A Passion for Preservation
Ryan Waters, Director/Head Guide of Mountain Professionals, tells us how the company got started and why they give back to blue…
We have all heard someone say it… “this place is incredible, I could live here”. The phrase is commonly followed by newly hatched business plans, loose inquires into local real estate prices, and another round of beverages that are all too often the culprit for the wild ideas in the first place. The ideas are rarely followed through with, but it is cool that a place can be the inspiration for dreams.
My connection to natural places was always deep, having grown up running around and climbing in the mountains. I had tried my damnedest to sit for the better part of three years behind a desk working as a Geologist in environmental consulting but the roots just didn’t take. I traded the security of a respectable salary and matching 401k for living in the back of my truck and Pro Deals with gear companies.
I went to South America for the first time in 2001. I was a newly minted mountaineering instructor with a splash of Spanish vocabulary and a fresh case of the mid 20’s crisis. When I touched down in southern Chile, the world seemed to open up for the first time. I worked with great people. Some had dreadlocks and drank cheap red wine out of boxes in the day time while packing for an expedition. They were also responsible, dialed, and extremely competent in the mountains.
I learned how to be an instructor and guide in Patagonia. Over the years, my parents just came to realize that Christmas in the U.S. was unfortunately scheduled right in the heart of the prime summer season in the South. They did not see me much, but I would be sure to call from a locoturio on the street of Buenos Aires in 95 degree heat and wish them a Merry Christmas before catching a flight back south.
After working several hundred days in southern Argentina and Chile I have many stories. The kind that involve epic wind, incredible sunsets, mate, gauchos, and girlfriends with exotic accents. All these stories are the unspoken connection I have with a close circle of friends and with the land itself. In fact I did end up starting a business, Mountain Professionals, with one of those friends. It was born on a trail near Barilioche. I eventually managed the elusive real estate purchase, after several international flights with cash strapped in uncomfortable places, just a small chacra on the banks of the Quemquemtreu River in southern Argentina. I even still manage to order another round with old amigos now and again, but now the wine tends to come in a bottle instead of a box.
I am the owner of Mountain Professionals, based in Boulder CO, an international guide service that specializes in refined, small team expeditions. Mountain Professionals was looking for ways to give back to, or make an impact in the places we travel and enjoy. The co-founding partners Dave Elmore and myself, have always admired the ethic and style of the people that founded 1% for the Planet.
We love the idea that a well researched nonprofit organization from anywhere in the world can be paired with a like minded donation source. We also feel a sense of pride and hopefully send that vibe onward when we display the 1% FTP logo in association with our company. We chose Conservacion Patagonica for our 2012 1% for the Planet donation. Their dedication to a region we love is very inspiring and we have seen first hand the importance in protecting the ecology, history, and local culture in Patagonia. Many of our company’s staff have a close connection with Patagonia and have guided in the mountains, paddled the coast off Hornopire?n, instructed on service projects in Ren?ihue? Fjord inside the Pumali?n Park, and maintain a passion for seeing the preservation of this part of the world.