Shifting Seasons

Gavin Hess in the Tetons – March 2020

As March brought around a global shift with the stay-at-home orders associated with the arrival of COVID-19 , most of our lives changed significantly. And, the end of my winter guiding brought some time to reflect on what was a great season on many levels. Though all my spring trips and work were canceled, I was able to pursue some beautiful days in the mountains working on other projects and spending more time with friends in our ranch quarantine circle.

It was very rewarding to see my friends and clients rise to significant challenges this season. One of my favorite days was taking a group of 3 women from my weekly “momforce” group to ski a classic steep couloir in the Tetons. One step at a time and one turn at a time, each woman rose to the occasion and finished the day as a stronger person than when she had started.

Karissa Akin in the Son of Apocalypse Couloir

Since my guide trips to Norway with Ice Axe Expeditions were canceled, I found April and May shifting into a different focus. This spring, a small group of us, with careful social distancing standards in play, worked on a film project — gathering ski footage in particular — for a short film to be produced and released this fall. Outside of some personal, conservative ski time, my family and quarantine circle have been working hard on the ranch.

We are getting things cleaned up with all of our outbuildings, fencing, etc, and training some of the newer, younger horses for our pack trip season ahead –

While the future is uncertain, we will make the best of our time in the hills with our guests (hopefully) and/or without. And, I am looking forward to this spring and summer with my family on horseback, on foot, and on the rock.

Maria Damon on Cream Puff Peak, Gros Ventre Wilderness

Peter Linn on ski patrol duty – pc: Bobby G

Togwotee Pass – Gavin Hess – ski film project

Morgan McGlashon on Ferry Peak, Palisade Wilderness – ski film project

Heading out from Pendergraft

Pete and Charlie (and mom) heading home from Pendergraft Camp – 2019

Ice Axe Expeditions Alpine Mavens Adventures 2020

2020 will be an exciting year with Ice Axe Expeditions. We are now offering 3 new adventure skiing opportunities for our new Alpine Mavens women’s program. This year’s two trips to Iceland were great successes and we are excited to continue forward with our bookings for more Ice Axe Expeditions women’s trips in the coming years.


The first trip will be to Gulmarg —  Kashmir, India in February. For more information and registration —  see link here:   2020 Gulmarg Ski Trip





The second trip will be the Lyngen Alps — Norway in April. See link here:

2020 Lyngen Alps Ski Trip (coming soon)

Potential Schedule:
April 17 arrive Tromso
April 18 Board Valiente around 12 and set sail.
April 18-22 Lyngen area (Senjahopen,
April 23-25 Finnmark
April 25 depart Alta in the PM.

Lyngen Alps Norway

The Lyngen Alps are an iconic backcountry ski area in far north Norway. The Lyngen Alps range is in part surrounded by water, allowing for typically Norwegian ski & sail adventures where boats are used to access the skiing terrain plus as a base for meals & accommodation.

The Lyngen Alps are about 90km long & 20km wide with a highest point of 1833m. The range includes glaciers, steep couloirs, gentle bowls & tree skiing down low. Summits typically skied in the Lyngen Alps are less than 1200m high, with descents going all the way down to sea level. “Skin out, ski in” is a reasonable motto for any visit to the area.

General Info: Lyngen Alps

  • Quality snow & reliable snow pack until late in the season;
  • Endless backcountry powder skiing & snowboarding options;
  • High adventure above the Arctic Circle;
  • Stunning surroundings & views;
  • Terrain includes easy bowls to challenging couloirs;
  • Ski directly back to the boat;
  • Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) viewing possible;
  • Delicious fresh fish available.


  •  Fully qualified guide/instructor for tour duration– max 1:7 ratio
  •  7 nights twin share accommodation on a boat in a double or bunk room.
  •  Full board (breakfast, lunch & dinner)
  •  Airport transfers – Tromso to/from boat
  •  All boat transport during the tour.
  •  Avalanche Safety Equipment (Shovel, Probe, Beacon)
  •  Fishing boats & equipment


  •  SINGLE ROOMS: Price on application.
  •  DRINKS: All beverages other than H2O. But, beer can be purchased on the boat.

Not Included

  •  Flights to Tromso via Oslo and return Alta
  •  Travel Insurance
  •  Snacks & Beverages
  •  Touring Gear
Cost: $6000 Euro per person (10 guests max) and 2 guides (5 to 1 ratio)


And, the third trip will be to Svalbard — in May. See link here:

2020 Svalbard Ski Trip (coming soon)


I am excited to be leading the first two trips (maybe 3) and will be joined by other local guides and/or US female guides for a couple of these exciting opportunities.

