Greg Cunningham

Skier, Guide, Avalanche Forecaster, Ski Patroller

Hometown

Westfield, MA

Current

Kirkwood, CA

My passion for the mountains was born in Vermont. Before long I migrated west in search of bigger mountains and deeper snow. I eventually landed in Kirkwood, CA, where I spend my winters as the snow safety director for Kirkwood Mountain Resort. I spend my springs guiding skiing in the Cascades, Sierra, and the Chugach, and spend my summers trying to run too fast and trying to keep my bike right side up. I've designed my life to spend as much time in the mountains as possible, often at the detriment of everything else. I have climbing and skiing experience throughout the lower 48, AK and Europe, but Ive made the Sierra my home for its deep, stable snowpack, perfect granite, and stellar weather.

Life Motto: Why Not? 

Pump Up Song: The Grateful Dead, Hollywood Palladium, 1971 - the whole show

As an avalanche forecaster, how has your connection with the natural world evolved over time?

I think that my evolution as a forecaster regarding the natural world has been one of humility.  It seems that the more experience I gain, the more humble I become, and the more aware I am of what I do not understand. It’s kind of a wicked learning environment, and overconfidence can have dire consequences. If we can stay humble and vigilant, and try our best to listen to what the mountains are telling us, we have the best shot at keeping ourselves, our friends, and our communities safe. 

What are some of your go-to adventures in the Sierras? 

One of my favorite go to zones in the Sierra is the Palisades region.  There are seven 14,000 ft peaks within about a 12 mile stretch of the Eastern Sierra crest. You’ve got a typically deep winter snowpack, solid alpine granite, endless splitter couloirs, and many of the most classic routes in the Sierra all concentrated in a very small area. I know some Jackson folks would disagree, but its arguably the best isolated zone for all kinds of alpinism in the lower 48.

For a quick day trip from my home in Kirkwood, the Sawtooth Ridge area outside of Bridgeport is a favorite. It's kind of the unofficial start to the High Sierra as you head south from Tahoe.  It has good winter access, world class rock, and is impossibly aesthetic.  Bridgeport is a small, isolated fishing and ranching town, and that keeps winter numbers down.

At Stio we believe balance is the key, how do you practice balance in your day to day life?

Big days in inspiring places with good people. This has always come first and foremost. More and more though, Ive been finding balance in recognizing the importance of a good rest day every once in a while.