mean, I’ll bet like I’m I’m get out
there. I don’t get out there quite as much as you do. That’s my biggest challenges. Do I want to get out there and do stuff or do I
want to train to do stuff? And I like your approach is it’s integrated. Like you’re gonna spend a little bit of time on all of it so that as
you get better, you know, you’re bringing that whole experience with you. And so, yeah, it’s it’s it’s what it makes me happier when
I’m out with you, because if the times I don’t whether you’re leading. And I know you’re doing that. And so that makes me feel
[00:30:49] Well, I guess I’d point out to you that it’s not you know, you can exist within and within an ecosystem of mentors and people you’re
helping to bring along and people that are at the same level of you. So, you know, when you and I go ski touring, maybe on breaking
trails sometimes, but getting, you know, the life advice from you and Gary about, you know, how to, like, pay off your house or like
what you know, what sort of moves I should be making in that realm.
[00:31:14] And I think it’s cool because, you know, we can I think all of us should have some level of who am I giving back to? Right. Because I
didn’t you know, there’s no reason that I deserve to have a family that brought me into all this. I just lucked into that. And but a lot of
other people that want to get out and do the same kinds of things that I do don’t have that opportunity. They just have to figure it
out from their own realm in an outdoor space. There are so few ways to just find mentorship or find education, but at the same time,
it’s much more difficult. You’re not going to kill yourself playing soccer, but you can definitely do that if you’re skiing in avalanche
terrain with no idea what you’re doing and not. That’s obviously going to happen, but it might. So just the consequences are much
higher. And so if we spend some time giving back, we spend some time just getting out there with people that are on the same level
as us so that you’re able to build build that confidence in a partnership, invest in other people from, you know, just from a friendship
standpoint and then feel that coming back to you. And also spend time with people that are way better than you, where you’re
chasing after them and they’re passing along their skills. If we can all. Be those different pieces to the to the outer equation. I think it
helps the whole thing move forward. I think that’s how you actually build a community and do it. And the friendships that you get
out of it, I mean, it doesn’t matter what you summit or how hard you climb or, you know, what you ski. It’s the friendships you get
out of it that are ultimately what’s what’s important. And I think there’s some you know, there’s some self satisfaction out of it. But
it’s the friendships, it’s the relationships, it’s the time spent out there. That’s so cool. At the end of the day, I agree.
[00:32:55] That’s great.
[00:32:56] And and I’ve seen you out there drill on new rock protection and things with the rock climbing group.
[00:33:04] And you’re so so you’re you’re living everything you’re talking to. You know, helping other people know how to do avalanche
education. A lot of the rock climbing routes in northwest Montana is decided. Hey, we need to probably go in there and start
replacing some of this gear.
[00:33:21] And if you’re one of the guys doing that, which is probably helps you educate yourself and then it also benefits the other people that
get out there.
[00:33:29] You know, I think that’s a good example of how it’s a community thing. Right. It’s not we don’t have to exist as our. You know, we
don’t have to be our own actor in these things. So when you’re talking about they did a, we did a rebolt of the main climbing anchors
down at the main wall at kila earlier this summer. And that was motivated by a number of people, folks from Montana Academy,
folks from Summit Preparatory, folks from Rock climb Montana, that I’ll use those from an institutional or guiding standpoint. But
then also a bunch of people that just want to see it be better. And so those three organizations all pitched in some cash. Northwest
Montana Climbers Coalition used some of their membership funding to kind of fill it out. And then we got a bunch of people
together one night. You know, I think there were about eight of us down there. You know, we were just replacing hardware.
[00:34:17] And it was cool because everybody was able to work together to make a community resource better. You know, you can go and
climbing even though you don’t have to spend a dime to go out there and use that stuff. But it’s just the sense of who’s going to fix
it. And if nobody’s out there and nobody’s in charge of it, it just has to be somebody. So if you want to see it fixed, then get together
with your community and fix it.
[00:34:41] And even when I was on St. Nicholas with you, you were checking some of the webbing to make sure people had it up there before,
you don’t even accidentally use a dangerous piece of. So even in a place as a remote or maybe not that many people are going to be,
you’ve got that safety focus, which is something I really appreciate you.
