The Mountain Guide: Christian Santelices
What I Do:
If the expedition takes place on a mountain, Christian Santelices will guide it. He's lead mountaineers up the Grand Tetons, skiers at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and spear-headed treks along the biggest peaks of Africa, Europe, and the Himalayas. Santelices, who has been a guide for 28 years, doesn't really have an off-season. “Right now it’s mostly skiing,” he says. “A few days ago at Jackson Hole I got on the first tram of the day with my clients, stopped for coffee at the top of the mountain, and then my job was to find untracked snow for us all day long. We probably skied 15,000 or 20,000 vertical feet. Yesterday, I guided backcountry skiers in Grand Teton National Park and probably skied 3,300 vertical feet."
Santelices has the highest level of certification offered by the American Mountain Guides Association and is certified to guide around the world by the International Mountain Guides Alliance. He also has Wilderness First Responder certification. But, he says, “I really started out by just dirt-bagging it as a climber. Living in Yosemite and going on expeditions of my own.”
The Wildest Weather He's Encountered:
Back in 2010, Santelices was guiding clients on the famous Exum Ridge climb on the Grand Teton. Once he reached the summit, he saw that a major thunder-and-lightning storm was moving in fast. “We descended as fast as we could and we told people all the way down that they should descend, too — it was not looking good. We made it to the lower saddle before all hell broke loose. It was the biggest lightning storm I’ve ever seen in my life.” -Daniel Duane