Above and Beyond Alaska’s Guide Staff
Our Guides are some of the best in the industry. Not only do they enjoy taking our clients on our trips and expeditions – they are usually found out exploring on their own or with family and friends in their spare time. The majority of our staff were born and raised in Alaska and have gained invaluable personal experience hiking, paddling, and climbing in our backyard; the Tongass National Forest, the Inside Passage, and the Juneau Icefield. We recognize that the guide can make the difference between a trip being “average fun” and an “experience of a lifetime. ” As such, we invest heavily in our guides to make sure they are capable of leading more than just a safe and enjoyable trip. When you go out with ABAK you can count on being led by a qualified guide who has the passion, technical know-how, and general knowledge to make the trip truly memorable.
Qualifications and Training
Prior to being hired with Above and Beyond Alaska, a guide must have: a current CPR card, a minimum of an Advanced First Aid certification, personal experience trekking on glaciers and sea kayaking, an ability to assess risk and manage clients, and an upbeat, positive attitude. At the beginning of the season all of our guides participate in our in-house training. Each year our training covers: risk assessment and management, wilderness first aid, emergency response procedures, Leave No Trace ethics, the natural history for each trip areas, and glacier travel, ice climbing, and kayaking technical skills including rescue techniques.
Additionally, our guides have the knowledge and experience to:
- Keep You Safe – While every outdoor activity carries with it some level of risk and we can’t guarantee you won’t get hurt, we have an impeccable safety record. Safety is our #1 priority and our guides have the training and experience to anticipate dangers and mitigate or avoid them.
- Provide Expert Instruction and Assistance – No experience is required for our guided trips because we will show you how to do it. Don’t know how to ice climb up a vertical face? No problem, we’ll set up a safe system, demonstrate the correct technique, and coach you through it. You’ve never been in a kayak? No problem, we’ll show you how to efficiently paddle forward, backward, turn, and stop. Never been camping? No problem, we’ll provide the gear, help setup your tent, tell you how to stay warm and dry, and cook delicious meals on a backcountry stove.
- Enhance Your Experience – By sharing their personal stories and knowledge of the natural and cultural history of the area our guides will help create a sense of place and enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of the unique environment you will be traveling through. Let us show you the rich and diverse ecosystem of Southeast Alaska that is interconnected from the towering peaks of the icefields to the ocean waterways of the Inside Passage.
Meet ABAK’s 2017 Staff:
- Becky Janes
- Sean Janes
- Corey Denton
- Caitlin McElhinny
- Kayte Sulavich
- Brigitte Steinmetz
- Ed Shanley
- Bjorn Dihle
- Gabe Kelley
- Megan Ahleman
- Wade Panzich
- Miles Gayton
- Mattheus Tempel
- Peter Nave
- Nathan Wiley
- Lauren Stepanik
Becky Janes – Founder, Majority Owner, and General Manager
Becky grew up in Juneau and has been involved in the tourism industry in Southeast Alaska for over 18 years. From guiding to managing, she loves to do it all. She was Operations Manager at Gastineau Guiding for five years, Glacier Guide at Northstar Trekking for three years, Membership Coordinator at the Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau for two years, and now manager at ABAK for the past thirteen years.
Becky has a passion for trail running, snowboarding, climbing, cooking, spending time with family, and traveling. She has lived in Brazil and Spain and loves meeting new people from around the world. When not working at ABAK, Becky is spending time at home or on outdoor adventures with her husband and two young boys.
Becky’s local knowledge of the area, many friends, solid business relations in the travel & tourism industry, and overall reputation make her the ideal general manager. If you want a trip or expedition organized at the highest standards in the industry, you better talk to Becky!
Sean Janes – Founder, Majority Owner, and Special Projects Manager
Sean grew up in Alaska and has been guiding in the Tongass Wilderness for over 20 years. His family helped pioneer Juneau’s community owned ski area, Eaglecrest, in the early 1970’s. He is a third generation ski patroller with extensive training in weather forecasting, avalanche mitigation, wilderness medicine, natural history, glacier travel, coastal survival, mechanized transport and radio communications.
Production companies regularly contract Sean to coordinate permitting, outfitting and safety plans for remote filming. He is the Adventure Director for National Geographic’s, “Ultimate Survival Alaska” and helped coordinate and guide the final episode of “The Amazing Race”on the Taku Glacier. Having worked with over 60 film crews during his career, Sean knows how to get projects in the wilderness completed safely and efficiently.
Sean is also a licensed boat captain and a fully certified helicopter ski guide, and father of two active boys. His love for the water and mountains echo into all aspects of his life.
Corey Denton – Manager, Guide, ACA Kayak Instructor
Corey, born and raised in Juneau, was trained from infancy to be active and tolerate the cold. His first two winters of life were spent bouncing bare foot in a “Johnny Jump-up” in a poorly insulated cabin in northern Alaska while his father ran sled dogs. As he grew older a love of and appreciation for the outdoors was instilled into him while hiking, skiing, and sea kayaking with his family. After receiving a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of New Hampshire he decided that seasonal work in the outdoors was better than a “real job” and more suited to his personality/interests.
