Akio Joy Interview

Name: Aki

(P.C.: Seth Langbauer Photography)

Hometown: Placerville, California

Current Residence: Bozeman, MT

Years Climbing/Skiing: about 8-9

Years Guiding: 4


MAG: So Aki, you recently returned from a personal trip down in Yosemite Valley. Any highlights from the trip? What did you climb?

AJ: One that stuck out was climbing Snake Dike on Half Dome with my sister. Just a classic long, fun day out. We also had the chance to watch Honnold solo El Cap, so that was pretty cool. We attempted Freerider and were actually passed by him and a film crew during the a ropeless test run of the upper portion. It was pretty inspiring to watch him float up overhanging cracks a few thousand feet off the ground. All in all, it was an awesome trip (per usual) with great friends.


MAG: What’s up next for you Aki? Any personal trips coming up?

AJ: I have a few trips to Gannet peak lined up and hopefully lots of work slated for the next few months. Come October though, I’ll have my sights set on El Cap again. Hopefully I’ll be squeezing in plenty of days in the Beartooths and Gallatin in between.


MAG: Do you remember a specific point in your life where you knew you wanted to pursue a career as a professional mountain guide?

AJ: During college, I wanted to pursue the option of guiding because a local guide in my hometown inspired me. Ever since, I’ve strayed more towards the path of guiding…


MAG: Between guiding and personal trips you spend a lot of time in the mountains. Do you have a favorite area?

AJ: That’s a tough one… Being from California, Yosemite valley holds a special place in my heart. I’ve come to appreciate some of the local climbing just as much, though. The Beartooths in particular are definitely a favorite.


MAG: If you weren’t a mountain guide, what would you be doing instead?

AJ: Teaching math at the high school.


MAG: You recently moved into a sprinter van. Do you have any sage advice to pass on to someone who is thinking about moving into a van?

AJ: From my limited experience, the most important thing to consider about having a home on wheels is where you park it. Make sure you have some good friends who don’t mind your company and the occasional 6 pack in turn for a driveway spot.


MAG: Alright Aki, the final question…. Given your fear of sea creatures and your love of crocs, would you rather never wear your crocs again? Or would you rather tread water for 1 minute in the middle of the ocean?

AJ: Don’t get me wrong– I love my crocs, but I don’t think I could tread water in the middle of the ocean for any amount of time…

Everest, Lhotse, Montana Alpine Guides, Bozeman, Mountaineering

Geoff Schellens Interview

Name:  Geoff Schellens

Hometown:  Norwich, VT

Current Residence:  Bozeman, MT

Years Climbing/Skiing: 20 +/-

Mt. Everest, Himalaya, Mountaineering, Montana Alpine Guides, Bozeman, Big Sky

Looking down the summit ridge of Mt. Everest P.C.: Geoff Schellens

Years Guiding: 10


MAG: So Geoff, you recently returned from a successful summit of Everest and Lhotse with a private client… What was that like? Any specific highlights of the trip that stood out?

GS:  It was an amazing experience, hard work at times but a lot of resting and being patient for a good weather window.  I think climbing Lhotse was a highlight for me; we had the whole mountain to ourselves that day and beautiful views of the sunrise over the Himalaya that morning.


MAG: What’s on the docket for you now Geoff? Spending some time at the beach or heading back to the mountains?

GS:  Ha, no beach time for this guy unfortunately.  I’m right back to guiding in the North West for the summer.  Heading down to Peru in a week to guide Alpamayo so that will be fun.


MAG: Do you remember a specific point in your life where you knew you wanted to pursue a career as a professional mountain guide?

GS:  I guess I always wanted to work outside in the mountains.  After graduating I began working in Outdoor Education and quickly found that I would end up in an office or broke so I started looking into guiding.


MAG: You’ve guided all over the world, is there a place that stands out as a favorite for you?

GS:  That is a tough one.  I love the Himalaya, Peru, and Alaska.  I guess if I had to pick one it would probably be the Alaska Range.  It’s such a stunning and inspiring range.


MAG: If you weren’t a mountain guide, what would you be doing instead?

GS:  Either an astronaut or a mailman.  Honestly, I have no idea.


