Mountain Skills believes that continuous education for its guides is paramount. Our employees are American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) certified instructors, New York State licensed guides, First Aid, CPR certified, and as Leave No Trace trainers. We also hold regular training for our guides so they stay up-to-date on company policies and new methods for client care and coordination – we want to ensure that each one of our instructors provides you with a memorable and enjoyable experience!

Moreover, we are committed to our community. Our instructors actively support efforts to open more climbing opportunities in theMinnewaska State Park Preserve by participating in rare plant and animal studies and assisting in the removal of invasive species. We also sponsor DOT Adopt-A-Highway projects, and train yearly with NYS DEC and Mohonk Preserve rangers on High Angle Rescue.

Mountain Skills Climbing Guides are true Gunkies: most of us live locally and climb daily in our beloved Shawangunk and Catskill Mountains.

Doug Ferguson

A Michigan native, Doug’s fascination with the mountains and the outdoors began with a competitive skiing career in high school. Doug discovered climbing in 1997 while living in Boulder, Colorado and has owned and operated Mountain Skills Climbing Guides since 2008. In 2002, he began guiding and climbing full time at the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Doug has climbed extensively throughout the United States, he primarily spends the warmer months guiding rock in the Gunks, the winter months guiding ice in the Northeast and the shoulder seasons in sunny Red Rock, Nevada.

His climbing and mountaineering educational background consists of: Certified AMGA Rock Instructor, AMGA Certified Ice Instructor, AMGA Alpine Guides Course, AMGA Advanced Rock Guides Course, AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, AMGA Top Rope Site Manager, AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor Provider, AMGA SPI Provider , Wilderness First Responder training, Leave No Trace Master Trainer, AIARE Level 2 Avalanche, National Ski Patrol Level 1& 2 Avalanche Safety, New York State Licensed Rock, Ice, Hiking, and Camping Guide.

Doug has volunteered with the NYC Adaptive Climbing Clinic helping to teach rock climbing to people with physical disabilities at Brooklyn Boulders.  Doug was formerly on the Board of Directors for the Gunks Climbers Coalition, an advocacy group dedicated to creating and maintaining sustainable opportunities for responsible climbing along the Shawangunk Ridge and surrounding areas.  He also recently worked with Exum Mountain Guides in the Tetons, WY during the summer months.

With a background in fine art from Kendall College of Art and Design, Doug paints landscapes in large format of the locations he guides with oil color on canvas.  You can view Doug’s paintings at

Chuck Boyd

Chuckinstructor_RI_B&WChuck Boyd has 25+ years of climbing experience around the world. He has climbed Mt. Everest and attempted other 8000 meter peaks (K2 and Broad Peak). He has also had first ascents on Shipton Spire in Pakistan (1996) and the East Face of Cayash in Cordillera Blanca, Peru (1983).

Chuck’s impressive list of certifications include: American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Certified Rock Instructor, American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Single Pitch Instructor, American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Climbing Wall Instructor Provider, American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Ice Instructor Course, Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Nordic Downhill Instructor, National Ski Patrol Level II Avalanche Instructor Trainer, American Avalanche Association Member, Graduate National Avalanche School, National Ski Patrol Senior Alpine Patroller, National Ski Patrol Senior Nordic Patroller.

Chuck also teaches avalanche courses during the winter months and owns Vertical Realms, which predominately operates at Ragged Mountain in Connecticut.

Mark Folsom

Mark has lived in the Hudson Valley and climbed in the Gunks since 1999. While living in New Hampshire, he climbed many peaks in the White Mountains, Catskills and Adirondacks. Mark has climbed in Joshua Tree in California, many routes at Red Rocks in Nevada, and Red River Gorge in Kentucky. In winter, Mark enjoys back-country skiing, snowshoeing and trips to warmer destinations. He is also an avid caver who has explored and mapped caves throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. Mark studies natural sciences including geography, ecology and geology. A volunteer with several regional, non-profit and state climbing-related agencies, Mark supports protection of nature as well as climbing resources.

Mark’s training includes: certified AMGA Rock Instructor, certified AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, licensed New York State Rock Guide, Wilderness First Responder, Hudson Valley Mountain Rescue member, Cave Rescue Certified and a Leave No Trace Trainer.