For any questions, please contact me at at [email protected] or (970)729-0663.



A Good Guide Season

“I had an amazing opportunity to be guided by Kim to the top of the Grand Teton in early June 2014. I had already climbed the Grand by several routes but this time my desire was to ski down from the summit, which is a significant and serious undertaking. That May I had just returned from a disastrous and disappointing attempt to climb Mt Everest and was dealing with “demons” that made me question my confidence and desire to take on additional mountaineering objectives. I needed a challenge to “re-boot” my adventure psych and skiing the Grand seemed a worthy objective to help cure me of my funk and rid me of the demons.

I went with a lot of trepidation. In the prior year, I had undergone total knee replacement thus making me the first person to attempt skiing the Grand with two artificial knees. At age 61, I might also have been quite old relative to other skiers who have attempted skiing that mountain.

From the moment we met and stepped on the mountain, Kim’s cheerful and ultra-positive demeanor was an instant breath of fresh air and a tremendous motivator. Over the next two day climb and ski descent her hooting and hollering of encouragement to me, not to mention exhibiting her own joy of being in such an amazing place, made me very comfortable and at ease. Her excitement was really contagious. I never felt tired primarily because she kept yelling to me how strong I was so how could I ever let her down? Stepping into my skis on top of the Grand was a little nerve racking as the exposure is tremendous but I knew I was in good hands. My concern turned to an adrenaline fueled sense of joy and adventure as we made our way down the steep slopes of the Ford Couloir and then transitioned to a roped rappel down the Stettner and Chevy Couloirs and then back again on skis to go down the “apron” to our base camp.

Kim felt more like a ski partner friend than a guide, other than the fact that her knowledge and expertise was always in play and on display. I felt like she was having as much fun as I was and not just out doing her job. That makes a huge difference when having a guided experience. I would recommend Kim for any kind of guided adventure in the mountains as she can make some of the inherent drudgery seem like the best part of the journey. Kim’s combination of talent, skill, and caring positive cheerful personality are a rare package in the guiding world.”

– Greg Paul, climber/skier, owner of Momentum Climbing Gyms – Ski Descent of Grand Teton, June 9 2014

In the early hours of June 9 2014, our team of 3 headed up the Teepee Glacier to ski the Grand Teton. The guides were Brian Warren and myself, along with our client, Greg Paul. Greg had recently had a double knee replacement and, as a lifelong climber, he was savvy and strong in the mountains. After our successful mission on the tallest peak in the Tetons, Greg went on to be the first person to climb Mt Everest, the following season, with a double knee replacement.

Our trip up the Grand Teton was an exciting time for me as a guide. Since that day, there have been many moments of witnessing great successes for my clients. And, for me, there have been a lot of highlights from time in the wilderness with great people. My own personal goals, in part, were achieved as well and I looked to the future with promise.

In late 2015, my partner, Pete Linn, and I, decided that we wanted to start a family. In August 2016, our daughter, Charlie Edward Linn, arrived. She is our greatest gift in this life. With a child’s arrival there comes change. I quickly realized that I was not comfortable taking on narrower risk margins while she was still so young.

But, this year, 2019, now that she’s 2.5 years old, I was ready to embark on some new adventures in the mountains again. Exploration, new routes, and high mountain adventures feed my soul. With two weeks guiding in Iceland on the books with Ice Axe Expeditions and 16 incredible women, I was getting prepared to leave my family for short trips as well as enter back into the bigger realm of the Tetons and the Sierra for March and April.

My ski season was moving in that forward direction when I hit a rock/log while guiding in the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort backcountry, bringing it to an abrupt end. Since Charlie’s arrival, and managing careers in both skiing and in real estate, I was really just getting back in the groove. But, when your direction suddenly shifts, all you can do is accept it with grace and positivity, and move forward with the new focus. 

I look forward to working on new projects and new goals in 2019 and aiming high for 2020, spending more time with family, friends, and clients, as well as offering the best of service and the best of adventures for everyone involved. My future posts will share some new opportunities for ski and travel in late 2019 and 2020. I’ll also highlight great adventures available with Teton Outfitters as well as exciting things in the real estate realm. Standby!

Powder Day (with the String Dusters)

As we creep higher in our snowfall totals for this ski season 2018/2019 at Jackson Hole, reminded of a fun clip from a few years past.. a bluebird powder day with Jess McMillan and Eric Seymour in the Crags.

