AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN BRADLEY: MOUNTAIN GUIDE

Photo Courtesy: John Bradley

Photo Courtesy: John Bradley

Photo Courtesy: John Bradley

Photo Courtesy: John Bradley

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Well, growing up in Stowe, VT my head was wrapped along with the clouds around the mountains that surrounded the town. As I grew older I decided that I wanted to lean into a roll of someone much older than myself. I wanted to be bigger than myself. So I joined the local 911 services, mountain rescue and ski patrol before I had graduated. I joined anything and everything I could that would give me the skills I needed for the mountains. 

Wanderlust was kicking in hard and before graduating high school I told my mom I wanted to head out to Alaska. I signed up for NOLS to give her peace of mind, knowing I would be safe with this organization. While finishing up my Alaska mountaineering program II was reunited with someone that I had rescued off a mountain in Stowe, back when I was in high school. Turns out, he was the head of Alaska NOLS. He ended up encouraging me to hang out for the rest season. Moments of reuniting and connecting with folks became a pattern. I eventually made a great first impression on my future employer during a rescue scene. That moment ended up sealing my place on a team that would eventually take us to Greenland, where I'd get to guide. That all leads to my current mission, The Duck Hunt.

So, whats The Duck Hunt?

Its a current project I'm working on which involves locating 3 American war heroes lost in eastern Greenland in 1942 when their Grumman J2F-4 Duck amphibious biplane crashed into an icecap during a rescue mission. 

What excites you most about this project?

Besides making history, its the fact that these young made made the ultimate sacrifice. They risked and ultimately lost their lives to rescue others. They deserve to be found. 

You've been a mountain guide for a while, what's peoples biggest misconception about your job?

There is incredible responsibility that comes with being a guide. Other people are trusting you with their lives in some of the most difficult moments they may ever experience. Being a guide also means you're usually working on other peoples projects. It doesn't mean you don't have fun and you aren't enjoying the outdoors anymore, it just means that you spend most of your time focusing on what the client wants to accomplish. And like any other job, you have to find extra time for your own projects. 

What sort of physical training do you do to keep up with the demands of being a mountain guide? 

I'm more of a couch guy. I hate the gym. But really, I'm always training. I'm always outside doing something. The equipment I use and my knowledge of it is way more important to me. 

So you really don't do any training?

I mean, I ride a ton of mountain bike. I ride a single speed mountain bike which is a heck of a workout. 

Thats the most hipster thing ever: single speed mountain bike. 

I started riding a single speed mountain bike when today's hipsters were still in training wheels. 

You're crazy. Would you say its ever too late to get serious about adventure and outdoor sports? What about becoming a guide?

No way! Anyone can begin to get serious about the outdoors. Start by spending as much time as possible outside. Pick up some books and take some classes. Like anything else in life, if you really want to pursue it, you're going to have to sacrifice a lot.

Any last advice? 

Wear a helmet, please. Don't ever leave without it!