BeWild Speaker Series 2014-2017 Lineup

The BeWild Speaker Series puts passion and adventure at center stage. Join us to find inspiration to seek adventure, connect with nature, and protect the wild places where we play.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
May 22, 2017
BeWild Speaker Series 2014-2017 Lineup


The Mountaineers are proud to present the BeWild Speaker Series, putting passion and adventure on the stage! This year, we're presenting adventurers who've 'found' themselves in the outdoors. Come to these talks to unlock inspiration to seek adventure, connect with nature, and work to protect the wild places we cherish.

Event Tickets & Info

june 7, 2017 | Bree Loewen

BeWild image - BL2.jpg

Bree has been a climbing ranger on Mount Rainier, which was the subject of her first book, Pickets and Dead Men, an EMT, and a contributor to Climbing and Alpinist magazines. Now in her mid-thirties, Bree's a wife, alpinist, mother, raconteur, nursing student, and a leader of the Seattle Mountain Rescue (SMR). She's been on more than 100 rescues in the past three years and countless more over her career. In Found she writes about what it takes for her dedicated all-volunteer crew, both mentally and physically, to have the backs of every climber, backcountry skier, and hiker who head out toward Snoqualmie Pass. 

SMR responds to everything from high profile multi-day rescues in horrendous weather to folks calling to say they're being chased by baby bears. Bree has responded to calls about chest pain, has recovered the bodies of her own friends from avalanches and cornice failures, and has come to the rescue of callers panicking because their dog's stuck on a ledge (while failing to mention they climbed up to get their dog and are stuck too). The stories are sobering, or funny, or both, and offers a personal glimpse into the SMR crew and what good friends on a mission can accomplish in the middle of the night.

Past Presenters 


BeWild - Swenson 2017

Steve’s been climbing for more than 45 years, with nearly 20 expeditions to South Asia alone. He’s also made a solo ascent of the North Ridge route on Everest—without supplementary oxygen. In 2012, he and his partners made the first ascent of Sasser Kangri II (7518 meters), a feat for which they were awarded the prestigious Piolet d’Or.

Steve's latest book is his personal story of climbing K2 and other peaks in the Karakoram Range. Straddling the borders of China, India, and Pakistan—Steve's story is told against the backdrop of extreme altitude and harsh conflict between these nations for control of Kashmir. It’s the story of caring about a place, its people, and its future.

Before recently retiring, Steve worked for 35 years as a consultant to municipalities and counties on engineering, design, project management, utility finance, and policy-making projects related to water and sanitation. He has written articles for Climbing, Rock & Ice, and Alpinist magazines, as well as for the American Alpine Journal. He contributed to the recent publication Rock, Paper, Fire, an anthology of mountain and wilderness writing published by the Banff Centre. He is also a past president of the American Alpine Club. Steve and his wife, Ann Dalton, divide their time between Seattle and Canmore, Alberta; they have two grown sons, Lars and Jed.

Steve Swenson latest memoir Karakoram: Climbing Though the Kashmir Conflict on sale now.


Ryan Hudson BeWild

Born into severe poverty, Ryan was the youngest of five children. Even though he and his siblings were raised in and out of homeless shelters, Ryan was always drawn to the outdoors. He used to skate four miles to a skateboard park, spend all day skating, then skate back home. At 14, he found the Toussaint Academy, a shelter for homeless and runaway teenagers. It was here he was introduced to Outdoor Outreach, a nonprofit dedicated to empower at-risk youth through outdoor activities. They took him on his first snowboarding trip into the mountains. While other kids slept in the van, he just stared out the windows and thought ‘this is awesome.’ 

Today Ryan is a competing athlete and continues to be active with Outdoor Outreach. He wants to inspire current and future generations to find their passions in life and make it their purpose. He hopes to empower other at-risk youth to make positive, lasting changes in their lives through outdoor exploration. 

JANUARY 24, 2017 | Jim & Leif Whittaker

jim and lief

Jim stepped into history on May 1, 1963 when he became the first American to summit Mt. Everest. Nearly five decades later, his son Leif followed in his footsteps to the top of the world - twice. Both father and son are accomplished authors, and compelling, inspirational speakers, exploring themes of adventure, risk, perseverance, teamwork, friendship and the beauty of the natural world. We'll also be featuring Leif's latest book: My Old Man and the Mountain. 