Afterglow: A Podcast- A Chat with Brendan Madigan

A Conversation with Brendan Madigan, Alpenglow Sports Owner and Outdoor Industry Leader, last February 2018 in Lake Tahoe, CA:

Podcast link to Soundcloud


Afterglow is a podcast series that travels deep into the mind heart and soul of world renown adventure athletes; a series of in-depth and intimate audio conversations with athletes who chase their dreams through big mountain skiing, mountaineering, ultra running, and rock climbing.

Every conversation goes deep in the attempt to learn universal truths from the experiences of these athletes including who we are, why we are here, and how these answers offer a pathway for the sharing of experiences, emotion and vulnerabilities that can potentially spark change and bridge divides.

Join us for Season Two of Afterglow beginning Friday, October 26, 2018. This season showcases weekly conversations with notable mountain adventure athletes JT Holmes, Emily Harrington, Stephan Drake, Kim Havell, Chris Burkard, Adrian Ballinger and Barry Blanchard

Subscribe now… and tell a friend.

Available on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and Google Play.   

PSA – Utah Avalanche Center Free Program


The Utah Avalanche Center has created a new program online that offers 5 courses of avalanche/snow safety classes called Know Before You Go (via Utah Avalanche Center)

The most effective way to have fun and stay safe in the winter backcountry is to learn about avalanche safety. The backcountry doesn’t need to be scary or dangerous and you can go out in any conditions when you know something about how avalanches work and how to avoid them.

The Utah Avalanche Center has created a set of free interactive online avalanche eLearning courses. They are for anyone who wants to learn more avalanche safety skills, can’t take an on-snow avalanche class, or want to refresh and sharpen their avalanche skills. Going through these before taking a Backcountry 101, Avalanche Rescue, or Level 1 class will leave students much better prepared and ready to spend more time practicing skills. The courses use a mix of text, images, animations, videos, links to additional content, and interactive exercises to teach the basics you need to know before heading into the snow.

The Utah Avalanche Center hopes that everyone going into the backcountry this winter checks this program out and uses what they learn to get out, have fun, and come home safe.

WWA Grassroots Advocacy – Join Us Today!

This past weekend, as an ambassador to Winter Wildlands Alliance, I headed up to Boise for the Winter Wildlands Grassroots Advocacy Conference in Boise, Idaho. The meetings, led by Spitfire Strategies’s brilliant Kristen Grimm, we learned about creating effective messaging for those issues that are at the forefront of many of our minds these days — including protecting our public lands and slowing the rapid pace of climate change.

We need you! To join our ranks, learn more about Winter Wildlands Alliance and all the work they do to help keep us informed on pertinent local and national issues. We have the power to be the change we wish to see in the world.

Only $35 per year.



$35 a year (auto renew) makes you a vital partner in supporting public lands, kids on snow, mountain communities and wild winter landscapes. The more of us there are, the stronger we are! Join here: WWA member

Basic Membership

  • Annual Member Guide and Trailbreak Newsletter delivered to your door (old school style!)
  • For a limited time, a beanie from Flylow and a Keep Winter Wild sticker!
  • Custom action alerts specific to your local zones.

Membership Plus


Winter Wildlands Alliance is dedicated to preserving winter wildlands and quality human-powered snowsports experiences on public lands. We represent a growing community of backcountry and Nordic skiers, splitboarders, snowshoers, climbers, climate researchers, and other human-paced winter explorers, from Maine to California to Alaska. Our members, and the members of our 40 different grassroots groups nationwide, deeply value natural winter soundscapes and the opportunity for solitude and escape afforded by the last remaining places across the American West where solitude, fundamental wildness and non-motorized experiences are preserved. From the backcountry to Washington D.C., Winter Wildlands Alliance works with land managers, elected officials, grassroots groups and other partners to pursue a balanced approach to winter recreation management for the long-term protection of the places where we play.


AND..WWA runs the:


Special Temporary Link: NAAEE Workshop Participants Click Here!

SnowSchool introduces kids to the joy of exploring our nation’s winter wildlands.  A growing national Snowschool 3education program of Winter Wildlands Alliance, SnowSchool annually engages over 33,000 participants across 65 sites.  Each winter, in 16 states along the US snow-belt, K-12 students and teachers venture out on snowshoes as part of a fun and educational science-based field trip. Over 50% of participants are underserved and a majority are first time snowshoers! WWA works year-round with organizational partners nationwide to establish new SnowSchool sites each year and help bring this important experience to the communities and students that need it most.  Please explore the menu above to find out how to get involved.  Questions?  Contact Kerry McClay- [email protected]