WP Staff Bios

Ben Ammon

Ben was born and raised in Colorado.  His life started off with great promise and he was accepted to the Colorado School of Mines as an engineering student.  Things quickly began to fall apart as Ben's addiction to all things mountain began to consume his life, and he instead came to Western to study environmental biology and ecology.  As his mountain addiction progressed, he slowly slipped from the sciences into a dark future in outdoor education, until Christie would eventually call him the "accidental mountain guide" and he began actively pursuing a "career" in outdoor leadership.  These days he drowns his sorrows with excessive skiing in the Elk Mountains, and climbing in the San Juans, Taylor Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Utah.  He can also be found hanging around the WP office contemplating his life choices.


Robin's Rad
Robin Weiss

Robin is a senior studying Recreation and Outdoor Education and Biology. He is originally from Northern California but with his time off you won't find him catching swells and getting pitted with his Cali brahs. Instead, Big Rob, as his friends sometimes call him, is usually seen leading climbs, hitting the meat on the river, shredding the pow pow, wearing a costume for apparently no reason, or really any activity involving the gnar and his friends. He is highly motivated by pizza (especially a Mario's Carnivore Combo with mob sauce if you want to give him a present).


Jared Cohn

Jared is an Environment and Sustainability major with a minor in Exercise Sports Science. "I came from Carlsbad, California and I'm stoked to be in Gunnison pursuing rock climbing and many other outdoor pursuits." He works as a setter and regular employee at the climbing gym. He is pretty awesome, and likes to let everyone know it, however they usually know before he tells them as his awesomeness is very clear. 



Sara Olsen

Sara Olsen was born and raised in Michigan. By the time she was 10, Sara was very much involved in climbing competitively. She did that for the next 7 years fairly consistently. One of her older sisters attended Western and Sara would visit at least once a year. It was no surprise she fell in love with the mountains being an avid climber. Sara decided to move a year early and graduated high school in Gunnison. Since living here she has continued her climbing career and has begun pursuing trad climbing. Nutrition has also been a major interest and way of life for Sara and is currently her major at Western.


Too cool
Dustin Eldridge

Dustin Eldridge was born in the suburbs outside of Denver, Colorado in 1992. Ever since, the state has been continually grateful for his rugged good looks, unending intelligence, and hypnotizing charm. He puts both pant legs on at one time, gives counsel to Chuck Norris, and routinely rescues puppies and children (more often puppies) from burning buildings. Not only is he the best snowboarder on the mountain, but also the best skier, sledder, and snollerblader. After graduating from the prestigious Colorado Mountain College (not quite Ivy League, Herb League maybe?), Dustin turned his sights towards the seemingly endless peaks of the Elk Mountains. Being cooler than the average, and above-average student, decided to make his home in Crested Butte. There he has taken up intense studying in the art of being a Buttian which includes missing obligations for outdoor activities and talking down on Darryls, Joeys, Jerrys and Chads and others. Dustin may or may not be, depending on how much it snow, graduating in the Spring of 2016. Follow him and his epic adventures on Instagram at @delsnowco. 


Cameron Smith

Cam is an Illinois native, but a mountain lover at heart. He loves playing outside, and competes on the Western Mountain Sports trail running, mountain biking, nordic skiing, and ski mountaineering teams. The Grand Traverse is his favorite event. During the Summer he helps share his love of the outdoors with kids at Camp Chief Ouray in Winter Park. In his free time, he studies ESS and ROE. He hopes to see you this year on trip with WP!





Travis Merrill

Born on Christmas day Travis is a unique and awesome individual.  His love of climbing things that probably shouldn’t be climbed brings him all sorts of skills in regards to rope work!  He is an epic skier who loves the trees and deep pow!  You might see him in a ski ninja suit on the mountain but you might not because that’s how ninja he really is.  He is a Coloradan and is double majoring in Recreation and Business.  In his spare time when not adventuring he can be found making chainmail armor. Travis is a Wilderness First Responder and will save your life if needed, demanding nothing in return.


Louissa Rozendaal

 Louissa comes from the great but tiny state of Vermont, and grew up frolicking throughout the fields of the organic vegetable farm she grew up on. Here at Western, she studies Outdoor Leadership and Entrepreneurship. She is a big fan of coffee, dogs, and mountains. Louissa has been skiing since she was itty bitty and it was skiing that originally led her to Western. She is also an avid climber of mountains and all around adventure seeker. You can find her drinking Vermont maple syrup and doing other ridiculous shenanigans. 