He has now been guiding locally for over 10 years and began working with Above and Beyond Alaska (ABAK) in 2006. May through September he can be found in Alaska working for ABAK and instructing month-long courses for the National Outdoor Leadership School. From November through April he migrates south to work as a Professional Ski Patroller at Mammoth Mountain in California. The shoulder season of October provides him an excellent opportunity to visit family, travel overseas or do personal expeditions. In all of his pursuits, he brings an infectious enthusiasm for the outdoors and sharing the environment with others.
- Enjoying and Exploring the outdoors since the age of 3
- Guiding and Leading hiking/backpacking trips since 2000
- Professional Glacier Guide since 2004
- Professional Sea Kayak Guide since 2006
- Emergency Medical Technician (National Registry of EMT’s)
- Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (NOLS Wilderness Medicine)
- CPR for the Professional Rescuer (American Red Cross)
- NOLS Instructor: Sea Kayaking, Mountaineering, Backpacking, Climbing, and Caving
- American Canoe Association (ACA) – Level 2 Sea Kayaking Instructor
- Leave No Trace Master
- University of New Hampshire – BS in Civil Engineering
Caitlin McElhinny – Operations Manager
Caitlin originates from Montana, growing up riding horses and being passionate about exploring the outdoors. Caitlin moved to Oregon to attend college where she specialized in Geographic Information Science and Anthropology, further enhancing her understanding of our beautiful world. She was involved in real estate management and development for 10 years before following her childhood passion of exploring Alaska and its wilderness frontier. Earning the position of Operations Manager at Above and Beyond Alaska is a dream come true for her and her biggest priority is to help others have amazing outdoor adventures, whether it is whale watching while sea kayaking, ice trekking up a glacier, or spending the night out in the true wilderness – Caitlin would love to make your dream trip come true!
Kayte Suslavich – Guide Manager
Brigitte Steinmetz – Guide
Brigitte came to us in 2009 from Southern California where she grew up with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and teaching credential in Biological Sciences.
After spending seven years teaching in the classroom she decided to pursue her love for outdoor education. She now splits her time working in Mammoth Lakes, CA homeschooling ski racers and teaching people of all ages how to ski/snowboard during the winter season and lifeguarding LA County Beaches, instructing backpacking and mountaineering courses for National Outdoor Leadership School, and working for us the rest of the year.
When Brigitte is not working one may find her playing outdoors participating in a multitude of activities. She loves to surf, free/SCUBA dive, sea kayak, and play in rivers. She also enjoys climbing on rock and ice, skiing and snowboarding, exploring the backcountry, and the views from mountain peaks. On occasion one may find her sitting still reading a book or scientific publication or writing poetry.
- Emergency Medical Technician (State of California)
- Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (NOLS Wilderness Medical Institute)
- CPR for the Professional Rescuer (American Heart Association)
- NOLS Instructor: Mountaineering and Backpacking
- Professional Ocean Rescue Swimmer (LA County Fire Department)
- Leave No Trace Master
- California State University Northridge: Clear Single Subject Credential in Biological Sciences with CLAD Emphasis
- University of Southern California : Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences (emphasized in the Marine Sciences)
Ed Shanley – Guide
Ed is an Alaskan Jedi. Born and raised in Juneau he began learning the Alaskan ways at a young age with winters spent in the snowy mountains and summers fishing and hunting from his families cabin up the Taku River. After graduating high school he found himself in the smaller, tamer version of Alaska known as Montana at Montana State University where he earned a degree in Education. Once he obtained his degree he returned to his roots and began using his Alaskan Jedi skills to guide others – working first with Gastineau Guiding, then NorthStar Trekking, and finally as a seasoned veteran, with Above and Beyond Alaska. Ed now splits his summers as an ABAK guide and a big game hunting guide in northern Alaska, and his winters spending time with his wife and working as a heli-ski guide.
Bjorn Dihle – Guide
Bjorn Dihle was born in Alaska—many people think he came in a box from Norway, but those rumors are false; please don’t spread them any further—and has spent much of his life exploring the wild country of the north. His many journeys have taken him from the Arctic, to Tierra del Fuego, to Asia and beyond.
He’s been with ABAK, guiding day, multi-day trips and film crews, since 2011. He also works as a commercial fisherman, a sea kayak instructor and a writer, specializing in outdoor recreation and environmental issues. He enjoys books, traveling and True Detective. His greatest passions, however, are birdwatching and Haagen-Dazs ice cream.
