The opportunity to work for the COLT program attracts some of the best guides and instructors in North America.
COLT instructors are not only chosen for their technical skills but also on their ability to effectively educate and pass on their knowledge in a fun, safe and supportive way. Some are COLT alumni.
All courses are taught at a guide-to-student ratio that ensures safety and maximum learning at all times. In the mountains and on rock guides are ACMG certified or equivalent. On the water they are certified by provincial or national standards. All possess high levels of wilderness first aid.
Jim wears three hats at COLT. He’s the COLT director, coordinating and running the program; he’s COLT’s chief rock climbing and mountaineering instructor joining almost all land based trips; and he’s constantly wearing a hat to cover his bald head. Jim’s a constant presence during COLT and students will get to know his easy going personality well. His passion for wild country is contagious and his love of teaching as a chosen profession is a natural. As a dual citizen of the US and Canada, Jim has travelled all over western North American seeking mountains, rock walls and snow covered ski slopes for play and work. Jim has been with the COLT program for seven years. Before COLT, he worked with Prescott College in Arizona, Outward Bound in the U.S. and B.C., and ran his own ski touring business out of Park City, Utah. Although he loves to explore the ocean coastline by kayak and has been known to jump on a river wave or two, mountains and the people that travel in them are his main interest.
Don’t let Jamie’s size intimidate you. At 6’5” he’s a gentle sort of giant and impressively agile. He’s friendly and supportive and always willing to answer questions and pass on wisdom. There is no one that knows more about Strathcona Park Lodge than Jamie. He grew up here and with his wife, Christine Clarke, is the co-Executive Director of the resort. Running a remote, wilderness lodge is a full time job but Jamie is passionate about the COLT program and will be involved in many aspects of the program, especially on the water. Jamie is one of the most respected outdoor educators and paddlers in Canada. He’s a master canoe instructor, a senior whitewater kayak instructor and a sea kayak full guide examiner. He is a volunteer committee member for Water Use Planning for our local watershed, and has also spent many volunteer hours developing standards and best practices in outdoor leadership and education. Previous to the Lodge Jamie went to the University of British Columbia where he was the Thunderbirds Varsity Basketball Team Captain and a Canadian national team rower.
Few people spend as much time in self-propelled watercraft as Laurel does. She is extremely passionate about paddling, from ultra-long distance races to exploratory whitewater expedition trips. Ironically, Laurel grew up in arid southern Saskatchewan but by the time she was in university she was disappearing into the Canadian wilderness on long canoe trips. She’s paddled rivers, lakes and coasts from Central America to Asia over the past 20 years, and has been a wilderness canoe guide since 1988. She’s a master canoe instructor, whitewater kayak instructor and sea kayak guide trainer and lead guide. Besides writing a thesis for her Masters degree in Education, she’s penned three guidebooks based on her extensive experiences canoeing rivers in northern Saskatchewan and British Columbia. In 2007 she was inducted into The Explorers Club for her work in documenting historic and lesser-known canoe routes and her efforts to promote their conservation. Today, when she’s not training competitively for a canoe race, she works as a canoe and sea kayak guide and instructor. She’s a regular COLT instructor for canoeing, whitewater and sea kayaking and almost never misses the Nimpkish River trips. See www.laurelarcher.com for more about Laurel.
Erica makes the long trek from her home in Canmore, Alberta, to teach the Squamish rock climbing trip for the COLT program. She’s a classic B.C. full-time mountain guide, working with the best of each season: an ACMG certified Assistant Ski and Assistant Rock Guide. In the summer she guides multi-pitch rock climbing routes in the Bow Valley near Canmore, and in Squamish. She also teaches instructional climbing courses. In the winter she leads ski touring trips and teaches avalanche courses when she’s not guiding heli-skiing. She says her love for the mountains and for sharing that passion safely with others led her to her chosen career. In addition she’s a keen photographer, hauling her camera and lenses to the beautiful places she calls her office and playground. Check out Erica’s website at www.upthewall.ca
Bill is a true Vancouver Island local, born and raised in Campbell River. He is our main mountain and rock climbing instructor. He teaches the snow and glacier course as well as all introductory climbing courses. He started his climbing career many years ago and has developed a complete resume that includes steep rock routes to high mountain travel, alpine ski touring to ice climbing. In the off season Bill works as a ski patroller at Mt. Washington Alpine Resort where he combines his interest in first aid, search and rescue and helping people enjoy the great outdoors. It doesn’t hurt that he gets to ski most of the day too. Bill’s genuine interest in helping people learn as well as his generous personality rewards our COLT program with expertise. His attention to detail and organized teaching progression provides students with a lot of incentives to learn the finer points of climbing and mountain travel.
In his quiet, yet incredibly knowledgeable way Richard is one of the most respected instructors in the COLT program. Originally from Nova Scotia, with a mysterious past that may or may not include some time as a professional wrestler, Richard took the COLT program in 1992. He’s lived at Stathcona Park Lodge ever since. He has a passion for sea kayaking that he has quenched on long trips around the Maritimes of Canada, Baja, Mexico and the Pacific Northwest, including a solo circumnavigation of Vancouver Island and a trip around Newfoundland. Richard is a full sea kayak guide with a unique ability to make wilderness trips even more unforgettable. He will likely be on all COLT sea kayak trips. Richard is also a journeyman carpenter, helping to build and repair many of the buildings at the Lodge in the off season, and no slouch in the mountains.
