The Guides

Since 1977, the mountain guides of Aspen Expeditions Worldwide (AEW) have been  recognized as among the most trained, experienced and credentialed in the country.  The history of mountain guiding and AEW is rich with personal accomplishments, as well as national and international certification credentials. Our founder, Dick Jackson, was the 15th American ever to receive the coveted International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA) “pin” and was one of the first Americans to guide in Europe, where the history of organized guiding is as old as the USA. Dick went on to become president of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) for 8 consecutive years, simultaneously running his company at the highest international guide standard.  Amos Whiting, Head Guide since 2002 and co-owner since 2017, was the 20th American to become IFMGA certified and has been a senior instructor and examiner for the AMGA since 2006. Our other co-owner, Britt Ruegger, has obtained his Aspirant Mountain Guide status with the AMGA, guiding clients in Colorado and across the United States for over a decade.  All of the guides at AEW hold an AMGA certification and many are on track to becoming IFMGA certified. We hold bi-annual in-house AEW guide training sessions, facilitated by IFMGA Head Guide Amos Whiting, ensuring that each season our guides are up-to-date on the latest AMGA standards for technical systems, rescue protocols, route knowledge, etc.

We pride ourselves on a high standard of professionalism. In addition to AMGA training and certifications, all our guides hold Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or greater (EMT-Paramedic) medical certifications. We have diverse backgrounds, which adds to our strength, laden with experience working for a number of outdoor education organizations such as Outward Bound, Prescott College, Colorado Mountain College, and other regional/national reputable guide services. AEW is an official Leave No Trace (LNT) partner, ensuring the highest standard of outdoor ethics is both practiced and preached while operating in the field. We are world class professional educators that truly enjoy sharing our knowledge and experience with our clients.  

We look forward to an adventure with you soon!

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Owner, Head Guide, IFMGA Mountain Guide, AIARE Course Leader, AMGA Instructor/Examiner

Amos was the 20th American to receive his IFMGA certification, the highest level of mountain guide certification in the world. He is Aspen Expeditions' technical leader and in-house trainer. Amos has worked as an outdoor educator and guide since 1995 and has been an owner of Aspen Expeditions Worldwide since 2017. He has a BA from Prescott College in Wilderness Leadership and Counseling Psychology.

In the winter, Amos guides backcountry skiing, hut trips, ice climbing and teaches Level I and II AIARE avalanche education courses. In the summer, he guides rock and alpine climbing. Amos works at home the the Aspen area as well as all over the world. He has adventured and guided in: Canada, Japan, Tanzania, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Nepal, Thailand as well as through out the lower 48 and Alaska. He is the only guide to have ski guided both of the Maroon Bells peaks from the summit.

Amos plays a key role in teaching and mentoring American mountain guides as a senior instructor for the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA).

Amos is a solid all around mountain traveler and guide. He has free climbed Moonlight Buttress Grade V 5.12+, Onsite ascent of the Rainbow Wall Original route IV 5.12a, a four-day second and mostly-free ascent of Lobo Este Pario VI 5.11+ A3 17500ft in La Esfinge Peru, a first ascent and ski descent of 60-degree Sick Iron in Alaska's Chugach Range, and a solo ascent of the Frendo Spur, D+, in Chamonix, France. He climbs Water Ice 5 and deep water solos 5.12+

In the summer he also runs a summer camp deep water soloing trips in Mallorca Spain, He is sponsored by G3 and Strafe.

He lives in Basalt, CO with his three boys and wife. He loves to salsa dance and surf.

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Owner, AMGA Aspirant Mountain Guide (Ski, Rock & Alpine), AIARE Course Leader

Britt has worked for Aspen Expeditions since 2008 and has been an owner since 2017. In the winter, Britt teaches AIARE courses, guides backcountry powder skiing, ice climbing and hut trips. He has guided skiing and ice climbing from Aspen to the San Juans in recent winters. In the spring, he has guided ski descents off South Maroon Peak and he enjoys guiding the Maroon Bells in snow conditions as alpine climbs. Ski mountaineering trips are among his favourite, and he has trips under his belt to coastal Alaska, the Cordillera Blanca of Peru, the Volcanoes of Argentina / Chile, and the Alps.

