PACIFIC ALPINE GUIDES:
A BRIEF HISTORY
In 2010, Tyler Reid was guiding full-time while also working as the program director for another guide service in Alaska. Part of his job was to modernize an aging ski and mountaineering program, while creating cool new trips, guiding those trips, photographing those trips, and figuring out how to describe those trips to the world. From this experience he learned a lot about how a guide service works behind-the-scenes: program development, permits, insurance, spreadsheets, web design, bookkeeping... all the stuff the makes your head spin if your chosen profession is the opposite of staring at a computer screen.
"GUIDE SERVICE of the OLYMPIC MOUNTAINS..."
Tyler grew up on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, home of the Olympic Mountains, and back in 2011 there was no guide service based there. The previous guide service, Olympic Mountaineering, had closed their doors around 2005. Thus, Pacific Alpine Guides was born. Our home terrain would be an entire mountain range a quick ferry ride from Seattle, and we were the only ones there. Hurricane Ridge offered 7-day-a-week winter backcountry access for ski guiding and AIARE avalanche courses. You could ski powder and look down at waves crashing on the coastline. Guiding Mt. Olympus, the long and complex glaciated peak at the heart of the range, would become a go-to in the summer months.
Often times guides will start their own guide service, with a name that ends in the plural "Guides", but it's really just a one-person show. The goal with Pacific Alpine Guides was always the opposite. Being connected to a world of very experienced guides, we immediately had a large talent pool to draw on, and everyone was psyched to be a part of it. Port Angeles became our base, and the amazing local community embraced us.
Meanwhile, another goal was always to expand into other locations – and soon we were running trips in the North Cascades and Mt. Baker as well as Rogers Pass in The Selkirks, and the Wapta Traverse in the Canadian Rockies. Our team of guides continued to grow, and we even secured our first gear sponsors.
Our Chile Volcanoes trip came next with an exploratory mission in 2013, where we established a close partnership with the same outfitter we use to this day. In the fall of 2015 we added the Antarctic Peninsula to our list of offerings, through a partnership with Ice Axe Expeditions – the only company brave enough to book an expedition cruise ship and fill it with 100 skiers and 20+ guides. In January of 2016 we made our first pilgimmage to Hokkaido – still one of our favorite trips to this day. Skiing one of the Seven Summits, Mt. Elbrus, came next.
Having spent a number of years guiding in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, in 2015 it was a dream to finally be running our own base camp trips here, flown by Paul and Jay Claus of Ultima Thule Outfitters.
A BRIEF PAUSE
In the spring of 2016 Tyler and Melissa Arnot Reid put everything on hold to go climb the Northeast Ridge of Mt. Everest together, where Melissa became the first American woman to summit and descend Mt. Everest without oxygen.
Meanwhile, guiding on the Olympic Peninsula was proving to be a challenge with both diminished winter access (managed by the park service) and some tough snow years for a mountain range surrounded by water on three sides. It was not an easy decision to leave this place and this community where it all started, but local winter guiding had become unsustainable.
We relocated to the Methow Valley, forming a strong partnership with North Cascade Heli where Tyler and a number of our guides still work part time in the winter. Our Operations Manager Allison Groenleer joined the PAG family around this time, very quickly proving herself to be an invaluable part of the team.
A DREAM TRIP
Ski plane-assisted backcountry touring in some of the biggest and most remote mountains on the planet, working alongside elite-level pilots, while constantly exploring uncharted terrain. Could this be real?
Tebay was a new lodge in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park built by Jay Claus. Tyler had guided out of the Claus family's main lodge, Ultima Thule, and had also been flown on various expeditions by Jay's dad Paul, a legendary Alaskan pilot. Jay started construction in 2013, and in 2017 Tebay opened for business.
This was our biggest project to date; running the guide-service side of this operation – and to this day, an absolute dream come true. Tebay continues to blow our minds year after year.
We've come a long way since our beginnings on the Olympic Peninsula. We have an ever-growing family of incredible guides and staff, and many awesome new trips in development. It's one of the oldest cliches in the guiding business, but it's absolutely true: we wouldn't be here without our amazing guests. We are deeply appreciative of the support and trust over all these years.