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Featured SJMG Guide: Bill Grasse

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June 16, 2013
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SJMG Guide Interview

Bill Grasse – AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Bill Grasse

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 Bill Grasse – an AMGA Certified Rock Guide and SJMG Guide since 2007.

Bill has been described by a past client as “a valuable demon of a climbing guide” and he is easily one of our most requested guides for his friendly, easy-going attitude, coupled with a climbing ability and technical know-how that’s second to none.  He also happens to be a veritable zen master of desert tower climbing.  Read more about Bill below!

1.  Where did you grow up?

I was born in Denver and lived there until I was 8 or so.  I then spent 2 years in LA which were interesting.  Especially because I was there during the riots.  Then we moved to Colorado Springs where I spent the rest of my time until coming to Durango for college in 2000.

2.  What is your rock climbing experience?

I have climbed all around the west but my love is the desert.  I wish I could say that I have climbed in exotic places all over the world but the truth is that I have had no reason to branch out beyond the western United States.  There’s just too much to climb around here.  As far as experience: I have climbed big walls and long free climbs in Yosemite, Zion, Black Canyon and have spent a significant amount of time climbing towers on the Colorado Plateau.  I have a goal of climbing 100 towers… I’m at 99.

3.  What is your training background?

As far as official training: I have a Rock Guide Certification from the AMGA, a WFR, and am Avalanche level 1.  Unofficially, I have been teaching people to climb for almost 14 years both as friends and for my college climbing club.

 4.  What are your favorite places to guide?

My favorite places to guide are Moab, Red Rocks, Black Canyon, the Ouray Ice Park, and the good old San Juans…

5.  What is your favorite part about this job?

My favorite part of the job is the ability to affect people in a positive way.  Guiding gives me a chance to push people to do things that they didn’t know that they could do.  To have a part in that experience and to witness the exuberance and exhilaration that then follows for them is like a drug for me.  It makes me remember my first climbing experiences and how free I then felt.  Guiding gives me an avenue to remind people that it all doesn’t matter in the end and that enjoying the moment is all you need.

 6.  What makes you a good guide?

What makes me a good guide: besides my really really ridiculously good looks.  My experience in wilderness therapy has taught me of the power of just making a connection with people.  So I try to guide from the standpoint that i’m just a person that has learned some lessons and gained some experience who is just teaching another equal person those lessons and how to gain their own experience with hopefully less cost… did I mention my good looks.

Bill on the Summit

7.  What is your most memorable guiding experience?

I don’t know that I have one particular experience that stands out but rather, all of the friends I have made from my experiences guiding.  I have met so many people and learned so much and grown myself.  That’s what comes to mind when I think about the guiding experience.

8.  Best/coolest climb you have ever done?  Anywhere.

Best route I have ever done is either the Salathe on El Cap, or climbing a wall in Zion with great friends during Thanksgiving… we had beer, banana bread, and a whole smoked turkey… on the portaledges…  It was awesome!  Really though, there are so many experiences, it’s hard to choose one.  Not much can beat sitting by a fire in Indian Creek with good friends, full bellies, and some guitar after a great day of climbing… so good!

9.  What’s on your iPod right now?

“Idaho” by Down Like Silver; “Blood” by the Middle East; “Grace Hill” by the Pines; “As the Rush Comes” by Motorcycle; and “Blue” by Gemini.

10.  3 most Crucial Elements of a guide-client relationship?

Respect, communication, and an open mind.