Brendan Mealia

Brendaninstructor_SPI_B&WBrendan Mealia has been climbing since 1994. Though he is a staunch advocate of the traditional climbing style that the Gunks demand, Brendan also enjoys sport climbing and bouldering. He has climbed across the country: New Hampshire, New York’s Adirondacks, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, and California. Brendan also loves skiing and playing music, and in winter he has lived in the Southern US and out in Big Sky, Montana.

Brendan is a licensed New York State Rock and Ice Guide, certified AMGA SPI, certified SPRAT Level 1, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.

Steve Bittner

image1instructor_SPI_B&WFor as long as he can remember, Stephen has felt a profound love for the outdoors. For years, his free time was spent hiking and backpacking, visiting amazing places across the Northeast, Southwest, Alaska and beyond. But it wasn’t until his first year at university, pursuing a degree in Environmental Humanities, that his love for climbing began. A single day and a few short pitches were all it took for Stephen to know that he needed climbing in his life. The years since have been spent climbing rock and ice throughout the Northeast, appreciating all the incredible venues the region has to offer.

A bit of a black sheep in the Gunks, Stephen loves crack climbing. And, to him, the only thing better than sinking a good jam is watching someone else sink one for the first time. He quickly realized that he enjoys instructing new climbers just as much as he enjoys climbing, so the decision to become a guide was an easy one. Watching people fall in love with the sport while appreciating the beauty of the natural world is about as good as it gets for him.

Stephen is an certified AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course, AMGA Rock Guide Course, SOLO Wilderness First Responder, and a New York State Rock, Hiking, and Camping Guide.

Les Owen



Les has been rock climbing for 16 years. A former resident of Brooklyn, New York, he called the Gunks his home crag before moving to Boston 9 years ago. He has climbed extensively in the Gunks and New Hampshire, and at crags and mountains in Connecticut, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Colorado, Washington, Wyoming and California. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, holds AMGA Rock Instructor and Single Pitch Instructor certifications, is a licensed Tier 1 New York Rock and Ice Guide, and is a certified Wilderness First Responder. He loves to share his love and passion for the sport that has given him so much.

Derrek Anderson

Derrek’s initiation into the world of climbing took place at the small crags in Bolton while
attending college at the University of Vermont in Burlington. He quickly became captivated with the sense of freedom and balance climbing can provide, and has been climbing rock and ice ever since. He has had the opportunity to climb and guide in some of the best areas in the country, including Red Rock, Joshua Tree, the Wind River Range, Pacific Northwest and all over the Northeast.

Derrek has been working as a climbing instructor for almost ten years, and has instructed for private companies as well as school programs like NOLS and the Middlebury College Outdoor Program. He is an AMGA certified Rock Instructor, Single Pitch Instructor, Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Provider, and has taken AIARE Level 1. He has also spent time as a Board member and Vice President of the CragVT local Access Group, and feels a deep responsibility to protect the natural resource which we all love and use.

He and his family have recently relocated to New York from Vermont (one of the most underrated climbing states!), which is not a huge change but one that will allow more time exploring the cliffs of the Adirondacks and the Gunks. When not climbing, Derrek spends time with his family and dog, traveling whenever the opportunity arises.

Alex Lytle

instructor_SPI_B&WAlex was born and raised in New Jersey where his passion for the outdoors was cultivated from a young age. Backpacking and running kept him busy until he went to college in New Hampshire where he discovered climbing. Alex earned his Bachelors degree in Adventure Education from Plymouth State University and has worked all across the country instructing wilderness based education programs.  Alex has worked as a climbing guide since 2013 primarily in the northeast. He loves working with individuals to develop their skill sets and achieve whatever their goals may be. Alex is a certified Single Pitch Instructor through the AMGA, a Leave No Trace Master Education, Certified Wilderness First Responder, and Licensed New York State Guide.



 Jeremy Haas

Jeremyinstructor_RI_B&WThough well-traveled in the western climbing arenas, Jeremy is happiest when clinging to the side of a cliff in New York State. A Gunks climber and Catskill ice climber since 1989, Jeremy grew up in the gorges of Ithaca and recently co-wrote and published Adirondack Rock: A Rock Climber’s Guide. He has been guiding rock, ice, alpine ascents and backcountry skiing since 2002, and finds that the personalized instruction of guiding is the best way for a client to get immediate feedback and quickly improve their skill set.