Gabe Kelley – Guide
Megan Ahleman – Guide & ACA Kayak Instructor
Megan migrated to Juneau 8 years ago, when the allure of Juneau’s outdoor adventures drew her in. She enjoys kayaking, biking, hiking, geocaching, skiing, snowshoeing, camping, fishing, traveling and reading. Megan came to Above and Beyond Alaska (ABAK) in 2010 with 5 years experience guiding multi-day trips with youth in Northern Minnesota as well as Southeast Alaska. Along with guiding ABAK kayak trips and working at the kayak shop, she also enjoys teaching kayak safety and rescue classes.
After several years working full-time with ABAK, Megan now works as an activities coordinator for a year around local recreation program for people with disabilities having adventures in paddling, alpine skiing, snowshoeing, biking, hiking camping and other outdoor activities. During the weekend and an odd day here or there she will be found guiding a kayak trip or teaching a kayak class with Above and Beyond Alaska. Megan graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in education and continues to be a student of her environment where she enjoys learning and sharing knowledge of marine life, tides, flora, fauna, weather, glaciology and other topics that influence her surroundings.
Wade Panzich – Boat Captain & Guide
Miles Gayton – Guide
Miles is no stranger to the wilderness. Born and raised in Juneau, he has developed, at a young age, a detailed map of the Tongass National Forest on the back of his hand. After high school he moved to Hawaii to check things out, but found that the lack of snow didn’t quite suit his strong urges to ski, and decided to return home to Juneau to plan his next big move. He started taking courses at the University of Alaska Southeast in their Outdoor Studies program, developing the skills needed to recreate safely while still getting the desired rush. He is currently finishing up his BLA, which focuses on the Spanish-language, outdoor guiding, and environmental studies. His adventures have taken them all over Alaska and as far south as Ecuador and Argentina. He enjoys a nice bushwhack in the woods and a hop-heavy brew. This is Miles’ first season with ABAK and he is looking forward to experiencing what Southeast Alaska has to offer with YOU this summer!
Mattheus Tempel – Guide
Mattheus, born in Groningen, Netherlands and raised in Juneau, Alaska, has an appetite for adventure and a love for the outdoors from catching Sockeye Salmon to skiing the steeps. After a year of attending the University of Alaska Southeast and living/working in the Auke Bay Fire Station he decided that school wasn’t for him. Additionally, working as a commercial fishermen in the summer, though a fun and exciting job, didn’t provide the adventure he was looking for…
In 2011 Mattheus started professionally guiding glacier trips in the surrounding local area for Northstar Trekking. He is continuing his passion for the outdoors and sharing it with others with Above and Beyond Alaska (ABAK)
The rest of the year you will find Mattheus living the dream: spending winters as a Pro Ski Patroller at Mt. Rose Ski Area near Lake Tahoe and the fall-season months between jobs traveling in different parts of the world from Central America to Indonesia/Malaysia.
Peter Nave – Guide
Born and raised in Juneau, Peter developed his passion for the coast mountains and temperate rainforest while hiking, skiing and camping around Alaska as a child. Peter’s enthusiasm for the outdoors stretches from skiing, climbing and hiking, to watching and studying wildlife and Alaska’s dynamic landscape. He also enjoys reading John Muir, river rafting, mountain biking, yoga, swimming, hunting, natural history, pie with and without ice cream, and showing others a good time outside.
His guiding career began in earnest when he attended guide training at Alaska Heliskiing in Haines, AK during a short break from studying in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Geography. These days Peter’s year begins in the fall when he likes to travel and search for culture and adventure wherever it can be found. Guiding season begins in winter when you can find him guiding powder skiing in Hokkaido, Japan before making the pilgrimage to the Coast Mountains of Haines, Alaska to work with Alaska Heliskiing for the spring. In summer you will meet him guiding clients through the glaciers and wilderness areas of Alaska for ABAK!
Peter has been guiding visitors to Juneau since 2005 and has been a member of our team since 2011. He is excited to show you his backyard this season in between weeks of commercial salmon fishing with his girlfriend.
- Lifelong Alaskan
- Professional Glacier Guide since 2008, Lead Guide for ABAK since 2011
- Professional Skiing, Sea Kayaking and Bear Viewing Guide
- Wilderness First Responder (NOLS Wilderness Medical Institute) 2007, 2013
- Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (NOLS Wilderness Medical Institute) 2010
- CPR/ AED for the Professional Rescuer and Healthcare Provider (Red Cross) 2010
- Trained Helicopter Skiing Guide (Alaska Heliskiing Guide School, Haines, AK) 2010
- Avalanche Operations Level 1 (Canadian Avalanche Association) 2012
- Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from the University of British Columbia
Nathan Wiley – Guide
Lauren Stepanik – Guide and Kayak Shop Staff
When Lauren is not living the dream in Alaska, she is fulfilling her passion to work with children. She is finishing up her degree in Special Education at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She spends the rest of her free time climbing, biking, playing ultimate frisbee, and enjoying the outdoors. In addition, she enjoys eating fresh fruits and vegetables, traveling, and smiling.
- Never stop exploring!