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Matt Stirn





Matt Stirn

I grew up on the R Lazy S Ranch just north of Teton Village in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. With Grand Teton National Park on the other side of the fence and the ski resort across the street, playing in the mountains was a part of my life from the start. I learned to ski at ‘the Village’ when I was two; when I reached my teens I discovered climbing and the summer season slowly began to take priority. The summer I learned to drive I joined Exum Mountain Guides, where I continued to work and guide for eight years. When I wasn’t guiding, I was climbing in deserts and mountains of the western US. I fell in love with the mountains and became fascinated by their deep relationship with people around the world.

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When I was thirteen I volunteered on an archaeological excavation south of Jackson and became enthralled with the subject. My interest in climbing in the mountains slowly transformed into an interest in studying how humans have lived in and interacted with the wild and unique alpine landscape since prehistory. I am now beginning my seventh season of research in the mountains of northwestern Wyoming and have been involved in archaeological projects across seven countries and four continents: from hunting for deep-water shipwrecks in the Black Sea to searching for new Mayan sites in Belize and discovering 19 prehistoric villages in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains.

My current research focuses on prehistoric life at high-altitudes in the Rocky Mountain Region and across the world—something archaeology has never traditionally focused on before. The team I work with was the first in the state to investigate archaeology above 10,000 feet and we were never prepared to find entire villages. We have identified a fascinating relationship between prehistoric people and whitebark pine nuts amongst the alpine villages in the Wind River Range. While highlighted today for their significance to animal species, pine nuts seem to have been one of the most important resources to humans living in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and wider Great Basin. We plan to continue surveying and excavating in the Winds and will soon expand research into the Tetons and other ranges in the United States and around the world.

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As a kid in Jackson Hole, inspiration wasn’t particularly hard to find. I remember many times when my family would go out to the old Otto Brothers Brewery or Vista Grande and I would see a group huddled around a map planning another Himalaya expedition or a party celebrating the first descent of a wild river in Siberia. Instead of playing soccer or baseball in school, we would take off on the weekends into the deserts of Wyoming to hunt for ghost towns, look for prehistoric sites, or see how isolated we could get before flattening three tires at once. I learned early on that there is an exciting world to explore and it is our duty to not only to see it, but also to bring the resulting stories back to the community. After a few years rambling the globe with my fiancé and fellow archaeologist Rebecca, we have returned to the valley, and I am thrilled to once again call Jackson home.

Follow my adventures:
www.mastirn.zenfolio.com | www.unsystematicsurveys.blogspot.com | Instagram @mattstirn