Jeremy is a certified AMGA Rock Instructor, AMGA Single-Pitch Instructor, AMGA Rock Guide Course graduate, NYS licensed Rock and Ice Climbing Guide, former Emergency Medical Technician, and is Level II Avalanche certified. He credits his enormous amount of patience to his job as a high school science teacher.

Jeff Ruiz

From the Shawanagunk Ridge to Yosemite Valley, Jeff feels the most alive when he’s on the side of the cliff.His climbing interest was first piqued after seeing images of climbers tackling iconic Gunks roofs and realizing they were a stone’s throw away from his home in New York City.Since then he’s been a dedicated student and teacher of the traditional climbing ethic of the area.Jeff also has an appetite for aid climbing and refining big wall techniques for future objectives out west.

Jeff is a certified AMGA Single Pitch Instructor; Wilderness First Responder; and NYS Licensed Rock, Ice, Hiking, and Camping Guide.

Tim Lyons

Tim began climbing at an indoor bouldering gym in upstate New York in 2011. Later that year he began climbing outside; trad climbing quickly became an obsession.  He began climbing on slab and cracks that are prevalent in the Adirondack Park as often as possible.  Now, Tim enjoys pushing his physical and mental abilities in the Gunks.  In his spare, time Tim enjoys cycling in New York City where he teaches a high school engineering course.  Tim is a certified American Mountain Guide Association Single Pitch Instructor as well as a licensed New York State Rock Climbing Guide.  Most of all, Tim enjoys sharing his love of rock climbing with others.

Danny Weisberg

Danny grew up in Neversink, NY and has been exploring the Shawangunk Ridge and Catskill Mountains since a young age.  During college he took an intro to rock climbing class and was instantly hooked.  Rock climbing has been a part of his life ever since.  Climbing has brought Danny all over the country and he has instructed rock climbing courses in Joshua Tree National Park, the Gunks, the rock cliffs of central Connecticut, and the North Shore of Lake Superior.  For over 10 years Danny has worked in the outdoor industry for different guide services, wilderness therapy programs, university programs, camps, naturalist programs, and outdoor schools.  Danny has been dedicated to teaching others through outdoor adventure.  Danny enjoys introducing people to rock climbing and providing a quality experience.


Danny is a certified AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, licensed New York State Rock, Hiking and Camping Guide, Wilderness First Responder, ACA Level II Canoe Instructor, and Leave No Trace Master Educator.

Ryan Stefiuk

Ryandiscipline_rock_B&WBorn and raised in New Jersey, a land of endless suburbia, Ryan Stefiuk somehow developed a love of the outdoors at a very young age. He discovered climbing towards the end of high school and has been hopelessly addicted ever since. For nearly a decade, Ryan was semi-itinerant and climbed all over the country. A resident of Northampton, Massachusetts, he is now strategically located just a short drive away from some of the best climbing in New England and New York.

As a climber, Ryan has chosen to focus his energy on long rock and ice routes and hard mixed climbing in the Northeast. Ryan has climbed extensively throughout the United States and Canada and is responsible for much of the modern mixed route development currently taking place in the Catskill Mountain region.

Ryan is an AMGA Certified Rock Guide, AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course provider, Wilderness First Responder, NY State licensed Rock and Ice Guide, and has taken the AMGA Advanced Alpine Guides Course, AMGA Ice Instructor Course and AIARE Level I and II courses. Ryan also writes Bigfoot Mountain Guides, a blog about climbing and guiding in the Northeast.

Russell Frisch

Russell grew up in New York City and was exposed to the great outdoors through Frost Valley YMCA summer camp in the Catskill Mountains which he attended for many years. As a 12-year-old at summer camp, he went climbing in the Gunks for the first time and was hooked. He brought his passion with him to college at the University of Vermont where he honed his skills as a rock and ice climbing guide and as an outdoor educator. He graduated with a degree in Environmental Sciences, concentrating in Mountain System Science, and is especially interested in finding ways to combine his love of climbing, his passion for teaching, and his fascination with the natural world. In addition to his experience in the Gunks, Adirondacks, Vermont, and New Hampshire, he has also climbed in Red Rocks in Nevada, the Cascades in Washington, the Chugach Range in Alaska, and the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. He is a certified AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, New York State Licensed Rock, Ice, Camping, and Hiking Guide, AIARE Level 1, Wilderness First Responder, and Leave No Trace Trainer.