For the past 5 years Britt has taken his guiding to the North Cascades and Alaska. He has co-guided multiple ascents of Denali and has enjoyed Alaskan personal climbing highlights on the Harvard Route of Mount Huntington and Bacon and Eggs on the mini-mini moonflower with great friends. In recent summers, Britt has guided classic alpine routes: from the North Ridge of Mount Baker, to the Mithril Dihedral of the Sierra, to the Becky Chouinard of the Bugaboos. Britt is a skier turned climber and he works on all forms: bouldering, sport, trad, ice and mix. In the fall and spring he loves rock climbing excursions to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and trips to the desert with his lovely wife Ella and their puppy Tana.  

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AIARE Course Leader & Instructor, EMT, Ski Guide

Greg has worked at Aspen Expeditions since 2008 as a ski guide and Level 1 & 2 AIARE avalanche education course instructor. Greg is also a full member of Mountain Rescue Aspen and a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

Greg loves to travel and explore the globe and some of his adventures have taken him to Nepal and Bolivia. Born and raised in Aspen, Greg still loves to call the Roaring Fork Valley home.

Greg's other passion is food. He often works as a private chef for families or events, which makes him a sought-after hut trip partner.

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General Manager

Originally from Atlanta, Dirk has been with Aspen Expeditions since 2006. He manages day-to-day operations, sales and marketing.

An avid backcountry skier and climber, Dirk knows the Aspen area intimately and all the services that Aspen Expeditions provides.

Dirk is the go-to guy for everything related to booking trips, client contact, and guide management; but his mountain sense and experience is also top-shelf. In 2008 he climbed the Himalayan peak Ama Dablam and in 2011 completed a unique 10-day ski tour in the Canadian Rockies, just to name a few.

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AMGA Rock Instructor

Todd has been rock and alpine climbing since moving to Colorado. Originally from the Hill Country, near San Antonio, Texas, Todd moved to Colorado in 1996. He has trained at the highest levels with IFMGA guides in both rock and alpine AMGA courses, and his favorite climbing locales include the Utah desert, High Sierra, Red Rocks, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Tetons. Internationally he has climbed in Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil. A recent highlight to his climbing passion includes passing his AMGA Rock Instructor Exam. 

With a background as an engineer and wildlife biologist, Todd applies a thoughtful approach to guiding and earns high marks for fostering safety and skills development in his clients. He offers an ecological based approach to his time spent in the wild. Todd's winters are spent teaching skiing and snowboarding with the Aspen Ski Company, based on Aspen Mountain (Ajax). Todd is passionate about travel and enjoys birding, backcountry skiing, and dreaming about floating on more rivers.

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SAMMY PODHURST               

Sales & Marketing, AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, AMGA Apprentice Ski, Rock, & Alpine Guide

Growing up on the east coast, Sammy always knew she wanted to move west. Impatient to finish college, she hurried up and graduated a year early to pursue her life on the new frontier.

Sammy has been with Aspen Expeditions since 2011. She is a passionate climber and an obsessive ski mountaineer. She loves to take her adventuring abroad, traveling to places like India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, as well as Europe and South America.

Some of her most memorable climbs/skis have been down in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, a part of the Peruvian Andes, with several summits above 6,000m. She has done extensive ski exploration in the Elk range, with prominent ski descents from the summits of the famed Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak.

Locals in town know Sammy as “Sunny Sam,” which is easily explained once you meet her. A ball of happy, positive vibes, Sammy is always up for anything and doing so in good spirits. When Sammy is not out skiing or climbing in the mountains, she is herding her two border collies, usually running through the mountains.

