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Mountain Skills prioritizes continuous education for its guides and considers it essential. Our team consists of American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) certified instructors, New York State licensed guides, and certified in First Aid, CPR, and Leave No Trace trainers. To ensure our guides provide a remarkable and enjoyable experience, we conduct regular training sessions for them to stay updated on company policies, client care, and coordination, and new methods.

We are also dedicated to our community and actively support efforts to expand climbing opportunities in the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Our instructors participate in rare plant and animal studies and assist in invasive species removal. Additionally, we train with NYS DEC and Mohonk Preserve rangers yearly on High Angle Rescue to maintain the highest level of safety for our clients.

Mountain Skills Climbing Guides are true Gunkies: most of us live locally and climb daily in our beloved Gunks, Adirondacks, Delaware Water Gap and Catskill Mountains.

Doug Ferguson

Doug, a Michigan native, developed a passion for the mountains and the outdoors during his high school competitive skiing career. His interest in climbing began in 1997 while he lived in Boulder, Colorado, and he has owned and operated Mountain Skills Climbing Guides since 2008. Doug has climbed extensively across the United States, spending warmer months guiding rock in the Gunks, winter months guiding ice in the Northeast, and shoulder seasons in sunny Red Rock, Nevada.

Doug’s climbing and mountaineering education background is quite extensive. He is a Certified AMGA Rock Instructor, AMGA Certified Ice Instructor, AMGA Alpine Guides Course graduate, AMGA Advanced Rock Guides Course graduate, AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, AMGA Top Rope Site Manager, AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor Provider, AMGA SPI Provider, Wilderness First Responder certified, Leave No Trace Master Trainer, AIARE Level 2 Avalanche certified, National Ski Patrol Level 1& 2 Avalanche Safety certified, SPRAT Certified Level 1 Rope Access Technician, and a New York State Licensed Rock, Ice, Hiking, and Camping Guide.

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

Doug’s education in fine art from Kendall College of Art and Design led him to paint landscapes in large format of the locations he guides, using oil color on canvas. You can check out Doug’s paintings at



Chuck Boyd

instructor_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.




Teddy Dondanville

Despite growing up in Southern California and going to college in Boulder, Colorado, Teddy did not start rock climbing until he moved to the flatlands of Central Illinois for graduate school. After joining an indoor rock gym and climbing outside for the first time, Teddy fell in love with the sport.

After graduate school, Teddy moved to Peru to volunteer with the Peace Corps. On the weekends, he climbed in the world-famous Cordillera Blanca. Once Teddy got home from Peru, his career pivoted toward rock climbing and outdoor adventure education. Since then, Teddy has climbed all over the United States, from the Gunks of New York to the Cochise Stronghold in Southern Arizona. One of his favorite, lesser-known areas is the City of Rocks in Idaho.

Currently, Teddy is an Apprentice Rock Guide with the American Mountain Guides Association. He is a licensed New York State Tier I climbing guide with additional licenses for hiking and camping. Teddy is also a certified Wilderness First Responder.

During the offseason, he works as a freelance writer focusing on the outdoor industry. In addition, Teddy is a dog father of a lunatic Australian cattle dog named Dottie and questions daily his ability to tucker out his pup properly. Teddy speaks fluent Spanish and loves bridging language gaps between climbers from different cultures.


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.



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.


Ernie Lathom

Ernie’s love of climbing and the outdoors started during his years as a boy scout. His preference for traditional rock climbing along with an adventurous spirit has led him to locations all over the country including Zion, the Devil’s Tower, New River Gorge, Tuolumne, Seneca, Red River Gorge, Colorado, Vedevoo, the White Mountains, the Adirondacks, and Yosemite Valley. That being said, Ernie is all about climbing in the Gunks. If he’s not at his day job as a union sheet metal worker, it’s a safe bet he’s at the cliff, year-round. Ernie has mentored many climbers that praise him for his attention to detail, safety, and his uncanny ability to remember the finest points of every route he climbs. He is a certified AMGA SPI, NYS DEC licensed guide, and a certified American Red Cross Lifeguard.


Matt Murphy

Matt developed an appreciation and love for the outdoors during his years as a Boy Scout. He conveniently blames his passion for climbing as the reason he never earned his Eagle Scout award.

Spending his college years in New England exposed him to a variety of climbing styles. From bouldering in Lincoln Woods, bolted routes in Rumney, traditionally protected crags of Franconia, and the higher alpine terrain of the White Mountains. Matt is a well-rounded climber who takes full advantage of the time he’s afforded to climb and adventure. He considers the Gunks home, has and continues to travel to notable points West, but loves winter ascents of Wallface in the Adirondacks the most.

Matt works full time as a New York City firefighter and is a regular instructor at the FDNY Technical Rescue School. He is also an AMGA Apprentice Rock Guide, AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, AAIRE Level I Avalanche Course Trained, NYS Certified Rock and Ice Guide, SPRAT Level 1 Certified.

Matt also holds a B.A. in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University and loses his mind when hot food turns cold.


Bobby O’connor

Bobby started rock climbing at the age of 16 in the Gunks and the Adirondacks. Following his passion for adventure sports, he attended SUNY Plattsburgh where he received a M.S. in Expeditionary Studies. Bobby is now the Outdoor/Adventure Education Coordinator at Paul Smith’s College. His passion for the outdoors expands beyond climbing. He loves to spend time in a boat, costal or whitewater paddling and on skis in the mountains. The aspect he enjoys most about the outdoor industry is the people he gets to meet and the area’s he gets to travel to. Bobby lives in the heart of the Adirondacks with his wife, dog, and hedgehog whose name is of course Sonic.

ACA Whitewater L4 Instructor ,ACCT Level 1 Basic Training ,ACCT Level 2 Beyond Basic Training ,AMGA Rock Guide Course, AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor ,AMGA Single Pitch Instructor ,Avalanche Level I training (AIARE) ,Avalanche Level II training (AIARE) ,BCU Level 1 Coach ,BCU I, II, III-star cert ,New York State Guides License ,Wilderness First Responder



Chris Karcz

Chris had just finished his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2015 when he was invited to top-rope outside, immediately getting hooked. The autodidactic that he is- he dived right in, learning everything he could about climbing. Having fallen in love with the Gunks and the community here, he now feels blessed to be able to live here full time.

When he isn’t adventuring in the outdoors, Chris really enjoys making things- art, woodworking, 3d printing, and electronics; dabbling in hand made synthesizers, guitars pedals, and circuit bent instruments.
Chris is a licensed New York State Guide for camping, hiking, and climbing and a certified AMGA Single Pitch Instructor. He also holds certifications in scuba, sailing, and many more. He values safety and learning in a fun and friendly environment.