SJMG Guide Interview
Dan Zokaites – AMGA Rock Guide
The Featured Guide section is a new element of our newsletter and SJMG Blog intended to provide you with an in-depth look at some of our world-class guides. This issue’s Featured Guide is Dan Zokaites - an AMGA Certified Rock Guide and SJMG Guide since 2012.
Dan is a relatively new guide with SJMG, but he brings with him a wealth of experience as both a guide and a former ski patroller at Telluride Ski Resort. A recent comment about Dan from a client on one of our trips sums up the quality that Dan brings to SJMG – “Dan’s phone call the night before we were to meet was really appreciated. He made sure we were prepared and had the necessary equipment. He also answered several questions that made us at ease from the start. Such a GREAT guide from start to finish. He paid attention to every detail!!!”. Read more about Dan below!
1. Where did you grow up?
2. What is your rock climbing experience?
I have spent the last 10 years pursuing a year round life in the mountains. This has taken me from climbing in South America and Indonesia to skiing in Alaska and making my permanent home in the San Juans.
3. What is your training background?
I have a background in Engineering and so I love the technical aspects of guiding. I am a certified Rock Guide with the American Mountain Guides Association and am in the process of pursuing my IFMGA (Certified Rock, Alpine, & Ski Guide) certification.
4. What are your favorite places to guide?
The Black Canyon because it provides sustained quality rock climbing in a truly unique environment. Another favorite spot is the is climbing in Ouray because it has everything from top roping in the ice park to multi-pitch classics.
5. What is your favorite part about this job?
My favorite part of working with San Juan Mountain Guides is helping others learn the nuances of climbing and skiing and watching them expand their boundaries.
6. What makes you a good guide?
I would say that my genuine focus on helping people to learn new skills and then apply those skills to different terrain types is what makes me a good guide. I like reaching the summit of peaks too, don’t get me wrong, but there is nothing more rewarding than teaching.
7. What is your most memorable guiding experience?
Recently this year I got the opportunity to guide a 10 day alpine peaks traverse in the Weminuche Wilderness. The opportunity to spend that amount of time in an area I had previously not guided much, and being so near to my home yet one of the coolest mountain ranges I have ever been too really struck me. I can’t wait to head back into the Weminuche again!
8. Best/coolest climb you have ever done? Anywhere.
The coolest climb I have done has to be climbing Mount Huntington in Denali National Park.
9. What’s on your iPod right now?
I don’t own an iPod
10. 3 most Crucial Elements of a guide-client relationship?
Respect, trust, and humor.