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AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, AMGA Assistant Rock & Ski Guide, AMGA Apprentice Alpine Guide

Scott has worked for AE since 2014. Before moving to the Roaring Fork Valley, he lived in Steamboat Springs and worked as a ski patroller and a climbing & canyoneering instructor for Colorado Mountain College. He lived in the French Alps with his wife for 4 winters, skiing Les Trois Vallées and eating as much cheese as possible. Scott has climbed all of Colorado's 14ers, and enjoys sharing advice & stories with his guests. When he is not in the Elk Mountains, Scott loves climbing at Red Rock, Rocky Mountain National Park, & desert towers.  

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AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Originally from Massachusetts, Jack has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for over 14 years. He currently lives in the mountains above Glenwood Springs with his wolf dog, Alpine. He lives in a primarily off the grid cabin that is only accessible by snowmobile five months of the year.

Jack grew up climbing in the Appalachian Mountains. He had his eyes on the bigger prize and moved to Colorado at 18 years old. To say climbing is Jack's life would be an understatement; he eats, sleeps, and breaths for climbing. His gear room beats the finest gear shops. The training center in his barn is quite a feat of engineering. When Jack is not guiding in the Elk range of Colorado, he can be found in the many nearby cliffs surrounding his home. Jack spends a lot of his time training hard in Rifle Mountain Park just down the valley from his home. From adventure trad climbing, to technical sport climbing - he loves it all. Jack is a solid 5.13 sport climber. He has also on-sighted long 5.12 traditional big wall routes all around the western United States. In one week Jack went from speed climbing el Capitan in Yosemite, California in a one day push, to sport climbing over the ocean on the islands of Greece.

In the winters Jack works as an EMT. Jack is a true snowboarder and likes to say he has never skied a day in his life. After snowboarding for well over 20 years, Jack likes to push his passion for big mountain snowboard mountaineering deep into the Elk mountain range.

During the off seasons Jack can be found in the canyons and towers of the Moab desert. He has a real love for desert crack climbing and also desert high lining. Jack has walked dozens of committing high lines hundreds of feet above the desert floor. You may also find Jack in North Chatham, Cape Cod, MA where his parents reside, sport fishing the waters in front of his childhood home with his father for giant blue fin tuna.

Jack is a really fun person to be around. His excitement for climbing will rub off on you, and will keep you coming back for more!

Jack is a certified AMGA rock guide. He is Avalanche 2 certified, and holds a Colorado explosive license for avalanche control. He has over ten years of patient contact working as a patroller and backcountry rescuer: so you are in very good hands with Jack!

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American Avalanche Association Certified Instructor

Growing up, Blase explored the creeks, river and woods of Ohio and learned to ski on golf courses at night. His exploring and skiing have since taken him to the whitewater of the Appalachia, the remote mountains of Kyrgyzstan, and graduate studies in glaciology and creative writing. He skis in the daylight now - mostly - and for many winters, he's worked as a backcountry forecaster, where he's known for his engaging teaching and forecasts. He has published technical and scientific articles on snow science and glaciology and serves on the American Avalanche Association's Executive Committee.

As a guide, Blase relishes in helping people find their way deeper into the mountains. His expertise is leading day and overnight trips that include natural history, wide-ranging conversations, cross-country travel, and non-technical peaks.

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AMGA Single Pitch Instructor

Karen, a longtime Aspen resident, is a passionate rock climber with an extensive background in avalanche forecasting and mitigation.

Needing a break from ski boots, Karen has shifted gears. She now spends her winters in Red Rock both guiding and pursuing her personal climbing.  She likes to experience a variety of climbing styles and rock but her favorite is sport climbing on Limestone. Off the rock, she enjoys making jewelry.

As a former avalanche forecaster and technician on the Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol, Karen played a key role in the initial opening of the legendary Highland Bowl to the public and in, for more than a decade, its day-to-day operations. Karen recently completed her AMGA Single Pitch Instructor training, and some of her favorite climbing locales include Red Rocks, Indian Creek and Independence Pass.