June 22, 2016 | Jess Roskelley & Ben Erdmann 

Washington native Jess Roskelley began his mountain climbing career at age 18 as a guide on Mount Rainier. By age 20, he had reached Rainier's summit 35 times and was the youngest American to have reached the summit of Everest. Roskelley began dividing his time between working as a tank welder and pioneering new routes in the Alaska Range, where he met up with Alaska native Ben Erdmann. Ben, who came to alpinism by way of climbing frozen waterfalls, works with rigging systems as both passion and profession, and his ascents in Patagonia are marked by a continuous-movement style of alpinism, the endurance pushes. In 2013, Roskelley and Erdmann, along with partner Kris Szilas, established a first ascent on the East face of the Citadel (VI AI5+ M6+ 5.10R A3) in Alaska's Kichatna Mountains in 70 hours camp-to-camp. 

Today, Jess and Ben migrate, like birds, between the extreme poles of the Western Hemisphere, spending their winters in Patagonia and summers in Alaska, with occasional stopovers in the Cascades and the Rockies. Jess and Ben will share highs and lows from their migratory life, from numerous successful summits of Fitz Roy and first ascents in both Alaska and Patagonia to starting their own rope access welding business, being roommates for life, and making sure the house is clean daily when Jess's wife gets home from work. 

 June 2, 2016 | Libby Sauter

The 30-year-old nurse splits her time between saving children's lives with international NGO Novick Cardiac Alliance in some of the world's most dangerous places and climbing hard on some of the world's most challenging rock faces. In her downtime she enjoys playing on a "highline" - a thin piece of rope strung high above the valley floor.

In 2014 she set the female speed record on The Nose, El Capitan with Mayan Smith-Gobat. She's even completed two routes of El Capitan in a day - most spend up to a few nights on the face making the challenging ascent. 

Brendan Leonard | May 19, 2016

Brendan has bicycled across America, ridden through the Grand Canyon on a raft and walked across it twice, and lived out of a converted van for three years, climbing and adventuring in the mountains around the West. Brendan is a writer, and the founder of He's also a a contributing editor to ClimbingAdventure Journal, and The Dirtbag Diaries. His stories have appeared in National Geographic AdventureOutside, BackpackerMen's Journal, and other publications.

Most of his work centers around adventure, travel, and human experiences with both of those. You likely recognize his work from his hilarious blog. We recommend reading this one. Brendan will present stories from his newest book, Sixty Meters to Anywhere, released in May 2016. 

Sasha Digiulian | April 15, 2016

Sasha first began climbing at 6 years old, in 1998. She has won the World Championships for Female Overall, and has placed Silver in the Bouldering World Championships, as well as Bronze in the Duel. Sasha has been the undefeated pan American Champion 2004 to the present, and she is a three-time US National Champion.

Outdoors, Sasha is the first and only North American woman to climb the grade 9a, 5.14d, recognized as the hardest sport climb ever achieved by a female. She has done two. Sasha was the third woman in the world to accomplish this grade. Additionally, she has onsighted multiple 8b+'s, 5.14a's, ascended groundbreaking multi-pitch routes of up to 1000 feet of 8c climbing, and has accomplished multiple First Ascents and Dozens of First Female Ascents around the world. 

Dave Showalter | August 10, 2015

In Dave Showalter's stunning images, you'll encounter stately pronghorn antelope, see the mating rituals of rare birds, watch bighorn sheep butting heads, and get a closer look at shy burrowing owls. Dave is an International League of Conservation Photographers fellow, whose work showcasing the landscapes and wildlife of the American West has been featured by Outside, Outdoor Photographer, High Country News, Backpacker, Nature Conservancy and many more. His Sage Spirit campaign use evocative prose and images to help people understand the plight of the endangered Gunnison sage grouse, and the complex issues threatening the sagebrush ecosystem in which it lives.

Jennifer Wu | May 19, 2015

Jennifer Wu, a nature and landscape photographer, specializes in creating stunning images of the night sky and stars. She is a Canon Explorer Of Light, one of just 36 photographers worldwide to be recognized with that honor. She's taken an adventurous path around the globe, with shoots across the U.S. in places Yosemite, Eastern Sierra, Death Valley, Big Sur, Alaska, and Hawaii, as well as abroad in Iceland, Tanzania, Namibia, and Greenland. Her beautiful images have graced the covers of numerous magazines and books.The co-author of Photography Night Sky: A Field Guide to Shooting After Dark, Jennifer weaves a visual journey through the night sky in time-lapse movies and teaches tips for shooting twilight yourself. 

