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…