Joe Krapfl

Joe Krapfl comes from a little piece of heaven called Iowa. Originally working for the CIA alongside Bruce Willis, he chose to take some time off to pursue his genius skills in Recreation Outdoor Education and Business Administration. Some people don't know this about Joe, but he used to be in underground cage matches with Silverback Gorillas. He's blessed to have Alex Honald as a brother, being taught many painting skills and how to whistle with his mouth closed. Joe enjoys rock and ice climbing, but his passion will always be hot dog eating competitions. He also taught himself how to slay fish on the river with a fly rod. Fish and Joe are one with each other, and he will always be a brown trout at heart. Since Kyle Juszcyzk is his brother as well, he has learned how to "pop, lock, and drop it" on the river while gargling peanut butter that has once been moldy, but shines like the sun. In his free time he turn on his bee gees and dance hoping nobody is watching. 






Mitch chillin'
Mitch on the Taylor
Mitch Stypinski

Mitch hails from Lakewood, Colorado. Before coming to Western he spent three years in Steamboat Springs attending Colorado Mountain College. There he came to love rivers and river related activities. He loves to kayak more than anything in the world! He's also fond of desert ecosystems and enjoys learning about natural sciences and river ecology. He is a ENVS major with a water emphasis, and is fully embracing his emphasis by immersing himself in local rivers whenever possible.





Kyle Juszczyk

Kyle grew up in Iowa moved to Colorado for school and work. He is a Recreation and Outdoor Education major. For WP, He leads whitewater, climbing, ice climbing, and mountain biking trips as well as works at the front desk. In the summer he raft guides for Wilderness Aware on the mighty Arkansas River. He enjoys long walks on the beach, curling up with a good book, and many other cliché activities. Come sign up for trips with Kyle because he’s the coolest thing since sliced bread.



Erin Kearns

Erin is a junior from Smuggler's Notch, Vermont. She came to Colorado to study mountains. She spends most of her time skiing, climbing things to ski them, talking about skiing, or dreaming about snow. When unable to ski, she resorts to rock climbing, ice climbing, mountain biking, and anything else that gets her outside. In her spare time she can be found rappelling off of random things, rolling down campus hills in shopping carts, building snowmen, and occasionally attending biology and environmental science classes.....or skiing.





Andrew Plagens

Andrew was born in the flatlands of Michigan. He relocated to Colorado in 2011 to attend Western State Colorado University. Andrew is an avid climber who enjoys all disciplines of climbing. He is also an avid backcountry snowboarder. He is also known to wear flipflops on blisteringly cold and snowy days. Along with climbing, Andrew also has a passion for history which is his major at Western. Because of this, he loves to collect books about mountaineering history; his favorite book about climbing is The White Spider, by Heinrich Harrer.




Tucker Cocchiarella

Tucker was born and raised in the mountains of Colorado.  He enjoys to travel through the mountains year around, whether it is by skis, raft, kayak, rock, or by bike. He also takes pleasure in capturing these beautiful moments of traveling through the wilderness with his camera. 




Sam Gaiser

Sam is a fourth generation Native of Littleton, Colorado. He started doing crazy things like jumping off the roof and gapping his dad's road bike at an early age. He's been rolling with it ever since. Sam loves pursuing any and all recreational activities but would pick snowboarding in fluffy waist-deep pow and flowing through epic mountain bike trails over anything else. He loves camping and getting in the backcountry and came to Gunnison specifically to do so, although school is also on the weekly agenda. You may confuse him with his other long haired, tank-top and board short-wearing roommates, though he will probably have the raddest board shorts of them all.





Christie Hicks

Christie is the boss of these people, which is no easy task. She hails from San Luis Obispo, CA, where she grew up water skiing, swimming, surfing, and hugging trees. She holds a BA in Molecular Biology from Pomona College and an MS in Environmental Education through the Audubon Expedition Institute. She spent the last 15 years teaching and guiding in the mountains of Southern California, on the rivers of Alaska, Idaho, amongst the red rocks of Moab, UT, in the yoga studios of Crested Butte, and within the Himalayas of Nepal. She is happy now to train, mentor and keep the budgets and permits in order for the amazing WP Staff and the students they serve.