We love having Jim on our roster of guides. His sense of humor is infectious. You may find yourself busting out jokes with him in minutes. At times you’ll ask yourself is he joking, and he may be… but when he’s serious which he also is often, you’ll know it. Jim has a great way of making you feel at ease immediately. He exemplifies what we think of when we think of what a good guide is. He’s someone you’d follow into a place which is far out beyond your comfort into that adventurous, yet scary place, that we all want to go to but wouldn’t go alone. He exudes trust and experience. He’s climbed extensively in the San Juans and all around the world. He’s climbed the Central Alaska Range, the Canadian Rockies, Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, Argentine and Chilean Patagonia (Fitz Roy via two different routes), back home in Black Canyon of the Gunnison, many desert towers, and first ascents in the Southwest desert, the Central Alaska Range and Patagonia.
We asked him about being a guide. Here’s our Q&A with Jim T.
Rock or Ice? Which do you love to climb more?
I’m a climber year round… the only thing that changes is what I wear. But I’m a grass is greener person. In March I can’t wait to drop the boots for some rock shoes. In Rocktober I can’t wait swing the tools.
How long have you been a San Juan Mountain Guide?
Since I escaped from prison and changed my name.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Massachusetts and I will always root for New England sports teams.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Who said I want to grow up?
Where did you first climb ice?
My first climb was Willey’s Slide on Mt. Willard in New Hampshire, sharing 1 set of tools on a multi-pitch Ice Climb. I bought my first tools and poons that evening. They are probably still on my credit card.
Did you have a mentor?
I have had exceptional mentors in my life. The one who stands out the most is Mark Miller.
What do you think every climber should learn?
I think every climber needs to learn (and practice) getting off the damn internet!!! Get outside, have fun and enjoy the people you are climbing with.
Maps or GPS?
What do you like to do on your day off?
I love hanging out with my wife and our dog and trying to convince them to go fly fishing. (the dog always goes.)
How different are your personal days from your guiding days in the mountains?
The best days guiding are very similar to my personal days.
Before you pack for a trip in the mountains does your packing resemble one of those neatly arranged ads or a messy gear ball on the floor?
I just take as little as possible and plan on being scared and hungry.
What was the most memorable trip you’ve guided?
Legally or otherwise?
How many pairs of gloves do you wear for ice climbing? What are your favorite gloves for Ice climbing?
2-3. Depends on the temps, thin dexterous gloves
What are your favorite ice tools?
Black Diamond Cobras
What boots do you wear ice climbing?
Asolo Eiger GV (Thanks Bruce! They are awesome boots!)
What’s your favorite all-round pack?
Hyperlite Ice Pack
One piece of advice for an aspiring guide? Don’t you have a joke about pizza?
I never planned on being a guide, I just had great mentors and went climbing. Go climb for a decade and then start thinking about if you want guide.
(Note. We did an extensive background check to make sure Jim has a clean criminal record, he does. We also found out he has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of New England. So that part about liking the Patriots was no joke.)