Interview: Jonathon Spitzer - WWJSD?


Jonathon Spitzer is a mountain guide. That really is an understatement. The most used word that Saveria and I have used to describe Jonathon to others after we met him in the North Cascades for a glacier travel/crevasse rescue 6 day course is: Awesome. As I said we only met him a short time ago, but his guidance on that trip, his instruction and knowledge really stuck with us. We are set to attempt Forbidden Peak, again in the Cascades, this September with Jonathon. He was kind enough upon returning from 14 day outing with 13 days of rain to answer some questions for us.

The AdventurUs: Hey Jonathon thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, as I told you Saveria and I have our mantra: WWJSD? (What Would Jonathon Spitzer Do?)
Jonathon Spitzer: I'm a little afraid is that is your mantra! If so you might find yourself living out of a truck on a permanent climbing trip.

AU: What is your day job?
JS: I work full-time as an IFMGA certified mountain guide. In the winter I work as a lead ski guide and snow safety team for Ruby Mountain Heli Ski. In the spring, summer, and fall months I work as a mountain guide for Alpine Ascents International guiding trips in the Northwest, Alaska, and the European Alps. When not in the field I'm enjoying time off at my house in Salt Lake City, UT and perfecting my homemade  |   email:

AU: What has been your most memorable adventure?
JS: My most memorable adventure would be the day I got my IFMGA certification. A process that started 5 years before taking me on the longest and most strenuous adventure of my life. The course and exams pushed me both mentally and physically in ways I never knew were possible. The certification requires guides to rock climb, ice climb, mountain climb, and ski at a hard level. To achieve the IFMGA certificate you must pass the Rock, Alpine and Ski exams. For example the 8 day long Alpine Exam conducted deep in the North Cascades had me mock guiding examiners on 6 peaks with over 30,000 vertical feet gain many routes being very technical climbing in marginal weather. The AMGA/IFMGA program has helped shape who I am as a person and as a guide.

AU: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned while being AdventurUs?
JS: Persistence and Patience. Both are incredibly hard and still a battle every time for me in the mountains. On a trip to Denali several years ago I was incredibly persistent and spent 7 days at high camp in a storm. On day 8 after spending a week in our tents we where able to reach the highest point in North America. I have also learned it is very important to be patient as you might travel the world, train hard and prepare for years but the mountain doesn't care. You need to be patient and not force it when coming to climbing mountains, rock climbing or ice climbing.

AU: Please fill in the blanks.... So there I was ______, wishing I had______!
JS:So there I was  - 19 years old on the top of "Epinephrin" in Red Rocks, NV as the sunset, wishing I had  - some warm clothes! My climbing partner and I had planned to climb this route in a day and completely under estimated the route and over estimated our climbing abilities. The result was a cold night high in the Red Rock Canyons looking at the bright lights of the Vegas strip.

Thanks Jonathon! We can't wait for Forbidden Peak.