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Office Staff

Office Staff

Todd Burleson

todd-ak1President and Owner
Director and founder of Alpine Ascents International, Todd has achieved unparalleled success in the mountain guiding industry and is one of the world’s leading mountaineers. Todd spent most of his childhood in Alaska where his prowess and love for mountaineering were developed. In his eighteen years of guiding, he has led 8 expeditions to Mt. Everest, and has guided successful expeditions on every continent including all of the Seven Summits. In addition to instructing mountaineering courses, Todd has recently led successful expeditions to Mongolia, Rainier, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Vinson, Everest and a number of first ascents in the arctic region of Greenland. Recently, Todd led our trip to Cho-Oyu and runs our school and Denali programs in Alaska. Todd joins many of our expeditions in a support role, overseeing logistics, climber development and ensuring a good time is had by all. He currently lives in Alaska where he is raising yaks, fishing and flying. Forever climbing great peaks around the world, Todd just climbed Aconcagua again as well as Australia’s Kosciusko, completing his Seven Summits for the second time. In 1998 Todd was awarded the American Alpine Club’s prestigious David J. Sowles award for his rescue efforts on Mt. Everest in 1996.

Gordon Janow


Director of Programs

Gordon is a founding member of Alpine Ascents International and is responsible for overseeing daily operations and expeditions. He has a keen interest in business ethics, operations and marketing. A long term fixture in the adventure travel industry, he is on the education staff of the Adventure Tourist Travel Association, a board member of the Alpine Ascents Foundation and an advisory board member of Rock the Earth.

Gordon is an independent traveler, who has scouted new travel destinations around the globe.  He has a particular love of the Western Asia, from Peshawar to Bangladesh, Ladakh to Sri Lanka, this region of the world has always captured his heart and mind.  He has also served as an Indian subcontinent expert for numerous media sources such the New York Times, BBC and Outside Magazine and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC and the NBC Nightly News.  Gordon and his family live on Bainbridge Island, where he is hockey coach and theater dad.

Please feel free to contact Gordon should you be interested in private tours, India trips or any of Alpine Ascents programs.

25-year

Matt Lepisto

lepisto08Director of Information Technology
A life-long outdoor enthusiast, Matt has over 2 decades of outdoor industry experience and a penchant for media and information design which has garnered multiple awards. As Director of Information Technology, Matt manages and refines our network, media, and business systems, develops and designs our marketing, advertising, and promotional materials, and is in charge of all facets of our expedition cybercasts. He is also responsible for creating and maintaining our award-winning web site and keeping us sane when said technology become all together too much.

20-year

Paul Koubek

Guide and Program Manager
As Guide and Program Manager, Paul supports guide staff in the field, oversees guide scheduling & recruitment, helps with permitting, and coordinates guide trainings. In addition he acts as a liaison between clients, office and guide staff in order to provide the highest quality programs possible to our climbers. Paul brings diverse professional experience working in a lifelong career leading groups in the outdoors. Before joining Alpine Ascents, Paul worked in supervisory positions for the National Outdoor Leadership School (where he was Mountaineering Program Supervisor for NOLS PNW and Head Program Supervisor for NOLS Patagonia) and the U.S. Antarctic Program (where he was Lead Mountaineer).  Paul is an IFMGA Certified Mountain guide.
10-year

Peter Athans

athans-staffAdvisor
Peter is responsible for overseeing our partnership with Mt. Rainier National Park and taking a leadership role in developing safety and training protocols for our guide staff. Peter also works with our Expedition Manager in assessing daily climbing conditions and managing our Mt. Rainier programs. As a climber and guide, Peter has summited Mount Everest seven times and has participated in 14 Everest expeditions over the course of 2 decades. He has an outstanding international reputation as a leader and guide. Peter’s climbing expertise may even be overshadowed by his ability to guide and successfully assist others in reaching summits. Peter has led Alpine Ascents’ climbs to Everest, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Carstensz Pyramid and Mt. Vinson and frequently leads our climbs on Mt. Rainier. Full Guide Bio

25-year

Chris Thalman

thalmanProgram Coordinator
Chris is often the first point of contact for clients. He signs people up for trips, juggles the various waitlists, and keeps the trip availability up-to-date on the website. Chris only recently arrived in Seattle, having grown up in Wisconsin and lived in Los Angeles for a dozen years. His interests include music, movies, and books.

Gary Harrington

harringtonDirector of Finance & Operations
Gary directs the day-to-day financial operations of Alpine Ascents. He’s recently arrived in Seattle after living overseas for a number of years whilst working for various not for profits. Gary’s interests include soccer, cricket and a growing understanding of baseball.

Matt Miller

Operations Manager
Matt carries out a variety of tasks to ensure that our retail store, rental department, and program logistics are all running smoothly. Having climbed, skied, and paddled whitewater both nationally and internationally, Matt is also our “Resident Gear Junkie”, with a thorough and versatile knowledge of all-things gear. He’s happy to chat with you about anything gear-related! Out of the office, Matt juggles graduate courses in theology and training hard for his next adventure.

