The guides of Valdez Heli-Ski Guides are recognized as some of the best in their field. They are representatives of the industry’s leading qualifiers: Heli-Ski US, American Mountain Guides Association, American Avalanche Association. They are trained in first aid: Wilderness First Responder, Outdoor Emergency Care, EMT. Many have skied in the Chugach’s Thompson Pass since the inception of heli-skiing in the early ‘90s. Some have won or placed in the World Extreme Ski Championships. All of them have skied and climbed in the greatest mountains of the world: the Himalayas, the Alaska Range, the Alps, the Andes.
VHSG’s guides have been handpicked for their commitment to the art of guiding. With VHSG you can trust that your guide has the requisite skills to take you down our biggest peaks. Unlike many heli-ski operators, where only the “lead guide” has the skill set to assess safety and to open runs, all of our guides are fully qualified professionals. Whether you are in the first group or the fourth, you will ski untracked ramps, faces, and couloirs on the legendary peaks of Alaska’s Chugach. Only with us: Valdez Heli-Ski Guides.
SCOTT RAYNOR SINCE 2000
Scott has been the owner and operator of Valdez Heli-Ski Guides since purchasing the company from Doug Coombs in 2000. He began his Alaska heli-ski guide career in 1996 and soon became a lead guide and operations director. Scott has worked as a heli-ski guide in New Zealand, Chile, and Greenland, and as a guide on Denali. He is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association and, when he’s not guiding in Valdez, Scott can be found ski-mountaineering and touring the Wasatch Mountains and skiing his home resort of Snowbird.
KIRSTEN KREMER SINCE 1996
Kremer has not missed a ski season in the Chugach since her first visit to the area in 1993; she has been guiding with VHSG since 1996. Kirsten’s motivation and exploits are legendary: She has paraglided off the North Face of the Augille de Midi in Chamonix, climbed first ascents in Yosemite, skied first descents on Denali, and is a World Extreme Ski Champion. In the summer Kirsten guides on Denali for Mountain Trip and Alaska Denali Guiding and fills her spare time rock climbing.
DON SHARAF SINCE 2001
VHSG turns to Don for his expert avalanche and weather forecasts. He is the president of Teton Avalanche Consulting, is a certified AMGA ski-mountaineering guide, an American Avalanche Association certified avalanche educator, and a bona fide ski bum. Don presents avalanche research at the International Snow Science Workshop and the American Avalanche Association. When he’s not skiing in Valdez, Don is at home in Victor, Idaho, and is known for breaking miles and miles of trail through the Tetons each winter.
DOUG WORKMAN SINCE 2004
A fixture at VHSG since 2004, Doug has been the director of VHSG field operations and a senior guide. Based in Jackson Hole, he guides for High Mountain Heli and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and, in late spring, can often be seen guiding clients down the Grand Teton, one of the most challenging ski descents in North America. Doug has worked as a ski guide, avalanche forecaster, and avalanche instructor for the Utah Avalanche Forecaster Center, International Mountain Climbing School, and the National Outdoor Leadership School, and has international guiding experience, including Svalbard and Antarctica. He has completed Professional Avalanche Level 3 certification, the AMGA ski-mountaineering course, and is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association.
JED WORKMAN SINCE 2007
Jed is comfortable in the biggest mountain environments, from first ascents and 5.13 red-points in Pakistan, China, and Alaska to the first descent of Amulet Peak in the Chugach Mountains. Since 2000, Jed has been an instructor and guide for the National Outdoor Leadership School, a lead Denali guide for the Alaska Mountaineering School, and a senior guide for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. He is also the director and lead forecaster for the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center in Alaska. Jed has completed Professional Avalanche Level 3 certification, is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association, and is a certified Wilderness First Responder. After spending time with Jed in the mountains, you are unlikely to forget his infectious laugh.
JEFF ZELL SINCE 1995
Zell has skied and guided in the Chugach longer than any other guide on Thompson Pass. His history in the area dates back to 1993 when he placed second in the World Extreme Ski Championships. He has been a fixture at VHSG ever since. Jeff has skied over 100 days a year for the last 25 seasons, some seasons tallying as many as 250 days. As VHSG's most-seasoned guide, he can calmly guide you down any run in the Chugach. As a certified PSIA Level 3 ski instructor, Jeff teaches skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and is a professional ski patroller at Snow King Ski Resort. He also guides for Togwotee Snowcat Guides.
