John Calder

“There’s ALWAYS a way.”

How'd I Get Here?

I started my outdoor career as a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E.) Instructor for the U.S. Air Force in 1998. For 10 years I guided and trained thousands of Air Force personnel, other service members and civilians in global wilderness and combat survival techniques.

I’ve spent over 800 days in the wilderness with students in a large variety of environments. I also spent three years as a rough-land evacuation instructor at the SERE instructor technical school.

In 2002 I spent 20 days in Greenland, training the Danish Air Force in arctic survival techniques, one of the highlights of my career in the Air Force.

Since 2008 I’ve provided specialized survival training and guided in the outdoors. I’ve held a Wilderness First Responder Certification and CPR certification for over 12 years and have held a Low to High rescue certification from Rescue 3 International.

I enjoy all aspects of the outdoors but I’m definitely happiest alpine rock climbing. I’ve been climbing for the past 16 years, across the U.S as well as in Canada, Switzerland and Greenland.

I’m an all-rounder. I backpack, ski, winter camp, mountain bike, whitewater raft, hunt and fish, but my favorite activity is guiding others to discover and enjoy the outdoors in a safe and fun manner.

My expertise is in planning and preparation for expedition-style trips, outdoor instruction & leadership, advanced global survival techniques, operational risk management, rock & ice climbing and mountaineering instruction.


John C

John C guiding Seven Pass Route, Wrangell-St. Elias Alaska backpacking guides.

John's Philosophy

“Guides who put quotes beneath their head shots generally think too highly of themselves.”

The Rundown


First guided with Carl and Expeditions Alaska in 2014.

BA in Outdoor Studies at Alaska Pacific University. Graduated summa cum laude. Developed the first ever Survival Course at Alaska Pacific University and currently teaches the survival portion of Introduction to Search and Rescue.

Don’t ask him how about the time he won the inaugural Seven Pass Route Talent Show.


  • Marine Safety Instructor
  • Red Cross First Aid, CPR, AED Instructor
  • Swiftwater Rescue Technician I
  • Wilderness Education Association (WEA) National Standards Program
  • Wilderness First Responder, since 2000
  • Advanced Ice Rescue course, Matanuska Glacier
  • Countless Military and Survival instruction training credentials.

Favorite Trip

The Southern Traverse, Bremner to Tebay.

This is one of the most incredibly beautiful routes I’ve done in Alaska. It’s an especially rewarding route because Alaska demands you pay for this beauty through effort and sometimes challenging walking. Worth every drop of sweat and sore muscle!


Alaska eats gear like bear’s eat salmon. Make sure your equipment is up to the rigors of Alaska and you’re comfortable using it!


Making sure my clients are having a safe, fun and rewarding experience through instruction and sharing my knowledge and joy for the majesty of the Alaskan back-country.

Happiness is ...

Margaritas & foot massages.

Definitely happiest alpine rock climbing.

About John ...

Carl Says

John is a great guide and an even better friend. He and his wife Rachel are wonderful folks, good people. John’s got a backcountry skillset a mile long. And he’s a great cook. I’ve eaten many a delicious meal at his house in Anchorage. John’s a climber. A backpacker. Mountain biker. Survivalist instructor. And he can read a map as well as anyone I know. For some weird reason he plays ice hockey.

I couldn’t have been luckier than when I first hooked up with John and we started working together. He’s an exceptional guide, an outstanding organizer and planner, has all the people and leadership skills I WISH I had and has some gnarly backcountry skills. Oh, and he makes a damn fine fish taco too.

I’m lucky enough to spend a lot of time with John and his family and every single time I come away a better person. Every. Single. Time.

If you get the chance, ask John to recite some poetry by Robert Service. You’ll be glad you did.