MAG: Some folks might not know that you are also a very talented photographer (check his work out here: http://www.theexposededge.com/). When did this passion start?

GS: My dad is a photographer as well so I grew up playing with cameras and in the home made darkroom and I’ve just always kept a camera near by.


MAG: Alright Geoff, the final question and maybe the most important…. Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck, or 100 duck sized horses?

GS:  One horse sized duck for sure.


Sam Hennessey Interview

PC: Mark Pugliese

We recently caught up with MAG guide, Sam Hennessey who just got back to Bozeman after spending May and most of June in the Alaska Range climbing and guiding. Here’s what he had to say about his time in the Alaska Range, moonlighting as a janitor, and tacos.

Name: Sam Hennessey

Hometown: Port Angeles, WA

Current Residence: Bozeman, MT

Years Climbing/Skiing: Can’t remember… 12?

Years Guiding: 7

MAG: So Sam, you recently returned from a personal trip in the Alaska Range followed immediately by work in the same range. What was your personal objective? How did the trip go as a whole? Any special highlights? 

SH: Together with a couple friends I was hoping to climb the North Buttress on Mt. Hunter via any route. We showed up in early May to decent weather and conditions, and made several good attempts on the Bibler Klewin, once climbing to the top of the Buttress in 19 hours, but for various reasons we turned around there. My two partners were happy with that, and flew out, but I was lucky enough to randomly run into my friend Michael Hutchins in basecamp, and a couple days later we climbed a route called Deprivation to the summit and back down in only 31 hours, which we were really happy with. Two times up the north buttress in four days was definitely memorable! The highlight was probably topping out just as the sun was setting with no bivy gear… it felt a little out there. Then it snowed for two weeks which pretty much shut down any other plans, and I went to work on Denali.


MAG: What’s up next for you Sam? Any personal trips coming up?

SH: I will be spending the next couple months working, mostly in the Tetons and a bit on Mt. Rainier. Then in September Seth Timpano, Jared Vilhaur and I are headed to the Kishtwar region of India to attempt a peak called Barnaj II. It’s my first trip to India, but those guys have been there before and it sounds incredible. So I’ll be spending this summer trying not to get too beat down by my work schedule, and training as much as seems feasible. After that it’s anybody’s guess, but I’ll figure it out soon hopefully… and of course I’ll be back in the area for November, my favorite month to ice climb.


MAG: Do you remember a specific point in your life where you knew you wanted to pursue a career as a professional mountain guide?

SH: I got into guiding because it paid better than the biological technician jobs I had gotten right out of school, and it seemed like a good way to meet climbing partners, but it didn’t take long to start to think of it as a career. I was lucky enough to have several more experienced mentors as I started, and they definitely shaped my perception of what guiding can be.


MAG: Between guiding and personal trips you spend a lot of time in the mountains. Do you have a favorite range?

SH: Honestly one of the things I enjoy most about guiding and climbing is that I am constantly traveling and never have to choose just one, but if I had to narrow it down to three it would probably be the Absorka/Beartooths, the central Alaska Range, and the Olympics in western Washington.


MAG: If you weren’t a mountain guide, what would you be doing instead?

SH: I have a side career as a Janitor that I’ve put on hold for the last few years, but if times got tough I could probably get that going again.


MAG: Alright Sam, the final question…. You only get 1 meal for the rest of your life… pizza or tacos?

SH: I pretty much eat tacos for most dinners anyways so…

Thanks for taking the time, Sam. Good luck in India and we’ll see you back out in Hyalite in November!

Off the Boardwalks

Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 as the nation’s first National Park. Yellowstone is home to approximately 600 waterfalls and geysers, packs of wolves, grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, herds of bison, elk, and 4,097,710 people (visits in 2015). Don’t get us wrong, we love that people come to Yellowstone National Park and learn to or continue to appreciate the beauty of the park and everything that is wild about it. Some of this ‘wild’ feel does get lost however. It gets lost by being confined to boardwalks. It gets lost in all the selfies. It gets lost in the struggle to find parking. What if we told you that we know of a way for you to re-capture the ‘wild’ feel of Yellowstone National Park? No boardwalks. No selfies (okay, maybe some selfies). No parking. We are talking about a backpacking trip with Montana Alpine Guides.