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Accomplished Alpinist, AMGA Single Pitch Instructor

Zack Smith's humble, laid-back demeanor belies the fact that he is actually one of the countries most talented all-around climbers. Over the last ten years he has quietly accomplished an enviable list of first ascents and impressive repeats throughout North and South America. The Patagonia clothing company wrote about Zack on their website saying, "Zack Smith is a ninja, a master of all climbing styles, a bona fide climbing badass, and if you haven't heard about him, it's likely because he prefers it that way."

In the realm of alpine climbing, Zack's five trips to Patagonia have led to new routes on Aguja San Raphael, the North Tower of Paine, and the long-sought first free ascent and speed record of the Central Tower of Paine in a shocking five hours. During Patagonia's 2007 season, Zack made a near boltless ascent of Cerro Torre's egregiously over-bolted Compressor Route, inspiring others to look at the peak in new ways.

In February of 2010, he climbed the 5,000-foot ice and mixed route Supercouloir on Fitz Roy in a day. In the spring of 2008, he visited Alaska and added a first ascent to the north face of Kichatna Spire. Zack has proven his abilities on the smaller cliffs as well; opening new routes in Mill Creek like The Sceptic (5.13c R), a route protected with natural gear and bolts placed on lead. In Indian Creek he established the ultra classic, Burl Dog (5.13a), and has on-sighted other desert test-pieces up to 5.13a. Well known Idaho-based climber, Dean Lords, called Zack "the best crack climber I've ever seen." On the notoriously loose and difficult big walls of the Black Canyon, Zack has climbed more than 25 different routes and added a few of his own with climbs like Bloodsport (5.12c R) and Woke Up Punk (5.12a R). He has established dozens of new boulder problems up to V10 throughout the western states with the stunning highball Falcon vs. Eagle (V9) on Independence Pass and the Shaolin Finger Jab (V8) outside of Moab, Utah, being recent standouts.

Message or The Money (VI M6 AI4) was climbed in eight hours and is the fastest ascent of a mountain that has been referred to as "the most difficult summit in North America." Returning to Alaska the next year, he enchained three separate peaks in the Ruth Gorge that included a rapid first ascent on the Sugar Tooth, The Eye Tooth, and a previously-unclimbed summit dubbed The Missing Tooth. In May 2010, climbing in the Ruth Gorge once again, Zack succeeded on the south face of the Mooses Tooth via the first ascent of Swamp Donkey Express (VI 5.10 A2 M5), a coveted line that had been attempted and talked about since 1964.

When he's not chasing his own projects in the mountains or at the crags, Zack makes his living as a climbing guide for Aspen Expeditions and Moab Desert Adventures. After graduating from an intensive guides course program through the Alaska Mountaineering School in 1999, he began guiding professionally and has coaxed hundreds of clients up difficult desert towers, Colorado peaks, and across African jungles. Besides climbing he is an avid traveler and has set foot on six separate continents. Between work and play he is well known for enjoying the good life of strong coffee, a good movie, and relaxing at home with his family and friends who often refer to him as "Bones." —Josh Wharton


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Aspen Expeditions Worldwide Founder and Advisor, IFMGA Mountain Guide, Outdoor Photographer

Professional mountain guide Dick Jackson owned and operated Aspen Expeditions Worldwide (AEW) from 1976 to 2017. He is internationally certified by IFMGA/AMGA in all disciplines of rock and ice climbing, ski mountaineering and alpine mountaineering.

Dick's first ascents include the Voie Jackson in Chamonix, France, in 1976, and he was on the first American ascent of Himulchuli, Nepal, in 1984. Dick is also an outdoor and landscape photographer, a USHGA-certified tandem paragliding pilot and instructor, and a founder of Aspen Paragliding.

These days Dick serves as an advisor and occasional guide for AEW, Dick enjoys spending time with his wife, Paulina Vander Noordaa, and daughter, Tashi Jackson. Dick served as a board member and president of the American Mountain Guides Association from 2001-'05 during which time he worked tirelessly to convince the International Federation of Mountain Guides to recognize U.S. mountain guides and the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) in accordance with international standards.