On how it all started: I was a biking/hiking guide in the states, and in 2002 I convinced my boss at the time to buy me a ticket to South America. I immediately called my good friend from CU-Boulder Jeremy Thomas who started CASA in 1998, with longtime friend Aaron Chan and spent the entire season exploring the Andes, and developing my love affair with South American culture. I was hooked, and decided I wanted this to be part of my life.
On going from a biking guide to an entrepreneur: In 2006 I switched to being a full time guide for CASA, and by 2007 Jeremy and Aaron were both in masters programs in the US and did not have the time to dedicate to CASA- but they really wanted to keep the business within the ‘family.’ It was my opportunity to be a SKI E.O., and use my guide experience to become more involved in the business aspects of a guiding operation.
On incorporating ski touring with resort travel: When I took over CASA, I added new itineraries that expanded our tours to visiting 14 different ski centers in Chile and Argentina, and using these resorts lifts to access the terrain surrounding the ski center. We've always encouraged our guests to earn their turns, hike up volcanoes, and go around the corner to a place they might not have found on their own.
On the CASA scene: Generally all our guests are from English speaking countries, (ranging so far in age from 12-82, with friends, couples, and single travelers). I choose my guides based on their snow skills and personalities, and I've employed guides from the US, Canada, Argentina and Chile. I like to mix it up with male and female guides as well as skiers and snowboarders. Since I've bought CASA 40% of my guests every season are returning guests. CASA has made many friendships, and guests regularly come back with friends they've made on previous trips, it is a great snow network.
The Andean down day: Bad weather is out of our control, it is disappointing when it happens but it is also an opportunity to have an alternative adventure-or even switch the itinerary entirely. That part is all about managing expectations, so I let people know before the trip to expect that weather can shut them down on the mountain. We always have alternative activities planned like hotsprings, visiting local markets, beacon clinics, zip-line tours, or hiking and ski touring if possible.