Todd Rutledge and SageTodd Rutledge

I am the luckiest person on the planet. Choosing the career path of becoming a mountain guide more than 30 years ago has enabled me to see some of the wildest places on our planet and to share those experiences with new friends from around the world. My love for the Alaska Range began back in 1994, when Gary Bocarde took a chance and hired an enthusiastic young guide to assist on a West Buttress trip. Four days into that expedition, we saw nine feet of snow fall on us in 24 hours, which was quite an introduction to Denali!

In 2004, Gary sold the business to me and my good friend Bill Allen, and we have spent the last decade slowly and methodically growing the company in response to requests from our climbers. It’s mostly been a very fun experience, although I do find myself sitting at the computer more often than swinging ice tools these days. The transition from full-time guide in the field to administering a thriving company has provided me the opportunity to spend more time with my family. I love skiing with my wife and two boys, and in December 2022, took my 16-year-old on a sailing trip to Antarctica, where we skied some fun lines.

We live in the small, quiet hamlet of Ophir, CO, where I was privileged to serve as mayor for four years. I term limited myself in 2015, so that I could spend more time raising my boys and focusing on Mountain Trip. My wife and I have horses that we play with in the pasture just east of our town, mine is a mustang named Sage, who was born wild in the Spring Creek herd at the west end of our county.

I’ve guided Denali 17 times, and have led teams to Mount Vinson, Aconcagua, Nepal, Russia, and other areas in South America. Guiding to me is akin to facilitating people’s ability to achieve their own dreams, which makes it feel a whole lot less like a “job,” although at the same time, it is the hardest job I’ve ever held. The quest for finding balance in life between work and family will probably always be elusive, but both are tons of fun, which is why I feel so lucky.

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