From rafting to whitewater kayaking Dave has spent lots of time exploring rivers all over the world. His current passion has been exploring rivers in the north of India. David grew up on Vancouver Island, but after a trip to Nepal in 1995 where he did a rafting trip down the Kali Gandaki river he was hooked. From there David has worked on 6 continents safety kayaking and rafting in places like Iceland, Morocco, India, Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Turkey, Scotland, and of course world famous BC. Dave is now working toward a degree in Nursing and spending more time kayaking in southwest British Columbia. He loves the river and shares that joy with as many people as possible. He also helps to organize the Puntledge River Paddle Festival and is a board member with the Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society. Dave is also a photographer, carrying his camera gear into various countries, hard to reach canyons, sharing the work through being a blogger. Have a look at his website and blogs Rafting Life and Dave Prothero Photography/blog
Rob and Laurie Wood
All the way from Toronto, Ontario Sarah now calls Vancouver Island her home. Sarah completed the COLT program in 1997 and has since taken on various jobs in the outdoor industry including working for Strathcona Park Lodge as an outdoor instructor, canoe tripper in Ontario, ski patrol at Mt. Washington, sea kayak guiding and COLT instructor. Her infectious smile and extensive knowledge of the ocean are sure to make any COLT sea kayak trip fun and educational.
Coming from Industrial Lancashire, UK Tony Shaw has become a fixture in the paddling scene in Canada. There’s no other way to put it than to say, “Tony Shaw is dedicated to paddling.” He has over 60+ plus years of paddling experience, was awarded the Brian Creer Award which is awarded to those who have made significant contributions to the Recreational Canoeing Association of British Columbia. His choice of water craft these days is a Canoe but he has spent his fair share amount of time in a kayak as well. His wealth of information about rivers is extensive and he is more than willing to share beta on rivers with you, all you have to do is ask. Tony teaches the Canoe portions of the COLT program which includes the Lake Water Instructors and White Water Canoeing. When he isn’t teaching with the COLT students he guiding schools groups on the Bowron Lakes and teaching canoeing to schools/colleges on Vancouver Island. Recently Tony achieved a 40 year dream of his of by paddling the Finaly River. You can read the article written by Laurel Archer, a fellow COLT instructor, by clicking here.
Kinley instructs the rock portion of the COLT program while the COLT students are in Squamish. She grew up on the North Shore of Vancouver, BC and took COLT in 2001. Since her graduation from COLT she has racked up an impressive list of adventures. Recently she climbed The Nose (31 pitches A2, 5.10) on El Capitan in Yosemite National park in 17.5 hours and also spent 10 days alpine climbing in the Waddington Range this past summer. Outside of instructing for COLT she guides full time in the summer, works in the Industrial Rope Access and entertainment rigging industry and works as a private backcountry chef at ski touring lodges. Like many in the outdoor industry her dream outdoor trip is a van, all her toys, time and money in the bank. You can read about her adventures on here website http://kinleyaitken.org/
Sarah Osberg grew up in Vancouver and now calls Comox Valley her home. When asked what she liked about teaching in the outdoors she had this to say, “Everything. Working outdoors, whether in the mountains, on rock or on the ocean is where I feel most at home. Being able to share in these experiences with a group of individuals, learning, finding their way and discovering the balance of skill and challenge is a gift. Curiousity engages more curiosity and as I discover more about environments and places I visit once, or a multiplicity of times there is always more to learn.” Sarah instructs the mountaineering program and occasionally the rock climbing program for COLT. When she isn’t instructing for COLT you can find her working for National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Washington and BC teaching sea kayaking, mountaineering, rock climbing and hiking courses. Sarah has also been a outdoor education high school teacher and currently instructs with a number of outdoor education high school programs. We would like to congratulate Sarah on finishing her MSc in Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education and wish her the best in ticking off her list of adventures.
Paddling has accompanied Emre on his journey through life. Starting off in a whietwater kayak searching for waves along the shores of Lake Ontario where he grew up, it’s been a long journey to his current home in Tofino BC, where the waves are much bigger. One thing that hasn’t changed is Emre’s love of being on the water, which today may be in a whitewater boat, a sea kayak, a surfboard or a stand up paddleboard.
Emre has never felt the need to stick to one craft when exploring the playground that nature provides. Having worked as a whitewater kayak instructor, safety kayaker and raft guide on the Chilliwack river, the Ottawa Valley, and in Costa Rica, Emre’s curiosity to explore has eventually lead him to the coast. Since settling in Tofino, Emre has worked as a sea kayak guide on the waters in Clayoquot Sound while further developing his love for surf on a surfboard and most recently, on a stand up paddleboard. Emre’s passion for learning and applying his experience to new endeavors is what was behind the creation of Tofino SUP Adventures, a paddleboarding school operating in Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Park.
When he’s not playing in the coastal environment, Emre continues to embrace the opportunity to pursue whitewater around Vancouver Island and apply the perspective he’s developed over the years of learning different crafts to contribute to the COLT whitewater program.