Dani Nelson

daniAsst. Operations Manager

Hailing from Duluth, MN, Dani works to outfit climbers climbing near & far. She is an encyclopedia of gear knowledge, and leverages years of experience working with major outdoor brands to ensure climbers are properly equipped to summit peaks on any continent. While her home crag of Palisade Head sits on the shores of Lake Superior, she currently resides in Washington, where she can be found cooking, climbing, or trail running.

Brendan Smith

brendanAsst. Operations Manager

Brendan handles many of the day-to-day tasks that help keep our Seattle headquarters running like a well-oiled machine, and can often be heard on the phone with climbers talking through the gear required for an expedition. When he’s not tackling myriad projects around the office, he can usually be found exploring hard to reach corners of Washington’s mountains by foot or ski. He’s always happy to talk about obscure climbing and skiing objectives, or his extensive catalog of the best taco trucks en route to the mountains around Seattle.

Mike Hawkins

Operations Staff

Whether answering gear questions for our Rainier climbs or carefully packing the supplies needed for three-month Everest expeditions, Mike is a valuable and friendly asset for guides and climbers. When asked, he will tell you that his favorite outdoor activity is climbing, skiing, and being on the water. Mike’s ability to eat any food in any quantity at any altitude constantly inspires us to eat our way to the top of any peak.

Mary Brown

brownGuide Operations Manager
Alaskan transplant and resident cookie monster, Mary plays a leading role in guide scheduling and administration, logistics, and a multitude of other tasks to ensure the guide department is running like a well-oiled mountain machine.   She is a longtime volunteer with the American Alpine Club, enjoys wielding an axe and building trails with the Washington Trails Association, and is a newly minted Northwest Alpine ambassador. In her somewhat limited free time, she can be found climbing (preferably in Indian Creek), chasing yoga bliss, and learning how to ski.

Tara Jibson

Office Administrator
Tara is usually the first voice our climbers hear when calling the office, where her work ranges from data organization to design projects. With a background in botany and conservation work, she loves alpine and desert systems alike, and serves as our in-house plant-whisperer. An avid ultra runner, Tara is happiest when logging miles on the trails, and can also be found climbing, mountain biking, or geeking out on science podcasts.

Joe Kluberton

harringtonAlaska Operations Manager
Joe grew up in Talkeetna, Alaska and often leads our Yak treks in the beautiful mountains around his hometown. He is an avid traditional climber having spent numerous seasons enjoying long multi-pitch routes in Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows and Red Rocks, as well as satisfying his fingertips with technical rock climbing in Smith Rock, City of Rocks, Cochise Stronghold, and Joshua Tree to name a few. Joe has also climbed internationally in Argentina, Chile, Peru, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and Nepal.

Joe has a thirst for adventure; from ocean crossings in the South Pacific to 100 mile treks through the Himalayas. Having traveled in over 30 countries, he embraces the opportunity to experience new cultures and meet new people from around the world.

Joe managed Everest Base Camp for five years and will now be transitioning into our Denali Expeditions and Courses as our Alaska Operations Manager. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Resource Economics and is focused on maximizing his utility through the enjoyment of the Earth’s natural beauty.

Willi Prittie

prittieAlaska Operations
Willi has been climbing, guiding and teaching for the past quarter century. Willi is considered one of the premier instructors in America and his students have had outstanding success in reaching personal goals. He has amassed hundreds of ascents (many while guiding) in Washington, Canada and Alaska. Willi is an AMGA Certified Alpine Guide and in the past was responsible for training and certifying new guides, and accrediting guide services. Fluent in Spanish and well versed in South American culture he has an outstanding reputation for leading safe and successful trips. Needless to say, Willi has developed quite a following and has led climbs to Mt. Sajama, Cho-Oyu, Pumori, Island & Mera Peak and multiple guided ascents of Denali and in Mexico, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Willi has led over thirty climbs to the summit of Aconcagua and is considered one of the world’s leading climbing and logistical experts in the region. Willi also bears the responsibility of training new guides on climbs around the world. Willi led our 2000 Everest, Vinson, Aconcagua, Denali and Kilimanjaro expeditions. Willi is the consummate mountain guide and one of the most respected mountaineers in America. Most recently Willi led our 2002 & 2003 Mt. Everest expeditions that put 31 climbers on the summit! Most recently, Willi competed on the National Geographic Channel’s “Ultimate Survival Alaska”.

25-year

This was a fantastic program that offered me a lot more than I was expecting. This is a mandatory AAI trip for the range of experiences and climbing options. I was completely satisfied and would recommend this to everyone regardless of their past climbing achievements. There were no weaknesses that I could see.

ALPINE ASCENTS BLOG

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  • Tents for Mountaineering

    Brendan gives us a quick introduction to the different styles of tents often used for mountaineering. From ultra-light bivy style single-wall shelters, to lightweight double-wall 4-season tents, to expedition-ready double walled dome bunkers, each style has a specific designed use. Stay tuned for in-depth looks at each of these varieties!  

Partners & Accreditations

Alpine Ascents International is an authorized mountain guide service of Denali National Park and Preserve and Mount Rainier National Park.
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