DAN STARR SINCE 2013
Dan is a professional backcountry ski guide and patrolman based in Jackson Hole since 2000. He has guided many distinct, high-angle ski tours and descents on the Grand Teton. His guiding experience has stretched far beyond the Tetons to the Antarctic Peninsula, Argentina’s Tierra Del Fuego, Morocco’s High Atlas Range, and the Canadian Rockies. In 2005 Dan guided expeditions on Denali’s West Buttress and Nepal’s Lobuje East. He has taught avalanche courses for the American Avalanche Institute and is currently UIAGM certified.
GARY KUEHN SINCE 2014
Gary has guided throughout the world and now travels from his home in New Zealand to winter destinations in the northern hemisphere. He plans to make Alaska’s March and April ski season part of his migration pattern. Gary loves being on skis and is completely at home heli-skiing, ski-touring, and ski-mountaineering. Among his accomplishments he can count numerous first ski descents in North America and New Zealand as well as traverses of Denali and the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap. Gary is an IFMGA guide and a professional member and certified instructor of the American Avalanche Association. “Working with the talented team at VHSG in amazing Chugach terrain is a dream come true.”
JOHN WAUTERS SINCE 2014
John has been heli-ski guiding in Valdez since 2000, returning to guide for VHSG in 2014. He lives in Wyoming with his family where he works for High Mountain Heli-Skiing and the Jackson Hole Ski Patrol. John has spent many seasons skiing the Alps and the Indian Himalaya and has made numerous trips to the Canadian Rockies. He is a Heli-Ski US Mechanized Ski Guide Level 3, a Wilderness First Responder, a professional member of both the National Ski Patrol and the American Avalanche Association, and has completed Professional Avalanche Level 3 certification and winter weather forecasting.
SPENCER STORM SINCE 2014
Spencer grew up skiing, climbing, and boating in Colorado. He spent 10 years river guiding in California, West Virginia, as well as Colorado, where he was the operations manager for River Runners. Since 2002, Spencer has worked as a professional ski patroller at Snowbird Ski Resort and as an avalauncher and military weapons gunner in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. He’s currently the operations manager and a lead guide at Snowbird Snowcat Skiing and guides part-time at Wasatch Powderbird Guides. Spencer is a professional member and instructor of the American Avalanche Institute. He has also completed Professional Avalanche Level 3 certification and winter weather forecasting under the tutelage of Don Sharaf, “who is the man!” Spencer is a registered Paramedic (NREMT-P) and Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) instructor and instructor trainer.
Fitz began his career in 2002 with the National Outdoor Leadership School, supervising its winter and avalanche program. Since, he has been the snow safety director and a guide for Togwotee Snowcat Guides, a ski guide for Yostmark Tours on Teton Pass, and a lead instructor for the American Avalanche Institute throughout the West. Most recently Fitz was the lead forecaster for the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center in Girdwood, Alaska. Fitz has completed Professional Avalanche Level 3 and advanced winter weather forecasting and is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association and Heli Ski US.
JOHN FITZGERALD SINCE 2015
MATT BOHNE SINCE 2013
In addition to his work with VHSG, which began in 2013, Matt /guides on Denali for Mountain Trip and has been an instructor on other extended backcountry expeditions, including NOLS programs, in Alaska, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. He has completed Professional Avalanche Level 3, winter weather forecasting, and the AMGA ski guide course. When not in Alaska, Matt resides in Jackson, Wyoming, were he spends his free time splitboarding in Grand Teton National Park.
KAREN BOCKEL SINCE 2014
Karen found her passion for skiing in Telluride, Colorado, ski-touring the San Juan backcountry, and ski-patrolling at the Telluride Ski Resort. Karen has climbed and skied many of the Colorado Fourteeners, the Grand Teton, and Denali, and has completed trips in Alaska, the Canadian Rockies, the Alps, and the Chilean Andes. Karen works year-round in the mountains, guiding for Exum Mountain Guides in Grand Teton National Park, for Mountain Trip in the Alaska Range, and for San Juan Mountain Guides in Colorado. She is an AMGA aspirant ski guide and certified rock guide.