We understand that its nice to know who you will be exploring the trails with during your Alpinehikers adventure. My name is Eryka Thorley and I work in the Alpinehikers office as well as guide in the Alps. Each month we will be introducing you to another member of our fantastic Alpinehikers guide staff in Europe and the Southwest. Enjoy and we look forward to hitting the trails with you soon.
Matt Hart wears many hats. From Alpinehikers office guru extraordinaire, culinary wizard, Alps adventure guide, and professional shower singer (maybe, maybe not?), Matt knows how to have fun. If you’re lucky enough to hit the trail with him you are guaranteed to have a good time. Let’s take a minute to sit down and chat with Matt about his favorite of past times and hitting the trail with Alpinehikers friends old and new.
Me: How did you first become interested in guiding?
Matt: I started guiding with Matt Brown, another one of our Alpinehikers guides. At the time he was the owner of Rubicon Outdoors and we worked together at Prescott College in the field equipment warehouse. We did a Grand Canyon South Kaibab to Bright Angel backpacking tour and we’ve been working together ever since. I started guiding back in the fall of 2006 during my freshmen year at Prescott College. It has been an incredible way for me to see the world, meet amazing people and really live my passion. Guiding has provided me with opportunities to teach and explore everything from alpine mountaineering and ice climbing to whitewater rafting and service learning all over the world.
Me: When you’re not guiding in the Alps where can we find you?
Matt: When I’m not guiding here in the states or in Europe, you can first and foremost find me in the kitchen. In 2015 I finished culinary school at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary arts in Boulder, Colorado. From an early age, I’ve always been interested in cooking and for the longest time planned on that being my career. In fact the original plan was to attend the French Culinary Institute but as plans change, I was introduced to rock-climbing. As of late, when I’m not in the kitchen, you can find me on my mountain bike rolling through the desert, enjoying the water on a stand up paddle board or chasing after Mila, my new puppy and adventure companion.
Me: What’s your favorite part about guiding in the Alps?
Matt: My favorite part about guiding in the Alps is the freedom. Every day you have the ability to choose a new route or alter your plans for the day as so much is easily accessible by foot, train or cable car. Transportation and accessibility in Europe is a real game changer allowing you to find the best of everything in the Alps and almost on a whim.
Me: Do you have a spirit animal?
Matt: I definitely think that I have a spirit animal, but it changes form every once in a while. In general, I would say that the mountain goat is my spirit animal. I was on an alpine climbing trip in the North Cascades in WA after my first summer in Switzerland and I was nearing the top of a climb when this huge bank of fog suddenly moved in and we lost all points of navigation to cross the glacier towards the summit pyramid. After collecting my partner on the other end of the rope, we noticed one lone mountain goat that was still left from a huge group of them that we’d been trailing up the glacier for the last few hours. We decided to keep moving since we had a general sense of where we should be and we basically followed this mountain goat all the way to the summit. After we all made it to the top, the fog broke and our four legged guide took off. Ever since that climb when I’ve been traveling alone and in a sticky spot, I’ve been directed by a mountain goat, steinbock in the Alps or another similar mountain animal.
Me: What’s your go to training regimen for guiding in the Alps?
Matt: My favorite way to train and get ready for the Alps is to get out and hike. There really isn’t a better way to prepare for hiking than hiking. Recently I have found that interval training works well for me and I like to approach it as training for my recovery time more than anything. If I can raise my heart rate and respiratory rate but also bring them down and recover quicker, I can really make the most out of breaks on the trail. Hiking up anything steep, mountain biking and weight lifting circuits have always worked well to prepare me in the past.
Me: Are you a live to eat or an eat to live type of person?
Matt: I’m definitely a live to eat type of person. Being an aspiring chef, I view the world and culture through the lens of food. Traveling with Alpinehikers is a super cool way to view how small changes in region or even valley affect food. Now that I look at how things are plated and even cooked, I pick up on lots of different things that I never would have noticed before. I’m like a kid on a trip to Disney World when I am able to see how different chefs and cooks prepare things especially with ingredients that I wouldn’t normally use or even have access to.
Me: What’s one maybe frivolous thing that you always carry with you in the Alps?
Matt: My most frivolous thing has always been a full frame SLR camera. To top it off, I’ve even brought a selection of lenses in the past which really adds up in terms of space and weight, but has always been worth it when I look back at images from the season. More often than not, I now carry a mirror-less camera with a single lens that still gets amazing photos but still isn’t the same as having the control of an SLR. I’ve also brought a film camera on a few occasions that has been super fun because no matter what anyone says, digital photos don’t compare to film. I also never leave without my favorite trekking poles and AZ socks that remind me of home! My second season in Switzerland I also sprung for the Apple world travel adapter kit which makes European life a whole lot easier. Oh and the SBB phone app is priceless.