[00:34:59] And we got I mean, we pulled like 10 pounds of garbage out of there.
[00:35:03] Right. Right. It’s it’s kind of a whole other show, really is a rock Climbers go up mountains and they leave some things behind. And
then what? You know what? But your motivation when I was up there with you was, you know, I would hope that if something was
here, that it’s the safest thing for the next guys to like in a hurry.
[00:35:21] And that’s just a great way of looking at it. And it’s just I see it in a lot of areas with you.
[00:35:27] Last thing, because I want to wrap up in the lithoid cusp story is fantastic. And so the that got a lot of our time. But so you’re how old
[00:35:39] So you’re only 30 and you’ve already live, you know, an amazing, like outdoor record in life. If this was all that you had done, you’ve
done a lot more and a lot of people are ever going to do. But you are only 30. So give us a quick visual. Anything that you have that
you’re looking at doing in the future, we should be looking for.
[00:35:59] It could be like a mountaineering objective or career objective or is there something that you got your eye on that you that you’d like
to be doing in the future that we might be able to see?
[00:36:11] I think fighting satisfaction is is really important. You know, being able to say that it doesn’t have to be the craziest thing. It doesn’t
have to be the biggest climb or the hardest climb. It doesn’t have to be the steepest ski or the most impressive.
[00:36:26] And you come from, you know, coming from the terrain park coming up in that culture somewhat.
[00:36:31] That’s that’s been my mindset in the past. And it’s been fun to transition that to this, just being able to really enjoy getting out. And I
find myself I’m not skiing as aggressively as I once did. I’m not seeking out the biggest, scariest stuff because I don’t need that. But
try it. But that’s been sort of a building thing.
[00:36:53] And I never you know, when you’re 18 and hitting jumps in the terrain park the whole time, you’re not like sitting there being like,
oh, sometime in the future, I’m going to find a way to phase this out of my life. You know, that’s not really a thought. You have. But
that’s something you’re gonna have to do. And I’m so I’m becoming more and more interested in transformation, other people’s
transformations, how they go from one phase of life to another. How do you go from being a 20 something ski bum to a dad when
you’re 40? How do you become, you know, transition from being a terrain park skier, somebody that’s touring all the time?
[00:37:26] And I think the other thing that’s really interesting to me is just, you know, how do you continue to get back if you if you feel like
avalanche education’s important and you want people to do that? How do you plug in with that and how do you encourage your
community to try and support that kind of stuff?
[00:37:40] So those are the things that I’m mostly interested in personally. There’s still a few.
[00:37:44] So you’re not going to tell me like Everest or one of these things.
[00:37:49] I’m due for a big expedition at some point soon.
[00:37:54] But you’re not. It’s not like a singular focus. It might come together and you’ll you’ll get on the mission when it happens.
[00:37:59] Yeah, I don’t know. I I try I try really hard.
[00:38:02] It’s it’s good to dream, but it’s also got to be just not very attached to some of those goals because some of them are so conditions
dependent. I mean, there there’s some big ski lines in Glacier that I’d still love to go in with the right crew in the right conditions and
sort of, you know, work really hard and come away with something that I was proud of. But I don’t like talking about them a whole
[00:38:24] And it’s right. I know a secret one that I can’t tell anyone.
[00:38:27] Yeah. Yeah, I guess that’s it is sort of secretive. I guess you maybe you’ll hear a goal after you’ve still got another talk. I did it. A gaffe
for sure. Well, Dave, it’s been awesome.
[00:38:38] And your story is amazing. And I just appreciate your give back attitude, which was really the what I was thinking of people that I
know that are excellent at making it work in Montana. And my one of my favorite parts alone in Montana, being in the outdoors and
guys like you make it possible for guys like me to have a good experience out there with just all the things that you’re involved with.
So thanks for taking a small bit of time to share with the community here.
[00:39:05] This is Making it work in Montana. And again, I’m David Boye, host. And if you have any feedback, I would just encourage you to put
it on the Facebook page or send me a message. And if you know somebody that we should be having on this program, please put me
in touch with them. We want this to be the kind of program that meeting your needs as a listener. So thank you for joining us.