ABOUT OUR TEAM The guides are recognized as some of the best in their field. They are representatives of the industry’s leading qualifiers: Heliski US, American Mountain Guides Association and 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 1989. 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. All VHSG guides are fully qualified professionals, who have the skill set to assess safety and to open runs.
JOHN WAUTERS 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.
KIRSTEN KREMER started her apprenticeship with Valdez Heli Ski Guides in 1994 under the guidance of Doug and Emily Coombs. WESC, World Extreme Skiing Competition, was the inspiration for coming to Valdez in 1993 with Dean Conway where she secured the position of forerunner for the competition. “I fell in love with The Chugach Mountains and moved to Alaska.” After 21 years of guiding with Valdez Heli Ski Guides, she is still in love with these mountains and is enthusiastic about sharing that passion with her guests. Her resume of guiding in Alaska includes 14 years working on a Class V river called Sixmile Creek near Hope, as well as numerous other backcountry rivers with Nova. She still guides specialized mountaineering trips with Alaska Mountaineering School including the West Face of Mt. Huntington, Ham and Eggs on the Moose’s Tooth, and Denali. Kirsten has skied The Orient Express, The Messner Couloir, and two first ski descents off the North summit of Denali, the Thunderbird and Stronghold Couloirs. She considers climbing as a passion, lifestyle and motive to travel the world and stay healthy. Kirsten has pioneered first ascents in Alaska, Thailand, Laos, India, New Foundland, Kenya, and the Himalaya. She has spent several seasons in Patagonia and has climbed in a wide variety of the popular destinations around the world. Kirsten is a certified EMT, and is trained to level 3 in The American Avalanche Association as well as Whitewater Rescue level 3. She is also trained in Rigging for Rescue and holds certificates for SPRAT 2 and IRATA. Her diversified background in the outdoors has led her to work on many reality TV shows as a Safety Guide.
- JED WORKMAN 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 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.
MATT BOHNE works as a snowboard guide for VHSG, High Mountain Heli Skiing and Yostmark Backcountry Tours, and he is a lead instructor for American Avalanche Institute. He has guided trips on the West Buttress of Denali for Mountain Trip, and has led extended backcountry expeditions throughout Alaska, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico for NOLS and similar outdoor programs. Matt’s experience in the snow was developed through countless personal days splitboarding in the Wasatch and Teton mountain ranges. He is a Wilderness First Responder and has completed Professional Avalanche Level 3 certification, Winter Weather Forecasting training, and the AMGA Ski Guide Course. Matt resides in Victor where he spends all of his free time touring in the Teton backcountry.
GARY KUEHN 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.”
TANNER HASKINS Originally from Pittsfield Vermont, in the heart of the Green Mountains, Tanner earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Vermont. He moved to Stanley Idaho, where he now calls home. Tanner splits his winters between Valdez Heli Ski Guides and Sawtooth Mountain Guides and spends his summers guiding week long whitewater rafting trips on the Salmon River. In his free time he enjoys hiking, climbing, mountain biking, hunting, and road tripping.
MIKE HAMILTON, for the last twenty years, has been chasing endless winter around the world. From logging first descents on Baffin Island to guiding heli skiing in Greenland, Chile, Argentina and Alaska his passion for the mountains is infectious. Mike has been guiding skiers and snowboarders in Valdez for twelve seasons now and working with VHSG since 2017. He’s looking forward to sharing his knowledge of the Chugach Range with you!!!
DOUG KRAUSE has spent the last 20 years working as a guide, ski patroller, avalanche forecaster, consultant, and teacher in Alaska, Colorado, Japan, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile. He hails from Silverton, Colorado, but calls Zimbabwe home-base for the Summer. Doug is an EMT, a AAA Professional Lead Instructor, and has a Top Secret security clearance.
ERIC LAYTON has a love for the mountains and his enthusiasm for backcountry snowboarding and heli skiing is contagious. Originally from California, Eric is a year-round guide always searching for the best powder turns on earth. Guiding professionally since 2007, his passion and expertise for mountaineering and backcountry splitboarding has led him to work as a guide for operations throughout the world. Eric has guided heli skiing for over 10 seasons in Alaska as well as 8 seasons working the mechanized aspect in British Columbia. We are stoked to have Eric working with the team at VHSG this season. He is among the first snowboarders in the United States to pass the American Mountain Guide Association ski exam on his splitboard and is currently working through his AMGA alpine certification. An avid rock and alpine climber, Eric guide’s in the Cascades and the Sierra during the Summer and Fall months. He is also the owner of Splitboard Guides International, a dedicated splitboard guide company. Eric is proud to share turns all over the world with people who share the same passion. When not in the mountains, time is spent with his wife and kids exploring nature and the wonders of life.
JESSE WEEKS has spent winters since 2000 guiding athletes, film crews, sportswear brands, and weekend warriors alike through Utah's Wasatch Range while serving on Ski Patrol and Snow Safety for Alta Ski Area and helicopter ski guiding with Utah’s Powderbird. In early spring, Jesse migrates north to Alaska to take advantage of the immense world-class terrain, spending the last 11 years in the ranges between Haines, Valdez and Girdwood. The scenic Grand Canyon becomes his second home in the late spring and early fall as he leads whitewater trips through 225 miles of the Colorado River. July and August the snow flies in the Southern Hemisphere, and so does Jesse. Working with Third Edge Heli in the Chilean Andes and taking time to travel in South America rounds out a busy year of creating unique experiences that will last any individual's lifetime. Whether you're a first time heli-skier or a world-class athlete, safety is always Jesse’s first priority, with the fun factor taking a seriously close second. Jesse’s accreditations include an American Avalanche Institute Level III Certification, Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC), Wilderness First Responder, Red Cross ALS and CPR certifications. He also holds memberships with the American Avalanche Association and Heli-Ski US. Jesse continues his education in the field year round by attending International Snow Science Workshops and contributing to the continual improvements of public snow safety at his home ski area in Little Cottonwood Canyon and abroad.