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Explorer Spotlight: James Hueser

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Name: James Hueser | Age: 23 | Location: Calgary, AB

What’s your day job?
I'm a hydrogeologist for a contaminated sites group.

What are your favorite things to do outside?
I'm always down for doing any sports outside, or even just chilling, but getting on top of a summit is what it's all about for me.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
My family was pretty active growing up - we would spend entire summers living out of a campsite, so I guess I've just gotten used to getting dirty!

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
I've been on some great mountains, but I have to say that summiting Mount Sparrowhawk in Spray Lakes Provincial Park was my favourite. It's a 1400m, uninspiring scree slog to a 3100+ m summit, but there was nothing better than seeing that sea of mountains in front of me when I made it to the top. The best part is that I believe anyone can do it as long as they can put one foot in front of the other! .... Can't go wrong with the Grizzly Paw in Canmore.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
Give me anything that's jerkied and I'll be so happy.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
Road tunes typically change week to week, but The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place by Explosions in the Sky typically gets played all the way through during my hikes.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/or, the funniest?
Ugh. I was doing Cascade Mountain in Banff solo when I met a couple guys going the same pace so I tagged along with them. On the way down, we had been barreling down the mountain and got to a point that none of us really remembered. There's was a guy we had talked to a bit at the summit behind us a ways yelling at us and waving his arms - definitely trying to get our attention. It looked like he was trying to tell us we were going the wrong way, but we had been following trail the whole way. Plus this dude had only drank ~300 mL of water on a 1400 m gain, so we were hesitant to trust him -- especially when we would have had to climb back up a couple hundred metres. So we made our way into this gully and the trail runs out. We realize we've done something horribly wrong and are one gully over from where we need to be. Nothing else to do but traverse the gully, except that it was a really weird and steep slope. A ton of really small scree supporting large boulders, so every step would cause a rock slide behind us, on top of the slope being ~40 degrees. Then there were a couple slabs covered in dust and a ton of "holy crap" moments. When we got back to our cars, we had checked the Alan Kane Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies book... he mentions that people need to be aware of false trails leading into a gully because a ton of people have been stranded there, as well as some serious injuries occurring there, which is what we had just traversed through.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
I've gotta give partner-in-crime to my friend, Rylan. We met on a field school in the Little Rockies in Montana and spent the entire time not having a clue of what we were doing and getting lost... sometimes it feels like not much has changed. In terms of inspiration, my friend Lisa and the whole Hike365 crew - a bunch of badass gals gettin' summits weekly.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
Kananaskis, AB is close to home and close to my heart. It may be only ~1.5 hours away, but there's more adventure packed in there than I'll ever be able to do. Kilimanjaro is on my list though.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
A ton of stuff! Everything that was a failed attempt this winter - Mount Indefatigable, Mount Borgeau, among others. I think this summer will be leading up to Mount Temple in the fall.

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
Coincidentally, this photo was recently taken. It's Mount Lougheed as seen from Windtower, except that it's adorned with some beautiful clouds. I had taken a friend on this hike for his first summit and I was pretty worried that the weather wouldn't cooperate. However, halfway up the mountain, the way the clouds were playing with the mountains were a clear sign we were in for a good day. Sometimes the only thing you can say is "this is a good day" and I never forget those days.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
Back by 5! I've done a ton of solo hikes recently and so I always leave a note on my car with where I was going and what time I'll be back by. As much as I love getting up a summit, it's important for me to remember that a successful summit relies on a ton of factors that are out of my control and that being aware of those limitations is the easiest way to bag peaks for years to come. While not the most motivational, it's something that's always in the back of my mind -- also my Instagram handle!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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