Montana Alpine Guides offers Yellowstone National Park backpacking trips from June through September with trips ranging from two to five days. What if you’ve never backpacked before though? Perfect! Our experienced guides are all locals to the area and have the experience and local knowledge to ensure you get the experience of a lifetime while learning how to go backpacking. Don’t have any backpacking gear? We’ve got you covered. Just pack your clothes and toiletries. We will cover the stoves, fuel, and food and offer rental tents, sleeping bags, pads, and backpacks. So step away from the boardwalks and parking lots this summer. Sleep on the ground, cook your food over a single burner stove, and make memories with friends and family that will last a lifetime. Go discover for yourself the more ‘wild’ parts of the park.



Rock Climbing, Bozeman, Big Sky, Montana, Climbing, Montana Alpine Guides, Rock Guides

Summer Rock Climbing

Summer in Bozeman means it’s time to put away skis (some people more reluctantly than others), ice axes, and crampons in exchange for rock shoes, chalk bags, and t-shirts. With climbing access to Hyalite just a short 20 minute drive south of town, it’s hard not to climb every day of the summer. Here at Montana Alpine Guides we are fortunate to guide all of our favorite spots around the greater Bozeman, Big Sky, and Yellowstone National Park area.

Feel like getting on some limestone sport climbs? Head down to Allenspur, a rock crag in Paradise Valley, for easy to moderate single pitch sport routes. Maybe you’re interested in expanding upon your rock skills and wanting to get a look into the world of traditional (trad) climbing? Head 20 minutes south of town up the scenic Hyalite Canyon to Practice Rock. Easy access to the top makes this a perfect place to learn the finer points of gear placement while “mock-leading”. With routes on almost every aspect of Practice Rock, this is a great place to hang out on a hot summer day and chase the shade. Perhaps you’re a more experienced trad climber? It might be time to rally down to the gally. The Gallatin Canyon offers varying degrees of difficulty single and multi-pitch trad climbs (with some sport routes as well). The Gallatin Canyon also offers some great beginner climbing and is the perfect spot for anyone staying in Big Sky or Yellowstone National Park.

One of the greatest aspects to rock climbing around Bozeman is the ease of access to different areas with different rock types, climbing styles, difficulties, aspects, and approach times. So whether you’ve never climbed at all or have been climbing for years, you are sure to find a spot around Bozeman that will cater to your objectives.

As always, Montana Alpine Guides will be running rock climbing trips and instructional courses throughout the summer and into September. Whether you’re a family of first time climbers, a gym climber ready to climb outside, or a seasoned climber ready to tackle El Capitan, we have a course or trip that can be catered to your current climbing level and future goals. Be sure to check out the Rock Climbing portion of our website and see if we have a course that catches your eye.



Interview with Zoe Schultz (Traditional Rock Course Participant)

MAG: How long have you been climbing?

Zoe: I started getting into climbing Fall of 2016

MAG: What first drew you to rock climbing? What has continued to fuel your passion for climbing?

Zoe: I’ve always loved backpacking, hiking, and peak bagging, so naturally rock climbing was a huge appeal to me. During the past few months of climbing, I have learned what drives people to achieve their goals, and their passion serves as a model for how I hope to move forward with climbing. Most importantly, I love climbing with good people who are patient and who have a sense of humor, and don’t care whether it’s a hard or laid back day at the crag as long as everyone is having fun. Honestly, the happy feeling I get sitting on top of a climb after being scared or frustrated on a route, is what continues to fuel my passion for climbing.

MAG: What course(s) have you taken with Montana Alpine Guides?

Zoe: I have taken the top rope anchor class and the traditional rock course

MAG: What is one thing from the Traditional Rock Course that you were most excited to learn about?

Zoe: I was most excited to learn how to set up a bail system and haul system for different scenarios on multi-pitch climbs. While I may not be the strongest or fastest climber, I feel more confident climbing with others as a leader or follower knowing I have the skills to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

MAG: Any summer climbing plans?

Zoe: This summer I hope to get out and play on rocks as much as possible!

