I met Nate Greenberg my freshman year at college. He was setting climbing routes at the local gym and climbing hard every chance he could get.
We teamed up for the occasional outing, but he was always the stronger of the two and I often felt like dead weight. We climbed obscure crags in Northern California, sport routes in Smith Rock, boulders in Buttermilk country and classic trad lines in the High Sierra. Yet I only ever knew of Nate’s warm-weather exploits. When the blanket of winter snow settled in, he would undoubtedly fall off the radar and become obsessed with hitting the slopes. Unbeknownst to me, he was taking skiing very seriously. When many of us were hibernating during the cold months, Nate was cutting his teeth in the immense backcountry of the Eastern Sierra.
Nate is a natural athlete – that annoying type of person who seemingly doesn’t need to try hard in order to achieve amazing results or accomplish amazing feats.
But the reality is that every accomplishment is earned through sweat and perseverance. The effort he puts in to bag an objective and return home safely is undeniable. From early dawn patrol sessions, to the occasional slog back to the trailhead in white-out conditions, Nate is learning, adapting and honing his skill. To start down this path, he read countless books on backcountry travel, wilderness, navigation, field medicine and proper decision-making. While working for NOLS
, took his first avalanche class from renowned avalanche researcher and PHD, Ian McCammon, who popularized the concept of heuristic traps
and the human factor involved in triggering avalanches (the short version: even experienced, well-trained skiers can believe a slope is safe despite objective evidence to the contrary). Later mentors included Don Sharaf of the American Avalanche Institute
, and the late Walter Rosenthal, who was instrumental in providing vital avalanche forecasting data and snowpack science that helps inform safe backcountry travel to this day.