Colin Haley | April 10, 2015

At twelve, Colin Haley ascended the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak in the North Cascades with his father and older brother, marking the beginning of a new life. For this young, hungry climber, the North Cascades were an incredible classroom. Like the legendary Fred Beckey, Haley has used his time and training in the North Cascades to prepare himself for extreme expeditions in Alaska and British Columbia, as well as climbs farther afield in the Karakorum, Himalaya, Patagonia and Alps. "Everything I learned," he says, "I learned in the North Cascades." Featured in the bestselling book The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby, Colin explores climbing adventures in spectacular locations throughout the world, from Mount Shuksan to Cerro Torre.

John Roskelley | March 17, 2015

A noted mountain climber and author from Spokane, Washington, John is best known for climbing 7,000 and 8,000-meter peaks in Nepal, India, and Pakistan, including his 1978 ascent of the Northeast Ridge of K2 and his first ascent of the West Face of Gaurishankar. He was the first American to receive the prestigious Piolet d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award.

More recently, he turned his attention to the wild river in his own back yard. His book Paddling the Columbia: A Guide to all 1200 Miles of Our Scenic and Historical River, published by Mountaineers Books in 2014, equips paddlers with all the know-how needed to explore and enjoy the Columbia River, from its headwaters in British Columbia to its mouth in the Pacific Ocean.

Douglas Chadwick & Steven Gnam | July 24, 2014

Meet world–renowned wildlife biologist Douglas H. Chadwick (frequent contributor to National Geographic and author of The Wolverine Way) and debut photographer Steven Gnam as they explore the astonishing wonders of a very special public lands treasure in the northern Rocky Mountains. Steven Gnam will take us into the very heart and soul of the wildest Rockies: Having explored the area since he was a young child, he’s traveled by foot, ski, crampon, and bike — even at times snorkeling alongside trout under bone–chilling water–across thousands of miles to showcase the spirit of a region called the Crown of the Continent.

Chadwick and Gnam will share images and stories from their recent coffee–table book Crown of the Continent: The Wildest Rockies. Their multi-media presentation will explore the surprising connections between culture, history, communities, and the great outdoors in one of the world’s most majestic regions.

Tami Asars | June 20, 2014

Meet guidebook author and trail extraordinaire Tami Asars as she shares her favorite hiking and backpacking destinations and need–to–know information for some of the world’s most incredible trails. The best part? She’ll be talking about your own backyard! Tami will cover gems such as the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Mount Adams, the Wonderland Trail, Washington’s section of the Pacific Crest Trail, and much more through stunning photography and first-hand experience.

Tami is a third generation Washingtonian who calls the North Cascades home. She is an avid hiker and backpacker and has hiked the Wonderland Trail in section, part, and complete more than nine times. Tami also taught professional classes on outdoor pursuits at REI for 9 years, and was a guide on the Northern Loop Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park. Tami works currently as a freelance writer, author and photographer.

She is the author of Hiking the Wonderland Trail and Day Hiking Mount Adams and Goat Rocks (Mountaineers Books).

Expedition Denali | May 16, 2014

In the summer of 2013 the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) brought together a group of inspiring role models who made history as the first team of African Americans to blaze a trail up America’s highest peak – Denali. To mark the 100th anniversary of the peak’s first ascent, Expedition Denali set out to literally change the face of the mountain.

Though the summit was a goal, the ultimate objective was not just to make mountaineering history, but to build a legacy by paving a way for young people of color to get outside, get active, get healthy, become passionate about America’s wild places, and chase their own Denali-sized dreams.

Voted "Heroes of the Year" by Backpacker magazine and awarded the Outdoor Inspiration Award by the Outdoor Industry Association, Expedition Denali has already had a profound impact on thousands of people.


Ben Stookesberry, a professional kayaker and a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, shared his film Walled Inand talk about his record-breaking waterfall drops. Ben was the first to kayak over 130 different sections of river running through the full gamut of the earth’s ecosystems.