MAG: What is one thing that you would say to anyone thinking about taking a course from Montana Alpine Guides?

Zoe: If anyone was thinking about taking a course from Montana Alpine Guides, I would say, if you want to learn new skills or gain confidence climbing, these courses are perfect! Sure, you can learn how to climb from friends and maybe a significant other, but nothing is better than learning from professionals who are patient and stoked to teach their skills to people willing to learn.


Thanks Zoe!

when to retire climbing ropes, when to get a new rope, climbing ropes, how many falls, when to stop using

When to Retire a Climbing Rope?

Retiring your Climbing Rope

When should you retire your climbing rope is a question all climbers should ask themselves.  As a professional guide service, Montana Alpine Guides keeps regular logs and inspections as to when we retire ropes.  This level of professionalism is expected.  We often get the question from participants in our Climbing Courses, “When should I retire my old climbing ropes?  This answer is best left to the companies who make the ropes; in this case, one of our lead sponsors Mammut has the answers:

“Even some ancient ropes can still hold a «short» sport climbing fall, whilst in comparison, a brand new rope can break over a sharp edge. Therefore, the lifespan of a rope is difficult to define. It depends on the type and the length of use, on shock loading and other influences that weaken the rope. In the end, with the private user, it’s a personal safety decision. At the latest, if you no longer have confidence in your old, furry, unmanageable rope you should «down grade» it to top roping only.  For commercial users keeping a rope log is recommended”.


  • The rope came in contact with chemicals, particularly acids.
  • The sheath is damaged and the core is visible.
  • The sheath is extremely worn, or particularly fuzzy.
  • The sheath has slipped noticeably
  • Strong deformations are present (stiffness, nicks, sponginess).
  • The rope was subjected to extreme loads (e.g. heavy falls, clearly over fall factor 1).
  • The rope is extremely dirty (grease, oil, tar).
  • Heat, abrasion, or friction burns have caused damage.


The following table gives reference values for the usability of the rope:


Frequency of Use   Approximate Life Span
Never used Ten years maximum
Rarely used: twice per year Up to 7 years
Occasionally used: once per month   Up to 5 years
Regularly used: several times per month Up to 3 years
Frequently used: each week Up to 1 year
Constantly used: almost daily Less than 1 year

Table and Text: Compliments of Mammut North America.

Gannett Peak, Wind River Mountains, Goose Neck Route, East Face Route, Mountaineering, Wyoming, Montana, Montana Alpine Guides

Can I Climb Gannett Peak?

We have guided dozens of trips up Gannett Peak (WY state high point), so it’s logical that we receive numerous calls asking “Can I Climb Gannett?” Our response always rings the same, “On a guided trip with Montana Alpine Guides, it comes down to physical fitness as we handle all the rest”. However, if you are on your own, there is quite a bit more to consider. Gannett Peak is essentially a backpacking trip with a technical snow climb at altitude in the middle, followed by a backpacking trip out. In route to the summit you will travel through bear country, cross challenging rivers, boulder fields, complex route finding, pre-dawn starts, and technical snow climbing, among other challenges.  

Physically you should be comfortable hiking for two-three full days with a 40-50 lb pack to your high camp. Summit day on Gannett requires waking up pre-dawn and navigating by headlight to start out your eight to twelve hour summit attempt with gains between 2,000’- 3,000’ and equal losses. Ultimately you need to save some in the tank to then hike out the same route on your final two days.  Fortunately you can train any where, even in Florida, so with enough forethought anyone can get into shape. Then again, with enough prior fitness and motivation a week will do.  

The mandatory technical skills are a bit harder to acquire, you don’t just gain mountain sense through a book and it’s hard to learn how to travel safely on snow with ropes, crampons, and ice axes without having been on snow. You need these skills on Gannett Peak. You need to know how to read the weather, deal with thunderstorms and lightning, how to time your ascent, when to turn around, etc.

If you choose to go on your own you should feel comfortable traveling as a rope team on snow and know how to manage safety while climbing in your group. The snow can range from knee deep slush to icy hardpack, the former can take far more energy, the latter greatly increases the severity of risk. Plan  and know how to use ropes, ice tools, crampons, rock gear and snow pickets as you see fit to maintain safety.  

On a trip with  MAG (Montana Alpine Guides) we handle all logistics and technical components so that you don’t have to. Whether you join MAG or not you will need to consider what we would cover including: individual and group technical gear selection, cooking set up and food selection for meals, logistics (transport, permits, porters, etc), responsible camping and food storage in bear country, high camp locations, route finding where no trails are present in open meadows, boulders, and snow fields; and of course all technical ropework travel to safely ascend (and descend) Wyoming’s highest point.  

Sam Magro is owner and lead climbing guide with Montana Alpine Guides. MAG offers guided trips on Gannett Peak from June-September in addition to year round technical ice and rock climbing trips as well as backcountry skiing out of their home location in Bozeman, MT.  To get further information on their trips visit www.mtalpine.com

Gear Sale, Ice Climbing Boots, Used, Boot Rentals, Used Ice Climbing Boots, Bozeman, Big Sky, Montana, Hyalite Canyon

Spring Gear Sale

Montana Alpine Guides is having a sale on all of our current ice climbing equipment in an effort to make room for next years gear.  Most climbing gear is in great shape. The sale includes gear we use for our clients while guiding and some of our rental gear as well will through the end of April. This is the perfect time to get yourself in some new-to-you boots, crampons, or ice tools for next season without having to pay for brand new equipment. We pride ourselves in the care that we take and the quality of our gear.



Scarpa Mont Blanc ($295 and up) 2015 models, excellent condition

  • Size 38- $325
  • Size 39- $325
  • Size 39.5- $325
  • Size 40- $325
  • Size 41 – $325
  • Size 42 – $325
  • Size 42 – $325
  • Size 42.5 – $325
  • Size 43 – $325 SOLD
  • Size 43.5 -$350 SOLD
  • Size 45 – $295

Scarpa Phantom Guides 

  • Size 47 – $250.  Solid ice boot with over gaiter.

La Sportiva Nepal Evo ($150 and up)

  • Size 38.5 – $275
  • Size 43.5 – $325, excellent condition SOLD
  • Size 44 – $225, excellent condition
  • Size 44 – $150, slightly damaged toe bail

Plastic Boots/Double Boots:

  • Scarpa Alpha Plastics & Inverno Plastics: $225-$250; Miscellaneous Plastics: $50-$75


  • Petzl Lynx Crampons (2015 models) – $150 (8 pairs available)-  ALL SOLD
  • Petzl Dart Crampons- $130,  (1 pair available) mono-point crampon for ice and mixed
  • Black Diamond Crampons –  $75 Fully Automatic – (Several pairs available)


  • Petzl Nomics: $350/pr –SOLD!
  • Petzl Quarks: $310/pr (3 pr. available).  Picks in good shape.  – 1 Pr. SOLD
  • Black Diamond Reactors: $240/pr (w/Brand New Picks), Older picks: $195/pair
  • Black Diamond Ice Tools: $200/pr (miscellaneous recurved tools w/ trigger rest): 
  • Black Diamond Rage: $75/pc. *Great mountain tool* – 2 Pc. SOLD
Ice climbing, courses, instruction, classes, Hyalite Canyon, Montana Alpine Guides

Fifth Annual Military Veterans Ice Climbing Trip

We just finished one of our favorite group trips of the year, marking the 5th annual military veterans ice climb with Montana Alpine Guides in Hyalite Canyon. We spent four days sharing ice climbs and conversation with this great group with instruction from a solid crew including Sam Magro, Adam Knoff, Kyle Rott, Nate Opp, Aki Joy, and Conrad Anker. Veterans arrived from all corners of the country, some having never climbed ice before, and all left as experienced ice climbers with a group of solid new friends.

It’s always an amazing experience to share what we love to do with such an appreciative group who is willing to give it all they have and have fun throughout the process. Huge thanks to Sierra Club for making this all possible and to SCARPA for hooking us up with a solid line of technical ice climbing boots. Most of all thanks to all of you who brought positive energy and a bit of “try hard” to our four days out on the ice together.

Check out the great news cover story from our climbs: